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  1. #1
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    Going to a ball don't want to look like a goof

    I tried to find information here on this subject, but I couldn't get a definitive answer. I will be going to the Cincinnati Caledonian societies St Andrews ball in november. I have a brand new Prince Charlie that fits, a brand new tux shirt that fits, the Black Bow Tie The Fly plaid and The Kilt. Oh and a fancy sporran.

    I have the Ghillie Broughs, and some new hose flashes, but I have a question about the hose.

    Every photo I have seen shows the person in a pair of white polyester hose, not the heavy wool Piper hose but the ones usually sold or rented when you rent a kilt outfit. I know there is a big argument over whether or not those are proper. But what I don't know is for a black tie event like the St Andrews ball, if they are appropriate.

  2. #2
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    Leave the white hose for those who are, or, look like they are, attired by hire companies, likewise, leave the fly plaid and ghillie brogues behind too and for the same reason.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 16th August 22 at 11:47 AM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.


  3. #3
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    OK, first question. Does the invitation say "Black Tie"?

    The Prince Charlie Coatee is the kilt equivalent of a tuxedo so is worn only for black tie level events.
    Yes, I know. It is shown everywhere as some sort of kilt uniform. I have even seen guys wearing them at Highland Games, outdoors, in the afternoon, standing in line at the food trucks.
    But in actuality it should be reserved for those events where the guys not in kilts would be wearing a tuxedo.

    Some St. Andrews Balls are black tie and some not. So it is good to check.

    I too would forget the fly plaid, gillies, and white hose. Dress as simply as possible. It's not a costume ball.

    As one example here is how I dress for a event where the invitation specified - Kilt, Black Tie, full ribbons and medals.



    Simplicity has always been classic.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  5. #4
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    Louisville, Kentucky, USA (38° 13' 11"N x 85° 37' 32"W gets you close)
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    Statements below are my opinion, but have been researched over the years.

    Black bow tie, check. (Bonus points for self-tied).

    Tux shirt, check. I presume you mean a white shirt with vertical pleats on the front. Wing collar or turn-down? Either would probably be OK, but for some folks, a wing collar shirt is strictly for white tie (extremely formal, i.e. extremely rare) events. Common enough here in the US, though.

    Prince Charlie coatee (and 3-button vest/waistcoat, I presume?), check. Not strictly necessary, but classy. A black, navy or charcoal Argyle jacket and vest would also do. Note no belt should be worn with the vest/waistcoat. Be sure once you put them on they cover the top few inches or so of your kilt - no shirt should be showing between the vest/waistcoat and the top of the kilt!

    Forget the fly plaid, unless you give it to your wife to wear as a shoulder wrap or other accessory for her dress to coordinate with your kilt.

    Fancy sporran. I presume you mean one with fur on the front and a silver cantle, or possibly a full mask? Fine.

    Hose. I would go with hose that compliments one of the colors in your kilt (maybe one of the minor stripes to help it POP). If nothing else, bottle green, navy or charcoal. Partly depends on what you tartan is. *Please* avoid white or cream.

    Shoes. As Jock suggested, ditch the ghillie brogues. Wear well-polished black dress shoes or black patent-leather pumps. (What would you wear with a tuxedo?) Some guides suggest buckle brogues are the way to go.

    A sghian dhub isn't absolutely necessary, but should probably be on the dressier side (no stag horn). Other cutlery (dirk, sword, claymore ) are best left at home, though I have seen one or two worn at couple of Scottish balls, at least when the gents entered the room.


    Have fun!
    John

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  7. #5
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    Kilting for fun and profit

    I have been wearing kilts of one version or another for many years. The stories of our family’s Fraser connection may have inspired it. Perhaps a bit genetic memory was involved, as a young lad I harbored a strong desire for a basket hilt. It felt as though our family heritage was calling out to me. Having one now, I sometimes carry it, kilted casual or formal. Sound crazy? Maybe, but I don’t care.

    I have studied historical references on the topic, traveled the world kilted, observed and adopted ways of accessorizing a kilt and have come to one conclusion - thanks to X-Marks for the ideal forum for gents to gather and discuss this dandy bit of attire.

    I give little credence to the constraints of a rigid definition of “traditional” while accepting situational norms as significant. I also appreciate that there are standards of dress one should try to learn from. Heeding other’s sensibilities will add to your definition of “proper wearing” (in specific settings). Think of it as “when in Rome” - try not to resemble the Visigoths.

    The fact you seek other perspectives shows your wisdom as you expand your wardrobe. Years from now you may find, as I do, that chatting about kilting on this forum is like walking into your local pub and finding many of your long-time friends there to greet you. We all profit from mulling over these issues, perhaps while sharing a wee dram.

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  9. #6
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    I endorse what others have said about the Fly Plaid (a dreadful Hire Trade invention), white hose and Ghillie Brogues.

    In the US, and increasingly in the UK too, one will see all sorts of dress at a Black Tie event; there are also some cultural differences on each side of the Pond. In the UK it is usual to wear a turn down, as opposed to a wing, collar; and a Marcella Shirt at such an event. Wing collar is usually reserved for White Tie.

    It can take some time to build a quality outfit. Start modestly and build your attire over time. Key here is to choose what you like and feel comfortable in, and buy the best quality you can afford as it will stand the test of time. Depending on the type of Black Tie event, something like any of the outfits in 1-3 would be suitable; 4-5 are for White Tie.

    Progressively Formal-2.jpg
    Last edited by figheadair; 22nd August 22 at 11:40 PM.

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kearnold02 View Post
    I tried to find information here on this subject, but I couldn't get a definitive answer. I will be going to the Cincinnati Caledonian societies St Andrews ball in november. I have a brand new Prince Charlie that fits, a brand new tux shirt that fits, the Black Bow Tie The Fly plaid and The Kilt. Oh and a fancy sporran.

    I have the Ghillie Broughs, and some new hose flashes, but I have a question about the hose.

    Every photo I have seen shows the person in a pair of white polyester hose, not the heavy wool Piper hose but the ones usually sold or rented when you rent a kilt outfit. I know there is a big argument over whether or not those are proper. But what I don't know is for a black tie event like the St Andrews ball, if they are appropriate.
    I'm surprised no one has yet recommended looking at the ever-valuable dicussion of Traditional Highland Civilian Dress:
    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...xamples-85511/

    And the more fun take, 10 Looks:
    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...-attire-46888/
    When in doubt, end with a jig. - Robin McCauley

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  13. #8
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    For a bit of the history/background, many people today (including several members here, and myself) more or less follow the fashions of "traditional Highland Dress" which emerged around World War One.

    Here's the contrast between the formal Highland Dress worn throughout the Victorian period (left) and the new sleek Evening Dress which became the norm by around 1920 (right).

    Note the large number of accessories which were jettisoned. That's why, to the "traditional" eye, such accessories can look out of place.



    Some things didn't change, the footwear for example. Both in Victorian and 20th century Evening Dress tartan or diced hose, and buckled shoes, are called for.

    About Ghillie Brogues, as the name suggests the shoes, when the first images of them appear around 1860, are rough tan rustic country shoes.



    In an ironic twist these rough tan country shoes, by the 1920s, were being made in shiny black and had silver Evening buckles attached in a rather makeshift way:



    Evening Dress remained more or less unchanged from c1920 but did receive a blow from the emerging Kilt Hire Industry starting in the 1970s.

    Evidently tartan/diced hose were too dear and too prone to damage so far-cheaper white hose were introduced for Evening Dress.

    Also buckled brogues must have been too much to purchase and maintain so Ghillie Brogues were hired instead.

    This produced the now-familiar (and currently much reviled)

    black Prince Charlie + white hose + black Ghillies = Evening Dress

    formula.



    So where are things now?

    Many of us continue to wear traditional Evening Dress, including one of the traditional Evening sporran types, tartan or diced hose, and buckled shoes.

    Here's a number of modern Scots at a formal do in Scotland. These men, top pipers, have been wearing Highland Dress regularly since they were youngsters.

    As you can see there are no white hose, but rather than tartan hose half the men are wearing solid-coloured hose that tone with their kilts. Ghillies sans buckles are worn by most.

    All are wearing the standard 20th century seal & silver Evening Dress sporrans (well there's some other fur there on the left).

    Last edited by OC Richard; 20th August 22 at 06:26 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  15. #9
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    For myself, going to a formal event these are my current options.

    On the right is the ordinary Evening Dress which hasn't changed since around 1920: Evening jacket, silver & seal Evening sporran, tartan hose, silver buckles on the shoes.

    The outfit on the left has a couple "retro" touches: the Edwardian goathair sporran, and castellated hose.

    Long hair sporrans never completely replaced by the new small round sealskin Evening sporrans which appeared around World War One, and are still perfectly acceptable as Peter has shown.

    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  17. #10
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    I think a quiet word of caution about kilt attire and formal evening kilt attire in particular is needed here. There are formal occasions that don't need the "kitchen sink" for some, most even, black tie events. For example plain coloured hose and well polished oxford shoes will be perfectly acceptable, in the UK a bonnet is rarely worn to and from an event. Ultra fancy sporrans are also not really necessary either. Over dressing for an event such as most Burns nights, for example, would be completely over the top. Hurry slowly with formal attire is my advice here.

    After discussing this subject with one of my sons over breakfast I have a couple of afterthoughts to add. Military decorations should only be worn with the kilt on appropriate occasions and assorted Clan/club/group/charity pins are best avoided on the jacket too. The "less is more" train of thought is actually, often the most effective way of showing off one's kilt attire to best effect and last but not least, several yards of your Clan tartan around one's waist does clearly indicate to all, which Clan you are batting for. Although of course , if you must wear a bonnet to, although usually not indoors, the event then a Clan badge on the bonnet is acceptable.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 21st August 22 at 02:25 AM. Reason: found my glasses!
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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