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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Those Embarassing Questions

It's bound to happen to anyone who wears a kilt. Eventually you will be asked THE QUESTION. "What do you wear under the kilt?"

Usually, those asking this question will be of the female variety -- in my experience the older women are usually more forthcoming with the curiosity (or less hindered by embarassment, I suppose). There are a few pat answers, such as "Nothing is worn, it's all in working order." Some border on the crude, such as, "Lipstick," or "Do you have cold hands? You are welcome to check." My favorite is simply "socks and shoes."

However, the more you wear your kilt, the more you get asked this question, the less "cute" it becomes. I wear the kilt nearly every day. To me, the kilt is not some "fun costume." It is my clothing. I don't go up to strange women and ask them what they are wearing under their skirts or pants. So why do people think it is appropriate to ask me this question?

But then I remind myself that these people are not used to seeing a man in a kilt, they think they are being cute and funny, and mean no offense. And I just suffer through it.

(Photo from the X Marks the Scot forum)

But that's not actually the topic I want to address in this post. Because there is another type of person who asks this question. It's the man who just bought his first kilt. I see it all the time. A gentleman decides he wants to enter the world of kilt wearing. He talks to me for over an hour about all the details. He's been measured, selected his tartan, picked out all the accessories. He's all paid up and ready to go, and then he leans in, lowers his voice, and somewhat sheepishly, asks the question. "So, what do you guys wear under the kilt...? Really?" He's not trying to be funny, he just wants to know what is proper. "I know that traditionally nothing is supposed to be worn," he says, "but really, what do most people wear?"

My answer to that is -- whatever you want to wear. I have a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy. It's none of your business what I'm wearing under my kilt, and I really don't care what you wear under your kilt. I don't care whether you wear underwear with your blue jeans, and your kilt is no different.

So, wear nothing if you like -- it is the most traditional. Or wear boxer shorts. Or jockeys. Or spandex. Really, if you maintain proper decorum and take care to sit "like a lady" in your kilt, no one should ever know what you are or are not wearing.

Also keep in mind the situation. I wear the kilt all the time to educational programs. If I am going kilted to a school, or to a church, then I always take care to wear proper under garments -- just in case of a slip -- to avoid scandal. At other times? Well, you'd need to ask my wife, and I don't think she's telling.

But I do have it on authority (from a 30-plus year member of the Royal Scottish Country Dance society) that Scottish Country Dancers are encouraged to wear black briefs under their kilts. Why? Well, when dancing, there is the danger of the kilt lifting up as you spin. You don't want to flash the audience. On the other hand, you also don't want to show off your "tighty-whiteys" and spoil the myth that keeps young women's eyes on the men in kilts. So black briefs are worn, to both hide the goods and to maintain the mystery. In the brief moment that the kilt may twirl up in the dance, the black briefs are hidden in the shadows and the eye is never quite sure what it did or did not see!

It's all in the mystery!


Galant said...

Other arguments for the 'regimental' option that I, as a new kiltwearer, came across, were that it is far more comfortable than wearing a garment which can either be tight or 'ride up', and that it may well be healthier too.

Questions of anatomy, comfort and health are for me more significant that those of a historical or traditional nature.

Having talked with a couple of guys, it's apparently not unheard of that some guys face occasional aches and pain in 'that area' and I have heard, and can testify to the fact myself, that since beginning to wear a kilt, and at times nothing beneath it, I have had no such pain. Of course that's not medical proof and I don't offer it as a medical super cure, but if it works.... :)

Scotty said...

Further to the comment about country dancing, when competing in highland dancing in Scotland underwear is compulsory - there's no way to avoid the kilt swinging up! The governing body stipulates dark or toning (with the kilt, not flesh-coloured) for both males and females, and for national/irish dances females must wear white underwear below skirts (males are usually in trews/trousers for these so can wear what they like, but if kilted the previous rule applies).

As many competitions are held in the open air at highland games with no private changing facilities, females wear the dark pants on top of the white ones for under the kilt for the highland dancing part, then when changing out of the kilt to the dress for national/irish dances it's a simple matter to just slip off the dark ones leaving on the white ones for these dances.