The relationship between culture and clothing is fascinating to consider in any context; but there are few dress styles that are quite as distinct as those of the Scottish highlands. The minute you hear the name of the Scottish nation, odds are that your mind is filled with images of bright tartan and flowing kilts.
You won’t often find a single item of clothing that symbolises a nation as totally as the tartan kilt symbolises Scotland. But the kilt is far from simply a novel piece of getup to be worn for ceremonies; it is a garment deeply tied to the Scottish nation, with centuries of history behind it.
Though the garment likely existed in some form or other for years, its first recorded mention came about in the late 16th century, when descriptions of the Highlands and their people told of a blanket-like garment – often patterned in a manner that resembled tartan – referred to as a belted plaid. This simple garment was draped over the body and secured around the waist with a belt, usually causing it to drape around the knees in a manner that resembled a modern kilt – though on the subject, the modern kilt, being the simple fabric hung down over the knees by a leather belt, would not develop until around the 18th century, when Quaker Thomas Rawlinson deemed the “great plaid” in its current form to simply be too cumbersome to work in, especially when weighed down by the damp of the rainy Highlands.
Of course, it seems likely that ordinary people of many other nations probably wore similarly simple garments in some form or another; for the kilt’s original purpose was not as a ceremonial garment or national symbol, but simply as practical attire. Its loose, open structure allows for far more comfortable and free movement than modern trousers – which, in many ways, served to make manual labour far slicker and easier.
Indeed, in this sense, the recent growth in popularity of the “utility kilt” – kilts which are designed to be worn for practical purposes rather than ceremonial ones – represents a return of the original kilt. To wear a kilt as part of a Scottish-themed event or ceremony can be, and has been, an effective way of celebrating one’s Scottish heritage, or simply immersing oneself in the rich culture of Scotland; but there is a strong argument to be made that one of the best ways to truly reconnect with one’s inner Highlander is to don a hardy kilt and sporran, and knuckle down to a bit of hard outdoor work.
Heck, the kilt has prominently featured in Highland regiments of the British army since the 17th century. Most nations won’t tend toward dressing up their soldiers in stuff that can’t be worn practically.
Scottish Clothing Store in Australia
And if you’re ever looking to bring that centuries-old Highlander look back to life down here in Australia, you really needn’t look any further than Gentry Choice. This Sydney-based traditional Scottish clothing goods business offers a selection of both modern and traditional-style kilts, leather sporran, kilt belts, buckles and pins that’ll have you awakening that old Highland spirit right here on our sunny southern-hemisphere shores.