Highland Dress has changed much since the days the clansman wore it out on the hill, to become a recognisable and respected symbol the world over.
The 'Feileadh Mor' or 'belted plaid'
The kilt had its origins in the Feileadh Mor - the big kilt - other wise known as 'the belted plaid.' It was formed from a single piece of material, pleated round the waist and tied with a heavy belt. This allowed freedom of movement in battle yet could form a cloak or blanket when sheltering.
The 'Feilidh Beg' or 'small kilt'
In 1725, Thomas Rawlinson modified his workmen's clothing to increase efficiency at his ironworks in Glengarry. Using only the lower part of the big kilt, the pleats were sewn in and fixed by a belt and buckle arrangement. This was the creation of the small kilt - or Feilidh Beg - that we know today.
After Culloden in 1746, the kilt was banned in the Highlands until 1782, except in highland regiments. The Highland regiments won much acclaim through the bravery of their soldiers in service of the Empire. German soldiers in the First World War, dubbed the Highlanders 'he ladies from Hell'
The dress of Highland women
Highland women, in the past, wore an arisaid - a hooded full-length cloak, gathered at the waist and fastened by a belt. It was made of undyed wool. Modern women's highland evening wear uses the elegant simplicity of the white dress, coupled with a tartan sash.
Highland dress popularised
In 1822, Sir Walter Scott popularised Highland dress for King George IV's reception in Edinburgh. Highland dress became the national costume of Scotland. The idea of Clan tartans dates from this period.
If a book listed in the bibliography below is available from the Highland Libraries it will be indicated by a book icon -
Hogsbawm, Eric and Ranger, Terence (eds)
The invention of tradition
Cambridge: CUP, 1983
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