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I'm a rather frequent kilt wearer; and that despite I’m neither Scottish nor have any Scottish roots, I know of.

I appreciate the comfort and variety, the kilt provides. And I like the versatility and the way it looks.

Some few will praise me for wearing a kilt; most people seem to find it OK, realizing that the difference between me and most men is just the kilt. Very few seem to disapprove. So no big deal about that.

As a matter of fact, when kilted I speak to far more people than when wearing trousers. Small talk to a much higher degree than I'm else used to. If not about the kilt, then due to the kilt, it is.


What is a kilt?

A kilt is a knee-length hanging or skirted garment with deep pleats at the rear. It had its origin in the Scottish highlands. Among others a theory exists, according to which the Scotsmen were inspired to the kilt by the Vikings invading England and Scotland. Originally it was a rather primitive garment used for daily wear and had little resemblance with the kilt we know today.
  Not until the 19th century Scottish lowlanders, counting for 75% of the Scottish population, would wear a kilt at all.

 

Is a kilt a skirt?

According to The European Union Statistics Bureau, Eurostat, the kilt is (no longer) a skirt but a men’s special garment.
   Some people shall never stop calling it a skirt, however. If so don't get upset. Quite a few people cannot tell green from red either. Or they are simply stupid.

Well, honestly the kilt is a skirt, or kind of but a very special one and definitely for men.

The free Dictionary
1. 
A knee-length skirt with deep pleats, usually of tartan wool, worn as part of the dress for men in the Scottish Highlands
2. 
A similar skirt worn by women, girls, and boys.

Thesaurus
A knee-length pleated tartan skirt worn by men as part of the traditional dress in the Highlands of northern Scotland

skirt - a garment hanging from the waist; worn mainly by girls and women

Merriam-Webster
1. A knee-length pleated skirt usually of tartan worn by men in Scotland and by Scottish regiments in the British armies.
2. A garment that resembles the Scottish kilt.

Oxford Dictionaries
A knee-length skirt of pleated tartan cloth, traditionally worn by men as part of Scottish Highland dress and now  also worn by women and girls..

Cambridge Dictionaries Online
a skirt with many folds, made from tartan cloth and traditionally worn by Scottish men and boys

Webster's New World College Dictionary
A pleated skirt reaching to the knees, esp., the tartan skirt worn sometimes by men of the Scottish Highlands.

American Heritage Dictionary/Answers.com
A knee-length skirt with deep pleats, usually of a tartan wool, worn as part of the dress for men in the Scottish Highlands.
A similar skirt worn by women, girls, and boys.

      Urban Dictionary 
1. A knee-length wrap skirt with vertical knife pleats on the sides and back made from a tartan woolen cloth and traditionally worn by men of the Scottish Highlands. (Traditional usage) 
2. A skirt similar to the traditional Scottish kilt, and may have differing properties such as a solid color, non-tartan patterns, having pleats all around, or varying overall lengths. Generally associated with being worn by men and boys, but is sometimes worn by women and girls. (More common usage) 
3. Any other type of skirt sold as a kilt, or a skirt worn by men. (Most liberal interpretation) 

Dictionary.com
Any short pleated skirt, especially a tartan wraparound, as that worn by men in the Scottish Highlands

Definitions.net
1. a pleated kneelength tartan skirt worn by Scotsmen in the Highlands or in some military regiments.
2. a skirt modeled on this for women and girls

DC DictioraryCentral.com
A skirt, usually of tartan cloth worn by men in Scotland, and also by women.

AllWords.com
1. a traditional Scottish garment, usually worn by men, having roughly the same morphology as a wrap-around skirt, with overlapping front aprons and pleated around the sides and back, and usually made of twill woven worsted wool with a tartan pattern.

2. (historical) Any Scottish garment from which the above lies in a direct line of descent, such as the philibeg and the great kilt or belted plaid;

3. a plaid, pleated school uniform skirt sometimes structured as a wrap around, sometimes pleated throughout the entire circumference;

WiseGeek.com
A kilt is a knee length unbifurcated garment which is closely associated with Scotland and Scottish culture, although similar garments are worn in other parts of the United Kingdom and the world in general.

A classic kilt is easy to identify with its tartan, also known as  plaid, pattern and deep pleats.
  In Scotland, the kilt is treated as formal wear for men, although men may wear them on more casual occasions as well.
   In the 1990s, various modern adaptations of the kilt, such as the Utilikilt, began to arise, popularizing this garment for a wider audience.

 

Don't I have to be Scottish to wear a kilt?

No, in recent years more and more men in a lot of countries with and without a kilt tradition and no matter their nationality, colour and heritage, will wear a kilt and, no doubt, even more men should like to. The movie Braveheart (1995)and the Internet - since 2nd half of the nineties - have contributed to this development by convincing men who had recognized the advantages of kilt wearing that they were not alone and could wear a kilt should the feel like it.

 

Do women wear kilts?

Women will mostly wear kilted skirts that are lighter, use less yardage and have thinner straps and buckles. Kilted skirts may also be longer or shorter than kilts.

 

Who will wear a kilt?

Demographically men in kilts in all respects equal men in general, it seems, age, education, occupation, civil status, income, children etc. Therefore the difference is the kilt and nothing but the kilt. By the way, kilt wearing has nothing to do with sexual preferences. I mention this, because ignorant people often question such things.

 

Why should men, being not Scottish, wear a kilt?

No other manly garment can beat the kilt when it comes to comfort and versatility.
Add to this, it is different, looks great and may be good to your health

.

There are numerous reasons of which the following seem to be the dominating:


1. The kilt is probably the most comfortable manly garment available
Just think of anatomy. Should clothing be invented from scratch it is likely that rest rooms signs had to be interchanged, meaning that trousers would be the primary choice of women, whereas skirted garments should be preferred by men?

2. The kilt is versatile
A casual kilt can with a few accessories be upgraded to rather formal functions, not possible with blue jeans or shorts. In fact it is often just a question whether the kilt socks are up or scrunched down. Come in mind we talk formal wear and not national dress. The kilt is also very much a year round garment due to so-to-speak built-in ventilation.  You must have tried to wear a kilt in snow to understand it.

3. The kilt is different
the manly wardrobe in itself not being the most inspiring in the world.

4. The kilt looks good
That is my opinion. And I like the tartans and so might you.

5. The kilt provides a lot of variety
due to thousands of tartans available and the fact that you with the kilt itself get an addition to your wardrobe, because you no longer have to wear trousers all the time.

6. You stand out from the crowd
- even if by far less than you might fear - or hope for.

7. Health aspects might apply
again due to anatomy and form follows function.

 

When and where and to replace what?


To me the kilt is first of all to replace jeans and shorts.

 

In theory, at least, you can wear your kilt every when and everywhere you feel like it.

In practice non-Scots tend to use the kilt as informal casual wear, i.e. to replace shorts and blue jeans rather than to job and formal events.

To Scotsmen and men with Scottish roots, formal wear will often play a major role and many Scotsmen will wear their kilt only at special events like weddings, celeids, highland gatherings etc. To them the kilt shall often replace white or black tie.

This means that you might very well have two different starting points: Men who will use their kilt as casual wear - and often become heavy users - will as their first kilt buy a casual kilt, whereas men who will wear their kilt only at special events - and be light users - will probably buy a more formal kilt – or simply rent a kilt plus accessories.

 

What differences does it make if you are Scottish or not?

Wearer is

A Scot living in Scotland

A Scottish descendent living in America

A Non-Scot

Why wear a kilt?

National dress

Heritage symbol.
As a garment
Garment
Which functions?

Formal wear
Semi-formal wear
Casual wear

Semi-formal wear 
Casual wear
Formal wear

Casual wear
Semi-formal wear 

To job No Limited No
Advantages Being Scottish hardly counts because the kilt is seldom worn in Scotland without a special reason A Scottish heritage is the alibi for wearing the kilt - even if several generations back. No rules and tradition
to follow
Draw backs Rules and tradition Rules and tradition to some extent. Unusual that a man will wear a kilt
Wearer could be described as a Light user Light to heavy user Light to medium user
First kilt might be purchased for

Formal wear

Formal or semi-formal wear.

Casual wear

First kilt might be

An expensive traditional kilt or rental

An expensive or mid-priced traditional kilt

An ecomy or mid-priced traditional kilt

Number of kilts Only one in own clan tartan - or no kilt at all (rental) Often several traditional kilts in own and other tartans.
Also utility kilts.

Often several traditional kilts in various  tartans as well as utility kilts.

Implications:
The kilt market might actually be driven by Scottisch descendents (living outside of Scotland) and non-Scots.

 

Isn't a kilt very expensive?

It can be, but fortunately it does not have to, at least not for casual wear. Here a rather cheap kilt will do. Just make sure you buy a kilt and not a tartan skirt.
In fact, the availability of affordable kilts might be the condition for most men starting wearing kilts and for a growing kilt market. Without the cheap kilts it is likely that the demand for kilts should decline and eventually make this great garment disappear.

 

What should Scotsmen think?

Some traditionalists might be against non-Scots wearing a kilt, as they are against fellow-Scotsmen wearing a kilt as daily attire, as they regard only kilts sewn by hand and by skilled and experienced Scottish kilt makers living in Scotland and using plaid from Scottish wool to be real kilts.

Fortunately these seem to be few. Highland wear is important and makes a living for a lot of Scotsmen. The more heavy users there are, the more they sell.

 

Do other people believe I'm Scottish when they see me in a kilt?

It depends on where you are living, I suppose. In Scandinavian countries you are always addressed in the local languages, indicating that you are regarded just a man wearing a kilt.
   Almost the same is the case in Germany. In Southern Europe it is probably expected that you have at least some connection to Scotland.

 

Should I try to "play" Scottish?

No. To non-Scots the kilt is just a comfortable, versatile and innovative garment. Accordingly you should, to my opinion, also avoid accessories too much connected with Scottish national dress like the bonnet.

 

Should I try to eventually give up trousers?

The kilt is a valuable garment which you can wear when you like to and when appropriate. I myself should never give up trousers and shorts. But I shouldn't be without my kilts either. Variety is the spice of life.

 

Is it true?

You mean going without underwear? But YES. And NO.   

Wearing the kilt as a true Scotsman is called going regimental or commando. In kilted Scottish regiments underwear was (still is?) not allowed and sometimes it was at parades by means of a mirror checked whether the soldiers obeyed to rules or not. If underwear was seen in the mirror the soldier was punished.

Fortunately it is entirely up to you to decide what YOU are going to wear under YOUR kilt. No reliable statistics of 'best practice' exists, of course. Some will say that they never ever wear underwear beneath their kilt. Some couldn't imagine being without; and for others it is an on and off business.  

Whatever your choice you better keep it to yourself. If asked - and you will be, believe me - my advice is to never give a definite answer. (Your wife or girlfriend can find out for herself). The uncertainty of the "secret" may very well be the reason why the kilt is still so very much alive.

 

How do I start wearing a kilt in public?

The answer should be: Open the door and out you go.  But for most men it is not as simple as that.  
   If a man wants a tattoo, he'll get it. If he wants his hairs to grow long he will do it. If he wants to pierce his tongue, nose, lip, ear or any other part of his body, he will have it done.
   But if he wants to wear a kilt, which is without any doubt considered a man's garment, he might not dare to wear it out, because of a slight resemblance with a woman's skirt or just because it is different.

It is ridiculous, don't you agree? We are said; or we even claim to be the stronger gender. And what are we when it comes to the way we dress? Nothing but cowards, a lot of us, it seems. 

 

Should I tell people I know that I consider wearing kilts or already do?

Yes, it might be a good idea. No rumours, then. You could either just tell them up front or have them see pictures, on some of which you are wearing a kilt.

But of course you can also just start wearing it in public and take it step by step. People, with whom you are acquainted, will ask, of course, and you must tell them about your reasons why (comfort, variety, difference or simply that you like wearing it) and how you got the idea in the first place etc.

By the way, in these days with Facebook and Twitter it has never been easier to inform friends about changes in life style etc. Add kilt, kilts and kilt wearing to your interests and activities. Or send a message that you have received a kilt and tell about the advantages wearing it etc.
   Of course you won’t get 100% coverage but many shall know in a split second.

 

How will surroundings react?

People who don’t know you couldn’t care less how you look or how you dress. Men in kilts will largely state that it is a non-event and that their surroundings, relatives and people in their neighbourhood, very soon got accustomed to them wearing kilts.

Your wife might worry the most about your kilt wearing – and in all probability without reason, at all.
   That said I have also seen reports about wives having actually talked their husbands into kilt wearing and where the husbands to start with were somewhat reluctant.

Never ever think that you have to "excuse" that you are wearing a kilt. It has been your decision. To you it is a natural thing. A lifestyle of yours, so to say.

If just more men (and their wives) would consider their "world" just half as tolerant as in fact it is, we should see a lot more of kilts around.

 

Is there any best time of the year to wear a kilt?

In most countries a kilt can be worn year-round. At temperatures between -3 and 30 C the kilt is perfect.

In winter only your knees have to be uncovered and they don’t freeze. The kilt itself with its four to seven meters of fabric as well as the kilt hose will keep the remaining parts of your legs efficiently protected against coldness. Your only problem might be all the people freezing in their trousers asking you if you are not cold. 

In summer the kilt is protecting against heat - and sun. In fact you’ll feel more comfortable than when in shorts.

Add to that that you are at all times better dressed up. Where you should not be at ease wearing shorts you can without problems wear a kilt.

 

My own kilt story in brief

It more or less started back in the mid-nineties during a vacation in Scotland with my wife and by then teenage daughter. One afternoon, in Edinburgh, they wanted to go to a shopping mall, whereas I would rather stroll around for an hour and take some pictures.

In a corner house in High Street I noticed a shop selling highland wear. It wasn’t the first one; I had seen a lot of them near the castle in Royal Mile. But here were no tourists. I thought of getting some information on highland wear for a business case story I had in mind and to be used in connection with my teaching marketing research and strategy.

The year before, I had got the idea from "The Scotch House” in London near Harrods’. The store was selling branded goods like Pringle, Burberry etc. but on the ground floor they also had, slightly elevated from the ground, a veritable and very distinguished highland department as a shop-in-shop. To me this highland department was “selling things you don’t need” – a slogan which, by the way, years later a major Danish department store unsuccessfully (and quite understandable) tried to establish as a positive thing.

The business case study was to be about a thought-of Scottish family owned company selling, under the brand ScotchWear, high quality Scottish products for men and women through its own stores in Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and London. The range would comprise sweaters, shirts, jackets, trousers, skirts, bags, ties, belts and on top of that highland wear (kilts and accessories). Would that same concept be feasible on the European continent? Could Copenhagen function as a test market? And if so, how to establish and monitor it?

It was before the internet, so information on would be the “impossible” part of the concept was difficult to obtain. I entered the shop and I soon got the needed information.

But it also ended up with me being measured for and persuaded to try on a kilt. I immediately got a feeling that a kilt was extremely comfortable to wear; that there was nothing feminine about it and that it was certainly different to men’s ordinary garments. In some way I got hooked, so to say.

I didn’t buy the kilt, however. It was quite expensive and what should I use it for, even if I was told that they had a lot of non-Scottish customers from a lot of countries? When I left I had with me a business card from the store with my measures written on it, just in case.

A few years later, having got access to the rather new Internet, I was considering a revision of the business case study. During my surfing I happened to come to a site where a kilt was much cheaper than the one I had tried on.

Should, should not?

It wouldn’t ruin the family economy in any way, but…

Well, on the Internet I had also seen that non-Scots really did wear kilts, or wanted to…

End of story: A few weeks later I was the owner of a casual kilt plus some accessories.

The quality of my kilt was not quite up to the standards of the one I had tried on in Edinburgh, but being a non-Scot with absolutely no possibilities to wear a kilt at dress up situations it made the point.

Later I have supplied with some better and more expensive kilts, but without access to cheap kilts I and many others should probably never have started kilt wearing, a thing many fine kilt makers should take into consideration before complaining about cheap kilts.


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