What is proper kilt etiquette?
November 1, 2004 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Wat is proper kilt etiquette? For example, do you have to wear one of those little bags (a sporran I believe its called)? (MI)

I ask because I saw three Americans walking around with "kilts" (they looked like plaid skirts to me). There wasn't anything going on here (Diego Garcia) that warranted kilts (Scottish festival, etc) and though its possible, I don't imagine young military personnel would be the ones to experiment with cross dressing, at least not on an isolated duty station where you can run into your CO at any time.
posted by tetsuo to Society & Culture (13 answers total)
Are you sure there wasn't a wedding or other family celebration? (I.e. an event that wouldn't be advertised). Kilts can be formal wear for Scottish males.
posted by biffa at 5:38 AM on November 1, 2004

Sorry, that didn't answer your question. These websites seem to suggest a sporran would normally be worn with a kilt, less formal variations on the outfit have less formal sporrans.
posted by biffa at 5:46 AM on November 1, 2004

Also, here's something on Sporrans. I had more but biffa pretty much summed it up.

On a side note, some friends and I went to a wedding two weeks ago, and one of those friends (Scottish parents on both sides, but born in the US) wore his most formal kilt, with all accessories. It amazed us all how many ignorant and wise-ass comments got made about him at a very formal wedding (in NJ) attended by several hundred professional, college-educated people.

Here's a great photo of Sean Connery in formal-wear and kilt (a great example of doing it right).
posted by anastasiav at 5:54 AM on November 1, 2004

A sporran usually accompanies a man's kilt because a kilt has no pockets. There's a good Wikipedia entry about kilts.
posted by normy at 6:06 AM on November 1, 2004

Was there a Halloween party? If it was this weekend, perhaps the kilts were their costumes!
posted by fionab at 6:13 AM on November 1, 2004

As has been said, a sporran is generally worn with a kilt because they don't have pockets, not for protocol reasons. But, the formailty of the event does effect the style of sporran used. A leather sporran for less formal occassions, a fur sporran for formal ones. Often the animal's head decorates the flap of a fur sporran. (I only own a leather one because a dead foxy

Like the wikipedia article says, with a modern or short kilt there are standard pieces in the kit. I'd add to the wikipedia entry the following things:

Usually garter flashes are worn in the tops of the hose. You can see them in the Connery picture, little gree tabs hanging out of the tops of the socks. The open topped shoes are called Ghillie Brogues. The Prince Charlie jacket is what Connery is wearing. It is distinctively short, usually with square buttons and a vest which is part of the jacket (at least mine was). A broad leather belt is also typical, although hardly functional. The kilt is fitted to the wearer and fastened by leather straps and buckles at the hips. There are two layers of fabric across your front. A strap on the inner layer comes through an opening on one hip to a buckle on the outside. Two straps and buckles fasten the opposite, outer, side. Also, I had learned to spell sgian dubh, the "black dagger," as skein dhu.

I've worn my kilt at my wedding, to class in grad school, drinking, to parties, at a Burns Supper, for the hell of it, and drinking. Unless it's a formal event I wear a sweater or tshirt. I've worn my kilt without sporran when I can wear a certain windbreaker jacket with pockets. I have my own barometer on when a kilt is called for. If I ever had to go to a NASCAR event, the kilt would come with me. To a bar on Diego Garcia? You bet. Of course, I'm a yank, and everything I've said here may be shite. But I doubt it.

For the hell of it here is my favorite 18th century Scottich political song.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:27 AM on November 1, 2004

Oops I was interupted and forgot I was revising here. To finish my parenthetical comment for paragraph 1: (I only own a leather one because a dead fox is too creepy).
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:30 AM on November 1, 2004

Thank you anastaziav, for the pic of Sean Connery in a kilt, that just made my day!
posted by kamylyon at 7:55 AM on November 1, 2004

You don't need to wear the sporran, I quite often don't bother with mine, although my modern kilt has pockets, heh heh heh. Consider it like the tie ... you'd wear it for a wedding, but for a night out with pals, no. (You'll often see kilts with t-shirts and hiking boots on big rugby match days etc).

As for the military base, many Scottish regiments have kilts as their formal uniform. Could it have been one of those you saw?
posted by bonaldi at 8:26 AM on November 1, 2004

Another clue might be whether the kilts matched or were different. I'm also assuming that they were plaid, not solid.

I've never before had a chance to use "Glaswegian" in a sentence, so hear goes:

If his user page is to be believed, bonaldi is a Glaswegian.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:54 AM on November 1, 2004

[tedious drunk] deeeeaaaahhhhheeerrr ool' glasssgow town. Buututt theeerre's soommmeeething wrroonngg with gllasssgggowww, it's spinnning roun and roun [/drunk]

So, er, putzface_dickman: if you're a yank, why've ye goat a kilt?
posted by bonaldi at 6:36 PM on November 1, 2004

Thanks all, saw the Wiki article, but wanted info from an actual kilt wearer. These guys were definitely American, and each kilt was a different color. Another thing, they weren't striking plaids like you see in a tartan, but a small checkerboard pattern. I'm pretty sure there aren't any Scottish regiments on the island, but I'll have to check on that to be sure. I think they were probably just posers.
posted by tetsuo at 10:21 PM on November 1, 2004

Just because a person's ancestors got kicked out of a country doesn't mean he can't wear the national dress. ;)

On one side it's reavers a couple generations back who were "invited" to go abroad. On the other its a laborer who went to lancashire to build reservoirs and the water grid.

I was in lancs. for a wedding 15 years ago. Saw a kilt belonging to a friend whose parents were from Campbelltown. I decided I needed one for my wedding. That kilt actually healed a family rift between the yanks and another branch of Scottish relatives living in Ontario.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2004

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