What to Wear with Tartan Trews
Updated: Jun 8
It's a question we're often asked: 'What do I wear with tartan trews?' Long time wearers of kilts are sometimes slightly intimidated by tartan trews because they pose many new questions on acceptable etiquette. And although these questions may at first appear difficult to answer, we'll try in this blog post to break down those barriers and show that ultimately wearing trews is extremely easy to master!
All successful outfits need a solid foundation. Never is this more true than when donning your tartan trews. Arguably, if you get the shoes wrong, then you'll get it all wrong, no matter what you wear up top.
Now we're all for challenging certain style conventions at Gunn & Grant, but in our opinion there are still some things that must remain sacred. So we suggest a pair of black Oxfords - usually with a toe cap.
We know there are people out there who are attached to their brogues. We love them too! But strictly with a kilt, where the intricate and busy broguing is far enough away from the (usually) already busy tartan.
When wearing trews, the tartan is that much closer to the feet, so the simplicity of the Oxfords is effective and lets the tartan do the talking. They're also quite a strong as part of a more military look. This is useful if you've opted for certain tartans, in particular Black Watch.
A pair we really like the look of is the Arnold by Barker. Its high shine and subtle stitch detail tick all the right boxes.
Do you wear a belt with tartan trews?
The decision of whether to opt for a belt or not really depends on the style of trews you have decided to wear. Argyll trews, for example, should always be worn with a belt. This style of trews has a 3 inch waistband with belt loops perfect for a kilt belt - see the next photo below for a good illustration. Unlike a kilt - where the belt is traditionally often removed when the jacket comes off - the belt should always stay on when wearing Argyll trews.
With fishtail trews, which are worn with braces, it's really down to personal preference. Some trews in this style are actually made with belt loops. Our fishtail trews, however, are not. Our preference? Leave the belt at home. In our opinion, using both belt and braces is a bit overkill.
One of the many benefits of owning a pair of tartan trews is that all of those highland jackets you already own, from that Prince Charlie you got for your 21st birthday to that custom tweed Braemar, can all be worn with a proper pair of Argyll trews.
As long as your new trews are properly made (like the ones here at Gunn & Grant) they will sit pretty much precisely the same height as a kilt. So all those jackets that are cut slightly shorter, not only are they not off limits, their value to you in your wardrobe has massively increased.
Here's a case in point as worn by Gunn & Grant's very own model, George. This navy tweed crail jacket looks amazing teamed with a pair of our Ancient Bruce Argyll trews.
Want to keep it 100% traditional? Then you will struggle to go wrong with the Prince Charlie Jacket. Here it is partnered with a 3 button waistcoat and the Gunn & Grant Fishtail Back Trews in Ancient Smith tartan.
Oh hey there, rule breaker! We like your style. Now it may be frowned upon by certain parts of the highland wear community, but wearing trews with a morning jacket is becoming increasingly popular and is now quite often a sought after wedding day look. Sure, the jacket may be considered too long against the high waisted look of Argyll Trews, but as with a lot of things, wear it with confidence and standard rules need not always apply.
It's now even accepted practice in certain hire wear establishments to mix and match elements like this, even if such a package doesn't yet exist on the price list.
Along a similar theme as the tailcoats, there is also the classic dinner jacket to take into consideration. Again, you may find yourself up against some detractors when it comes to the combo of long jacket and high waisted trews. But if you're looking for some sartorial solidarity, look no further than our American cousins who have been big proponents of this look since the 1950s. Indeed there was a time when it would be unusual to venture into one of the east coast country clubs and not see at least a handful of gentleman sporting tartan trews with either a white, black, or velvet evening jacket. Often these would even be accompanied by matching tartan accessories, such is the enthusiasm for Scottish heritage from a lot of North Americans.
Wear it well
So when it comes to choosing what to wear with tartan trews, you certainly have a variety of options. But whatever you choose, just remember to wear it well and wear it with confidence - sometimes you have to break some rules and conventions to make way for individual style.
A subject we haven't covered here is shirts! So be sure to check out our dedicated post on this, so that you know your wing collar from your Victorian collar!
However, we believe the hero product will always be the trews! You can shop our handcrafted and made to measure tartan trews here.