If you have questions, we have answers. Many people are interested in kilts, and all things Celtic, but are unsure of the history of this famous garment. Read on for some answers to our most commonly asked questions.
Sporrans usually have three tassels, as that is the most traditional makeup. However, sporrans can range from no tassels up to six. Tassels were introduced to the sporran by the military during the 18th century. Tassels are typically used to set apart one type of sporran from another and signify who was wearing them. Day-use sporrans often have no tassels while formal sporrans can have a minimum of three tassels.
Tassels on a sporran traditionally tell people something about who is wearing the sporran. For example, different military regiments had different tassels to tell them apart. The Black Watch had white hair with five short black tassels while Argyll Highlanders had black hair with six short white tassels. Sporrans were part of a soldier’s daily uniform and signified their unit. Tassels can also range in length from short to long.
Because kilts do not have pockets, a sporran is intended to be a pocket for the wearer. The kilt wearer would need a place to store their personal items, like money. Sporrans are traditionally made of leather or fur, and they are designed to complement the formality of the kilt with which they are worn.
The original purpose of the sporran is debatable. However, there are three accepted original uses. One, the wearer used the sporran as a lunch bag of sorts. It was perfect for carrying food. Second, the sporran was used as a pocket, not necessarily for food. Of course, food was acceptable to have in it. Third, the sporran was used to distinguish the wearer. A sporran could show things like a clan, military unit, and wealth.
The sporran should hang below your belt in the middle of your body. You should be able to draw a line down your body through your buttons, tie, sporran, and buckle. Typically, the sporran should hang four or five inches, or about the measure of your hand, below the top of your kilt. It is appropriate to shift your sporran to your side or back when carrying something heavy or dancing with a lady.
What's kept in a sporran is entirely up to the wearer. Like a wallet or purse, it's a personal choice, like phone, keys, credit cards, etc. However, there is an old legend that claims there are certain things one must always have in their sporran. If you're asked and can't produce the item, you owe the asker a drink. These items include a shilling, a clean handkerchief, and a flask of Scotch.
No law says a woman cannot wear a sporran. However, women typically do not wear kilts. There is a variety of Highland dress for women, including kilted skirts, earasaids, sashes, and more. Women can carry purses or handbags with their clothes, so there isn't necessarily a need for a woman to wear a sporran. If she really wants to, a woman can wear a sporran, though she might get some odd looks.
Wearing a belt with your sporran is usually a perfectly acceptable practice. It is generally seen as a matter of personal preference. Some people choose to wear belts while others would rather not. The only time it is unacceptable to wear a belt with a sporran is when you are wearing a dress sporran.
It is essential to wear your sporran correctly. If your sporran is not correct, you might get some funny looks from other kilt-wearers. Typically, your sporran hangs about three fingers below your belt buckle, if you're wearing one, or about one hand below the top of your kilt. There should be a straight line through your buttons, tie, belt buckle, and sporran. If you are dancing, you can move the sporran to your side.
A kilt traditionally does not have pockets. The sporran was created to have a place to hold personal items, whether it was food, money, or something else. The sporran is the pouch worn with a kilt. It is typically made of leather or fur. There are three different types of sporrans, daywear, semi-dress, and formal dress. What sporran you wear depends on the event you are attending.