Men in Kilts, Men's Skirts, Sarongs and Other Kilt-like Clothing
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Bravehearts in Kilts Against Trouser Tyranny
Why men should be free to wear kilts and other kilt-like clothing.
Who Are the "Bravehearts"?
We are an international band of men who enjoy the freedom, comfort, pleasure, and masculine appearance of kilts or other male unbifurcated (skirt-like) garments, and who reject the absurd notion that males must always be confined to trousers. We are men in kilts, Utilikilts, and other kilt-like clothing. Our purpose is to liberate men from the "tyranny of trousers" that has been imposed upon us by Western society. We encourage and promote the wearing, acceptance, and availability of kilts and other unbifurcated garments for men.
Unbifurcated garments - including kilts, robes, caftans, sarongs, tunics, and other skirt-like garments - are traditionally male clothing that have been worn by men throughout history. They have been worn by all the men in the Bible, by Roman gladiators, Vikings, and Scottish Highlanders. They are still worn frequently by men in Scotland, throughout Africa, the Middle East, parts of Asia, and the Pacific islands, to name just a few examples. Unbifurcated garments are far more comfortable and suitable to the male anatomy than trousers, because they don't confine the legs or cramp the male genitals the way that trousers do.
Although there was a relatively brief period in history when manhood was symbolized by the wearing of trousers, this is no longer the case. Today trousers have become unisex garments that women wear most of the time. In the United States, for example, a guy wearing blue jeans will find himself dressed the same as perhaps 90 per cent of the girls. If a man wishes to distinguish his masculinity through clothing, he would do much better by strapping on a real Scottish kilt.
Male unbifurcated garments (we'll call them MUG's for short) come in several forms. By far the most famous and well accepted is the kilt - especially the familiar Scottish variety, made of tartan wool and worn with knee sox and a pouch in front called a sporran. Men's kilts may also come in a variety of styles - solid colors, lighter weights, alternative fabrics - and may be worn with or without the traditional Scottish accoutrements. MUG's from other parts of the world include sarongs and caftans. MUG's may also include modern skirt-like garments specifically designed and intended for men. For example, men in Germany have the männerrock ("menskirt"). Men in the United States now have the Utilikilt, which combines the comfort and masculine appearance of a kilt with the convenience of cargo pants. We want to expand the variety and availability of such male clothing.
Please note that Bravehearts prefer attire that is entirely and unambiguously masculine. Ideally, it should be completely separate and distinct from skirts and other clothing worn by women. Being a Braveheart has nothing to do with cross-dressing, wearing women's clothes, or adopting "feminine" styles. While we respect those skirt-wearing men who seek to eliminate gender boundaries in clothing, that is not the Bravehearts' mission. Likewise, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. You will find the same percentages of gays and straights among Bravehearts as you will in the general population. We simply want to reclaim a man's right to wear masculine, unbifurcated garments because they feel good on the legs and provide greater comfort for our male anatomy.
Because kilts and other MUG's have been relatively expensive and hard to find, some men have made their own or have hired seamstresses to sew them. Other men have found it easier or more economical to adapt masculine-looking women's skirts or kilted school uniforms for their own use. Ideally, we would prefer to avoid the "cross-dressing" issue altogether by never wearing any item of clothing that is specifically designed or intended for females. Furthermore, skirts styled for women may be ill suited for men in many respects. Fortunately, the Internet now provides many sources for men's kilts and less expensive kilt alternatives. (Many of these can be found on our Suppliers page.) We look forward to the day when reasonably priced MUG's are readily available, so that no man will have to depend on women's clothing for affordable unbifurcated garments.
What Is Trouser Tyranny?
Imagine a society in which the people have been divided into two groups. Every day, the people in Group A are given freedom of choice in a particular matter of personal concern. Every day, the people in Group B are denied that choice. Individuals in Group B who attempt to exercise this choice are subjected to harassment, denied employment, and face various forms of social ostracism and persecution.
Would you consider this to be unfair discrimination? A denial of personal freedom? Whether you realize it or not, this situation actually exists today in the Americas, most of Europe, and throughout Western society.
Now imagine that the people in Group B are required every day to have their reproductive organs tightly restricted, confined, and subjected to constant binding and chafing (to the point that some individuals develop rashes, reduced reproductive capacity, or other ailments). Individuals in Group B who dare to cast off these shackles are punished with the same forms of persecution as described above.
Would such a practice be an intolerable denial of individual liberty? Well, the same kind of practice is now being enforced every day in the Americas, most of Europe, and throughout Western society.
Finally, imagine that the members of Group B have been brain-washed into believing that they enjoy, and are even proud of, their above-described physical confinement and lack of choice. Members of Group B are instilled with the belief that it would be shameful even to think about questioning their restrictions. Furthermore, they themselves enforce the restrictions by persecuting any Group B member who dares to violate them. Consequently, we see the eerie spectacle of an entire group of people who are totally conditioned and/or coerced into conformity.
Does this seem like something out of science fiction? Perhaps, but it is also a reality. "Group B" actually describes the condition of men in Western society today, and the way in which they are rigidly restricted to wearing trousers and denied the freedom to choose any alternative form of clothing.
Men live their entire lives under a tyranny of trousers. "Tyranny" has been defined as "an arbitrary and unrestrained exercise of power." As we shall see, the rule restricting men solely to trousers is indeed arbitrary - it has no logical or anatomical justification. (On the contrary, trousers are ill suited to the male genitalia.) Furthermore, the unrestrained power of this rule rigidly dictates not only what men wear but also what they think. For a man even to question the trouser rule is regarded by some people as shameful and perverse. Most men would not dare such a thing, for fear of raising doubts about their sexuality.
As the German poet Goethe said, "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those
who falsely believe they are free."
How Did We Get Stuck in Trousers?
What is so special about trousers that men have become shackled to them?
In terms of their design, trousers are considered "bifurcated" garments because they are divided into two sections, which cover each leg separately. The two sections meet at the crotch, where they are joined by a number of seams (usually an inseam from each trouser leg, plus seams from the front and back). All these seams and accompanying fabric converge at what is already the most crowded intersection in male anatomy. There - in the crotch - they confine, crowd, bind, chafe, and otherwise cut into the male genitalia. The trousers also chafe against the inner thighs and, depending on their tightness, restrict leg movement. In some cases, the confinement of trousers may cause a rash or even reduce a man's sperm count.
Trousers are a relatively recent development. In earlier times, men were accustomed to wearing unbifurcated clothing - such as robes, togas, tunics, sarongs, and various kilt-like or skirt-like garments. These unbifurcated garments were not divided between the legs, and therefore they did not confine or cut into the crotch and male genitals. Therefore, they afforded men more freedom and comfort.
Even today, there are many places in the world where men wear unbifurcated clothing. In parts of the Middle East, Africa, southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands it is common to see men in caftans, djellabahs, sarongs, lava-lavas, or other skirt-like garments. Scotland, of course, is famous for its men in kilts. The Greeks and Albanians have the fustanella. In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, all the men wear a traditional knee-length robe called the gho.
Trousers do have certain practical advantages - especially when riding horseback, performing various physical activities, and in cold weather. Perhaps this is why trousers became standard male attire throughout Western society. In contrast, women were kept confined in long, cumbersome skirts and dresses until the early 20th century. The male/female distinction in clothing was reduced to a simple bifurcated/non-bifurcated dichotomy: trousers were exclusively male and skirts and dresses were exclusively female (although young boys wore skirts and dresses until the early 20th century). Men learned to define their masculinity based on the wearing of trousers. This became a badge of pride that distinguished them from women. They learned to regard anything skirt-like as being "feminine," and therefore forbidden. Consequently, trousers became compulsory for men - even in situations where they offered no advantage over the unbifurcated menswear of earlier times.
During the 20th century, women's fashion underwent a revolution. Women freed themselves from the confinement of the long, bulky skirts and dresses of yesteryear and switched to styles that gave more freedom and comfort. Next, women demanded - and won - the right to wear trousers. Women now have a wide variety of bifurcated and unbifurcated garments to chose from. Today in the United States, it is much more common to see women and girls wearing slacks or jeans than to see them in skirts and dresses. Nowadays, a man can no longer prove his masculinity by putting on a pair of jeans - because this is now standard female attire!
Now that women in Western society have won the right to wear whatever they want, what justification remains for a rule that arbitrarily restricts men to wearing trousers? Trousers no longer distinguish men from women. We don't routinely ride horseback any more. Because of central heating, homes and offices are no longer as cold and drafty as they once were. Most of today's work does not involve the kind of physical activity that requires trousers. Furthermore, trousers do not offer any intrinsic advantage to the male anatomy. On the contrary! As previously noted, trousers confine, irritate, and impinge on the male genitals. From an anatomical perspective, trousers would be much more appropriate for females!
The desire for less constricting trousers is reflected in the trend among young men and boys, which started in the 1990's, to wear oversized trousers and shorts, with sagging crotches. This style, which is reminiscent of the baggy pants worn by old-fashioned slap-stick comedians, has been criticized for its sloppy appearance. While its low crotch allows more room for a man's genitals, it still leaves an annoying convergence of seams rubbing between one's thighs. A man would be more comfortable - and look less sloppy - if the inseams were eliminated altogether.
Of course, trousers will always have their place. For certain activities and environments they are clearly more practical than unbifurcated garments. Some people - both male and female - may prefer to wear trousers all the time. Others may prefer to wear various unbifurcated clothing, depending on the circumstances and how they feel. Women now have a choice in this matter. The question is: WHY SHOULD MEN BE DENIED THIS CHOICE?
What justification is given by employers, school officials, and others who deny men and boys the right to wear unbifurcated clothing? Usually it is just a dogmatic attempt to enforce prevailing prejudices. They say that wearing alternatives to trousers is "not socially acceptable," that it would be "a distraction" or "disruptive," or that it might "offend" people or "cause a disturbance." The same kinds of rationalizations have been routinely used to defend racial segregation and other forms of discrimination. The same arguments were once used to bar women from wearing trousers - and were ultimately defeated.
Some people have tried to defend the trouser rule on religious grounds, as
if trousers had been divinely ordained. They ignore the fact that priests
and monks have been wearing unbifurcated robes and cassocks for centuries.
They point to a passage in Deuteronomy that is sometimes interpreted as
prohibiting cross-dressing. What they seem to forget is that trousers didn't
even exist when the Bible was written. All the men
in those days wore unbifurcated clothing. When have you ever seen a depiction
of Moses or Jesus wearing trousers? If unbifurcated clothing was good enough
for them, why not for us? (See
Why Men Fear Freedom
Anyone who doubts the masculinity of male unbifurcated garments must not have seen Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Liam Neeson in Rob Roy - two popular films in 1995 that gave a tremendous boost to men's kilt wearing. The Scottish kilt is perhaps the most macho kind of clothing around. It is a symbol of brave and independent masculinity. It was the garb of the fierce warriors of the Scottish Highlands. It's the traditional uniform of the valiant Highland regiments. And it's worn by some of the strongest athletes you'll ever see - guys who toss cabers (which resemble telephone poles) in the Scottish games. The real kilt is strictly a male garment - in contrast to unisex clothes like slacks and blue jeans that women wear most of the time.
However, it takes a brave man to wear a kilt, outside of Scotland or Scottish gatherings.
Why? Because, while women can wear almost anything they want nowadays, our society subjects men to a rigid stereotype that confines them to trousers. Few men have the courage to break out of this mold, for fear that their masculinity will be questioned.
This is only one example, but it is symbolic of a much larger problem. While women are finding more and more options, most men remain locked in straitjackets of conformity. Anything that threatens their fragile facade of masculinity scares them to death. And - what's even more curious - most men have convinced themselves that they're proud of this situation.
Have you ever wondered why men are so screwed up? Perhaps it's because manhood does not come automatically or easily. It is something that must be achieved.
Consider this: The first person with whom a baby boy learns to identify is his mother. Therefore, at the heart of every boy's personality, there is a feminine identity.
However, after a few years, the boy learns that society has other plans for him. Society needs men who are tough, aggressive, and fearless: men who can endure pain and obey orders without complaint; men who will do the dirty, dangerous jobs that must be done; men who will be ready to kill in battle, or to charge up a hill into withering machine-gun fire without regard to personal safety. Society puts little value on sissies, wimps, and momma's boys.
Therefore, the boy must be physically and psychologically torn away from his mother and all things feminine, in order to achieve a new, masculine identity. He must go through repeated ordeals to strengthen his body and desensitize his feelings. He must become mortally ashamed of anything soft or feminine within him. He must literally come to believe that he would rather die - actually die! (as in battle) - than to be considered unmasculine or like a woman.
Conformity to the masculine stereotype is ruthlessly enforced. Any boy who seems effeminate, wimpy, or different is unmercifully harassed by his peers. To one degree or another, boyhood consists of repeated fist-fights, bullying, exhibitions of physical prowess, as well as doing some incredibly stupid and dangerous things, in an attempt to prove one's masculinity.
As a result of this conditioning, "masculinity" has too often become nothing but cartoonish posturing - a superficial attempt to avoid any inference of "femininity." True masculinity can and should be more than that. It should be something positive. A man who is truly masculine should have enough self-confidence that he is not afraid to be a nonconformist.
In the movie Braveheart, the Scottish hero William Wallace died with the cry of "Freedom!" on his lips. But most men today are not really free - not even in an area as harmless as clothing. No matter how masculine trouser-wearing men may pretend to be, they are merely slaves to their own insecurity. They go about as prisoners of conformity, wearing trousers or blue jeans that are almost indistinguishable from those worn by the women and girls around them. They have failed to comprehend that trousers are no longer a symbol of manhood, but rather a unisex garment customarily worn by women.
Ironically, the men who cling to trousers are missing the opportunity to wear something really masculine, like a man's kilt. A man in a kilt is proud, independent, and courageous. He exudes confidence in his manhood and sexuality. He draws positive reactions from those around him (especially from the ladies).
Furthermore, men in trousers are denying themselves the exquisite comfort and pleasure afforded by kilts and other MUG's. Instead of plodding around with their legs confined and fabric bunched up in their crotches, they could be enjoying freedom and airiness around the legs and crotch, as well as the sensuous feeling of pleats swinging against their thighs.
Is it wrong for men to experience that kind of freedom, comfort, and pleasure?
Kilts for Men, Trousers for Women
While there are many varieties of MUG's, the Scottish kilt is the kind most familiar to and accepted by the public (at least in Europe and North America). It is also the kind worn by the author of this website (who is an American male of partly Scottish descent), and about which he can speak from personal experience. Therefore, the following discussions will focus mainly on kilts as examples of male unbifurcated garments.
Kilts are skirt-like garments with the following basic features:
They are pleated. A man's kilt has deep, overlapping knife-type pleats in the back. Therefore, the kilt hangs relatively straight, while having plenty of material to allow for freedom of movement. The front panels are not pleated.
The typical Scottish kilt is made of 8 or 9 yards of smooth, tightly woven wool with a tartan (plaid) design. Men having Scottish ancestry usually choose tartans for Scottish clans that are associated with their family names. There are also many non-clan tartans that can be worn by anyone - whether Scottish or not. Kilts may also be of solid colors - as frequently seen in Irish kilts.
In order to accommodate kilt-wearers in climes warmer than Scotland, men's kilts are sometimes made with lighter weight wool, less material, or alternative fabrics. Because they don't have pockets, men's kilts are usually worn with a pouch, called a sporran, hanging in front. Some men wear kilts with sporrans on the side or with alternative kinds of pouches. Some varieties of kilts have pockets. A new American variation called the Utilikilt (which the author also wears regularly) includes models that don't wrap around, but go on like trousers. They maintain the rugged, masculine spirit of the kilt, with the added convenience of cargo pockets and a front fly. (For casual wear, the author finds Utilikilts to be far more practical than regular kilts, and even more comfortable.)
Traditionally, the kilt is worn with woolen, knee-length sox (called hose), held up with special garters with colored tabs on the side. Lighter weight sox are available for warmer weather. For casual wear, some men go with ankle sox.
The question of what is worn under the kilt is a source of endless speculation and tiresome attempts at humor. Many traditional Scots will tell you, "Nothing is worn under the kilt; it is all in working order." However, a kilt-wearing man might not be so daring in the United States, where sexual paranoia is rampant. A safe bet would be to follow the practice of Scottish dancers and wear black cotton briefs. These are readily available in various styles in men's underwear departments.
Kilt-wearing men are almost unanimous in their praise of the kilt's comfort and practicality. Why, then, do most women say that they find trousers to be more comfortable than skirts? Why do women prefer to wear slacks or jeans whenever they can? While at first glance this phenomenon seems to contradict the inherent comfort of unbifurcated garments, upon closer examination it does not. It simply demonstrates how male kilt-wearing has distinct advantages over female skirt-wearing. For example:
Basic anatomy explains why trousers might be more comfortable on a woman than on a man. One of worst things about trousers is the way the fabric, seams, and zipper all converge at the crotch - the very place where men need the most room - resulting in varying degrees of confinement and friction. Men have learned to tolerate this as the price of wearing pants. However, after wearing a kilt regularly, a man becomes acutely aware of how annoying trousers really are. Women, because of their different anatomy, don't suffer the same constriction in the crotch that men do. In actuality, women are far more physically adapted to trousers than men are.
(If an alien unfamiliar with Western clothing styles were presented with a naked man and woman and asked to match them up with a skirt and trousers, it's easy to imagine that, based on anatomy, the man would get the skirt! Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, living in Sri Lanka and wearing sarongs instead of trousers, declared that "Trousers are a Western absurdity." )
Consequently, it is perfectly sensible for men to adopt kilts (or variations such as the Utilikilt) as their customary attire and let women wear the trousers. We should not be cowed by fears that our masculinity will be called into question. We should not let ourselves remain prisoners of blind conformity. Kilts are not only more comfortable than trousers, they are also more masculine, better looking, and more natural for our male anatomy.
If we are proud of our maleness, we should treat our male organs with greater respect than by cramping them in trousers. If we are proud of our masculinity, we should not be afraid to wear something really macho, like a man's kilt or Utilikilt, rather than clinging to trousers like spineless wimps. If we pride ourselves in having a free country, then we should exercise our freedom by wearing kilts, Utilikilts, or other MUG's whenever and wherever we want.
Now Is the Time for Bravehearts!
Any man interested in wearing a kilt or other MUG as regular attire (that is, outside of Scottish events or other special occasions) may feel intimidated by the fact that all the other men he sees are wearing trousers. He may feel tempted to wait until men wearing kilts and MUG's become a more common sight. Well guess what? Every other man interested in kilts or MUG's is thinking exactly the same thing! If no man has the guts to take the lead, we'll be victims of Trouser Tyranny for the rest of our lives! If you ever want to enjoy the comfort, pleasure, and positive attention that comes from wearing a kilt (or other MUG), you are the one who has got to make it happen. And the time to do it is now!
The author of this website is an American male who has been wearing kilts since 1972. Back then, most people reacted to kilted men with surprise and even derision. One had to endure frequent stares, giggles, whistles, and sarcastic remarks. But over the years, things dramatically changed.
Celtic music and heritage gained new popularity. With this came the sight of more men in kilts playing bagpipes, participating in Scottish or Irish dancing, or throwing cabers at Scottish games. Increasing numbers of men began renting kilts for weddings and other formal occasions. At the same time, gender stereotypes gradually relaxed. Prominent male rock stars frequently appeared on stage wearing kilts, skirts, and even dresses. Guys donned skirts to play Ultimate Frisbee. Men's kilts and skirts became a part of punk and Goth fashion.
The year 1995 was a watershed year for kilt-wearing because of two major Hollywood movies, in which two of the biggest male stars gave kilts a heroic, macho image: Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson, and Braveheart, the story of Scottish freedom-fighter William Wallace, starring Mel Gibson. Braveheart was a box-office smash in the United States and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. In both films, you could always tell the "good guys," because they were the "real men" wearing kilts throughout. The bad guys were the foppish ones in breeches or trousers.
From then on, the public acceptance of Scottish kilts has been almost total, and often enthusiastic. Most people now recognize the manliness of the kilt, and fewer make the mistake of calling it a "skirt." Guys driving by in pick-up trucks - who had previously whistled or made sarcastic comments when seeing the author in a kilt - would now smile, give the thumbs up, and shout, "Braveheart!"
Wearing a kilt in public is not nearly as traumatic as you might imagine. On the contrary, you will be surprised at how much power and popularity a kilt can bring. Sure, your friends might rib you at first, but if you respond with good humor, the kilt will become a non-issue rather quickly. Maintaining a positive, self-confident attitude is the key.
You will probably encounter much less public reaction than you ever expected - and what reaction you do get will be overwhelmingly positive. Nowadays people love to see a man in a kilt. Women go wild. Strangers smile, compliment you on your kilt, strike up friendly conversations, ask what tartan you are wearing, talk about Scotland, tell about weddings they attended where all the men wore kilts, remark that they wish more men would wear them. (Be prepared, however, for the question about what's worn underneath, as well as inquiries about whether you play the bagpipes.)
While it helps to have some Scottish or Irish heritage to talk about, men without such ancestry have also enjoyed these positive reactions. A recent example is Samuel L. Jackson - the African-American action star - who took to wearing tartan kilts while promoting his film The 51st State (released in the United States as Formula 51), in which he plays a modern kilted character. Men who are afraid to wear kilts simply don't know what they are missing.
Even men who wear other MUG's, including masculine-looking skirts, have reported very little public reaction to their attire, although not nearly as many compliments or as much enthusiastic approval as men in kilts. An exciting new addition to the world of MUG's is the Utilikilt - an extremely macho pleated garment with belt loops and cargo pockets - that has been gaining popularity in Seattle and is now available over the Internet. The standard model has a front fly like trousers, while the "neo-traditional" model wraps around and has a front apron. (The author now has four standard-style Utilikilts - green camouflage, black denim, green khaki and navy blue - which he regularly wears as casual attire in place of his more traditional kilts.) Utilikilts have been featured on television programs in the United States and Britain, and they may well be the breakthrough that brings MUG's into the mainstream of men's fashion. Within the past few years, the selection and availability of practical, casual kilts for men has rapidly expanded.
Although you might not see any men in kilts or MUG's on the street where you live, there is a steadily growing number of Bravehearts - real, ordinary men, of all ages, all over the world - who make kilts or other MUG's a regular part of their everyday wardrobe. You can meet other Bravehearts on the Internet at message boards such as the Bravehearts' Kilt Forum. You will meet students, professional men, retired men, men with families, men who are single. You will meet men who wear kilts and MUG's only occasionally and those who wear them almost all the time, men who have worn kilts for many years and those who are just starting out on this new adventure of freedom.
Trouser Tyranny can be overcome. It just takes a little courage, self-confidence, the willingness to assert your individuality, and openness to a new dimension of comfort and enjoyment.
Are you man enough to join us?
More on this website for Bravehearts . . .
Advice & Support for Bravehearts - including overcoming the objections of wives, family, and others; the making and wearing of kilts; and a FAQ.
Photos - Photo galleries showing the webmaster and other Bravehearts in kilts and other MUGs.
Photographs: Tommy Hilfiger ad for American Tartans; Steven Villegas in a green camouflage "Utilikilt"; Liam Neeson in Rob Roy; Sean Connery; Ewan McGregor; the "Breacan" from Kinloch Anderson; Mel Gibson in Braveheart; Ashley MacIsaac; Duncan in Highlander; David Duchovny; David Byrne; 21st Century Kilts; Thomas Joseph from Models 1, in PVC black traditional kilt from 21st Century Kilts; golfers in "Utilikilts"; Samuel L. Jackson, as shown in People Magazine; group wearing "Breacans" from Kinloch Anderson; WDP in Lamont tartan kilt.
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 by WDP Bravehearts
This page last modified on August 25, 2009.
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