What shoes should I wear with my kilt?
The Traditional kilt shoe is the Ghillie Brogue. Not to be confused with the “Scottish brogue” which describes a sort of accent, Scottish dress shoes, Ghillie Brogues, are a symbolic yet fashionable option for men to wear with their kilts any time they feel like dressing up.
Similar to “wing tip” dress shoes, ghillie brogue shoes feature a pattern of holes on top, known as “broguing”. This style of Scottish shoe is unique to kilt wearing in that ghillie brogues have no tongues and feature very long laces (with tiny leather tassels on the ends of the laces) which wrap around the ankle. They are usually worn with kilt hose.
What are formal kilt shoes?
Black brogue shoes are best for general use as well as formal occasions such as weddings, a St. Andrews Dinner, a Gala or Ball. Our brown ghillie brogues are appropriate for day wear or more casual dress -- like a tweed outfit -- and are good for festivals, a Burns Supper, office wear, etc.. We also offer more robust Scottish brogues -- the Piper Brogues, which are useful for walking on pavement or in more rugged conditions such as the open fields of a large outdoor Celtic festival or Clan gathering.
The History behind the Scottish Shoe
Today, our modern fashion ghillie brogues come in a variety of styles. While many leather shoes will look well with a kilt (including mens boots for kilts such as tall walking boots), leather ghille brogues are the classic Scottish footwear. Not simply laced kilt shoes, they carry a strong cultural memory.
What Does Ghillie Brogue Mean?
The name for Scotland's national shoe comes from two Gaelic words - Ghillie and Brogue:
Ghillie: an outdoorsman; a boy or man who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition, also any able workman.
Brogue: a rough leather shoe of untanned leather. Sometimes called a “bog shoe”, Celtic sandal or just highland shoes.
Where did the Ghillie Brogue come from?
The Highlands of Scotland are a damp place full of bogs and rivers. In olden times, there were few if any roads. Travel was almost entirely on foot. Thus, the Highlanders developed footwear appropriate for the climate. Simple leather moccasins were perforated with slashes or holes to allow water to drain quickly -- essential for preventing foot fungus and infection. To these were added long laces which criss-crossed up the ankles, tying just below the calf. If you got your foot stuck in the mud, you could pull it out without risk of losing your shoe. These humble highland brogues are quite symbolic of the rough, practical and inventive mind of the Scotsman.
Every pair of traditional ghillie brogues sold by USA Kilts comes from the UK. We offer several models for whatever activities you plan to use them for. For a video comparing all of the ghillie brogue models we offer, click here. For a video tutorial on how to tie your ghillie brogues, click here.