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What are Ghillie Brogues

What are Ghillie Brogues

Scotland's rich cultural heritage is a fascinating tapestry of historical elements, with its traditional attire playing a significant role. The vibrancy of tartan kilts, trews, and the elegance of tweed jackets might dominate in telling a vivid story of the country's cultural journey, but don’t overlook the humble Ghillie Brogue when delving into Scotland’s rich history.

But what is a Ghillie Brogue and where did this iconic piece of footwear come from?

In this article, we invite you to explore the world of the Ghillie Brogue with us. We'll delve into their origins, distinctive design features, and cultural relevance in traditional and contemporary contexts. Whether you're a fashion enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who wants to know what they’ve just ordered as part of their Rathbones Tailor Highland wear outfit, this journey promises to be an engaging trip down Scotland's sartorial memory lane.


Ghillie Brogues, originating from Scotland, are a traditional type of shoe characterized by their lack of a tongue and long laces. The term "Ghillie" is derived from Gaelic, referring to a man or a boy who served as a hunting or fishing guide in the Scottish Highlands. The term "Brogue" is used broadly to describe a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally made from untanned leather. Often with ornamental perforated patterns in the leather.

Ghillie Brogues lack a tongue, allow for better ventilation and comfort. They also possess long laces that are secured with a knot around the ankle and calf. The shoe's upper part features decorative perforations or "broguing," which initially served the practical purpose of allowing water to drain from the shoes when crossing wet terrains but now adds an aesthetic appeal. It’s the original, breathable mountain shoe and we are here for it!


Ghillie Brogues are more than just traditional footwear; they are an essential part of Scottish formal attire. Primarily, they are worn during special occasions such as weddings, highland games, and Burns suppers, lending a touch of cultural authenticity and elegance to the ensemble.

Ghillie Brogues are typically worn with a kilt outfit which includes (of course) a kilt, sporran, kilt hose, and sgian-dubh. The Ghillie Brogues, with their laces tied in a specific manner around the wearer's calves, add the finishing touch to this attire, embodying the spirit of Scotland's rich history.


If you’re fabulous enough to own your own pair of ghillie brogues then below are some pointers in maintenance. Know that when hiring from Rathbones Tailor, we of course take care of this for you.

Proper care and maintenance are crucial to ensuring the longevity of your Ghillie Brogues. First, always clean your shoes after use, using a soft brush to remove dust or dirt. For leather shoes, occasional conditioning with a quality shoe cream can help to prevent cracks and maintain the material's integrity.

In terms of cleaning and storage, avoid common mistakes such as using harsh chemicals, which can damage the material, or storing the shoes in a damp or humid environment, leading to mould growth. Always ensure that your Ghillie Brogues are stored in a cool, dry place, ideally with shoe trees to maintain their shape.


Ghillie Brogues are a celebration of heritage as well as an enduring fashion statement. From the rugged highlands of ancient Scotland to modern formal attire, they encapsulate a timeless appeal. Whether you're donning a pair for a traditional ceremony or opting for a unique fashion choice, Ghillie Brogues truly enrich your experience, adding a dash of history and elegance to every step.

Are you looking for highland wear for your next event? Explore our range of kilts, tartan trews and tweed jackets to rent.