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  1. #1
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    Cool It's nice to know the rules but....

    Hi Everyone,
    As a newbie, I hope I'm not sticking my neck out here but in the spirit of "out of the mouths of babes", and all that I'd just like to share some personal conclusions -so far! :mrgreen:

    For the last few weeks I've been reading furiously and what a learning curve!
    It seems everyone has an opinion on variours rules, and certainly, 'the guardians' of Highland Dress have expectations that the heritage rightly be preserved, and as such, respected.

    However, as in all of modern life, from language to recipies to erotica, there are universal boundaries in decency, social acceptability and good taste that are constantly being tested, pushed, and over time re-defined.

    I was taken aback recently to hear a work colleague speak enthusiastically about a black-coloured kilt he was planning with precisely three pleats either side of the waist, then I thought -why not? If he is out there promoting kilts, in ANY form, good on him!

    I come from a military family, and it has been hard to overcome that innate and sometimes irrational sense that everything in life be regimented.

    The original Highlanders were rebels by all accounts, and we should be careful not to let fashion fascism bury that spirit under the banner of 'traditions' which, given Scotlands significantly repressed and then repackaged dress history, have certain origins which are murky at best, just research the story of Tartan if you have any doubts.

    My personal feeling so far is that, short of aligning oneself with any Caledonian group that insist on a fixed standard of dress, that individual flourishes should be encouraged. It has been said that Highland Dress is not a Costume, and that is true, but it is not a Uniform either.

    Having said that, I agree that one should not 'punk out' or degrade Highland dress to the point it descends to costume, niether should one offend the sensibilities of others by wearing badges, plumes and decorations without entitlement.

    Two things are worth bearing in mind when approaching this issue, the first is that there is a distinct line between wearing a kilt, and wearing full 'Highland Dress' anyway. Even Kinloch Anderson, the 'Royal' kiltmakers have introduced the Breacan 'kilt' for knocking around the glens of a weekend.

    The second is that Highland Dress itself, like it or not, and in spite of THE RULES, like language, will evolve.

    A glaring dress 'issue' that I noted early on in my reading was the wearing of White hose.
    Just about every leading kilt outfitters choose to model the most formal eveningwear teamed with white hose, and yet one learns, reading further, that of all the solid colour hose, WHITE HOSE are NOT CORRECT eveningwear at all, and owe their popularity to being inexpensive and therefore pushed with rental outfits.
    Wearers of owned outfits (most of us here?) wear white hose as a dressy-looking and cost effective alternative in comparison to the silly prices asked for the even the cheapest nylon diced and tartan hose.
    Who can deny white hose are rather spiffy with a black Ghillie Brogue, and the glitzy appointments of formal Highland wear? But according to THE RULES, they are NOT evening wear!
    It was this very 'white hose debacle' that freed me from the constraints of THE RULES to experiment with footwear and one or two other small details.

    For example, the rather odd persistence with the uncomfortable (and kilt destroying) sporran chain. There are leather alternatives, and for the sake of my kilt alone, I'm going to be wearing one with my dress Sporran.

    Next, The Brogue, Ghillie, Oxford, or otherwise.
    Why this has become a standard for eveningwear, is beyond me, after all, who wears brogues with a tux? (Uh-Oh rules again, and tuxedo rules at that, but it drives home a valid point, about rules as much as about fashion!)
    To my mind, tartan, diced, or dark solid colour hose teamed with a 'Mozart' or, if you will, 'George Washington' type buckle shoe (To recreate this effect, I bought and installed Highland dancers shoe-flaps to a flat-toed lace up shoe) makes a far more toney, not to say individualized, evening choice.

    As for day footwear, I discovered a European made 'street' shoe in the town of Mainz, Germany (of all places). It features a black rubber toe and sole, chocolate suede and leather uppers, with black laces that thread across the shoe into black nylon straps, instead of eyelets, giving this ultra modern shoe a retro 'Braveheart' moccasin look, the only modification was to cut off some small yellow tabs on the heel and tounge. I thereby 'created' a unique and very personal version of Highland 'Ghillie' shoes, that can actually handle damp grassy outdoor conditions, and that make stuffy old Oxfords look stuffy, old, and -Ahem- English!
    My 'Maccasins' are perfect for ultra-casual kilt outings and even cut the grade worn with an Argyll jacket and tie.

    Photo when site is fixed -you be the judge!

    Long live Highland Dress -and creative thought! They can co-exist in harmony and -if you know what you're doing- look damned good besides! ;-)
    Will Macadam.
    Last edited by Will Macadam; 4th July 05 at 01:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Bob C's Avatar
    Bob C is offline Oops, it seems this member needs to update their email address
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    That is one of the best posts I have read in my short time on this board.

    I've got a few ideas about highland dress, myself, but I'd never tell anyone else that he was limited by MY preferences.

    Got a picture of those shoes?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Macadam
    However, as in all of modern life, from language to recipies to erotica, there are universal boundaries in decency, social acceptability and good taste that are constantly being tested, pushed, and over time re-defined.

    Having said that, I agree that one should not 'punk out' or degrade Highland dress to the point it descends to costume, niether should one offend the sensibilities of others by wearing badges, plumes and decorations without entitlement.

    Long live Highland Dress -and creative thought! They can co-exist in harmony and -if you know what you're doing- look damned good besides!
    You know what, not only have you read through the threads thoroughly and understood the crux of the board, but you've managed to write the synopsis in a concise and well-thought-out manner. Well done, Will!!!

    This place has one string that's pretty universal with the "punkers", the "traditionalists" and the "every dayers". If you take the time to look like you have some smarts, you'll be fine. If you wear an ensemble that's the equivalent of striped shirts and plaid pants... you're gonna catch grief.

    Respect for traditions and taste goes a long way, doesn't it?;)
    Arise. Kill. Eat.

  4. #4
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    What a great well reasoned approach! Well done, Will. What you've described is the kind of thought process that takes the kilt out of the costume or formal rental role and turns it into functional clothing. A very good post indeed.

    Jamie
    Quondo Omni Flunkus Moritati

  5. #5
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    Nice job, Mate. To paraphrase the song....

    "By George, I think he's got it!"

  6. #6
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    DUDE, You rock! Well said.
    Glen McGuire

    A Life Lived in Fear, Is a Life Half Lived.

  7. #7
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    Well done! Very well done!
    [B]Paul Murray[/B]
    Kilted in Detroit! Now that's tough.... LOL

  8. #8
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    You should also understand that there are purists (traditionalists) on this board, and our opinions should be respected as well. From your post, and I know you're new, you seem to be saying that we are being old fashioned and against change. I know you didn't write that, but it is implied. This is an opinion I see increasingly on XMarks. For us, some things are done simply out of tradition. This is a strongly held opinion by a lot of us in this forum, but it seems that when people are going against kilt traditions there are rounds of applause; however, when someone is defending tradition there are shouts of "Victorianism" and "Brigadoonery!" Does this mean I am against wearing boots with traditional kits? No, am for wearing anything with a kilt! I am speaking only about the kilt and what defines a kilt. That's where there seems to be disagreement in this forum. Just be careful that the views of some who believe that a kilt is more narrowly defined are respected, as we respect those those who wear more modern versions of the kilt.

  9. #9
    An t-Ileach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Macadam
    ...
    It was this very 'white hose debacle' that freed me from the constraints of THE RULES to experiment with footwear and one or two other small details.

    For example, the rather odd persistence with the uncomfortable (and kilt destroying) sporran chain. There are leather alternatives, and for the sake of my kilt alone, I'm going to be wearing one with my dress Sporran.

    Next, The Brogue, Ghillie, Oxford, or otherwise.
    Why this has become a standard for eveningwear, is beyond me, after all, who wears brogues with a tux?...
    Well, Uill (I've got these bloody puns on the brain at the moment - please forgive me!), I'm glad that straight off you're not in favour of the chains - I will only make chained sporran belts if the customer can really persuade me that he fully understands what they do to his (very expensive) kilt and really insists on wearing the bloody things. I might even charge him more on point of principal. A piece of good black bridle leather will polish up a treat, and look as formal as regimentals or patent leather.

    As for footwear on formal occasions, I also agree with you - I don't know about others, but I don't wear ghillies. I stick to my old "shoes, black, highland pattern" mainly because they're comfortable (and out of residual sentiment, too, I suppose) and I hate standing round jawing when my shoes are pinching, let alone dancing.

    J. C. Thompson (a rather rebellious "authority") suggests (p. 65) wearing "Mary Jane" silver buckled shoes on formal occasions - much smarter than ghillies anyway, and much more like the patent shoes people wear with dinner jacket.

  10. #10
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    Dressed in Peace

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotus
    You should also understand that there are purists (traditionalists) on this board, and our opinions should be respected as well. From your post, and I know you're new, you seem to be saying that we are being old fashioned and against change. I know you didn't write that, but it is implied.
    Hello Scotus,
    I think I went to great lengths (and several re-edits) to be inclusive, reverent, and unprovocative.
    I don't reply to disagree with any of the points you made.
    And there were some good points in your reply that I've snipped for brevity's sake, and because in esssence they were not contrary to my original thoughts.
    I'm concerned that you saw my post as an implication the traditionalists, and traditions, are to be disparaged as out of touch or old fashioned.
    A point I may have glossed over was that the more I read the more 'confused' the concept of 'tradition' appeared, if taken to its logical conclusions.
    Tradition could be a guy in a Great Kilt, fur leggings, BAREFOOT, with a saffron shirt (NOT Jacobean cut!) and a whopping great Claymore sword, I for one think that picture puts very much to rest the notion that traditionalists got no fire in the belly, never mind the pipes, you could strap an electric guitar over the shoulder of a guy dressed like that, talk about Highland Hip! 8)
    The other less palatable aspect of Scots heritage is the claim by some that the concept of Clan Tartan started as a scam by a couple of 'pretender' Victorian brothers out for a quick buck!
    But for the sake of discussion lets agree tradition is what we all commonly recognise at weddings etc as Highland Dress.

    I have invested significantly in my own 'trad' Highland Outfit, at risk of being a kilted provocateur, allow me to explain some of the additional freedoms I've taken with the code.
    I am having an Argyll jacket made in Oban Green (Bottle Green) with Gauntlet cuff, and true to my form, I asked that the breast pocket be deleted and black braid epaulettes be added. All my metal appointments (buttons, belt buckle) are 'antique' rather than 'gilt'. I will use the jacket mainly for military commemorations and formal dinners.
    The pleasant young woman who assisted me at the outfitters in Clydebank, Scotland, surprised me by saying -quote: "I'm looking forward to seeing this all come together, we usually get people here who just "Prince Charlie" their way through the entire process. (NO offence to Prince Charlie wearers intended!!!!) I think she just meant that as a professional outfitter, she was excited to see a little personality, and some of that renowned Scots inventiveness, being applied within the boundaries of the code.
    I struggled with myself for days to 'get it right' and still be individual on this kilted quest.
    If I've disparaged anything at all, it was the old Oxford (English) Brogue, not the wearers of it!
    While I don't go for Ghillie brogues, and sporran chains, they are I think, very much here to stay.
    What's more, I would hazard a guess the traditionalists far outnumber the creatives, both here and on the kilted street.
    Scotus, you rightly point out that strict adherence is a choice to be respected as much as any other. I made at least two statements in the previous post that to my mind supported that.
    I did state, and stand by, the irrecontrivertible fact that traditions will evolve, even Scots regimental uniforms move (albeit glacially) with the times.

    It's worth noting that two of my earlier mentioned modifications (sports-hybrid day shoes, sporran strap) were for practical everyday kiltwearing purposes (after all, central to all this, and germaine to our existence as a group, is the promotion of, and facilitation of, kiltwearing on occasions OTHER THAN traditional events, regardless of our personal flourishes) neither modification, as far as I know, outrage any Highland Dress convention to the point of bringing either myself or Highland Dress, into disrepute, nor are they meant to imply the accepted forms are old-fasioned.
    Are they more practical than the accepted forms? I think so.
    As for my buckled shoes, whilst very much traditional, they alone, if anything, could well be dying out!

    I'm an absolute kilted beginner, and I would never presume to insist my modifications are the 'future' of Highland dress, but without kilted newbies, of all types, there is no kilted future of ANY type.

    My kilted style is merely mine, for my satisfaction, shared with the kilted fellowship to encourage a growing, living, culture of kiltwearing.

    While I'm here, I may as well say that I for one, will not wear WHITE hose after sundown -ever. You can't get more 'Traditional' than diced hose, and I paid a fortune for the priviledge too. On a side note, I really think diced hose should, and could, be seen under formal kilts a lot more if the price was right. Watch this space

    BTW, in case anyone was wondering, I'm Forty Four and a bit, years young.

    Thanks to all those who've chipped in with their comments, and Scotus, you always remain a respected brother -I'd fight for the kilt, in my kilt, alongside you, anytime! :mrgreen:
    Last edited by Will Macadam; 6th July 05 at 05:09 PM.

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