The Evolution of the Kilt — What the Highlanders Never Wore

People’s love of the kilt has led to many misperceptions throughout history.  Unfortunately, those misperceptions are often much better know than the facts.  This page is intended to clear up those misperceptions with proof of historical fact.

One source of much misdocumentation is R. R. McIan’s famous work, The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published first in 1845.  The book lists each clan’s history, name derivation, tartan, arms, armorial insignia, badge, and war-cry.  James Logan, an author of some renown and McIan’s contemporary, provides the text.  Although there is much useful information in the book, the pictures should not be taken for historical fact.  Like his contemporaries, McIan and Logan believed the kilt to be of ancient origins, evolving from the animal skin loincloths that the “cavemen” must have worn.  We know today that the kilt developed from the brat or mantle that the Gael wore around their shoulders, and not from any lower body garment.

Buy the rest of this splendid article on Scottish Historical Dress by clothing historian Kass McGann: