Monday, 5 August 2013

Kilt Feeling Fascination

For as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination for kilts.  Tartan, leather, denim, or utility, this item of clothing has always enchanted me.  Once I bought one and wore it, it totally went to the next level.  Let's step back a few paces, though.

My fascination with kilts, as well as skirts for men came around the time I was 14.  I had (and still have) an unhealthy obsession with living in London.  It was 1984. Spandau Ballet, Culture Club, and Duran Duran were breaking in America.  I really started getting heavily into fashion then, and London and Japan were the places for all of the avant garde looks.  I knew I could never afford those looks, but they inspired me to dream. In the midst of all of the avant garde looks that I was loving (big shoulders, baggy pants, nipped waists, Italian tailoring, deconstructed pieces), I came across a photo of a man in full Highland dress (tartan sash, jacket, sporran and kilt).  The tartan was navy blue and green and it burned in my brain like a branding. At that moment, my fascination (and obsession) with kilts began.

This is not the exact pic, but the kilts are the same exact colors.

I began looking up everything on Highland Dress and Kilts.  I went through the encyclopedia at home (Mom made it a point to have a set of the current encyclopedia in the house), the encyclopedia in the school library (the copy machine became jammed many a time because of me), and the encyclopedia in the public library (I spent a lot of money copying all of those pages there).  I was determined to find out as much as I can about kilts, their origin, history and even how to make one (I'm still working on that one).

A kilt is a pleated , knee length garment originating as the traditional dress of boys and men in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th Century.  It became more associated with the wider culture of Scotland in general in the 19th Century with Celtic and Gaelic as examples of general (Celtic), and specific (Gaelic).  The kilts were made of a worseted wool tartan (plaids).  It is normally worn as formal dress (weddings, communions, funerals), but it has been adapted for every day wear.  Solid colored kilts (solid green, mustard yellow, black) are mostly of Irish origin and were adopted by Irish Nationalists at the turn of the 20th Century. Today modern kilts, or contemporary kilts (utility kilts in the States) are made from a wide range of fabrics. Some are modeled on the Scottish kilts, others are like pleated skirts for men.  Many are designed with pockets and to be worn without a sporran (a pouch or a bag that is like a pocket for a pocketless kilt).

Alan Cumming

David Tennant

Sean Connery
My fascination (and now obsession) with kilts made me look all over New York for them.  Because an authentic one can be quite expensive (running into the thousands of dollars), I went on a hunt to find ones that were as close to an actual kilt as possible.  I came across a lot of pleated skirts (kick pleats, knife pleats, etc), but not too many kilts.  When I did find a kilt, they were either made of cheap materials and didn't hold up too well, or they were authentic ones that have seen better days in thrift stores and usually still quite expensive. Even in my club kid days, I attempted to make my own kilt.  It was pink with a pink and white apron on the front that I wore with some pink platform boots (the kilt is long gone, but the boots I still have).

Then, I went to London and everything changed.  I found a few places that have kilts in every weight (lighter for spring/summer, heavier for fall/winter).  I also managed to find a few second hand stores and thrift shops that had kilts.  No matter what, I tried on every kilt they had and then bought my first one. Totally am in LOVE with it!!!!! Having that kilt inspired me to want to learn how to make them, so I can make them for myself and others.  Most kilts are made of eight yards of fabric and the pleating takes up most of it.  There is a kilt making kit that comes with a book and it's pretty pricey, but I will see if I can find it somewhere cheaper.  Either that, or I'm gonna have to move to the Scottish highlands and be someone's apprentice.

Ewan MacGregor

Ewan MacGregor

In the midst of all of this, I came across a blog called "A Year In A Kilt".  It is all about a guy who, on his 50th birthday decided to shake things up a bit and live a whole year in a kilt. He also has a podcast as well, which is quite fun to listen to.  I am fascinated by all of his posts and it inspired me as well to try and do the same.  It will be slightly different, but nonetheless fun!!  I have a feeling that I will draw quite a bit of attention (a black guy with a mohawk and a kilt may turn some heads in quite a few places).

Me, in my kilt in my messy studio.  The lighting is great in there,

Designers have also been inspired by the kilt and the skirt for men. I even designed a skirt for myself (it's almost done, just have to add belt loops), and I totally can't wait to wear it!!! This may not catch on for all men, but I am glad that I am of a select few that had the steel nuts to brave the streets in edgy fashion!!!!

Adam Lambert

Designer, Marc Jacobs

Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!


  1. There is different type of kilt accessories in Scottish kilt company. It's a traditional trend but nowadays become popular.Our company provides traditional kilt dress sporrans,leather sporrans, kilt brogues etc. that brings value for your money. Many are designed with pockets and to be worn without a sporran. Kilt Fashion is becoming popular day by day. all accessories of kilt are made in scotland by scottish people.

  2. I have over 40 kilts! It's a great fashion statement. What tartan are you wearing?

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  4. Kilt making is an art from the origin, with time people have done many amazing changes to its style.
    Scottish Kilt is your one stop shop for Celtic apparel and accessories. Our collection goes beyond kilts to include sporrans, jackets, shirts, hats, kilt pins, belts, buckles, socks and shoes. We even carry flutes, lyra harps, bagpipes and practice chanters!
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