Kilts are associated with Scottish and Irish heritage and have a long tradition as a part of Celtic culture. For Irish and Scottish gents, kilts can be a way to show off pride for their nationalities, and that leads to an important question–is it offensive for non-Scots to wear a kilt?
Unfortunately, there is no single answer. To determine whether it’s a good idea or not, consider the following:
– The Kilt Style.
The plaid patterns of tartan kilts are often associated with heraldry. Scottish and Irish families often have a tartan pattern that is considered to be theirs. If someone from one of those families were to see you wearing their tartan, they may take offense, especially if you’re a stranger and not a Scot or Irishman at all. It is also generally considered to be poor taste to wear a Scottish or Irish military kilt if you are not a service member or veteran or to wear an organization’s tartan if you are not a member. If you want to steer clear of tartans entirely, there are still many other types of kilts that you can choose from. Contemporary, utility and hybrid kilts are all great choices for guys who aren’t Scots.
– The Occasion.
If you’re at a highland games, a Celtic or Scottish festival or a wedding where the gentlemen will be wearing kilts, you can easily sport a kilt without offending anyone; however, if you’re attending a Halloween party or a fancy dress party, someone who is Scottish might find a kilt worn as a costume to be offensive and disrespectful of their heritage. Wearing a kilt everyday for work or to a club will typically not be construed as offensive.
– The Context.
Even though you are unlikely to offend anyone by wearing a kilt that isn’t associated with heraldry, military service or an organization, how you behave in a kilt could be offensive, and not just to Scots. Make sure that you remember to keep your legs closed when you’re wearing a kilt and to be modest. That rule applies to Scots, too!
– How You Wear It.
Another important thing to consider when you’re planning to wear a kilt and you’re not a Scot is the fit. A kilt that doesn’t fit well and is too short and tight or too baggy or sloppy might look like you are mocking Scotsmen. That’s why it’s best to choose a kilt that fits well. Better yet, have a kilt made especially to your specifications, so that you’re guaranteed you will look your best in it.