Kilt, McGregor tartan

3-yard Kilt, readymade, polyviscose, approx. 11 oz.    
Holyrood tartan.   

The kilt - a skirt or?

Coming around the kilt

Some will say that a kilt is a skirt, some men will never dare wearing a kilt, because some will call it a skirt. Scotsmen will say they are wearing a kilt, which is NOT a skirt but a garment of its very own and exclusively for men. Some will even say they are wearing THE kilt.
NEVER say to a Scotsman that he is wearing a skirt!

But how do dictionaries define a kilt, then? Well, in the ones I have seen, the kilt is described as - a skirt or kind of skirt, like


A skirt with many folds, made from tartan cloth and traditionally worn by Scottish men and boys.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online


1. A knee-length skirt with deep pleats, usually of a tartan wool, worn as part of the dress for men in the Scottish Highlands
2. A similar skirt worn by women, girls, and boys.

The Free Dictionaries

Want to see them all?

1. a traditional Scottish garment, usually worn by men, having roughly the same morphology as a wrap-around skirt, with overlapping front aprons and pleated around the sides and back, and usually made of twill woven worsted wool with a tartan pattern.
2. (historical) Any Scottish garment from which the above lies in a direct line of descent, such as the philibeg and the great kilt or belted plaid.
3. a plaid, pleated school uniform skirt sometimes structured as a wrap around, sometimes pleated throughout the entire circumference

American Heritage Dictionary/

A knee-length skirt with deep pleats, usually of a tartan wool, worn as part of the dress for men in the Scottish Highlands.
A similar skirt worn by women, girls, and boys.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

A skirt with many folds, made from tartan cloth and traditionally worn by Scottish men and boys.


A skirt, usually of tartan cloth worn by men in Scotland, and also by women.

1. a pleated kneelength tartan skirt worn by Scotsmen in the Highlands or in some military regiments.
2. a skirt modeled on this for women and girls.

Any short pleated skirt, especially a tartan wraparound, as that worn by men in the Scottish Highlands,


1. A knee-length pleated skirt usually of tartan worn by men in Scotland and by Scottish regiments in the British armies.
2. A garment that resembles the Scottish kilt.

Oxford Dictionaries

A knee-length skirt of pleated tartan cloth, traditionally worn by men as part of Scottish Highland dress and now also worn by women and girls.

The free Dictionary

1. A knee-length skirt with deep pleats, usually of a tartan wool, worn as part of the dress for men in the Scottish Highlands
2. A similar skirt worn by women, girls, and boys.


A knee-length pleated tartan skirt worn by men as part of the traditional dress in the Highlands of northern Scotland.
A skirt - a garment hanging from the waist; worn mainly by girls and women.

Urban Dictionary

1. A knee-length wrap skirt with vertical knife pleats on the sides and back made from a tartan woolen cloth and traditionally worn by men of the Scottish Highlands. (Traditional usage)
2. A skirt similar to the traditional Scottish kilt, and may have differing properties such as a solid color, non-tartan patterns, having pleats all around, or varying overall lengths. Generally associated with being worn by men and boys, but is sometimes worn by women and girls. (More common usage)
3. Any other type of skirt sold as a kilt, or a skirt worn by men. (Most liberal interpretation)

Webster's New World College Dictionary

A pleated skirt reaching to the knees, esp., the tartan skirt worn sometimes by men of the Scottish Highlands.

A skirt, it seems, but so what?

A Mercedes-Benz is a car, but far from every car is a Mercedes-Benz. So it is with skirts. To be called a kilt, there are rules to follow. And if you hold a kilt in your hands, and compare it with any of your wife's skirts you'll immediately realize, that the difference is much, much bigger than between your jeans and hers. In this respect, a kilt is a garment of its very own.

Women wear kilts too

Flanked by lads in kilts, the young lady is looking pretty in her short kilt,
minikilt, kilted skirt, or whatever you are calling it.

Be aware, that by far not all calling your kilt a skirt or even a dress have a wish to insult you. Many, not being in a Scottish context, simply don't have the noun kilt on the tip of their tongue. "Nice skirt!" or "nice dress!" might therefore very well be a praise. And you should react accordingly.

What makes a kilt?

A lot of fabric

If you open a kilt and place it flat on the floor, your first impression might be what a lot of fabric. The fabric is also called the tartan.

Kilt construction

A kilt

A kilt consists of three parts, two aprons and a back. When the kilt is closed the aprons will go from each side from hip to hip, thereby overlapping each other, meaning you have an inner and an outer apron. The last one which is fastened at your right side, also makes the visible front. Going from hip to hip each apron measures about half your waist size, leaving the rest of the fabric to be used for the pleated back of your kilt, also going from hip to hip. It will vary with the yardage of your kilt.
You can have 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8-yard kilts. One vendor even has a 2-yard kilt to offer.

Eight yards used to be the norm, and to many purists still a must. However, today most kilts, even fine wool kilts, might be 5-yard kilts, due to them providing a good compromise between cost, authenticity, and comfort.

Tartan weight

The tartan is defined by its weight in ounces (1 oz. = 28.35 g) for one yard of double width cloth (about 60 inch = 140 cm). An 8-yard kilt can in most cases be made of 4 yards double width or 8 yards single width tartan (about 30 inch wide).

Heavy weight = 16 oz.+
might not be the optimal choice on a hot summer day. To most purists 16 oz. (or more) is a must, however.

Medium weight = 13 oz.
is probably the most universal and popular weight for kilts today.

Lightweight = 10-11 oz.
is primarily for kilts to be used in a hot climate. Purists will say that a lightweight kilt does not have the right swing and that it needs a lot of ironing. It is not what I have experienced myself.

Ultra-lightweight = 8 oz.
Should you want a kilt that lightweight, you might take a look at Californian based Sport Kilt.

In general, a heavy weight tartan is more expensive than a lightweight one, but the price is also affected by the mill that delivers the tartan.

Tartan mills
Reputable tartan mills are Lochcarron, House of Edgar, Strathmore, Marton Mills, D.C. Dalgliesh ( owned), and a few more.

Given an 8-yard kilt takes 4 yards double width cloth the weight should in 16 oz. be over 1.8 kg plus lining, straps and buckles.

Reducing it to 5 yard 13 oz. means going down to about half the weight. And a 4 yard 8 oz. Velcro closed Sport Kilt is about 500 grams only.

Most of my kilts are 13 oz. 5 yard wool kilts.


First of all, tartans are synonymous with the traditional kilt and more than 4.000 tartans are registered. They are

Clan (family) tartans for members of Scottish clans,
District tartans for men with an affinition to a certain geographical area.
Commemorative tartans to celebrate/remember something.
Universal tartans (fashion tartans) for men without clan affiliation.
Corporate tartans, designed for and registered by some companies.

Every man is free to wear any universal, commemorative, or district tartan. And no law forbids you to wear a clan tartan. Provided you wear your kilt in a proper way hardly anyone should object, should you be seen wearing "his" tartan.  And even when, how could anyone prove that you had no “right” to wear it?

Some tartans are more expensive than others. In general, popular and wide spread (clan and universal) tartans are cheaper than district tartans.

A few examples


Non-restricted tartans

Tartans you are absolutely free to use.

Restricted tartans

Clan tartans. If you like them, buy them, wear them, but show respect.

Straps and buckles

A kilt is being held together by a strap and a buckle above each of your hips. At your right hip you sometimes have an extra buckle and a strap. Three or two is a matter of personal taste plus what the vendor is offering.

I prefer only two straps. If a kilt is shown with three buckels and straps I ask if I can have the kilt without the third one. It has always been possible.

Kilt construction

The strap which fastens the under apron to the buckle on your left.

Belt loops

A kilt usually comes with two belt loops, being almost invisible. In fact, they were not meant to be used for a belt but for the sporran strap. Nevertheless, they are now mostly referred to as belt loops, and they are wide enough to be used with a kilt belt.


At the top of a kilt you'll find the rise. On a kilt, meant for day wear/casual wear, it is about two inches, measured from the midle of the buckle. This means that when using the loops for a kilt belt, the top of the kilt is almost covered.
On a "traditonal" kilt to be worn with a Prince Charlie jacket, some kilt makers will make the rise about two inches higher to be sure that the top of the kilt is covered by the short jacket. On military style kilts it may be as much as three inches higher. When ordering be careful with the kiltmaker's instructions. If rise is not mentioned, you may neglect it.

For casual wear a kilt without additional rise looks way better than one which is optically sitting under your armpits!

Drop and length

Below the rise you have the drop. Accordingly, the length of a kilt is drop plus rise. However, more and more vendors use the two terms interchangeably, and therefore drop most often means total length. When in doubt, check the instructions for measuring given by the vendor or maker, or better, ask.


On a kilt the pleats don’t flare out from the waist but are tapered and sewn down till where you are at the broadest, usually at your hips. This part is called the fell. A kilt without a fell is no kilt and should be avoided. More about the fell on the get-the-measures-right page.


Pleats must be sewn down like on the red kilt, and not start at the waist. On the green kilt you have some pseudo-fell.


Regarding the pleats, standard is knife pleated to the sett, meaning all the pleats go in the same direction, and that they are arranged in a way that the tartan looks approximately the same whether you are looking at the kilt from behind or from the front. The pleating is the difficult part of kiltmaking, and the more precisely the pleating, the better your kilt shall look – and the more expensive it shall be.
Instead of having your kilt pleated to the sett, you may have it knife pleated to the stripe, also called military pleating. When pleated to the stripe, each of the pleats is arranged according to a chosen colour, rather than to the entire sett. Therefore the kilt shall look quite different when looked at from behind and from the front. Hardly to order on the internet. You should have the kiltmaker visualize it.
A third option is box pleated, meaning that the kilt shall have rather wide, flat panels on the back. A box pleated kilt is only to order with a few kilt vendors.

Apron Fringes

On a traditional kilt the outer apron will normally have fringes. Can be two or three, but also none may be a possibility. When you order a kilt on the internet it is rather unlikely that you shall be asked what you prefer.


Apron fringe.


Your kilt can be hand stitched for utmost precision or it can be sewn on the machine. It can be made to your measures by a skilled kilt maker in Scotland or other parts of the UK, or in the US or Canada. Or it can be made in a factory in Pakistan or another low labour cost country – like practically all the clothes we otherwise buy, being they cheap or expensive brands.

This page revised 2024, June 3.
Next page


Which kilt for you?

The all-purpose kilt does not exist. Which kilt shall best fit your needs?
You may be surprised that a kilt might be quite a lot cheaper than you had feared.

What to find on the Dress2Kilt site?

Every man can wear a kilt, anywhere, anytime

Kilt, Caledonia Tartan

How about a kilt?

Every man can wear a kilt - no need to be Scottish. Whenever YOU feel like it, and appropriate, replace your jeans or shorts by a kilt. Learn about how to take the step. .
Verschiedene Kilts

Men in kilts - Q & A

Who will wear a kilt? Why wear a kilt? Where and when? What shall other people say? Is it true? Get the answers to these and many other questions.
Kilt, Holyrood Tartan

Webmaster's kilt story

Learn about the webmaster and his over 25 years as a regular kilt wearer. Why did he start? And how about acceptance from his wife, family, friends?

You in a kilt

If you should like to wear kilts, why then not just order a kilt, and start wearing it in pubic? Learn how to handle surroundings and mindset yourself.

The kilt - is it a skirt?

Never call a kilt a skirt when talking to a Scotsman. But is it? Well, but what difference does it make? Learn about what it takes a skirt to become a kilt.

Which kilt for you?

The all-purpose kilt does not exist. Which kilt shall best fit your needs? You may be surprised that it might be quite a lot cheaper than you had feared.
Pakistani kilt

Where to buy a kilt?

There are hundreds of kilt vendors and makers on the internet. And it can be a jungle to find out. Learn where to find good kilts in various price segments.

Get the measures right

Probably you shall buy your first kilt online and have it made to your measures. Find out how to get the measures right. It is easier than you think.
Kilt accessories

Kilt accessories

Which accessories should you buy for your kilt and which to avoid. Don't get ripped off on things you don't need. For casual wear they must not be expensive.

Kilt on!

You have just received your first kilt and some accessories. Learn how to handle all the unfamiliar things.

To mind when in a kilt

When in a kilt how about staircases, sitting and sitting down, wind, and people eager to see what you are wearing under it? Learn how to deal with it.
Utility kilt

Utility kilts

A utility kilt can make an excellent alternative or a valuable addition to the traditional kilt. What should you know about utility kilts?
kilt variants

Other kilt variants

Kilts can be solid coloured. Also, instead of wool or PV, the fabric can be tweed. Or how about a kilt in a nice camouflage pattern, or denim, or leather?


Could you as a man wear a skirt? Under circumstances you can. Dedicated man-skirts are on the market, or you can have a skirt designed and made for you.

Kilt 24/7/365

Let’s be realistic; most likely, you cannot wear a kilt or a skirt 24/7/365, even if you should want to. But many days a year you can. Learn more about it.


kilt variants


The gallery section - structure,objective, and techique
Tartan kilts

Tartan kilts

Traditional style. 35 pages with kilts in 35 different tartans.
Solid kilts

Solid kilts

Traditional style.Kilts in black, forest green, and light green. 3 pages.
Utility kilts

Utility kilts

Eight pages showing eight different utility kilts.


Two pages featuring man skirts.
A mix of kilts and skirts

The Braveheart Way

A mix of manly skirted garments.



Links #1

Vendors of kilts and accessories, tartan mills, and tartan finders. The most comprehensive links page for kilts on the internet.

Links #2

Vendors of utility kilts, sarongs, man skirts, unisex skirts, and other skirted garments.

Links #3

Kilt and skirt forums, non-commercial home pages, blogs, picture galleries, videos, articles, men in kilts and skirts on stage and on the catwalk.

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