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Male highland dress includes kilt (or trews), sporran, sgian dubh and ghillies. Ghillies, or ghillie brogues, are traditional thick soled shoes with no tongues and long laces. The laces are wrapped around and tied above the wearer's ankles so that the shoes do not get pulled off in mud. The shoes lack tongues so the wearer's feet can dry more quickly in typically damp Scottish weather. The ghillie brogue is named after the ghillie, the traditional Scottish gamekeeper and outdoorsman.
Female highland dress includes women's shoes, also called ghillies, that are tied in the same way but have thin soles for indoor wear and dancing. Traditionally, women and girls do not wear kilts but may wear ankle-length tartan skirts. A tartan sash or shawl may also be worn. Women may also wear dress tartans which are modified versions which include white in place of a more prominent colour.
In 1618, a poet from London, John Taylor described the costume of Scottish aristocrats, lairds, and their followers and servants, dressed for hunting at Braemar. In August and September, all classes dressed in the same fashion by custom, as if equals. This included tartan stockings and jerkins, with garters of twisted straw, and a finer plaid mantle round their shoulders. They had knotted handkerchiefs at their necks and wore blue caps. Taylor said the tartan was "warm stuff of diverse colours."
Near the end of the seventeenth century, Martin Martin gave a description of traditional women's clothing in the Western Islands, the arisaid with its brooches and buckles.
"The ancient dress wore by the women, and which is yet wore by some of the vulgar, called arisad, is a white plaid, having a few small stripes of black, blue and red; it reached from the neck to the heels, and was tied before on the breast with a buckle of silver or brass, according to the quality of the person. I have seen some of the former of an hundred marks value; it was broad as any ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraven with various animals etc. There was a lesser buckle which was wore in the middle of the larger, and above two ounces weight; it had in the centre a large piece of crystal, or some finer stone, and this was set all around with several finer stones of a lesser size. The plaid being pleated all round, was tied with a belt below the breast; the belt was of leather, and several pieces of silver intermixed with the leather like a chain. The lower end of the belt has a piece of plate about eight inches long, and three in breadth, curiously engraven; the end of which was adorned with fine stones, or pieces of red coral. They wore sleeves of scarlet cloth, closed at the end as men's vests, with gold lace round them, having plate buttons with fine stones. The head dress was a fine kerchief of linen strait (tight) about the head, hanging down the back taper-wise; a large lock of hair hangs down their cheeks above their breast, the lower end tied with a knot of ribbands."
According to the English military chaplain Thomas Morer, in 1689 Highland men wore plaids about seven or eight yards long, which covered from the neck to the knees except the right arm. Beneath the plaid they wore a waistcoat or a shirt to the same length as the drape of the plaid. These were "belted plaids." Their stockings were made of the same stuff as the plaid and their shoes were called "brocks" (brogues). Bonnets were blue or "sad" coloured. Morer noted that the fineness of the fabric varied according to the wealth and status of the man. Scottish Lowlanders were dressed much like the English, except both men and women also used a plaid as a cloak. The Lowland women wrapped their plaids over their heads as hoods.
Boy wearing open necked velvet doublet, kilt and plaid
Traditionally, black tie Scots Highland dress comprises:
Black barathea jacket with silver buttons—Regulation Doublet, Prince Charlie (coatee), Brian Boru, Braemar, Argyll, and black mess jackets are suitable. There is some contention about whether the Duke of Montrose and Sheriffmuir doublets are too formal for black-tie occasions.
The traditional[dubious– discuss] white-tie version of Highland dress consists of:
Formal kilt doublet in barathea or velvet— the regulation doublet, Montrose doublet, Sheriffmuir doublet, and Kenmore doublet are suitable in a variety of colours. Velvet is considered to be a more formal material. The Prince Charlie (coatee) is considered to be less formal, although when introduced it was to be worn with a White lace jabot. Tartan jackets are also seen.
Waistcoat in white marcella, tartan (usually to match the kilt), red, or the same material as the doublet; no waistcoat is worn with the Kenmore doublet or Montrose doublet
White stiff-front shirt with wing collar and white, gold, or silver studs and cufflinks for the regulation doublet, or a white formal shirt and optional lace cuffs for the Montrose, Sheriffmuir, and Kenmore doublets
White lacejabot; a black silk or white marcella bow tie may be worn in place of the jabot with the regulation doublet (highland wear often includes a black bow tie even at white-tie events)