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Scottish & Irish kilts- What's the difference?

Tartan is a key piece of Scottish and Irish identity both celebrating tartan and its representation to Scottish and Irish history & land. Tartan is seen and shared globally mixing all types of culture together and celebrating its rich scottish, Gaelic and Irish history.

Scottish Kilts vs Irish kilts
There is thousands of tartans deriving from a multitude of backgrounds & places

What is a Scottish kilt?-

Kilts are part of highland wear fashion and essential to Scotland's national dress, Scotland is highly associated with tartan and kilts as this would be traditional attire worn between the 17th -19th century and still is heavily worn and embraced as formalwear in Scotland for occasions such as weddings, christenings, graduations, balls, dinners and so much more.

A kilt is made of durable woven wool fabric in a plain colour or tartan pattern and the cloth is then pleated and sewn into a knee length wrap over style "skirt" kilt and buckled shut on the inside and outside to keep it in place. Accompanied with accessories like a sporran, belt & buckle, Sgian dubh & matching tweed jacket & waistcoat.

Where did Scottish kilts come from-

The kilt has a long history and political message behind it but in short terms, kilts were derived from the woollen cloak as referred as the plaid, this was traditionally styled with a tunic and was developed into the the great kilt which featured the cloth pleated around the waist secured with a belt with the rest if the fabric draped over the shoulder.

This was designed to provide warmth and protection to the wearer and doubled up as a shelter in colder months. This developed over time to the walking kilt which seen the excess draped fabric of the shoulders removed and consisted of just hand pleated cloth secured with a belt.

This was further developed by Thomas Rawlinson who saw the walking kilt as impractical and created the idea of pre sewn pleats and buckles to allow for ease of wear & practicality.

Over the past few centuries historians have debated the truth of the origin of the kilt and lots of dates and names were compared but we will never truly know and it's still a big debate topic for historians who the kilt belongs to.

What is an Irish kilt?-

An Irish kilt refers to kilts associated with Irish & Celtic history & importance, despite Scotland being heavily associated with kilts themself, there's been increasing interest with creation of kilts inspired by Irish/Celtic influence.

Irish kilts often incorporate colours such as green white & orange, and similar colours associated with Irish identity often Irish kilt can have Celtic knots or shamrocks for Irish symbolism. Despite them not being as well known Irish kilts hold just as much importance as scottish kilts are they are still a piece of Irish history and Celtic culture.

They are sometimes worn at Irish-themed events, festivals, or weddings, providing a contemporary twist on traditional Celtic attire.

Where did Irish kilts come from-

Irish kilts were developed as a way to represent Irish culture & history by creating kilts, inspired by scottish kilts, the Irish kilt makes its own symbolism and meaning to wearers who wear their Irish identity with pride.

Also taking reference from long term Irish clothing history, its influenced by garments like the léine, a loose-fitting shirt, and the brat, a cloak. These traditional Irish garments are distinct from the Scottish kilt & the Irish kilt differs through its use of Celtic expression & design.

scotland kilt hire
We have the largest tartan range available for hire in Scotland

So, What actually is the difference?


Scottish kilts have deep connections & representation of scottish history & identity to highland wear as a whole, highlanders & British politics. First derived in the 17th century the garment was the common dress at the time and remains a key aspect of scottish formal attire.

Irish kilts are more recent, taking inspiration from the scottish kilt, Irish kilts were designed as a representative garment of Irish colours, design and Celtic connections, sometimes commonly wore for Irish occasions & Celtic events.


In Scotland kilts were worn religiously in the 17th & 18th century and clan tartans worn as kilts were seen as a means of identification for clans with many areas divided into clans & families with a tartan to represent their name/land.

In Ireland kilts aren't as mainstream nor traditionally part of Irish culture as Ireland has its own rich history of traditional clothing. Irish kilts are means to celebrate Irish pride & identity sometimes worn for special occasions.


Construction wise there is little to know difference between scottish and Irish kilts it often tends to be the choice of tartan that differs, there is thousands of scottish tartans including hundreds of names and clan tartans that trace back to highlanders. A traditional scottish kilt is primarily woven & hand stitched in Scotland's.

Irish kilts follow the same structure but tend to reflect tartans symbolising Irish pride, colours & meaning alongside details such as shamrocks & Celtic symbols.

Does it matter if I wear an Irish or Scottish kilt?-

At the end of the day the beauty of the tartan kilt is that it can be celebrated by anyone of any background and any culture. kilts will always remain a key aspect of scottish & Irish culture but there is no rules to kilts and highland wear clothing is welcome to everyone. The tartan you may choose to wear comes down purely to personal preference.

If you have any questions on kilt hire, bookings, or anything, we would love to welcome you in store or alternatively you can reach out to us at or call us on 0141 889 4879
You can shop our full hire range available to browse and book at

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