Of Skirts and Men

*Gasp* It’s a man in a skirt! What is the world coming to?!

Listen up – it’s a kilt. If it was a skirt, he’d be wearing something under it. Even if it was a skirt, the world will still be here, so simmer down.


If you’re of Scottish descent, have ancestry harkening back anywhere nearScotland, or have been to any kind of Renaissance fair/geek convention, chances are you already know what a kilt is. For the uninitiated, it’s a knee-length, pleated garment that wraps around the waist, is narrow at the hips, flares toward the bottom, and can be worn by both men and women. Yes, I’m sure that still sounds like a skirt to you, despite the whole heritage behind it and the people who would not take kindly to your dismissive attitude toward a garb rich with history and meaning.


Nevertheless, if you don’t think men have a right to wear kilts in public to work (I’ll concede undergarments needed for the workplace) or in public because of their appearance, then women don’t have the right to wear pants and we might as well just take the calendar back to 1930-something. Yes, it is a sexist double standard to deny men their choice of attire while demanding women get that same choice. And while I know some of you would love to do just that and deny both sexes any kind of choice in life, YOU are the minority now. That’s right – no one wants your discrimination and bigotry in this day and age. Oh I’m sorry, does someone looking different make you uncomfortable? Do you think your overalls and your slicked hair is attractive to all of us? What about that knit vest and the armpit-high jeans? Tattoos that look like someone blind inked them? The tank top you bulge out of? Those hair extensions that are clearly not real hair? The spiky gel ‘do? That “formal attire” cowboy hat? Those sagging pants with your ass hanging out?


Wakeup call: You look ridiculous to someone, somewhere, and we don’t want to have to look at you but this is a free country and thus we endure.


It is imperative that you understand this concept if you want this country to stay “Land of the Free.” Even if they were skirts and men were wearing them – deal with it. Men wear “skirts” in other cultures, they killed people in “skirts” for thousands of years, and somehow that never managed to make them less capable of reproducing or whatever standard you judge masculinity by.


So in understanding why men should be allowed to wear kilts (or skirts) as they see fit, it still begs the question: why do men choose to wear kilts? In interviewing some local kilt wearers, I found that kilt popularity was fueled by ties to heritage, a want for unique attire, and an appreciation for both the freedom of movement kilts offer and their overall appearance. These days you can buy traditional kilts made of wool for special occasions, sporting the tartan (think plaid-like) pattern with pleats in the back, or contemporary kilts for daily/regular wear. Contemporary kilts include utility kilts, less heavy variations of traditional kilts, and specialty kilts for sports, mountain hiking, and nightlife attire. Cost ranges anywhere $50 to $400+ depending on what type of kilt you decide on, what the kilt is made of, and what features the kilt has. Most companies create kilts to fit the individual wearer, so expect to provide measurements, even when buying kilts online.


Speaking of where to purchase these fine articles of clothing, there are several choices: online as mentioned, at Renaissance/Celtic fairs, events/conventions with vendors such as the Oregon Country Fair, or local stores. There are only two shops in Oregon dedicated to the sale of kilts: Scottish Country Shop in Portland (which also has kilt rental), and The Kilt & Thistle Scottish Shoppes in Salem, which boasts of Sir Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, & Samuel L. Jackson as customers (manly enough for you?). Both stores focus on traditional kilts. However, many shops offer kilts as part of their inventory – even REI does (hiking kilts exist, no joke). Online you can find whatever kind of kilt your heart desires, and plenty of photos to demonstrate how men, women, and children can all enjoy this comfortable garb that we haveScotlandto thank for.


So think twice before you make that snarky comment– fashion is completely subjective, and if women expect the liberty to wear what they want, men deserve that same liberty as well. “Don’t knock it until you try it,” as a wise man once said!




Local enthusiast Clint Coleman doesn’t care what you call his kilt – it doesn’t change how versatile he finds them.





Kilt Specialty Stores in Oregon


Scottish Country Shop



The Kilt & Thistle Scottish Shoppes



By: Alex TwoSpirit


A Kilt is A Kilt Is a Kilt?


Traditional Kilt:

  • 6-8 yardsof fabric, 3-4 double-width fabric
  • Tartan pattern, heralding back to family lineage/regional patterns inScotland
  • Nothing worn beneath traditionally (real men don’t need it!)
  • Associated withIreland& other Celtic regions aside fromScotland
  • Generally worn for formal occasions
  • No pleats in front, only back
  • Accessories: belt, jacket, kilt pin, sporran (pouch), sgian-dubh (small knife tucked in hose), hose, brogue shoes


Utility Kilt:

  • Generally feature pockets for hands as well as rear & side pockets/loops for tools
  • Made of sturdy materials like Duck cotton in more neutral tones
  • Pleats tend to be all around save for wide front panel
  • Hardware like studs may be incorporated
  • Interchangeable term for “contemporary kilt” at some stores


Contemporary Kilt:

  • Can be lightweight take on traditional kilt or utility kilt
  • Tend to be cheaper in price
  • Can have pleats all around & pockets
  • Various hardware can be attached, such as buckles
  • Any color (including camo), variety of fabric types
  • Height may differ than knee length