www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

An Introduction to Highland Dress




Highland Dress has become the distinctive costume of the whole of Scotland, despite its suppression as a symbol of Scottish independence. Its components were drawn from elements in daily use within the Highlands, but these have become rationalised for use in modern life and tailored fashions.

It was the Victorian age that transformed costume and Scottish symbols in general, but there would have been little sentimentality for early Highland dress as it was a practical matter and a fact of life. With this in mind, it is good to visualise the practical and economic realities that the earlier forms represent.

The Scottish regiments continued to use Highland dress since they were government forces, and their forms of dress influenced the creation of the modern form, practical for military tailoring and evening dress. The lowland forces, for instance, adapted trews into a military uniform employing tartan.

The wealthy classes, apart from their own military connections, often had a Highland background or property. It was then Queen Victoria's royal patronage that resolved the developing elements into a regular form for use in society.