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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kilt Season!

It's Renaissance Faire time in Michigan, and in my household, that means one thing for the Pape males. Get yer kilts on!


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.
Fantasy look with kilts & doublets,
plus Irish Heritage tartan shawl
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, in one of my steampunk books, Cards and Caravans 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.


Modern kilts worn as formal wear with Prince Charlie waistcoats
and jackets, bow ties or 

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 is an inexpensive American fabric-store plaid, not any particular tartan.

Great kilts--more or less.
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 purple plaid shown here is Pride of Scotland, a festival plaid that may be worn by everyone. The green is Irish Heritage.


Victorian styles--Nightwatch Tartan with green antique argyle waistcoat
 and jacket, Irish Heritage kilt with fly plaid and tan waistcoat.

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. Typically worn with combat or work boots, or even sneakers, and modern casual shirts. The one here is being used as part of a steampunk costume.

 


Incidentally, the idea that one shouldn’t wear anything under a kilt has been 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.”

Fantasy skirt and kilt made by SHOPTROLL.
Photo by Russ Turner Photography


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