Many Subcultures Wear Kilts to Express Their Style.
Goth is Just One.
Kilts are not just for traditional dress or fusty formal occasions. For as long as there have been Celtic rebels, there have been rebels sporting kilts. From the Jacobites of the 18th century, to the Irish Nationalists, to the punk rockers of 1980s … Kilts = Freedom. Today this includes music scenes and subcultures all around the world. In this series we will highlight a few of them for you. If you’re into one of these scenes, we hope to hear from you! If you have never heard of them before, prepare for some eye-opening!
Goth as a subculture and a collection of dress styles has its roots in Punk and New Wave (“New Romantic”) fashions of the early days. There are myriad offshoots of looks just like there are myriad forms of music which Goths enjoy; either exclusively or as a buffet of dark vibes. If you’re in the scene at all, you probably already know the differences between Death Rock, Rivet-head, Neo-Victorian, Goth-a-billy, Cybergoth, etc. Goth kilts have been utilized by them all.
For Goths, kilts and skirts occupy a about the same space. Whether worn by a man or a woman, it may be very traditionally cut and styled or it may be very, very modern and streamlined incorporating fetish decorations such as chains, straps, D-rings, grommets etc.
Contemporary kilts have mainly been utilized by guys and girls into the industrial end of the scene and are a more recent fashion trend which began in the late 1990s (Tripp skirts and pants and their knock-offs are still around) and became more of a staple in the last ten to fifteen years. Sadly, many of the pseudo-kilts and fetish skirts sold now are of poor quality and fit badly (Hot Topic, I am looking at you) and the term “goth kilt” is slapped on a lot of products online.
This is one reason we here at my company are seeing more and more Goths come into the shop for a custom traditional kilt they can get multiple looks out of. Where a typical Celtic kilt is usually knee-length, Goths may opt for below-the-knee to add more flow, a longer body line and an androgynous vibe.
Traditional Celtic Kilts for Old-fashioned Goths
Traditional Celtic kilts are usually preferred by Romantic Goths, Victorian Goths, Medieval Goths and the like (with some crossover into the Steampunk scene, but we’ll discuss that in another entry). However, since they are so simple and flow so nicely, they have appeal across the scene. This is one area where the goth roots in the old punk scene are very clear — punks have always preferred tartan plaid and traditional kilts.
But this is certainly not punk — its more aristocratic and elegant (often with a dash of whimsy). Romantic and Victorian Goths will often pair a traditional kilt with other Highland wear elements such as Wallace Jackets and Vests, Prince Charlie Jackets and Vests, or a Chieftain’s Vest. The fact that these usually come in black with bright chrome buttons just makes it that much easier!
Cyberpunk, Apocalyptic and the Kilted Femme-fatale
Ladies goth kilts vary in length dramatically, of course. With custom-made kilts, this is not a problem. Mini-kilts are used for death-rock, punk, cyberpunk and other looks — they are sexy as well as much cooler for dancing.
Full-length kilted skirts tend to work better for the more romantic and medieval looks, or even “corporate goth” – that is, the clothing goths wear for going into the office. (Ladies, please note we can do PV full-length kilt skirts, but do not list them online. Give us a call.)
BLACK, BLACK, BLACK, BLACK, NUMBER ONE
The usual color choice for Goth kilts is…wait for it…100% black! However, very dark tartans are also fun and elegant. The Welsh tartan Glyndwr is a good example — black, slate grey and one thin blood-red line. Charcoals and grays, such as in Highland Granite or Stirling are also good choices. Pleasing dark tartans with more color include Spirit of Scotland, Graham of Mentieth, Black Watch, Scruffy Wallace and Irish Heritage. And then there is Menzies which is simply black and white (which looks amazing under UV, BTW!).
British Goths tend to be more into using tartan in their outfits, for obvious cultural and geographic reasons. You’ll see more plaid at Whitby Gothic Weekend than at Wave Gotik Treffen. Of course, in the States anything goes. A number of Goths here also do Renn Fair or Steampunk events, so a good kilt does double duty.
Where Punks tend to plaster their kilts with random decorations like band patches and safety pins, Goths are more likely to leave them pristine or to use minimal, carefully chosen decoration. Goths are all about precise accessorizing. For example, a chrome kilt pin with a red stone (bonus points if it is bat-shaped or cross-shaped). They also tend to appreciate quality. (“Corporate goth …because nice boots cost money.”)
Elegant Leather Sporrans are a Must
Goths tend to prefer a black sporran with a bit of metal decoration. It runs the gamut. A simple day sporran such as the Simple Pin Sporran or Studded Day Sporran can look great. A semi-dress sporran with black fur is another possibility as is a Leather Dress Sporran. Bagpiper Hunting Sporrans are especially popular. Most sporran decorations are chrome or pewter and either fits the Goth aesthetic well.
The kilt may be worn with just about anything below including traditional kilt hose, slim-fit jeans, leggings, fishnet tights, etc. Boots range from “stompy boots” like New Rocks to classic Winklepickers (or winkle pickers).