Ask Allie: How to Style a Kilt

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I have a knee-length red plaid woolen kilt I picked up on a college trip to Scotland almost 20 years ago. I trek it out once a season or so, usually around the holidays, but I like it and am trying to think of ways to get more wear out of it beyond the expected “Going to the Nutcracker” kind of look. Any ideas?

Yes, that skirt deserves to come out more than once a year! However I do understand the issue with looking too holiday, as though you’re wearing a costume, or trying to be Mid Life Crisis Britney. The best way to wear accomplish this is to style it as though it is not a kilt. Steer clear of traditional pairings and add something unexpected and it will look fresh and modern.

how to style a kilt women


Gray will tone down the red and keep it from feeling Christmas-y. While a cashmere crewneck and white button-front is pretty classic, pairing the look with modern black leather ankle boots keeps it current. Hair and makeup can really make this look; keep both relaxed and a bit disheveled. Beachy waves and a bit of kohl will go a long way and look far more modern than polished hair and red lips.

how to style a kilt scottish woman


Add a bit of a tough edge to your classic kilt with leather. A black leather jacket and biker boots will be a modern contrast. Unlike the above look, style such an ensemble with very polished hair and face to keep it from looking like a costume; smooth hair with red lips and gently flushed cheeks will look fresh.

how to style a scottish kilt women


A bit of purposeful rumpling will take a look from prep overload to modern cool. A gray tweed blazer with a tailored fit is a great pairing for your kilt; roll the sleeves and maybe pop the collar to keep it from feeling like a uniform. A classic Breton tee is a pattern that will mix nicely with the plaid and also keep it from feeling too much like a uniform. A pair of tall boots with a solid heel will finish the look and keep you warm.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Great ideas Allie! I’d certainly wear similar things. The only concern I have is that if the kilt is actually a kilt (rather than a tarten skirt designed for women) then I think you’re just going to struggle not to look like you’re wearing a costume (‘cos you are!). The OP might need to pack the kilt away as a momento and just buy a tarten skirt!

  2. Now if I could find the perfect women’s kilt I would be thrilled! Just what I need to carry my Outlander obsession over to RL…

  3. I had a college year in Edinburgh (full disclosure: in 1993)- but I think it still holds true – the sexiest men in kilts were the ones who were rumpled – casual shirt or wooly sweater, and socks + boots. Like the kilt just replaced jeans. (lordy, I’m fanning myself thinking about it). I think this can apply to women too. Kilts and texture go together. Allie’s advice about the leather jacket is great, and the breton tee is inspired. But don’t forget chambray! What about chambray and slip-on sneaks (or booties if it’s cold – even booties and wooly socks). I think the trick is avoiding twin sets, is all, or fussy white shirts.

  4. Thank you, these are great ideas! I have been integrating more and more gray into my wardrobe anyway, but love the idea of mixing them with my red kilt, had not thought of that. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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