If you’re going to wear a kilt, you need to wear proper footwear. If you’re simply wearing the kilt to a party or other casual event, any type of shoe will do. However, if you’re considering wearing your kilt as part of a professional look, there are some boots that will work well with your outfit.
Boots To Wear With A Kilt
If you want to dress up your kilt for a professional occasion and still maintain some of the casual comfort that comes from wearing this traditional Scottish garment, then you should consider wearing cowboy boots with your outfit. The boots can be worn with either jeans or khakis and will give off an air of rugged masculinity that is sure to impress your coworkers (or customers) if you’re at work when wearing this style of footwear.
Boots For Casual Events
If you’re just attending a casual event such as a wedding or party where people aren’t necessarily dressed up in suits or other professional attire, then any type of shoe will do. You can wear tennis shoes or even flip flops if they’re available at the venue where the event is being held and still look good while doing so (although we don’t recommend doing this unless absolutely necessary).
Boots To Wear With Kilts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.