What is Under that Kilt?

Today, we’re pondering an age-old question:  What is under that kilt?  <G>  And who better to answer it than my guest, Willa Blair, best-selling and award-winning author of Highland Healer.  Her novel is the first in a series set in the 16th century Highlands, when the old ways and old talents still shaped events. 

Even Victorian women were curious about Kilts

Have you ever wondered:

– why you never see a Scotsman shining his boots? 

– or wearing patent leather shoes?

– why there’s no men’s Scottish gymnastic team?

–   Just what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt?                      

Diana:  Hang on.  I’m still picturing a men’s Olympic gymnastics team performing in kilts. ( ::: fanning herself:::)

Willa:  Me too.  LOL. ( ::: pressing cool glass of wine to her forehead:::)  Okay, I’m back. 

Courtesy David Ball

In the beginning…there was fabric.  Yards of it.  So much that some wearers spread it out on the ground, pleated it, then lay down on it, wrapped it over themselves and belted it before getting up.  Others simply wrapped it at a convenient length, belted it, and let the rest of the fabric fall behind them as a doubled skirt that could be pulled up into a cloak or tossed over one shoulder – the origin of the sash we’re familiar with today.  Once the wearer took it off, it could be used as a blanket.

Diana:  That’s sounds rather handy.  Sort of like a functional man’s sari.  <G>

Willa:  That woolen fabric might have been a solid color, or any number of tartan (plaid) patterns.  It took many years for clans to adopt a particular sett (pattern of colors and plaid) as their own.  In fact, most were identified not by their tartan but by the type of plant or flower sprig they tucked into their bonnets, or by clan badges. 

Diana:  Goes to show you a guy can wear a skirt and flowers and still be manly.  But that’s not how kilts look today, is it?

Willa:  Not exactly.  It wasn’t until the 18thcentury that the modern, tailored kilt came into use.  It’s origins are unclear but more than likely it was developed for convenience and to present a neater appearance in regimental dress uniforms. 

 And all those bare-chested, brawny men we love to see on our book covers?  Chances are they were wearing a léine – a thigh- or knee-length saffron-colored shirt – to keep warm.  In fact, early Highlanders were reputed to remove their kilts prior to going into battle and run into the fray dressed only in that léine and their footwear.  Oh, yes, carrying their weapons, too, of course. 

Diana:  Naked and blue?

Willa:  Sorry, coloring their faces blue

Willa Blair
Willa Blair

with woad wasn’t common.  And it’s half-naked.  They were wearing their shirts.

Diana:  Another myth bites the dust.  But the shirt and nothing below — hmm, just picturing that one, too.

Willa:  Oh, and that hairy or leathery thing hanging in front?  Ahem, ladies, it’s not what you’re thinking!  It’s called a sporran – and came in handy since kilts don’t have pockets.  Was its size intended to compensate for the size of anything else, as we suspect huge wristwatches and fast cars do?  I’ll leave that to your imagination!

Diana:  Any more imagination and we’ll be piling swooning women on the floor!   So just what did they wear under that kilt?

Willa:  Their shoes and socks, of course! ****

Diana:  (After picking her prostrate body off of the carpet)  Thanks for visiting Willa.  Here’s an excerpt from Highland Healer:



Toran Lathan never expected to become Laird, and never expected to meet a woman like Aileana Shaw. Her healing ability is just what his people need, but Toran cannot resist her beauty. Yet will loving him destroy her ability to heal?

Aileana Shaw has a healing touch – and a special talent she must keep secret. Stolen from her home by a marauding army, she’s kidnapped again by the Highland Laird she heals. Is she a prize of war, or the prize of his heart?

Willa says she always wished she had several psi talents, such as reading her husband’s mind, cleaning house by simply thinking about it, and flying.  But alas, no.  So she endows her characters with special talents and lives vicariously through them.

One thought on “What is Under that Kilt?

Let us know what you think