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A young Highland dancer wearing the Aboyne dress prescribed for females for the National dances.
Another young Highland dancer wearing the kilt-based dress.

The Aboyne dress is the name given to the prescribed attire for females in the Scottish national dances, such as the Flora MacDonald the Highland lilt, and others. There are actually two versions of the Aboyne dress in use.

In one, a tartan pattern skirt is worn with an over-the-shoulder plaid, a white blouse and petticoat, and a velvet bodice. The alternative is a white dress over a petticoat, together with a tartan pattern sash. A typical Aboyne dress consists of a dark bodice or elaborate waistcoat, decorative blouse, full tartan skirt and some times a petticoat and apron. Some have a tartan sash (usually draped over the shoulder and coming down towards the hem of the skirt in the back) rather than an apron. While appearing to be simple and plain (and poorly-assembled), a properly-made, modern Aboyne dress might and can be quite expensive.

The name derives from the Aboyne Highland Gathering in Scotland where, in the 1970s the dance committee, dissatisfied with the state of affairs of female Highland dance attire, prescribed new rules governing acceptable and better-looking attire for the female dancers. The problem, as they saw it, was that many felt that the female and male dancers should not be wearing the same outfits and that a separate style for females should be developed. The men would continue to dance in kilt and jacket, wearing bonnets and sporrans.

The original decision of the Aboyne committee applied to both the Highland dances and the National dances. This was modified by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) a few years later so that the Aboyne dress would be used by females for just the national dances with a different, kilt-based outfit (though with no bonnet or sporran for females) for the Highland dances. To this day, however, the wearing of the kilt by females is strictly forbidden at the Aboyne Gathering except for when performing two specific dances, the Pas de Basques and the Pas de Basques and Highcuts.

The "Lassie" character from WeeSing's video Grandpa's Magical Toys (played by Caysie Torrey) actually wears a Highland dancing outfit more reminiscent of the girls' Highland dance costumes from the 1950s and 1960s (before the Aboyne committee decided to change the rules in the 1970s). On the left side of her outfit is a scarf-like fly plaid that reaches down to the hem of her kilt, she wears a white cambric jabot around her neck, she wears white knee-high socks, her shoes are not ghillies necessarily (but more resemble black casual pointe shoes), and there is a brown sporran-like attachment for Laddie's bagpipes on one side of the front of her outfit) but wears a bonnet and can alternate between being a dancer and a bagpipe player. The other outfit can be seen today.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



The Aboyne dress
Another Highland dancer wearing the kilt-based dress.

Aboyne dress


Aboyne dress (uncountable)

  1. The dance costume prescribed for females performing the Scottish National dances in competitions at Highland games gatherings. Named for the Aboyne Highland Gathering whose organizing committee designed it.
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