When you see someone in a kilt what are your first thoughts? Most people who have never had the pleasure of seeing a kilt will probably think that a man dressed in a skirt is strange. It can be a bit odd for a man who wears a kilt to go about his daily life such as shopping for groceries. (To people who love kilts and wear kilts regularly simply because they like the look or wish to honor their heritage, we suggest you keep wearing Kilts. 

For the weird individual that wears his kilt on a daily basis mostly because he is seeking attention rather than because he likes wearing kilts, we say don’t be the guy.) However, there are some who consider a kilt dress stylish if you wear it to a concert or a party. No matter what one considers a kilt’s appearance most people have the same concerns – what’s the wind blowing? Do kilt-wearers have the ability to moon his foes like Wallace’s soldiers? What is the appropriate attire to wear under a kilt?

The Traditional Scottish Approach

A majority of people have heard that it’s a Scottish custom not to wear underwear under the Kilt. Since I am an American who wears kilts regularly I’m often asked to confirm or disprove this notion. I usually answer “what are you wearing under your kilt” by a euphemism such as “My socks and shoes”. It may not be unique, but it always evokes (nervous?) laughter. “But really …?” the curious stranger continues to inquire. I’m sure there have been many times that I have remained faithful to the Scottish custom of not wearing anything under the Kilt. 

In other instances, I’ve had many occasions where I was privileged to wear high-end tartan trousers.

Aside from personal experiences, some scholars believe that the custom of not wearing undergarments underneath the kilt was first introduced with Scottish army regiments. It is believed that the Scottish military code of conduct in the 18th century commanded the wearing of a kilt, but did not mention underwear. 

Scottish soldiers interpreted these instructions as a challenge and not an oversight, and that’s how the tradition of wearing no underwear began. The terms “going regimental”, “military practice” as well as “going commando” evolved to mean wearing no clothing. In reality, Scottish regiments continued to wear kilts when fighting until they were banned in World War Two for fear that the regimental customs could expose their delicate parts for chemical warfare.

The Modern Debate on What Is Worn Under a Kilt

There’s a heated debate over whether or not the pants-less tradition should continue. One of the most prominent authorities on the preservation of Scottish traditions created quite a controversy when he discredited the idea that the true Scot wears no clothes under the Scottish kilt. It is also the case that the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing has also included underwear as an integral part of their dress code. 

I guess that helping to preserve a Scottish tradition is sufficient for any organisation. This is also a reasonable requirement. Dancing is among the more exciting actions that can be performed in a kilt-wearing with a strict regimental look.

A lot of Scots are also very strict in regards to hygiene, especially in regards to the clothes included in the Kilt. The majority of kilt rental firms will require their clients to wear underwear when wearing the kilt. One Scottish rental company went as far as to create an enticing Scottish song to encourage their customers to wear their underwear. 

While I think this is a valid request and is worthy of consideration there are people who live in Scotland who opt for a more unsanitary route and don’t wear anything with the kilt that they have rented.

Conclusion

People’s opinions on what to wear underneath kilts are different from the tartans worn by kilts. Some feel it’s unauthentic to wear underwear while some claim that the traditional fashion is outdated and not sanitary. The debate continues there will be mythology surrounding kilts. It’s not uncommon for strangers to stop men wearing kilts to ask them what they’re wearing beneath their kilt. Take note of gentlemen, for this is just one of the many reasons why the kilt is a must-have accessory to your wardrobe.

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