Going for something more casual, something easier to maintain, something not connected with rules for wearing and with no need for special accessories?
A utility kilt might be what you are after.
Like once, traditional kilts were made in Scotland, utility kilts were made in USA and Canada, and they were called modern kilts
, sometimes American kilts
. Today, most utility kilts, wherever their vendor is situated, might be made in Pakistan, like traditional kilts.
Where the Scottish kilt is several hundred years old and its origin somewhat unclear, the utility kilt first came on the market in 2000, and its inventor is known. His name is Steven Villegas
. He had found out that a skirt was much more comfortable than a pair of jeans, and consequently he designed a skirted garment for men. He positioned it as a kilt, named it Utilikilt
, founded Utilikilts.com in Seattle, USA, and started marketing it, selling freedom
. It immediately was a success and competition emerged, first in the USA and Canada, for example AmeriKilt
and Freedom Kilts
; later the Pakistani manufacturers, making tartan kilts started sewing modern kilts, now sold as utility kilts and big scale. So, the brand Utilikilt has given name to the whole category.
Who will wear a utility kilt?
Despite the Utilikilt had little resemblance with the traditional kilt, except it was pleated on the back, it soon got very popular, also among American kilt wearers with Scottish roots, this indicating that the skirted garment might counted as much as heritage. And nothing wrong about that.
But wearers also count men, simply wanting something different, yet manly. Depending on the design, it also attracts men on the goth scene.
What characterizes a utility kilt?
No strict design definitions exist. It has pleats on the back, it will be of the wrap skirt type and that's it.
The fabric is denim or twill, making the kilt go into the washing machine. The aprons are narrower, than on a traditional kilt, like from 10 to 14 o'clock, rather than from 9 to 15.
Most often it comes with many and big cargo pockets and it is closed by means of visible metal buttons. Some utility kilts will even have metal chains, obviously with the purpose of attracting men on the goth segment.
Utilikilt Original Black.
Today Utilikilts look slightly different on the front, more on the back due to the "switchback" design.
I better like the original look, but if the new one sells better, it is better.
The successor of The Original is called The Spartan.
As much as I, in general, like this type of kilts, as much would I prefer that they came with less pockets – if any – and that they would have less metal buttons - if any. Probably the intention has been to give the skirted garment a manlier note. But a traditional kilt, which definitely is regarded manly, has none of the kind.
The Utilikilt Mocker with its inside pockets is coming close to my ideal kilt.
Where and which utility kilt to buy?
First, there is the original, the Utilikilt. Today it has almost iconic status. It is being made in USA, and the quality ia excellent, three facts contributing to the kilt being premium priced. The cheapest model, the Mocker is $200. If you are an EU-citizen like me, you must, due to high shipment cost, customs duty, VAT, and a customs clearance fee calculate with an end price exceeding 330€.
A Utilikilt is not custom made, buy you have three different lengths to choose and every waist size is, due to the special
switchback system, adjustable by 15% of its waist size.
Utilikilt Mocker Olive.
Slide pockets instead of cargo ones give the kilt a clean and more elegant design.
The Pakistani competition
The Pakistani utility kilts, I have been able to take a closer look at, have been of fine quality.
However, by a direct comparison the Utilikilt wins. Sense for detail, as well as usage of high-grade buttons and fabrics makes a Utilikilt a better kilt.
Also by design, the Utilikilt, is in most cases the winner, especially already mentioned Utilikilt Mocker with its inside pockets, resulting in a much cleaner design than with most competitors.
But then there is the price difference, the Pakistani kilts costing a fourth to a third the price of a Utilikilt – if you are living in the US. Living in Europe the price difference shall, due to taxes, become even bigger.
When you buy a low-priced utility kilt from a vendor in USA, UK or where ever, you don't know who has manufactured it. Chances are it comes from Expo International, which, however, is only one of several B2B manufacturers, all of them concentrated in the city of Sialkot in Northern Pakistan. The picture shows a utility kilt made by Expo International.
Kilt & Jacks
Judged from the pictures, Kilt & Jacks seem to offer a very nice utility kilt.
Kilt & Jacks utility kilt.
This, as well as other kilts from Kilt & Jacks, is fully customizible, length, waist, hip, fell, and it comes in many colours, some of which rather bold, like shades of pink.
It has no buttons on the front, and the waist seems adjustable by means of leather straps.
Kilt & More
You might also take a look at Kilt & More, being only one of many vendors offering similar kilts in US and Europe.
EU-citizens should order from Kilt & More's French
They have inumerable models of kilts in their assortment, even if not all of them are quite to my taste.
Want something for hard work?
A Swedish company specialized in workwear and operating international has since many years kilts in their assortment.
When and where to wear a utility kilt?
A utility kilt is meant to replace blue jeans, meaning for casual wear. The better ones are for smart casual wear, too.
Utilikilt Original Olive.
Utilikilt Original Sand.
Utilikilt Original Postal Blue.
AmeriKilt, one of the first utility kilts on the market after Utilikilt. It had no cargo pockets but came with a detachable sporran and in three different lengths. The best utility kilt design ever, to my opinion. But unfortunately, fabric, finish, and marketing were not on Utilikilt level. In January 2020 the owner retired and closed down his business.
What about length?
No rules exist. So, no rules, why don’t experiment a little bit, especially with cheap kilts? Have one kilt cover your knees, have another one go to the top of your knees, and a third one end 2-3 inches above them? Just be aware that too long looks femme, too short girlish.
No rules. No need for a sporran. The only thing needed might be a wide belt.
In summer it is easy. Short socks or no socks look great. But when it’s cold? The natural thing to wear would be kilt hose. But if you don’t wear a traditional kilt, you won’t have them.
I for my part don’t like the look of kilt socks with utility kilts very much. I must admit, that with these kilts I think, tights are looking better.
Utilikilts.com, which must be said to be a specialist, obviously are ok with men wearing tights. As they say in connection with the knee socks which they are also selling,
“they look cute a little slouched down or worn over tights.”
They also offer some really long socks, 45” = 114 cm which shall certainly look like tights or leggings.
No socks, short socks, knee high socks, pulled up or scrunched down, kilt hose, tights, or leggings, it all seems to be ok. But judge by yourself, and wear what you like.
Boots, heavy shoes, and sneakers are what to wear. Dress shoes look odd with a utility kilt.