The History of the Sporran

To a lot of our customer’s surprise, choosing the tartan and jacket & waistcoat is only the first step of putting together your full Highland outfit. There are several different accessories to be chosen which all make up a traditional outfit, and should always be worn when wearing full Highland dress. The first accessory to choose is your sporran, an extremely functional and decorative feature.

The word sporran is Gaelic for purse, and serves as just that for a traditional kilt outfit. Sporrans were born out of necessity to work as a pocket; and would be used to store coins, fire-making paraphernalia, as well as oats and onions! The design of a sporran has greatly developed over time; originally extremely simple in design, and gathered at the top by basic drawstrings. A feature that has stayed consistent in the design of a sporran are the tassels at the front – it has been told that they were featured initially to hit flies away from the food supplies that were kept inside the sporran.

A sporran is worn at the front of your kilt and should sit centre to your waistcoat. It should be sitting just underneath your waistcoat, but not touching. The chain straps should always match the finish on your cantle – typically polished or matt pewter, and occasionally gold. The leather straps at the end of the chain strap fasten together at the back and can be put through the kilt straps. The chain straps should always sit on top of the belt buckles to ensure the sporran does not fall down!

The demand for different styles of sporrans has been prominent over the past few years, and there are a range of different designs to choose from. Semi-dress sporrans are more casual, and usually worn as a ‘day sporran’.  Typically leather with a flap on the front, this sporran is usually worn with a ghillie outfit or to casual events. A dress sporran is for more formal events, and therefore is the common choice for weddings, graduations and parties. This type of sporran has a cantle at the top, featuring intricate designs and patterns which can be matched to your other accessories. Sporrans are the basis of your accessory choices; kilt pins and sgian dubhs should be chosen to compliment.

MacGregor and MacDuff have a range of different sporrans to choose from. Please contact our Communication Team at [email protected] if you have any questions regarding our sporrans.