What Scots used to wear Before Kilts?

We’ve all seen Highlanders and traditional Scottish people wearing kilts. However, there’s always a curiosity to know what Scots used to wear before men’s kilts. To address this query and confusion, we need to look back at Scottish clothing history.References to kilts or belted plaids from the 1500s suggest that there was something else before kilts. History tells us that Braveheart and other Scottish warriors used to wear something else before kilts. It wasn’t a kilt, but still interesting.If you love to wear modern kilts, you might like our Utility kilts collection. But what did the Scots wear before kilts?

Scottish Clothing History – Era before Kilts

If you love to wear modern kilts, you might like our Utility kilts collection. But what did the Scots wear before kilts?

Whats with Yellow Dye?

You might have seen Scottish clothing made up of yellow shirts and wondered why. In the earlier days, horse urine was a common dye for medieval Scots. Yellow shirts or tunics used to dominate the landscape in battles or large gatherings.

If you’re feeling “eww,” you’ll be pleased to know that it wasn’t the only dye used. Scots also used saffron to dye their shirts, but it was a pricey color, so only the wealthy Scots could afford it. Less wealthy Scots dyed their cloth in grease.

The tunics were called leine croich, and the wearer would wear a belt over them. A close-fitting leather jacket, called a jerkin, was occasionally worn with the yellow tunic. The leine croich was popular until the 16th century when kilts began to rise in popularity. One of the oldest styles of kilt is the Great Kilt.

Painted Bodies

Early Scots not only dyed their clothes but also their bodies. Roman accounts of fighting early Celts mention some Celts who were blue. The blue paint was made from a plant called woad. The Romans called the blue Celtic people to their north a nickname derived from the Latin “pingere,” meaning “to paint.”

The Picts, a coalition of indigenous northern Celtic tribes, also resisted Roman rule. Although the Picts were distinct from Scots, they lived north of Hadrian’s Wall and were contemporaries of the Scots. The Picts united with the Scots in the 9th century CE to defend themselves from Viking raids. Modern Scots can trace their lineage to both ancient Scottish people and the Picts.

Checkout: How do women wear tartan?

What accessories they used to wear?

The ancient Celts had great taste in accessories. Men wore belts with their tunics, and women wore dresses fastened with brooches. High-status members of the tribe wore torcs, a semi-circular ring worn as a necklace that was highly decorated and made of gold, silver, or iron. Checkout the Fly Plaid Brooch here.


The tam o’shanter is considered the most iconic Scottish headgear. However, ancient Celtic warriors also wore ornate bronze helmets. The helmets had decorative features such as horns or various other animals. When Celts went to battle, they wore their hair in white spikes, using lime to shape their hair into these spikes.

18th Century Highland Dress

The highland dress, which originated in the 18th century, is depicted in Outlander. You can rely on the accuracy and authenticity of this movie. However, many other series and movies are based on fiction and do not depict Scottish history accurately.

Checkout: How to wear tartan when you are not Scottish?

What are not Traditional Scottish Garments?

There are many Scottish garments that are presented as traditional but are actually modern-day inventions.You may have seen clan chiefs wearing feathers in their hats or headdresses. Some believe that Scots adopted this tradition in Victorian times, inspired by American Indian headdresses. You may have also heard of the shorter kilt that most people associate with Highland dress. However, it is a contemporary style developed by Thomas Rawlinson. These are a few facts that you should be aware of. So, what did Scots wear before kilts? Not much, really! Yellow tunics or leines were worn by both men and women. However, kilts have always been the most powerful symbol that depicts Scottish heritage. We recommend celebrating those who wear kilts as they are proud of Scottish culture and heritage. Don’t forget to share this with others! If you want to enjoy a modern-style kilt, we recommend trying our Tactical Kilt. You are going to love it.


  • Connor Anderson

    Connor Anderson, a writer diving into fashion topics, especially kilts, jackets, and more. From classic kilts to stylish jackets, I break down the trends and styles in a straightforward manner.

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