Scottish Country Dancing in the Washington, D.C. Area, the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia Branches of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

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Top of page What to Wear

  • Shoes - Soft, flexible leather shoes with no heel allow good technique and provide traction: ghillies (Scottish dance shoes), dance pumps, jazz shoes, ballet slippers. For more support, add insoles or orthotics, or a very low heel. Add toe pads for additional cushioning.
  • For classes - Scottish country dancing feels and looks best when clothing permits comfortable freedom of movement. For women, that's usually a skirt full enough to take a big step sideways; for men, a kilt, once they are ready for that investment, or trousers, or (in class) shorts. Some women also prefer loose-fitting trousers for class.
  • For social dances - Many people dress up slightly more than they do for class.
  • For balls - Women wear ball gowns, party dresses or the traditional white dress with a tartan sash. Men wear full Highland evening attire if they have it; others wear a kilt with shirt and tie or a peasant-style shirt. Men who do not own a kilt wear dress slacks with a dressy shirt.

    Newer dancers can often borrow attire from another dancer for balls and other dance parties.

Top of page Dancing Supplies


  • The Ferris Wheel - Ghillies, tartan goods and accessories. Tom Ferris, Montgomery Village, Gaithersburg, MD. Please call 301-258-7412 or e-mail for an appointment.
  • The Scottish Merchant - Kilts, kilt rentals, kilt hose, flashes, sporrans, belts, sghian dubhs, tartan sashes, brooches, and more. No dance shoes. 215 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Phone: 703-739-2302.
  • Deborah Kammalan - Professional kiltmaker with over 40 years of experience. Pasadena, MD.
  • Local events - Scottish heritage events such as Scottish Games, and Scottish dance events such as the Scottish Weekend at Ramblewood sometimes have vendors in attendance who sell ghillies, socks, flashes, tartan sashes, and other Scottish attire.


Scottish Dance Shoes

There are several manufacturers of traditional Scottish dance shoes, ghillies and pumps, all based in the U.K. Some retailers in the U.S. and Canada carry several brands of Scottish dance shoes in stock.

  • Thistle Shoes
    Thistle Shoes offers high quality country dance pumps (slip-on shoe for ladies) and ghillies, and Highland ghillies. Pumps are either straight or right/left lasted, country dance ghillies are right/left lasted, and highland ghillies are straight lasted. Pumps are available in a variety of colors of soft leather and also patent/metallic/shimmer. Some Highland ghillies offer a choice of stitching color. All styles come with a Noene Shock Technology insole. Several styles of country dance shoes are available with a choice of sole, such as a full Noene insole, a heel, and/or non-slip soles. All shoes are handmade in Scotland, and includes a cotton shoe protector bag.
  • St. Andrews Shoemakers
    (formerly James Senior of St. Andrews)

    By Appointment to RSCDS, suppliers of dance shoes. St. Andrews Shoemakers offers several styles of straight and right/left lasted dance pumps (slip-on shoe for ladies), right/left lasted country dance ghillies, and straight-lasted Highland ghillies. Some styles of pumps are available in a variety of colors of leather and also metallic or other fancy finishes, and one style features a heel. One style of country dance ghillie is available in colored leather. All styles come with Poron Shock Asorber insoles.
  • Billy Forsyth - Scottish Dancing Shoes
    Billy Forsyth offers ghillies that are supersoft, supple, cut neat to the foot and shaped to show your footwork to perfection. Ghillies are designed with no front loop, white eyelets, and chrome soles, are available in padded and unpadded styles. Colored ghilles are also available.
  • Dancewear of Edinburgh
    Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Offers several styles and brands of of country dance and highland ghillies from several manufacturers, including their own brand of highland shoes in padded and unpadded styles. Several varieties of pumps and ballet slippers are also available, in addition to other dance shoes and dancewear. Loyalty program offers a 10% discount on future orders.
  • Highland X Press
    Based in South Lyon, MI. Specializes in highland dance supplies, but footwear offered includes several styles of ghillies suitable for SCD. Site offers a style and sizing guide (PDF). Also, used and consignment shoes are sometimes available.

Scottish Supplies

For socks, flashes, tartan sashes, and other Scottish attire, please visit the links listed at these sites. Some additional sources of dance shoes are also listed.

Other Dance Shoes and Accessories

Ballet slippers, jazz shoes, and dance sneakers are available from most on-line dance supply shops. Some of these shops also carry split-sole ghillies manufactured by ballet shoe companies.

The shops listed below all carry many styles of ballet slippers and jazz shoes, the Capezio split-sole ghillie, dance tights and skirts, and Bunheads toe pads and other pointe shoe accessories for foot comfort.


Spenco flat insoles are popular with Scottish Country Dancers. They can sometimes be found in local drug stores, athletic shoe stores, sporting goods stores, or suppliers of outdoors gear, but they are usually easier to find and less expensive if purchased on-line.

For the narrower foot, buy insoles one or two sizes smaller than what is suggested for your street shoe size, to avoid needing to trim the insoles to fit. For the wider foot, buy insoles one or two sizes larger than what is suggested for your street shoe size, and trim to fit, to ensure that the insoles are wide enough at the ball of the foot.

The shops listed below also carry many other types of insoles, arch supports, and orthotics.

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