A gilly suit (or ghillie suit) is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble local foliage. In general, a gilly suit is a net or cloth garment with attachments that resemble natural vegetation. The most popular and common attachments are loose strips of
burlap, cloth or twine, often cut and sewn to look like leaves and twigs. The most effective ghillie suit should be augmented with scraps of foliage from the area.
Snipers wear gillie suits for concealment, but sniper suits are worn by outdoorsmen as well. Nature photographers may wear a ghillie suit to blend into their
surroundings and conceal themselves from wildlife that they wish to photograph. The ghillie suit breaks up the outline of the wearer and provides a three-dimensional profile, rather than a
linear one. When manufactured correctly, the best gilly suit will move in the wind
in the same way as surrounding foliage.
The ghillie suit was originally developed for hunting by Scottish game keepers. The gilly served as a portable hunting blind. The millitary use of ghillie suits began in 1916 when Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed during the Second Boer War. Lovat Scouts were the British Army's first sniper unit to wear the new sniper suit. The term gillie suit, is derived from gille, the Gaelic for "servant" or a "lad" and especially used to refer to those assisting in deer hunting and fly fishing. The name could possibly refer to the ghillie dhu,
a kind of nature spirit and guardian of trees; clothed in leaves, moss and twigs who dwelt in the forests
The gilly suit base is a lightweight fabric or netting. A nearly invisible material like monofilament fishing line is often used
to sew each knot of net to the fabric. By tying groups of 5 to 10
strands of a color to the netting with simple knots, the strand is attached to the base. For a ghillie suit pattern that blends into the background, small sections of different colors are attached in alternating patterns. And, for the finishing touch, a gilly suit may be seasoned by
dragging it behind a vehicle or leaving it to soak in mud for a more earthy look. Once on location, the ghillie
suit should be customized with twigs, leaves, and other elements of the local
foliage as much as possible.