The history of Scotland bonnet hats

The Scottish bonnet has been around since the early 16th century and has grown into several variations from the Balmoral bonnet, Glengarry hat, to the Tam O' Shanter cap.

Being worn through wars and traditional uniforms for hundreds of years, the Scottish bonnet is a recognisable staple to most Scotsmen. However, fashion giants are beginning to recognise the hat as high fashion.

Scottish hat types

The cap is now known as a modern classic, but it's lived through hundreds of years. The three main types of traditional Scottish bonnet hats are Glengarry, Balmoral, and Tam O' Shanter.

Glengarry hat

The Glengarry bonnet is said to have first appeared as the headdress of the Glengarry Fencibles, a military regiment formed in the 1790s. The cap is traditionally made of thick-milled woollen material. It is decorated with a toorie on top, a rosette cockade on the left side, and ribbons hanging behind.

In the 1850s, the Glengarry became a piece of uniform for Scottish Regiments of the British Army. It is now most commonly worn by pipers in the army. To look at our collection of Glengarry hats, click here.

Balmoral hat

The Balmoral bonnet has been recorded to be worn as early as the 16th century. The hat was formerly referred to as the “Kilmarnock bonnet” or the “Kilmarnock cap”. The hat originates from the Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, which is often occupied by the British Royal Family.

The bonnet takes the form of a knitted, soft wool cap with a flat crown. This traditional Scottish hat can be worn as part of both informal and formal Highland dress, making it a beautifully diverse asset to your wardrobe.

Tom O’ Shanter hat

The Tam O' Shanter cap is known best in Scottish culture by the famous 1790 Robert Burns poem, 'Tam O' Shanter'. It is sometimes known as the 'Tammie.' The Tam O' Shanter is a flat bonnet, originally made of wool hand-knitted in one piece, stretched on a wooden disc to give the distinctive flat shape.

Today, the Royal Regiment of Scotland continues to wear the cap. The various battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland identify themselves by wearing distinctive coloured feathers on their bonnets.

Scotland hats in modern fashion

While these hats originated in Scotland as part of the army uniform, they became part of the working class's wardrobe. Into the 19th century, the upper class embraced the bonnets for hunting and shooting all over the UK. Mass immigration of the British to North America then popularised the cap in the USA, beginning the Scottish bonnet hat's worldwide journey into the mainstream.

Today, the Scottish bonnet hat is a globally recognisable piece of fashion.

While still used in the army regiments, women and men wear flat caps as a classic piece of headwear. Massive fashion brands like Burberry and Vivian Westwood constantly add Scottish bonnet hats to their runway collections.

Subsequently, a mass of celebrities has been sighted styling the caps in a variety of cultures.

Final thoughts

At the Scotland Kilt Company, we represent this transition from traditional Highland wear to the current flat cap. We offer a range of Scottish hats, from the conventional Balmoral, Glengarry, or Tam O' Shanter, to the modern countryside golf cap.

Browse our extensive collection of Scottish hats. Whether you are looking for something traditional or modern, you will be sure to find the perfect bonnet with the Scotland Kilt Company.