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  1. #1
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    Divorcing Need From Necessity.

    There is an interesting thread going on elsewhere here so rather than derail that one ,I thought it might be best to start another here.

    My Grandfather and father used to have a very annoying saying; "You have to divorce need from necessity laddie. You might need something, but is it necessary?" when as an enthusiastic young man I had thought up yet another way of spending my money. The problem was, that they were usually right!

    So, what kilt attire do we really need when starting out on the not inexpensive road of kilt attire? Well, before the inevitable "hair splitting" starts, I am talking about tartan kilts, not the modern "utility style" of kilt. It matters not what it is made of or even if its not made in a strictly traditional style and is tartan. Right then, here we go.

    The tartan kilt is the only necessity.

    A modest sporran and leather strap or chain will probably be needed sooner rather than later and is probably going to be the first accessory.

    Shirts, shoes, hats, pullovers and possibly long hose are most likely already lurking in the wardrobe. Yes they may not be be exactly right but they will get the newcomer started. So, needed

    Do we need a, Sgian Dubh(SD)? Kilt pin? Scottish style bonnet? Clan badge? Kilt belt? Hose flashes/garter ties? Well no. Although most of us end up with them over the course of time.

    Do we need Buckled formal Shoes? Diced or patterned hose? Assorted kilt jackets? Pocket watch and chain? No. Well, perhaps in the future.

    Do we need Fly plaids? Day plaids? Crommach(long stick often with a horn top)? Ghillie brogues? Tartan neck tie? No. Although, some find a stick of some sort as we get older, or "the shrapnel" starts to annoy overtime, useful.

    So the beginner really does not need to spend too much time and too much hard earned loot to get started with kilt attire and should not stress that their attire is basic however, should the kilt attire bug start to bite then well...........

    Lastly and not least wear the kilt properly! It is the bottom of the kilt that is important. No lower than the centre of the kneecap and no higher than say half an inch above the kneecap. On the top of the kneecap would be perfect!
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 31st May 21 at 07:14 AM. Reason: do not answer the door whilst typing.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.


  2. #2
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    I'm reminded of a phrase from another passion we share, chasing salmo salmo - 'Tackle Tart'! How many files do I have and how many do I use - too many and about six. And then there're reels!

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  4. #3
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    That's fine Peter and I know that happy situation well. Until........................................a load of sons, nephews, grand children and cousins arrive and within minutes the tackle box looks like a swarm of locusts had been!
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 1st June 21 at 02:16 AM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  5. #4
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    I dearly appreciate this advice. I've read it in several places, but it's always worth the reminder. I'm just starting and trying to get the simplest outfit I can, so I decided to forego things like a belt and kilt pin, focusing instead on getting the best kilt I can at this time and a simple day sporran, though I did add hose and garter ties to the mix, as a nice-to-have.

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  7. #5
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    I would say that to me, the "bare minimum" for kilt-wear would include the kilt (of course), a sporran and strap or chain, and some decent hose. The shirts, ties, and shoes one normally wears will all work fine with the kilt.

    Now I do love a good kilt jacket. And since I never feel dressed without a hat, I do wear a bonnet. But the sporran and hose seem to be the only absolute "must-have" accessories with a kilt.

    Andrew

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    The tartan kilt is the only necessity.

    A modest sporran and leather strap or chain will probably be needed sooner rather than later and is probably going to be the first accessory.
    This thread ought to be pinned. Some excellent advice here.

    My must-haves would be a kilt, a sporran, and sporran strap. Sporran and strap because a wallet and phone are pretty much essential to modern day life.

    When the weather gets cool, some nice warm hose are another must-have for me because the rest of my socks are short.

    Past that, if your kilt is fitted correctly, a belt is purely decorative but can be visually nice. There should be essentially no actual functional purpose for a belt unless you're hanging something specific from it, like sporran hangers. Do you need it? No. There are plenty of great pictures of forum members wearing kilts without a belt if you need an example. It looks just fine, and in some cases a belt would actually make an outfit look worse.

    Flashes do add to the warmth of hose by tightening the seal at the top and keeping them up, so once it gets below freezing, flashes are an important item for me. But then again I can't wear wool, so if you can, you may be able to eliminate the functional aspect by wearing nice wool hose in the first place. I could get by without flashes, but when it's cold I do appreciate them. In the summer? They are only decorative and anti-functional.

    A kilt pin's a nice-to-have functional item on a lightweight kilt and I've gotten compliments on the way they look before, but they're not necessary, and purely decorative on a kilt with a heavy enough outer apron. I pretty much always wear a kilt pin on my casuals, but not on my semi-trad. I have gone without one on my casuals before and have noticed the absence quite quickly. But do you need one? Absolutely not. And besides, just about anything you can stick on there (other than maybe a binder clip) can work as a kilt pin - there's a great old thread on the random assortment of stuff folks on here have used as kilt pins. If you want to wear a kilt pin and you don't have one, be creative!

    When it gets cold or sunny, a hat's necessary, but if you live in a climate where you need one, you likely already have one that will function for your climate and will look fine with a kilt.

    And for footwear, you likely already have suitable footwear for your climate. I've worn a kilt with boots, dress shoes, loafers, and I'll admit on rare occasions even tennis shoes. Don't think I've ever worn one with sandals, but I don't see why you couldn't.

    Plaid? I don't have one. Sgain dubh? Nope, I carry a Leatherman in my sporran, and that way I have pliers and screwdrivers as well. Balmoral/Glengarry/other hat? I have a Balmoral that I got in case I had the occasion to wear it, and that occasion has never come. Ghillies? Got a pair, have never gone anywhere where they'd actually be suitable.

    So, yeah, Jock's absolutely right. When you're not used to kilts, it's easy to get wound up in the hype. But a lot of it is really unnecessary.

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    JPS

  11. #7
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    Great advice there.

    And it's in accordance to the way I started out in kiltwearing: my Grandmother made my first kilt, and my second.

    My first purchases were a plain leather sporran, the sporran strap, and a pair of plain kilt hose.

    My next purchase was a Balmoral bonnet (by Mackie).

    It was 1975 and kilts and sporrans were of the traditional style because that's all that was available then. Casual kilts and utility kilts and hybrid "semi-dress" sporrans were in the future. The Kilt Hire Industry was just taking off, and its deleterious impact on Traditional Highland Dress had yet to be seen.

    Still today I have a minimalist approach to my outfits. I'm expected to look smart and professional for piping gigs, so bonnet and jacket are musts.

    So it's jacket and tie, but no waistcoat or belt.

    Kilt, sporran, hose, flashes, shoes, bonnet, shirt, jacket, and tie.

    No weaponry or pins or accessories of any sort other than a bonnet-badge.

    I suppose I could wear garters sans flashes, quite popular in Victorian times- but I do like the bit of colour the flashes add.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  13. #8
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    I agree Jock, my dad has had one sporran his entire life until now, and I doubt very much he will ever purchase another. In fact I recently had it repaired, as he gave it to me some years ago when I started wearing the kilt. He also had one kilt until he also gave that to me. This idea was the driving force behind the 1 kilt 10 looks thread. It may sound strange coming from someone who has a vast collection of Highland Wear but you really don't need a bunch of kit, you can only wear one kilt and one sporran at a time. A want is a different question altogether.

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  15. #9
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    Well said Jock! Again.

    I have already black and brown leather shoes, polished, suitable for wear with a shirt and tie to the office with slacks in the USA and haven't needed new shoes. I already owned more neck ties than I want to but haven't needed any new ones for the kilt.

    I have two furry pelts in my closet to be made into dress sporran someday, but I can wear my plain brown leather sporran with a plain brown leather strap anywhere in the US on any day of the year. I don't go out without my phone, my wallet, a knife and the keys to my truck. Stuffing all that in the pockets of a blazer or jacket really messes up the tailored lines of the jacket. If your wife carries a big purse routinely you might get away without a sporran for a little while.

    The flyplaid I wore to my wife's wedding is now a table cloth for holiday occasions when the dining table seats 12 comfortably. I guess it was my wedding too, but it was really her day. I only wore my fly plaid that one time. There was some talk of chopping up my fly plaid to make baby wrapping things; but we decided to not have any more kids than those we brought to our wedding, so my fly plaid is now a table cloth.

    In the US a kilted fellow really ought to have 'something' sticking out of his hose on the side of the dominant hand. If your wedding is coming up too fast, you can just shape the handle on one end of a stick that will someday be your sgain handle and finish making the knife (ahem) before your first anniversary. That way your sgain handle that shows for the rest of your life will be the same thing that is in your wedding pictures.

    The rest of it is optional.

    I have, living up north as I do, a penchant for wool socks anyway. For first hose in the USA I suggest Lovat Blue because that color hose works well with the shirts and neck ties we already own in North America. For a second pair of hose claret will _probably_ work for most people in the US that want to step up a bit for formal occasions. Try searching here on the keyword 'serenade.' Garter flashes are much cheaper than hose, you can change up your look a lot with two or three sets of garters to go with your Lovat blue hose.

    If I ever visit Scotland I intend to try to look like a German or Canadian tourist on the weekdays, but for Sunday communion I will kilt up and go to church. I am confident Scots in the know will be able to spot me as an American from 200 meters, but thanks to this website I won't be an ugly American.

  16. #10
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKScott View Post
    Well said Jock! Again.



    If I ever visit Scotland I intend to try to look like a German or Canadian tourist on the weekdays, but for Sunday communion I will kilt up and go to church. I am confident Scots in the know will be able to spot me as an American from 200 meters, but thanks to this website I won't be an ugly American.
    Thank you.

    I am not a church goer, but from what I see as I drive past the congregation as they are either going in or coming out , you will most certainly stand out by wearing the kilt to church in this part of the world.
    " 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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