The Power of the Kilt
I had worn what I refer to as my dress kilt to work on what just happened to be Election Day. Not thinking twice about it, I wore it to the polls. This particular kilt is one I had purchased in Scotland on a recent trip. The Black Watch tartan came to the knee with its many pleats draping smartly in the back, a wide black kilt belt around my waist its buckle adorned by a thistle, the national emblem of Scotland, and of course a black sporran with rabbit’s fur. I was wearing a black Jacobite shirt and dark hose with green flashes. It was a beautiful November day which seemed to bring out many more voters than usual. The line wrapped around the building though no one seemed to mind. I received a few nice compliments on my kilt and more than one inquisitive look. You have to expect that when wearing the kilt. I chatted idly with the folks around me as the line moved slowly toward the door.
I noticed an attractive woman of about my age standing off to the side handing out propaganda and candy for her candidate of choice. She kept glancing my way and turned her head when she saw I had noticed her stealing a look. Eventually she seemed to gather up her nerve and walked up to me, blushing slightly she handed me a piece of candy and with a demure look said, “I’m sorry but I just can’t keep my eyes off you. I just love how you look in that kilt”. I thanked her for her kind words and after another quick glance she returned to her duties.
The kilt, as we know it, came about in the 16th century. So for all of you ‘Braveheart” fans I have some bad news for you…. 13th century William Wallace and his army were not clad in kilt. I understand your disappointment, but Hollywood does have a tendency to rewrite history to fit their needs. I learned this bit of history while touring the Edinburgh castle in Scotland. A smiling, yet crusty guide was explaining the donning of the Great Kilt. With a mischievous glint in them his eyes scanned the enraptured audience from beneath their bushy brows. With is thick brogue and bold gravelly voice he finally asked, “Have any of you seen Braveheart?” Many smiled in return and raised their hands enthusiastically. He then scowled and simply said, “It’s a bunch of rubbish”. His dour Scottish glare made his point. Though entertaining there are many historical inaccuracies in the movie that you may google if interested.
For many today the kilt is seen as a garment of rebellion, it was worn as a symbol of the oppressed fighting for their rights, individuality, and pride of heritage. The kilt also brings to mind the image of a lone piper in full regalia high upon a castle wall, fog rolling in over the heather from the distant sea. He plays a lone and mournful tune recalling days of glory and the memory of those who ventured across the sea never to return.
I often wear one of my utility kilts instead of the Saxon preferred trousers and since my encounter with the lady at the polls I have received many approving glances and more compliments than I can count. I find it interesting that compliments come from both men and women. From women I find they are of all ages. The younger ones are much shyer about complimenting a man of middle years and are more apt to giggle and stare, while the women of my age are more open in their approval. From the men it is mostly younger guys who simply seem to like anything that is outside of the established norm. Perhaps it resonates with a young man’s struggle for individuality and quest for what it means to be a man in our mixed up society. I have also noticed that from these younger men there is a certain amount of respect or even a bit of admiration that is shown. To be honest I am a tad bit embarrassed by the compliments and attention but, hey, I’m wearing a kilt. This is not something people see every day though it is becoming more common. I thank them and move on.
Indeed I do, on occasion, get the jokester who will ask if it’s true what one wears beneath the kilt. I will often reply, “Boots, I always wear my boots beneath the kilt”. The jibes are usually good natured allowing for each to get a laugh. True there are some men who are unsure of how to react to a man wearing the kilt. In their insecurity and ignorance they pretend not to notice or cast a disapproving look in my direction. For these poor souls I can only suggest Viagra or some other assistance as their only hope of finding their lost manhood.
These encounters have caused me to stop and ponder the power of the kilt. Oh, if only I had known of this power during my wild misspent youth. I was a bit shy with the fairer sex and the power of the kilt may have changed my world. Now, it is important to understand that it is not about the kilt itself and how one looks while wearing one. (Kilt note: If you are going to wear a kilt take the time to learn how to do so properly. To start with the pleats go in the back.) It is more about what happens to a man who overcomes his insecurities and concerns over what others might say or think about one who dares to don the kilt in public. A self confidence that may have been hidden or perhaps suppressed seems to come to the surface and emanate from those who are bold enough to wear the kilt. When one wears the kilt properly, whether it is a fine traditional kilt from Scotland or one of the many modern utility kilts of today, a man finds he stands a little taller with a bit more pride. Where once he would avert his glance he now stands eye to eye. It is not the kilt alone that the ladies find attractive and men admire. It is the humble self-confidence which comes from the wearer.
It seems that men and their masculinity are under attack today by many “politically correct groups” (it’s not worth giving them recognition by naming them) for simply being male the cause of all evil in the world. I will not apologize for being a man. As a famous sailor once said, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am”. Wearing the kilt helps a man repair his battered self-esteem and bolster his defenses. It is a statement of self-realization, self-respect and pride in being a man.
There was a time when a boy would change from knickers to long pants as a rite of passage and a means to proclaim his manhood and claim his place in society. In days gone by from the Jews of Europe to the Native Americans, most cultures and religions around the world had such rites of passage. A rite which simply said a boy was no longer a boy, he had become a man with all of the responsibility that comes with it. Though many of these rites of passage may still exist they have been marginalized and have sadly lost their value in western society. Our boys and young men are rarely taught what it means to be a man, a gentleman. The ideas and learning that come from both winning and losing through healthy competition in large part have been tossed out for the, everyone gets a trophy movement. It is no wonder we have more than one generation claiming entitlement with their pants hanging off their arse.
Take heart for chivalry is not dead though it is sadly overlooked, rarely taught and not greatly valued these days. For the life of me I don’t understand why. What is not to admire and respect in a man who is chivalrous? According to the all-knowing google Chivalry is: the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak. It seems that these would be some pretty good qualities for a man to possess. I equate chivalry to being a gentleman or more simply, a good man; a man who is a loving husband and father, who is a trusted and reliable friend, who is compassionate to those who are weak and just to those who would take advantage of the weak. This is a man who will always stand up for what is right.
Though it may appear that I digress and you may be asking yourself, what does all of this have to do with wearing a kilt? Please allow me to explain. For me, donning the kilt can be seen as a rite of passage into manhood. The power of the kilt has everything to do with the attitude of those who are bold enough and comfortable enough in their own masculinity to wear one. The donning the kilt speaks of a quiet self-confidence and a true knowing and understanding of one’s place in the world as a man. One may ask, “Can’t a man possess this self-knowing and confidence without a kilt”? To this question I would respond. Indeed he can but never to the same level as one confident enough to wear one. Your ancestry does not matter. If you choose to wear the kilt, do so with pride. The power of the kilt lies in the heart of those who wear it.
©2018 William C. Judge