How to wear a kilt casually. Really.

And you thought wearing an ascot took guts.
Ask A Woman:  He’s wearing a kilt.  But how can he do so casually?

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Beth,

I’ve been reading the articles on Dappered for several weeks now and I’ve even picked up a few ideas about things I may go out and look for.  But there’s one thing about my usual choice of clothing that defies a lot of the advice I’ve read.

I wear kilts.

Now, I’m perfectly willing to grant that kilts are a very unusual fashion choice, and it may be completely impossible, in your opinion, to look “dapper” while wearing one.  Be that as it may, I wear kilts, I like wearing kilts, and I am going to go on wearing kilts.

The advice I’m looking for here is not necessarily how to “dress up” a kilt. I can do that fairly well, I think.  In fact that’s one of the easiest things to do, because they have become fairly formal sorts of garments, at least when you’re talking about the traditional, Scottish kilt (eight years of wool tartan).  What I’m really looking more for are ideas about a casual, but nice, kilt look.  What kind of shirts do I wear?  What kind of footwear?  Socks?

I should note that most of the kilts I wear, on a daily basis, are Utilikilts.  I own six of them, wear them nearly every day for 75% of the year.  I’m pretty serious about my Utilikilts, but that doesn’t mean that I always want to dress in the “accepted” style (e.g. funky tops, combat boots, etc.).

So what kind of advice can you provide?

- Aaron


Dear Aaron,

I’ve been avoiding your email for months.  Every week, I see it peeking at me from my amassed collection, and I think, here’s a guy with the guts to wear what he likes, social sanctions be damned, and he needs my counsel, and I put him off time and time again.  I open your email, re-read your message, and then slowly back away from the computer screen.  Then I get up and eat a cookie, check Facebook, coo at my dog, watch my neighbor apply grease to his fence so the squirrels fall off it…and finally sit back down and pick a different email.  Here’s why: I have ZERO expertise in what you’re asking me about.  I don’t know anyone who ever wears kilts, so I hardly know where to start.  I didn’t even realize you could dress up or dress down kilts.  It’s a kilt for God’s sake!  The only thing I can really contribute here is that fact that I know about other types of men’s clothing, and you’re writing in for a woman’s opinion, and I am, in fact, a woman…so bear with me.

I’ll apply what I know about normal clothing to this scenario, and perhaps all the pieces will come together.  If they don’t, boo-hoo, I’ll never be employed by the kilt industry.  To dress down a kilt, I’d think you’d want to stay away from shirts that have a lot of bells and whistles–pockets, buttons, snaps, zippers, epaulets, etc.  So plain tees like this crew neck, and this v-neck would work.  A polo shirt would also fit the bill.  The kilts you link to see to have higher waists than the typical pair of men’s pants, so I’d definitely recommend tucking in the shirts so that it looks nice and neat.


A rugby shirt might also be a good play.
There also seems to be opportunity for some interesting belts, since the Utilikilts have belt loops.  To use the loops as is, you’ll need to pick wider belts.  But if you wanted to change it up, you might consider taking your kilt to a tailor and asking him/her to shorten the loops so that you could wear a sleek, narrow belt instead.

During the colder months, again, pick simpler sweaters, like this cashmere-blend v-neckThis sweater does have some of those details I advised staying away from, but somehow it looks very laid-back here.  For a little texture, try this cableknit sweater.  When wearing bulkier items like sweaters, don’t tuck in, of course–it will just add thickness to your mid-section.

Kilt worthy?  The Original Utilikilt, Custom-Fit Polo by RL, V-Neck by J. Crew, Cable Crew by Bonobos

Footwear.  Footwear with a kilt.  I’m going to reference Joe’s post, “2012 = The Year of the Loafer” for this one.  Laceless shoes, I bet, would look good with a kilt.  This would also be a sharp departure from the combat boots you referenced, which are all laces.  I especially like these two pairs.  You might also try Boat Shoes for an even more casual look (and minimal laces).  As for socks…that’s a challenge.  The photos I’ve looked through online of men wearing kilts and shoes (but not boots), show the shoes worn with a knee-high white sock.  So…there’s that…option.  May I suggest veering from tradition and trying a colored sock?  Perhaps in a dark, neutral tone like black, navy blue, or charcoal.  The other option, I suppose, is to wear no sock at all.  You’ll wind up with some seriously funky smelling shoes pretty quickly that way, though.  You could simply give the appearance of a bare foot by wearing no-show socks like the ones here or here.

Aaron, hope this helped.  You definitely gave me a run for my money.  Next week, I get back to the easy questions from the rest of you suckers.

-Beth

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