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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on Erskine's thoughts . . .

    [Posted this earlier today to wrong forum]

    I have just finished reading Stuart Ruaidri Erskine's "The Kilt and How to Wear It." Very enjoyable, both for the historical information (the debates were as hot in 1901 as they are today) and for his delightful take on good taste. Some of his ideas seem to have taken hold in the twentieth century developments and some not.

    He emphasizes a number of times that highland dress is a "free dress" and each wearer chooses their own style. At the same time, he gives advice as to what amounts to good taste.

    I would like to know what folk think about a few of his ideas in our present context.

    a) He seems not to like at all sharp knife edge pleats, preferring a more gentle, soft edge, more like a hand pleat than a pressed pleat. I have to say that all my kilts pleating, over time, has "softened." A few times I have wondered about re-pressing them to get back to the original very sharp pleats. Eerskine has made me look at them in a different light. My kilts now are very much kilts that have been worn, perhaps a little bit like jeans that have been worn and washed and somehow feel better. Bob Martin, in his annotations seems to agree with Erskine, "The kilt as made today, with knife-pleats, looks far more agreeable with what I call soft-press pleats. Even unpressed knife-pleats are quite attratctive." So, by wearing the kilts often it seems that they have developed the soft-press look on their own. I have a mind to keep them that way.

    b) Erskine prefers "homespun" cloth for day wear and "smooth thin tartan" for evening wear. The homespun is preferred because it is cheaper, heavier and rougher. The homespun does not seem to have been in a clan or family tartan, but sounds more like a generic tweed. I am guessing that all our wool tartans now are what he calls the smooth variety. It raises an interesting question as to what the equivalent of homespun would be for us to meet his criteria . . . serviceable, not "fancy," colors in keeping with the countryside, economical. Would that be PV? or denim/canvas? Would a UK fit the spirit of his thinking? I have noticed that "kilt-n-stuff" have a homespun tartan which is a poly/wool mix.

    Anyway, be glad of your thoughts and ideas. Great book if you have not read it. I got mine from Matt at the Scottish Tartans Museum.
    Andy in Ithaca, NY
    Exile from Northumberland

  2. #2
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    Sounds like an interesting read.

  3. #3
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    Yes, it's quite short actually. There are a few foibles in the language, but it is worth it. You can see where we get a lot of our present ideas . . . length of kilt etc, but some interesting perspectives. He hates kilt pins and says they should never be worn!
    Andy in Ithaca, NY
    Exile from Northumberland

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyfg
    Yes, it's quite short actually. There are a few foibles in the language, but it is worth it. You can see where we get a lot of our present ideas . . . length of kilt etc, but some interesting perspectives. He hates kilt pins and says they should never be worn!

    Hates kilt pins? OK why?

  5. #5
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    He says that they are superfluous and serve no real purpose. The kilt apron is heavy enough to stay down. Of course, he also favors the thick homespun tweed and that may have made a difference. I know that the little added weight on the apron does make sense with my 13 oz kilts.
    Andy in Ithaca, NY
    Exile from Northumberland

  6. #6
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    He has never encountered a breeze way or doesn't care.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyfg
    Yes, it's quite short actually. There are a few foibles in the language, but it is worth it. You can see where we get a lot of our present ideas . . . length of kilt etc, but some interesting perspectives. He hates kilt pins and says they should never be worn!
    OK, I need to understand how you are using foibles. I enjoy the English language and would like more info on your usage. Is it a weakness in the language? thanks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyfg
    b) Erskine prefers "homespun" cloth for day wear and "smooth thin tartan" for evening wear. The homespun is preferred because it is cheaper, heavier and rougher. The homespun does not seem to have been in a clan or family tartan, but sounds more like a generic tweed. I am guessing that all our wool tartans now are what he calls the smooth variety. It raises an interesting question as to what the equivalent of homespun would be for us to meet his criteria . . . serviceable, not "fancy," colors in keeping with the countryside, economical. Would that be PV? or denim/canvas? Would a UK fit the spirit of his thinking? I have noticed that "kilt-n-stuff" have a homespun tartan which is a poly/wool mix.
    Well, I'm not sure what he would've thought of a UK. But I think that simple kilts made of durable materials (like the UK) definitely fit the spirit of his preferences.
    Last edited by Mithral; 13th May 06 at 09:59 AM.

  9. #9
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    TimC is offline Oops, it seems this member needs to update their email address
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyfg
    [Posted this earlier today to wrong forum]

    He emphasizes a number of times that highland dress is a "free dress" and each wearer chooses their own style. At the same time, he gives advice as to what amounts to good taste.
    Thanks for pointing this out. I worry when someone post a picture on the forum only to have it picked apart by "rules" of kilt wearing. I understand the need for pride and respect toward what the tartan represents but not at the expense of another. I apprecaite when someone points out that my flashes aren't hanging right, but just because someone is wearing hiking boots in their picture doesn't mean someone should lecture on the proper hose and foot attire. The kilt is about freedom.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimC
    Thanks for pointing this out. I worry when someone post a picture on the forum only to have it picked apart by "rules" of kilt wearing. I understand the need for pride and respect toward what the tartan represents but not at the expense of another. I apprecaite when someone points out that my flashes aren't hanging right, but just because someone is wearing hiking boots in their picture doesn't mean someone should lecture on the proper hose and foot attire. The kilt is about freedom.

    I agree with Tim wholeheartedly. If someone is not making a joke of the kilt and tartan, and being intentionally disrespectful or mocking, it does not matter to me whether they are wearing a traditional self-kilt with tied leather leggings or wearing sandals and little ankle socks. Kilts are all about freedom and free experession and guys should be able to wear them however they like. Short, long, with or without a sporran or cargo pockets.

    Whether you have direct family ties or not, wearing a kilt is a sign of respect for Celtic heritage and an outward exhibition of masculine confidence.

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