Scottish Kilts: Different Garments

boy kilt outfits
Figure 1.--Photographer W. & D. Downey, London, took this portrait. It was taken about 1893. It is the Duchess of Connaught (Princess Louise Marguerite of Prussia, 1860 - 1917) and family. The boy was Prince Arthur of Connaught (1883-1938 (grandson of Queen Victoria), who became the Governor General of South Africa 1920-1923. Notice the siblings are dressed alike except for the caps and collars and of course the boy's sporran.

The kilt was garment steeped in tradition. It was a male garment worn by Scottish warriors. It all began with the Highland kilt. It also proved to be the perfect fashion for doting mothers dispairing of their sons growing up to fast and having to dress them in trousers. The kilt suit was a natural transition for boys who had grown too old for dresses. And many different kilt garments devedloped as moters began adopting the garmrnt as a children's garment. We see kilts and skirts with a range of kilt features. And we see suits done with kilts. The style was not limited to Scotland and England. Affluent Americans generally looked to England as the arbiters of good taste and were soon also dressing their sons in kilts. Scottish ancestry had little to do with the choice of kilts, although families with actual Scottish ancestry might be particularly likely to wear Highland kilts. Kilt uits ere a different matter. They were commomnly worn by boys with no connection to Scotland.

Highland Kilt

The kilts worn in Scotland are generally called Highland kilts. These are the kilts most commonly recognized around the world. Higland kilts were worn in two ways. They could be worn informally with a tweed jacket or even a sweater with out a lot of regalia, but except for very young boys, always kneesocks and a sporran. Boys might weat their kilts to school or even hiking in the countryside. The Higland kilt was also worn as a formal dress outfit. A formal outfit would include some are all of the following Highland regalia: Scotch bonnet (Glengarry or ???), a black jacket, a jabot or tie, a tartan kilt, kneesocks (often argyles), a dirk, and a sporan. Almost always the informal kilt was worn by Svottish boys. The dress kilt might be worn by English boys. Neither of these outfits were boys outfits per se, although boys were more lokely to wear an informal kilt, while men might be more likely to wear the formal kikt.

Casual Kilts

Kilt Suits

The original kilt costume Queen Victoria chose for the young princes was the Scottish Highland kilt. Parents in England began dressing their boys in Higland kilts. This was primarily wealthy boys whose parents could aford such extravagances. The style gradually evolved to skirted suits worn by boys who had emerged from dresses, but whose mothers did not believe they were ready for trousers. The style was most popular in England and Ametica, but was also worn in France and other European countries. The kilt suit continued to be worn by boys into the 20th century, but passed from fashion after the turn-of-the 20th century.

Figure 2.--Kilt suit worn by young Franklin Roosevelt in the 1880s. Wealthy Americans with actual Scottish conections were the most likely to wear sporrans with rheir kilts.

Fauntleroy Kilt

Some mothers in the 1880s and 1890s were much smitten with the Fauntleroy style. Scottish and American mothers might add a lace collar to a formal Highland kilt or in America they might adopt the Fauntleroy style for the kilt suit.

Kilt Sirts

Some kilts, mostly in America were worn essentially as skirts. These were worn with no Highland regalia like sporans, dirks, and tartan kneesocks. They were also not worn with as part of the kilts sduits that were so popular with American boys in the late 19th century. Rather they are in essenmce simply tartan skirts.


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Created: 7:18 PM 10/13/2012
Last updated: 12:30 AM 1/29/2015