Have a question about wearing a kilt or a certain kilt accessory? We've compiled a list of typical questions and answers to help the first-time wearer or that "seasoned kilt wearer" who never knew who to ask.
Q: How do you tie Ghillie Brogues?
A: While there are many ways to tie them, this is the way we find the best: Put on the shoes and make a half knot to tighten them. Next pass the laces behind your leg in opposite directions so that they cross in the back, about 2” to 3” up from the top of the shoe (around your Achilles). Make another half knot in back, tighten it and bring the laces around to the front, about 4” to 5” above the initial half knot. Make a half knot and tie the shoes (make “bunny ears”). I highly recommend double knotting the shoes to keep them from coming undone.
Q: How high should kilt hose be worn?
A: Kilt hose are typically worn pulled up, with the top stopping about 1.5" to 2" below the bottom of the kneecap. Also, note that they are "turned over" at the top. Elastic garters, called "flashes", are typically worn under the turned over top section to help keep the hose from falling down.
Q: What are flashes and why do I need them?
A: Flashes are effectively “garters” that help hold your kilt hose up. After walking around for a bit, hose tend to slide down… flashes fix that. They’re elastic with metal clips and adjustments, so one size will fit all.
Q: Where should the bottom edge of my kilt fall?
A: The bottom edge of your kilt (also known as the "selvedge edge") should fall around your kneecap. Some traditionalists like it to fall at the top of the knee (or just above). Most people like it to fall to the middle of the knee. Some like it to cover the entire kneecap. All are “acceptable” lengths, however, it should not be worn below the kneecap or much above the kneecap. A traditional kilt is worn “to the knee”. If you have questions about length, consult our measuring guide or call us at the shop and we’ll gladly help you out!
Q: Where / How should a kilt pin be worn?
A: The Kilt pin should be worn on the lower right corner of the kilt’s apron (above the wearer’s right knee). Typically, the pin is positioned about 4” up from the bottom of the kilt (the bottom of the pin is 4” up) and about 2” in from the right edge of the front apron. Please note that it does NOT pin multiple layers of cloth together… it only goes through the front apron.
TIP: If you don’t want to lose your kilt pin, try this… carefully poke the pin through the front apron of your kilt. With the pin sticking out the underside, stab the pin through a rubber band (usually a wide rubber band is easier). You can trim the rubber band so that you only use a little square. Then, poke the pin through the front apron again and close the clasp. If the clasp comes undone, the kilt pin will be held by the rubber band and won’t fall off.
Q: How should I store my kilt?
A: Kilts can either be stored in the “hung” position OR laid flat in a drawer. For long periods of time, the kilt should be laid flat or on a 4 clip hanger to avoid a 2 clip hanger causing pleat "splay". Our Poly Viscose kilts can be hung in the closet like any other article of clothing. Wool kilt can be hung the same way, but you may want to invest in a garment bag to hang them in to aid against moth damage.
If you have two “skirt hangers”, it may be easier to hang the kilt from two hangers. Fold the kilt in thirds like you would if you were about to put it on. Use one skirt hanger to clip the front apron and the under apron together. Use the second skirt hanger to clip to the pleated section. Hang both hangers together in your closet.
Please note: Do not store your wool kilt in a plastic bag for extended periods of time. Wool is a natural fiber and must be allowed to "breathe" or the material will eventually (after years) become brittle. Store your kilt in a cloth garment bag. If none is available, use an old cotton pillowcase and poke a hole in the top for the hangers to come through. Slip the pillowcase over your kilt and you have a makeshift garment bag.
Q: How should I pack my kilt for travel?
A: If you can not hang your kilt in a garment bag, the second best way to avoid travel wrinkles is to roll your kilt. Lay it out on a flat surface (edge of your bed works very well) in the “fully open” position, with the “good side down”. Start with the edge of the under apron. Fold the corner over (like you were earmarking a book page) to make the single strap point towards the bottom of the kilt. Tightly begin rolling the far edge of the under apron (with the ‘earmark’) in a “tube-like” way. When you get to the pleated section, be sure to “sweep” the pleats down as you’re rolling, to keep them from wrinkling. Continue rolling until you get to the fringed edge of the front apron.
If your wife, girlfriend, mom, etc. has an old pair of stockings or nylons (note: don’t use her good pair) that she doesn’t mind you using, you can cut one of the legs off and stuff the rolled kilt into the leg. This will keep it from unrolling and help keep it from wrinkling.
Q: How is a kilt worn?
A: The kilt is worn with the pleats in the back and the “opening edge” running up your right leg. If it has straps and buckle and fringe, they should be on your right leg, with the “single strap” side on your left hip.
Please note: PLEATS GO IN THE BACK. I've seen countless photos with pleats in the front and this is NOT correct. Your buddies might not tell you it's wrong, but we will.
Q: When should I wear a kilt belt?
A: To a degree, when you wear your kilt belt is a personal preference, but there are certain situations where it is “less appropriate”. One such situation is when wearing a dress sporran. When the dress sporran is worn, you do not typically wear a kilt belt. When you wear a waistcoat (i.e. vest) with a Semi Dress sporran, you can wear a kilt belt, or you can go without. Rocky personally wears a kilt belt for all occasions, except where a dress sporran is required.
Q: How does a kilt belt work?
A: The kilt belt is a “different animal” from a regular jeans belt. To attach a kilt belt, start with the end of the belt without the metal ‘D’. Slide the other end of the belt through the backside of the buckle with the corresponding metal bridge. Double the belt back on itself and attach the Velcro (or small strap and roller buckle) to itself. Now, the “hook end” of the buckle will be able to attach to the ‘D’ end of the belt. Adjust the kilt belt’s size by doubling the belt back on itself more or less until you get the proper size belt.
Q: What tartan should I wear?
A: While there are no real rules about what tartans people are “entitled” to wear, some tartans were designed for specific clans, while others were designed for anyone to wear. We call the latter “Universal” or “Fashion” tartans. Will someone stop you and beat you up for wearing a clan tartan that you aren’t affiliated with? No. Might someone ask you about your tartan? Yes. When choosing a tartan, no matter what tartan you choose, we advise people to at least know the name of the tartan they’re wearing. Curious onlookers will most likely ask you one of two things… ‘What are you wearing under your kilt?’ AND / OR ‘Is that your family tartan?’. If it’s not your family tartan, then your answer could be something like “No, this is the ________ Clan tartan”. That will satisfy 99% of the publics’ inquiries.
Please note: if you are more comfortable wearing a “Universal Tartan” that was specifically designed for everyone, there are plenty to choose from. They’re designated with a ** in our “PV Tartan Gallery” and have their own area in our “Wool Tartan Gallery”.
Q: What is worn under the kilt?
A: As the old joke goes, “nothing is worn, it’s all in working order”. What you wear under your kilt is a personal decision only you can make. Things that you should factor into your decision are your environment and the people in your environment. If you’re going over to Grandma’s house and you know she has that low couch that you sit in, keep in mind that she may be getting more of a show than she wants. If it’s going to be very windy outside and you want to keep your modesty, think about weather. Bottom line… be smart. If you choose to go “regimental” (which is a kilted code word for no underwear), make sure you’re not offending anyone in eyeshot of your “goodies”.
Q: What is a sporran and where is it worn?
A: The sporran is the small bag worn on the kilt wearers' front. It serves as a pocket to carry the wearer’s keys, wallet, gum, business cards, etc. The sporran is worn in the center of the front apron. The kilt should have a stripe or “blank section” directly in the middle of the front apron. Line up the sporran’s center with that line. The TOP of the sporran should be roughly 6” below the top of the kilt. If you are wearing a kilt belt, the sporran will be about three fingers breadth (about 3”) below kilt belt buckle.
Q: What’s the difference between different sporran types?
A: Different sporrans are worn for different occasions...
- The Day Sporran (all leather) is typically worn during the day, before 6 PM, for casual functions or for walking about town.
- The Dress Sporran (fur with the metal cantle on top… the semi circle metal thing) is typically worn after 6 PM and for formal functions. This sporran is typically worn without a kilt belt.
- The Semi Dress sporran is worn for almost any occasion. It can be worn at formal functions, or for a day at the Celtic Festival. If you’re only going to ever buy one sporran, this will be your most versatile choice.
Q: What is a “sgian dubh” and how do I wear it?
A: Sgian Dubh, literally translated, means “Black Knife”. It was originally concealed in a small pocket, usually sewn into the armpit area. When in the company of friends, it would be taken out and stuck in the top of the kilt hose as a sign of respect (not hiding a weapon). Today, Sgian Dubhs are usually more decorative than utilitarian. They are worn by tucking about 2/3 of the (sheathed) knife into the top of the kilt hose. Which leg it is worn on is determined by the dominant hand of the wearer (right handed guys put it in their right foot’s hose).
TIP: If you choose to wear a sgian dubh, we highly recommend wearing flashes… the elastic band helps keep the sgain dubh “secure” in your hose top. Without the flashes, the sgain dubh may easily fall out (and get lost).
TIP: Think about where you're going... many buildings have security screenings now and a Sgian Dubh may be confiscated as a weapon. When in doubt, leave it at home or check it in your luggage.
Q: How high should a kilt be worn?
A: A TRADITIONAL kilt is worn at your “true waist” which is about 1” to 2” above your navel. Our Casual model can be worn that high if you’d like, but was initially designed to sit more on your hips (like your pants). All of our other kilt models are meant to be worn at the “true waist”. If you’ve never worn a kilt before, it can feel a little odd wearing something that high when you first put it on. Please give it a chance and you’ll see that it is much more flattering (especially on the “husky gentleman”) and sits much better when worn at the true waist.
Q: My question wasn’t answered here… who do I ask?
A: US! Email us at: Rocky@USAKilts.com or call us at the shop: 1.800.368.8633 or 610.948.4110 or stop by our shop at: 3389 Schuylkill Rd, Spring City, PA 19475. We will be happy to assist you!