There are many different types of boots to wear with a kilt, but here are some of the most popular.

Boots To Wear With Your Kilt

Chelsea Boots: Chelsea boots are the most popular choice for men when it comes to wearing with a kilt. They are highly versatile and can be worn with anything from jeans or chinos, to formal suits. They have a timeless look that works well with traditional kilts but also modern ones as well. Chelsea boots come in all styles from ankle height to high top and even over the knee styles for those that want something super trendy!

Formal Shoes: If you’re looking for something more formal than your typical Chelsea boot then you could try wearing some Oxford shoes or brogues with your kilt outfit! These are great if you want something more sophisticated or if you’re planning on going out somewhere nice while wearing your kilt outfit. They work well with both traditional and modern kilts alike!

Boots To Wear With Kilt

WHAT SHOES DO YOU WEAR WITH A KILT?

When you think of a kilt outfit, often the shoes are the last thing you will think of. This is understandable as the bright colours of a kilt are usually what your eyes see first but that isn’t to say that the shoes are any less important. The shoes you wear with a kilt are the finishing touch to your outfit and add an extra flare of style to your look and therefore warrants some added attention.

What type of shoe you wear will largely depend on the event you are attending. If you are wearing a kilt on a hill walk, wellies or hiking boots are definitely going to be the most appropriate option but when wearing a kilt to a more formal event, brogues are the way to go.

The word brogue originates from the Gaelic bróg (Irish), bròg (Scottish) meaning shoe. Modern brogues can be traced back to the 16th century and were originally created for outdoor walking. Have you ever wondered what the purpose of those small perforated holes on the toe of a brogue are for? Well, they are there for style these days but originally they were designed to allow water to drain from the shoe when walking on wet or boggy terrain. Brogues back then were common or working class footwear and would never have been worn to formal events. However, these days brogues are the main choice when it comes to kilt outfits.

Tartan Ghillie Brogues - MacGregor and MacDuff

In general terms there are two main types of brogues to choose from when putting together your kilt outfit. Ghillie Brogues are your first option and they have two main differences from other types of brogues. The first difference is that ghillie brogues don’t have a tongue, which historically would have allowed the brogues to dry out quickly. The second difference is that ghillie brogues have long laces that are wrapped around the wearer’s ankle and tied just below the calf. The reason for the long laces would originally have been to keep them out of the mud and dirt. Ghillie brogues are fond favorites for formal events like weddings and Ceilidhs and are seen as the most traditional type of footwear for a kilt outfit.

Kilt Brogues - MacGregor and MacDuff

The second option is Day Brogues which are sometimes known as, especially in the United States, Wingtips due to the W shape in the toe cap. Day brogues also have decorative holes on the toe cap but have short laces and a tongue. Day brogues are arguably suitable for all events. They are a great option for people who want the ease of tying normal laces and the practicality of being able to wear them to any occasions. 

You could choose to wear any type of smart shoe with your kilt outfit but we would always recommend a good pair of either ghillie or day brogues. They are available in many different styles and designs which means you’ll have no problem finding a pair that will suit your outfit needs. A good pair of brogues if kept well maintained will also last a lifetime so they are a worthwhile investment.

Footwear

Ghillie brogues

What footwear you adopt, all depends on the occasion and there are no hard and fast rules; your choice can range from bare feet through to the ubiquitous ghillie brogies. If you’re out walking then you should wear what’s suitable for the conditions and what you’re comfortable in – trainers, sneakers, walking boots, fashion boots or welly-gogs.

If it’s a smarter affair then you might want to wear a pair of brogues. If it’s an evening event standard fare seems to be ghillie brogues with the long laces that you twist round the ankles but don’t feel those are essential – you can actually wear any brogues (black, brown or whatever) that you fancy and indeed, you don’t need to wear brogues at all – a good pair of presentable day shoes would be quite in order – as long as they don’t look out of place with the outfit you’re wearing. That would also cut down on the expense since they would double up for wearing with clothes other than Highland dress. That has the added advantage that they’d get ‘broken in’ a lot quicker.

White hose should be banished to the other side of the moon!


As an aside, you may have read elsewhere on our website that modern brogues – known the world over – have evolved from the Highland brogan. Those were the primitive deerskin footwear worn by Highlanders in which they punched holes to let the water OUT. Those laces on the ghillie brogues are also a hangover from those days when the deerskin brogan were secured by long laces extending up the calf.

Three kilted figures with brogues.

Above: Very smart and no white hose or ghillie brogues in sight!

If you’d like to really go to town with your evening Highland dress then you could look for a pair of new but old-fashioned buckle shoes along the lines of the ones shown in our banner illustrtation above and reapeated below. At the moment, we don’t know of a reliable source of high quality shoes like this, but when we do, we’ll update this section.

Buckle brogues in soft leather.

Don’t get trapped into thinking that you must buy black ghillie brogues and become a Highland dress clone! It’s not a uniform and you can stamp (good pun!) your own individuality onto your outfit with your choice of shoes. Do remember that ghillie brogues are certainly not essential (or even desirable) and you could reduce your expenditure by buying some good everyday shoes that were perfectly suitable with Highland dress – and they don’t even need to be brogues.

Especially smart tan ghillie brogues.
Will dark brown look good with your outfit?
How about a pair of wine-coloured brogues if they look good with your kilt?
Tan brogues - ultra-smart with toning jacket, kilt or sweater.
A pair of good brogues are a good investment and are perfect for wearing with Highland dress.
How smart will these patent leather evening shoes look for a special dinner or ball!
The beautiful Glenfinnan shoe was inspired by the buckle shoes famously worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie and his military commander-in chief during 1745 Jacobite uprising.
If you're in casual Highland dress then even Doc Martins are acceptable!

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