There are two types of bonnets, or hats, that are worn with the kilt. The
gentleman above is wearing a balmoral (pron. bal MOR al). A balmoral is
based on what Highlanders used to wear, the traditional blue bonnet. The
balmoral is like a beret, and has a toorie, or pompom on top. It may be one
color or it may have dicing, a checkered band of red, black and white, around
it. The ribbon in back should be tied into a bow and the ends trimmed short on
the diagonal. In Scotland the balmoral is the preferred bonnet with the kilt.
The other type of bonnet is the glengarry. It has military
origins, and folds flat. A glengarry has a toorie, and always has dicing. The
ribbons are left long.
Years ago, Highlanders wore a piece of plant in their bonnets to
show their clan affiliation. Today,
clansmen wear a cap
badge. The cap badge, also called the clansman's crest
badge, is worn on the left side of the bonnet. In the middle
is the crest, or top, of the clan Chief's coat of arms. Around
the circle is the Chief's motto, with a buckle and strap.
The cap badge that may be worn by all Campbells includes a
crest that is a boar's head, with the Chief's motto, Ne
Obliviscaris, on the strap.
What is worn above the kilt changes with the occasion. In the
picture above, the man is wearing an Argyll jacket. It is
also called a kilt jacket, and is like a sports coat,
only shorter. The jacket may have fancy cuffs and pockets, or
they may be plain.
For fancy parties there are other coats. One looks like a
tuxedo called a tail coat, and is called a Prince Charlie
Coatee. Another is called a doublet.
If it is warm a short sleeved shirt, or even a t-shirt, can
be worn with the kilt.
Belt and Buckle
A belt and buckle are usually worn with a kilt, but neither are
The kilt The kilt today is made of many yards of wool. In front are two flat
pieces called the aprons. They cross in front of the
person, one apron over the other. In back are sewn folds, called
pleats. The pleats are folded in two ways. One is called
being pleated to the sett. This means that the pleats are
folded so that the pattern, or tartan, looks just like it does
on the flat part of the kilt, the aprons. The other way is
called military pleating. The kilt maker picks a colored
stripe in the pattern that runs up and down, and puts that
stripe in the center of each pleat.
Kilts, bonnets and sporrans are men’s attire, despite
what one may see at gatherings in North America. The exception
is when women play in pipe bands.
Women wear kilted skirts, not kilts. The kilted skirts are
like kilts, but do not have as much wool, are not pleated the
same, and tend to be worn longer.
Sporran The sporran (pron. SPOR un) is the man's purse that hangs in
front of the kilt. Since a kilt has no pockets, a man in a kilt
needs some place to put things such as money or keys. A sporran
is made out of leather or fur.
Kilt Pin The kilt pin is worn by some men. It is only a decoration and
is not required.
Kilt hose are the long stockings that are worn with the
kilt. They come to just below the knee, and are folded down at
Flashes Flashes are strips of brightly colored wool that hang down
from under the fold in the top of the kilt hose. They are
attached to pieces of elastic called garters that go around the
leg and help to hold up the kilt hose.
The sgian dubh (pron. skane doo) is the knife that is
worn in the top of the kilt hose. Sgian dubh means black or
hidden knife in the Gaelic. This is because Highlanders
always carried a knife that could not be seen as an extra
weapon. Now they are always worn in the top of the kilt hose.
Brogues (pron. gilly broges) are shoes worn with the kilt.
They are open on the top and the laces are wrapped and tied
around the leg. One may wear regular shoes instead, however.