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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nothing new under the sun... (kilt hose)

Back in April I posted on my experience with the contemporary style of wearing your kilt hose with casual Highland dress -- scrunched down, as opposed to pulled up to the knee. Well, come to find out, this may not be such a new style, after all.

Someone over on the X Marks the Scot kilt wearers' forum has posted a thread about a picture he found in the National Library of Wales. The photo was taken on May 1, 1952, in the Dinas Mawddwy Woolen Factory. It depicts two young adolescents, a boy and a girl, in Scottish dress.

Now, the question of why these teens were wearing Scottish attire in a Welsh woolen mill aside, I immediately noticed something about the young lad's dress. He is wearing the kilt, obviously in a dress-down fashion. There is no sporran or kilt belt. (I never wear a belt when I wear a sweater vest, as he is in the photo. And I dare say if I were working around all that machinery I'd definitely remove my sporran!).

But look at his hose. He is wearing them scrunched down on his leg, just like the contemporary casual fashion. This is 1952! Previously, I had not seen pictures of anyone wearing their hose like this prior to the Geoffrey Tailor "21st Century Kilts" revolution. But I suppose there is nothing new under the sun.

(And before anyone comments, yes, the young lad's kilt is a bit too long. But for a growing boy it is not uncommon to have a kilt made a little long, to allow for growth. The tartan, by the way, is MacKenzie.) Posted by Picasa


Cuidichn said...

I'm not sure a picture of a boy wearing his hose pushed down qualifies as proof of a past trend, or past common practice. It does show the idea of it is not new.
I have no doubt Scots have done this before, likely temporarily in hot environment situations.

The practice today is not unacceptable, the real problem I see with it is the practice is done too often, without consideration for the venue, and sometimes, from the attitude of the wearer, without respect for the kilt.
As you point out in your previous writing, there is a time a place.

Heath Barkley said...

Its likely that the trend of casual kilt dress has been around alot longer than you think, even the pushed down hose. In the past, I doubt that every time a man put on a kilt, he always made sure that he had a prpoer belt, sporran, hose, shoes, waistcoat, and jacket. The average Scot might not habve been able to afford those things. Nor would they have been practical in his daily life. Not that they considered their dress "casual" as we do today, but more of comfort. Pushed down hose could be nothing more than un-gartered hose that were strecthed out and had fallen down. I doubt they would stop what they were doing and pull them up every time. And back then garters were literally tied on around the calf. Not the comfortable elastic we have today. I doubt the tie on garters are comfortable enough to wear all day in the field.

Among those who wear the kilt on regular basis, this practice is more acceptable than you think. No, I wouldn't push them down for a formal event, a wedding, or a funeral. But at a highland games where I am part of the crowd, or hiking a trail, or down to the grocery store sure, I'd push'em down.

As for respecting the kilt...true the kilt is an article of clothing that has a romantic history. Levi's blue jeans also have a romantic history in the old west. But I don't put on cowboy boots and a cowboy hat everytime I wear my jeans. Am I disrespecting blue jeans?

Cuidichn said...


Perhaps you should re-read my post, and not read so much into it.

Cuidichn said...

Oh, and just to add as far as the picture goes. It's one of those things that we know very little of, being it has no description with it. A picture does not always speak a thousand words.
The caption apparently is noted as "Models wearing a tartan skirt and kilt,
Dinas Mawddwy Woollen Factory, 1 May 1952"

'Models' is an interesting word here, suggesting a posed picture.
If these are 'models' what are they 'modelling'? Do/did they actually work in that mill? If so, is/was that their normal dress for that particular job?
Anything is possible, but would it be the kind of clothing that one would expect to be seen being worn by workers around that machinery?

Maybe someone will seek the answers.

Heath Barkley said...

Perhaps I did read more into your thread than was intended. I still stand behind my comments, just not so much directed to you. For that I apologize. But as kilts move closer to mainstream dress (though they will probably never reach it) we will see more and more levels of formality, even at our highland game venues. For those who want to see the progression of kilts in modern dress, this can be a good thing. For those who want to keep kilts for special occassions, this will like ly be a sore spot. Fortunately the world is large enough for all of us.

As far as your comments on the photo and its accuracy.....
Even in 1952, I doubt British labor laws would have allowed children to work in a textile mill environment. Did people in this mill where kilts? Not likely. I doubt in 1952 Welshmen were much into kilts (I could be wrong about that). But I think a man could wear a kilt in the mill. If a woman could wear a skirt in the mill, why couldn't a man wear a kilt. Likely this was a mill that wove tartan for the kilt industry in Scotland, and were advertising what could be made from their product. Why is the boy dressed like he is? Its possible that the mill pulled him off the street on his way home from school, and slapped a kilt on him. He's probably wearing it over his short-pants. He has no belt, no sporran, and his sweater is tucked into the kilt. Its almost as if it was a last minute idea.
I've got a question...If this is an advertisment, why is a mill advertising tartan material in a black and white photo?

Matt, if you are reading this, I hope you had a good time at the beach.

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A french kilt wearer