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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Men in Kilts--Yum!



As the new televised version of Highlander shows us, there’s something about a man in a kilt that fires the imagination of women all over the world. Is it the ability to see strong, sexy legs? The curiosity about what he’s wearing underneath? There’s a lot of speculation about why, but my personal belief is that wearing a kilt signifies a man with the courage and cockiness to risk being called “girly” by his peers. That kind of confidence can’t help but be sexy. (FYI, all photos are of me, my spouse,  and our younger son, because they aren't going to sue me or RB4U over the use of them. The top photo is by Russ Turner Photography all others are by me or random passers-by with my camera.) This leather kilt is a fantasy piece by Shoptroll, but it's still got the right feel and makes my heart go pitter-pat.

The wearing of the kilt as we know it has undergone a lot of changes through history. First of all, it was originally a Highland-only garment, considered primitive, even barbarous by Lowland Scots. However, Connor MacKay, in Cards and Caravans, one of the Scottish-set books in my Gaslight chronicles series is certainly a Lowlander. Yet he does wear a kilt. That’s because Queen Victoria, who adored all things Scottish, popularized the garment so much that during her reign, even many English nobles got in on the act. This is when the idea of specific clan-only tartans was truly solidified. Our Scottish Knights of the Round Table certainly wouldn’t have let those pesky Englishmen steal a march on such a symbol of Scotland. So in the world of the Gaslight Chronicles, the MacKay men are proudly kilted. Here's a swatch of the MacKay Ancient plaid. (In my spouse's family, it's spelled McKie.)


Along with their popularity, kilts themselves have changed over the years. Originally, the garment was little more than a blanket—a long piece of wool, pleated and held around the waist with a leather belt and at the shoulder with a heavy pin. It could be worn up as a cloak or left to hang from the waist in warm weather. Underneath, the leine, a waist-length shirt was often made of heavy canvas and even quilted for additional protection from elements or enemies. Today, we call this a great-kilt, and you can often see them at Renaissance fairs. The great kilts shown are inexpensive American fabric-store plaid, not any particular tartan.


The modern kilt was first seen about 1725, and consists of just the bottom part of the great kilt, but with the pleats sewn into the waistband, which usually fastens with straps and buckles. The flat front pieces overlap, so there are two layers in front, and the pleats in back. Sometimes a scarf-like fly plaid is worn from the shoulder to hearken back to the look of the great kilt. The loden-green argyle jacket shown here is from the late Victorian era, but any tweed coat can be worn by day, and a black Prince Charlie coat turns the modern kilt into evening wear. The grey plaid shown here is Night Watch, a festival plaid that may be worn by everyone. The green is Irish Heritage.

Finally, the newest evolution in the kilt is the utility kilt, or commando kilt. These are made of heavy cotton fabrics or even leather and often have pockets. Worn by everyone from punk rockers to construction workers, these continue to gain in popularity. Here it's worn as part of a steampunk outfit, but it's typically worn with combat or work boots, or even sneakers, and modern casual shirts--like the casual plaids shown below. (Everyman plaids Pride of Scotland--the purple and Hunting Stewart, the green. Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys are both Celtic punk rock bands.)
 
Incidentally, the idea that one shouldn’t wear anything under a kilt has been firmly denied by the Scottish Tartan Authority. Tartans Authority director Brian Wilton said kilt wearers should have the "common sense" to realise they should wear underwear beneath their country's national dress. While some modern kilt wearers like the idea of swinging free in the breeze, others, including the “models” in each of these pictures, comment that sitting on rough benches and hay bales at festivals is something you don’t want to do while “regimental.” Neither is walking in a strong breeze.

7 comments:

Paris said...

Thanks for all of the lovely photos:)I think I recognize a face/leg or two. I've loved kilted heroes forever and added your Steampunk hero, Connor to my list of favorites, a long time ago. I always thought they were too smart not to wear something underneath. Scot sensibility and all of that, but a girl can dream:)

Cara Marsi said...

Very interesting, Cindy. I do love to see a hunky guy in a kilt. I love the Outlander series and especially Jamie Fraser. The actor playing him looks great in a kilt.

Rose Anderson said...

Great post. I just love kilts. :)

Judy Baker said...

I didn't know anything about kilts, your post was informative. I love Scotland and can't wait to go back.

Melissa Keir said...

Kilts are wonderful. My hubby's family is Scottish on both sides and have their own tartans. I'd love to see him in a kilt but he's too shy!

Thanks for sharing!

jean hart stewart said...

Who doesn't love a man in a kilt? With the last name of Stewart I especially liked this blog. The Stewart clans had several plaids, but I like the red one best. Thanks for a great blog, Cindy.....

Sam Cheever said...

Great post, Cindy! Isn't it funny how the whole "what's under the kilt" mystique just continues to fascinate? LOL But seriously, the idea of a man basically wearing a skirt seems funny, but there's something very sexy about it. I find kilts very appealing.

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