Do Real Men Wear Skirts?

June 04, 1995

Yes, apparently they do, if you go by a recent pair of historical action flicks featuring macho Scotsmen in kilts.

"Rob Roy," starring Liam Neeson as the title character of Sir Walter Scott's adventure tale, and "Braveheart," with Mel Gibson as Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace, prove that showing off a nicely-shaped calf need not be the exclusive domain of females. Predictably, however, both of these Hollywood films can't leave it at that. As if to shout over any whispered fears that kilts are strictly for sissies, each movie is loaded with battle scenes, blood, guts, sex (heterosexual, naturally) and plenty of other guy stuff that would fly at any respectable sports bar.

Over the centuries, in Scotland as well as in other parts of the world, "real men" have comfortably donned sarongs or kilts. But modern Western man, with a few exceptions, has skirted the issue. Fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier came out with a line of kilts for men in the 1980s but they never got off the runway. Monsieur Gaultier tried again a few years ago, and this time mainstream department stores in the United States decided to stock the garments.

That doesn't mean the tartan kilt has made its way into the closet of every contemporary male. It's one thing for pop music stars such as David Bowie, Axl Rose and Arrested Development or tragically hip youths in the world's great cities to let their bony knees peek from under the hem of a kilt; it's quite another matter to envision the average Joe trading in his Levi's or Dockers for a fling with the Highland look.

If he did, though, he could cite a couple of hit movies that show real men can indeed wear skirts -- as long as the wearer has a way with deadly weapons and the ladies.

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