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Bodice Pattern
Vest Pattern
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National Wear BookletNew Item
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Men's Wear
Great Kilt Directions
Jacobite Shirt Pattern
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Children's Wear
Boy's Highland Set Pattern
Girl's Highland Set Pattern

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Doll Highland Dress Patterns

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the difference between the woman’s vest and the bodice?

A. The bodice is the Ancient Scottish style worn with the Arisaid (Air-a-sawed). The man’s version was the Great Kilt. The bodice was the functional support garment worn on the outside of the clothing. In 1767, the English decreed all Scottish things, including bagpipes, illegal in an attempt to squelch national identity. Needing more British troops, including the hostile Scots, to fight the war with the American colonies, England raised the ban on the wearing of the tartan and the playing of the pipes in the early 1780s. Scottish dress changed, and, no longer a support garment, the bodice became the vest style in dark velvets. The Arisaid, or belted tartan, became a gathered skirt with separate plaide (rhymes with “lemonade”), which is Gaelic for “blanket.” The gown remained the basic style, but huge, puffy sleeves were all the rage. We are told that they were so large that the dresses were carried to their destination, and then tied to the gown with little ribbons. Today, attaching little tartan ribbons around the armholes represents that time in history.


Q. Where is the National Dress worn?

A. It is worn at any ceremonial event, such as a wedding, prom, Scottish or Celtic dance, parade, highland dance competition requiring National Dress (check with your dance instructor for any variation to the pattern). The dress is also worn on National Tartan Day or at Burn’s Night. The National Dress booklet tells how to wear the costume and shows how to cut the skirt and the plaide.


Q. Where is the Ancient Arisaid worn?

A. It is worn at Renaissance Faires and weddings, re-enactment gatherings, and Scottish movie premiers, depending on the time period shown. The Ancient Dress booklet shows how to measure for enough tartan and how to wear the Arisaid. The Arisaid is what is considered the whole ancient outfit, but sometimes the outfit’s tartan is referred to as “the Arisaid.”


Q. Is there any set way to wear the two outfits?

A. The Ancient Arisaid is said to have been worn “anyway that pleased their fancy.” Although utilitarian, the outfit was arranged in many different, attractive ways. Generally, the tartan was gathered around the waist over the ankle-length gown and belted, leaving the opening in front. The top of the tartan from the waist was arranged any way that was comfortable for the wearer. The woman’s Arisaid tartan was gathered while a man’s Great Kilt was folded into large, soft-pressed pleats. The bodice was worn with or without the square peplums. The modern Woman’s Woman’s Highland Dress is formalized as Scotland’s National Dress. The ancient and the modern National Dress should not have pieces interchanged.


Q. What kind of shoes did the Scots wear?

A. We assume that the woman wore the same as the men, which was a “gillie,” shoes with no tongues and long laces. The Gillie Brogue is named after the gillie, the traditional Scottish gamekeeper and outdoorsman. The only thing of mention about the women on this subject was of them going barefoot or wearing socks that they pleated “to make their legs look cylindrical.” Maybe the socks just fell down into pleats, or with the Scottish propensity to pleat, maybe they were pleated around the leg and tied at the top. The women most likely wore gillies when wearing the pleated socks. The women’s gillies were thin-soled compared to the men’s thick-soled version, designed for use in muddy fields.


National Highland Dress
Women's Modern National Highland Dress


Women's Ancient Wear


Scottish Patterns



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