First New Rule from Worldcon

by wjw on August 13, 2009

So here’s my first new rule from the Worldcon:

No more Utilikilts.

This is strikingly similar to my first observation from last year’s Worldcon, but it’s obvious that people weren’t listening last year.

Please note that I am not opposed to Scottish dress. When a Scot puts on a kilt he is stylin’. Just check this picture. The outfit is not just about the kilt. It’s also about the velvet jacket with the silver buttons, it’s about the ruffled shirt, it’s about the weskit, it’s about long stockings, it’s about the garters, it’s about the unusual footwear. It’s about tassels and sprigs of greenery and the glass of champagne. It’s about elegance.
If you’re going to put on an unusual item of clothing— and trust me, I have some experience in this department— it should be part of an ensemble, the whole of which is to make you look like a iconoclastic man of fashion, not a total mope. If you decide to wear a kilt, it should not be worn with that tatty Firefly tee that you thought was cool back when you were 15. Especially if there are now rolls of fat hanging out between the bottom of the tee and the top of the kilt.
The legs of most men are not suitable to be shown to the public. (Mine are probably different from yours. Mine are legs of majesty sculpted by countless hours of exercise and bronzed by the sun. Yours probably aren’t.)
((It should be admitted in all fairness that not all my parts are quite so well-proportioned, or so suitable to be viewed by the average passer-by. And those I put clothing on.))
If your legs aren’t like mine, you should wear something between the lower hem of the kilt and the cheap plastic flip-flops, something to disguise the fact that your legs are thin and pale and hairy or fat and pale and hairy. Those long stockings that Scots wear are there for a reason.
And the flip-flops? These are for the beach, or the shower. Nowhere else, savvy?
Not everyone has it in them to become stylish fashion plates. But we should at least make an effort not to make hideous mistakes that offend the eye and cause the sensitive among us to faint dead away.
That’s all I’m sayin’.
Ralf the Dog August 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm

What is your opinion of waring a kilt with a Darth Vader costume?

Kelly August 13, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Thank you from one whose eyes have nearly been burned from her head by fashion faux pas. I can only hope people will heed your new rule.

john_appel August 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

This reminds me a little of a blog post by Howard Tayler a while back, "Charisma Is Not A Dump Stat".

Hope you otherwise enjoyed the con. I'm a small-f fan – haven't been to an SF con yet.

Oz August 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Got any other rules on your brain?

Like, check that your kid actually stays where she's supposed to? E went AWOL while we were having a lunch snack. Sigh. She stuck pretty close the rest of the time.

N. K. Jemisin August 13, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Yes. Yes. Thank you. I admire kilts; I think they're lovely when worn properly, and can be sexy as hell. But 9 out of 10 of the kilts I saw at Worldcon were just… unfortunate.

May every kilt-abusing geek in the blogosphere read and take this to heart.

Chas August 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm

My wife rather fancies me in a kilt and not with all the stereotypical trappings(though adding the the ruffled shirt does do things to her best not mentioned here). So until you're willing to be my wife, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to decline to follow your rule.

barbarienne August 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

(Here via link from Scalzi)

I'm afraid I must disagree, for two reasons.

1. "The legs of most men are not suitable to be shown to the public." Oh, honey, no. I'm a heterosexual woman. Many men have manly legs that look good in utilikilts. For purely personal eyecandy reasons, I applaud the growing utilikilt movement.

2. As any cursory study of the history of fashion can demonstrate, the standards of "acceptable dress" are so varied as to be utterly arbitrary. Usually local changes occur gradually, but sometimes great leaps are made. I put utilikilts for men up there with pants for women. It's an idea whose time has come.

Your railing against the utilikilt is equivalent to the folks who railed against Bloomers. Granted, you are arguing aesthetics rather than morals, but both principles are similarly "in the eye of the beholder."

Personally, I think the worst thing in current fashion is that low-rise jeans don't reposition the back pockets relative to the waistband. Everyone looks as if their ass is sliding down their thighs. No one looks good in that!

Dave Bishop August 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Utilikilt? I'm not familiar with this term. What sort of sartorial horror are we talking about here?

My Scottish mate, Hamish does look rather dashing in his trad. 'Rob Roy' outfit with all the trimmings (bastard!) – but it all looks a bit draughty to me.

dubjay August 14, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Chas, I am willing to concede that you, at least, know how to wear a kilt, and very possibly look good in it. (Or, that if you don't, you at least have your wife convinced that you do, which is most of the battle right there.)

Barbarienne, maybe you're in a place where manly calves are common, but all I can say is that =you weren't at the Worldcon.= You haven't seen the horrors that I've seen.

And again I can only reiterate that, if you're going to make an unusual fashion choice, it shouldn't be a choice that only serves to accentuate the =other= unfortunate choices you've made.

Foxessa August 14, 2009 at 9:37 pm

There are many fellows who look smashing in utilikilt — even one of the young guys on Monarch of the Glen always wore one with heavy work shoes and t-shirts. He looked very good.

Love, C.

dubjay August 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Oh— and kilt-wearing Darth Vaders?

Many fen would say "inauthentic," but I think I could only say "mixed message." Especially if the kilt in question is tartan.

dubjay August 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Constance, the fellow on Monarch of the Glen was a professional television actor, which meant he was better-looking than most people right from the get-go. He also had an entire staff of wardrobe advisors, makeup artists, and lighting and camera people to make sure he kept on looking good. (Not to mention the plastic surgeon on call 24/7)

If I had all that, I'd look great in work boots and a tee shirt, too.

Zora August 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

I'm fat. Does that mean you want me to appear in public in a burqa, so as not to offend by exposing my pale, wobbly flesh?

I don't think you would argue that.

If women can expose flesh, so can men.

Speaking as seamstress and dabbler in historic costume, I'd argue that is the nuance that counts. As you yourself admitted, kilts look good (even on fat men, ne?) with the right accoutrements. So would utilikilts. It's not the utilikilts, it's how they're worn.

Oh, and I'll take Nathan Fillion in a utilikilt ANY DAY.

dubjay August 15, 2009 at 7:48 am

I don't want =my= fat, wobbly flesh exposed to the public, let alone anyone else's. I don't need a burqa to hide it.

My objection to the burqa is the same as my objection to the utilikilt. It's ugly.

A proper kilt has to be custom-made to a person's measurements in order for it to look good, not bought off a mail-order rack.

Steve Stirling August 17, 2009 at 3:02 am

Bear in mind that the original kilt was simply a large blanket, worn because the Scot in question couldn't afford anything more, except sometimes a shirt.

Usually he could only afford -one- such blanket, too, and wore it 365 days of the year.

Chiefs wore trews — ie., pants.

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