Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When Should This Thing Start?

When I initially had the idea for "A Year In A Kilt," I had intended to wear a kilt every day in the year 2012. After planning for it though I started thinking it would be a great way to mark my 50th birthday on April 27, 2012. Now I'm thinking, maybe I should do both! I could start the kilt year on January 1, 2012 and let it go past January 1, 2013 and end on April 27, 2013. That would cover the entire year of 2012 as well as my entire 50th year. That would make it almost "a year and a half in a kilt." Well, what do you all think? Should I start on January 1 or on my birthday in April??

Kilt Collection: Trinity Kilts Black Winter Kilt

Today was a chilly, windy day in Chattanooga and I decided it would be a great day to try out my Black Winter Kilt from Trinity Kilts.

This is an interesting kilt with a very "tailor made" feel to it and almost wears like it is part of a uniform. It is very well made and the attention to detail is impressive. The description of the Black Winter Kilt on the Trinity Kilts' website is as follows:
The dominant kilt of modern times, the winter kilt is the original kilt from Trinity Kilts and can be worn year round. Gone are the days of hoping that the hairs on your legs will insulate you through the winter months, give your hair a break and keep your 'free will' intact with the only winter kilt on the market. Our heavy twill is lined with a REMOVABLE heavy flannel liner that conforms to your kilt's shape and wont get in the way. That's right, the liner is completely removable so that you can wear the kilt year round and makes washing a breeze. This kilt is a must have for any man’s wardrobe and is the most versatile kilt on the market.
When I first purchased this kilt I had a few concerns. First of all, it's a very heavy kilt and when the lining is worn it's even heavier. My initial concern was that the weight would be uncomfortable and the lining would make the kilt too "poofy." This turned out to not be an issue at all. The lining is very soft and warm and did a great job at keeping me comfortable in the 40 degree weather and heavy wind. It did make the kilt heavier but I wore a belt with it and the weight turned out to be a good thing in the wind. I wore the kilt without the liner inside my house for awhile and it was very comfortable that way as well. I'm sure I will take out the liner when it warms up but I have a feeling this will become my default kilt when the temperatures drops even further.

My other concern about this kilt was with the material. While it is a heavy cotton twill, it is also very soft and doesn't feel like the stiff canvas utility kilts I've purchased. Because of this the pleats are not very sharp and I was afraid of wrinkles in the pleats when I sat on them.  As it turns out, I drove around in my car a lot during the day and sat on the pleats in a very confined seat. When I got out of my car it didn't take much more that a few quicks adjustments to get the shape back into the kilt. I would still like to have sharper pleats and maybe in the future Trinity Kilts will offer pleats that are stitched but it's not really a big deal and it's more of a preference I suppose. The pleats in this kilt have a very unique feature to them in that each side pleats in toward the middle, meeting in a flat pleat in the back. I think this probably helps reduce the sitting wrinkles.

There are two very deep back pockets in the Winter Kilt. You could store a lot here if you don't mind sitting on it. Very useful to me as I tend to carry a lot of pocket stuff. Also, no need for a kit pin as the two front snaps keep it very secure. The wind whipped at the kilt all day and I was never in danger of being exposed to the elements.

One final item. While the kilt is listed as "Black" I have to say that mine is more of a navy blue. I wore the kilt with a black sweater, black jacket, black sporran, and black kilt hose and the kilt was not really close to being black. Maybe without the other black clothing the kilt would appear black. Let's just call it a nice "blue black."

Most of the criticisms and concerns I have for this kilt are minor and it seems by far to be the best equipped kilt at keeping me warm this winter. I have a feeling it will rescue me during many freezing winter days. I look forward to seeing more from the Trinity Kilt line of hand-made kilts in the future and I have to say if you are going to be spending a lot of time outside in the cold this winter and you want to wear a kilt, the Trinity Kilts Winter Kilt is a MUST!

Rating (out of 5): 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kilt Collection: "The Works Kilt" by Sport Kilt in Wallace Hunting Tartan

Merry Christmas "A Year In A Kilt" fans! Well, we're coming to the close of 2011 and that means it will soon be 2012 and moving ever so closer to my year in a kilt. The first part of 2012 will allow me to try out my kilts in more situations so keep checking in to the site for updates.

For Christmas I decided to wear my Wallace Hunting kilt I purchased from Sport Kilt. I have two other Sport Kilts, one which I reviewed earlier. The description of "The Works Kilt" on the Sport Kilt website says:

"The Works Kilt" is our world-famous Sport Kilt with four custom options already included. 
The Works Sport Kilt includes:
  • Belt Loops
  • Sewn Down Pleats
  • Fringed Front Panel Edge
  • Leather Buckle Strap Closures  
The material is the same great Sport Kilt poly-blend (no itch!) fabric with superb "swing" and "drape". It's Cool, (No wool!) Machine washable, and holds a crisp pleat well. Each also features our original velcro closure, and elastic in the waistband for comfort and fit, with just a bit of give. Each includes a hidden, 5 by 6 inch stash pocket behind the front panel waistband.

As was the case for my other Sport Kilt, the Wallace Hunting kilt is extremely comfortable. I had to drive almost two hours while wearing this kilt and the pleats stayed nice and straight. It is a lighter weight kilt so if it had been colder I might have complained a bit. Fortunately it was a warmer Christmas so there was no problem. I'm sure I'll have plenty opportunities to test the kilt in colder weather during the next couple months. Regardless this is a great kilt and I look forward to wearing it in 2012! 

Rating (out of 5): 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Had A Dream

I had a dream last night that I was wearing a kilt at a public gathering. I was walking around and noticing that people were staring of course. Then I notice another guy wearing a kilt. It was an all black utility type kilt that looked like it had been worn many times. I walked up to the guy and said "Hey!" and pointed at his kilt. Then he looked at my kilt and started laughing with his unkilted friends. He proceeded to tell me I wasn't supposed to wear the shoes I had on with the kilt I was wearing. Do you think I have some deep down insecurities about this kilt thing? Why do I have to create opportunities for random strangers to insult me in my dreams? It's too late to back out now. Maybe I should buy some new shoes.

This Saturday

I'll be wearing the Wallace Hunting tartan kilt on Christmas Eve. Photos will follow. I'm getting all jazzed up for the new year when I start kilt-wearing a little more often. I've yet to wear one to work or when I am out shopping. Many adventures await.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kilt Collection: "The Works Kilt" by Sport Kilt in MacDonald Tartan

This weekend I had the chance to paint at the Chattanooga Holiday Market and I decided to do so in a kilt. Initially I had intended to wear a utility kilt but since it was a festive occasion I decided to go with a tartan kilt. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with my MacDonald tartan kilt from Sport Kilt? The colors are certainly festive enough and with my green Ghillie shirt from Heritage of Scotland I certainly looked Christmasy enough.

The description of "The Works Kilt" on the Sport Kilt website says:

"The Works Kilt" is our world-famous Sport Kilt with four custom options already included.
The Works Sport Kilt includes:
  • Belt Loops
  • Sewn Down Pleats
  • Fringed front panel edge
  • Leather Buckle Strap closures

The material is the same great Sport Kilt poly-blend (no itch!) fabric with superb "swing" and "drape". It's Cool, (No wool!) Machine washable, and holds a crisp pleat well. Each also features our original velcro closure, and elastic in the waistband for comfort and fit, with just a bit of give. Each includes a hidden, 5 by 6 inch stash pocket behind the front panel waistband.

Well, I have to say that this is one of the most comfortable kilts I've put on. It's the second Sport Kilt I've purchased and although both are comfortable, this one feels like it's part of my body. At first I thought the Velcro waistband would become stiff and scratchy, but it isn't in the least. In addition to the Velcro, the kilt also fastens with two buckles on the right side. The pleats stay nice and sharp even after sitting on them awhile and the apron stays secure even in a breeze, which I encountered several times as I was painting outdoors. I wore the matching sash which I also purchased at Sport Kilt. It was very comfortable as well but half way through the day it started slipping off my shoulder. Next time I'm going to try raising the sash brooch. I think I had it pinned a bit too low on the sash. I chose to wear long johns under my kilt since I was painting outdoors, it was cold and I knew I was going to be on a ladder part of the time. I'm well aware that true Scotsmen wear nothing under the kilt but I'm American and I like to break as many rules as possible.

So far this is one of my favorite kilts and I highly recommend Sport Kilt for your kilt and accessories. I've purchased three kilts from them and several accessories and have been satisfied with everything I've received.

Rating (out of 5): 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Forgive Us Our Kilts

Here's an article detailing why wearing a kilt is a sin. This guy's obviously a minion of King George II. I assume he thinks Moses wore Wrangler blue jeans. At any rate, it makes it that much more exciting to have the additional elements of danger and potential soul damnation to my kilt-wearing experiment.

Oh come on now, do these guys look like sinners?

Kilt Collection: Tartanista's Black Utility Kilt

The next few posts will be spotlighting the different kilts I will be wearing during my "Year o' th' Kilt." I'lll try to give as much information as possible about each kilt in case someone is interested in purchasing a kilt and might want to use my experience to help them decide what kilt will be best for them. I'll discuss positive and negative attributes (if necessary) of each kilt and update my experience with the kilts as my year progresses.

I'll begin with the black utility kilt from the Tartanista online shop. This kilt is a very comfortable fit made of heavy, yet soft black canvas. The Tartanista shop description says:

  • Heavy Duty Cotton Drill Fabric
  • Sewn down pleats on the back
  • Carpenters Flap Pockets with studs on both sides
  • Antiqued brass buckles and studs
  • Internal studs for better hold
  • 2 fabric straps with brass eyelets and buckles

The kilt is secured around the waist with two snaps, then attaches with a hook and loop strip, a second set of snaps and then finally secured with two buckles on the right hip. Belt loops make this kilt very easy to wear with a belt. The back pleats are sewn, sharp and very comfortable and the pockets on each side are very handy. No need for a sporran with this kilt.

I accidentally ordered this kilt too small at first and had to contact Tartanista for a replacement. Their customer service was great and while my return kilt was still being shipped they sent my replacement overnight. Now that's how you make a happy customer! I chose this kilt as the first one to wear all day and I have had it on today from morning until night. It looks and feels great and I highly recommend this kilt for someone searching for a comfortable utility kilt. My only complaint about this kilt is that it is just barely 23" long and my tall frame would love a 24" version. The Tartanista shop description says the 40" waist kilt is 24" long but mine measures exactly 23". It's not a major gripe but that extra inch would be nice. Still, a very comfortable utility kilt that I'm very happy with and highly endorse.

Rating (out of 5): 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trying on a new Ghillie shirt I'll be wearing with the kilts next year. Shirt and kilt from Heritage of Scotland.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Family Tartans

Since the majority of my own Scottish ancestors are on my mother's side of the family, I've chosen to wear the tartans of those clans. The traditional "rules" of the tartans say one shouldn't wear one's mother's family tartans unless one shares one's mother's family name. But since my last name is Baldwin and is neither Scottish nor from my mother's side, I'm forced to do a little choosing when it comes to a family tartan.

My grandmother's paternal family are "Donaldsons," an English version of the Scottish "McDonald" which was created when my Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Thomas MacDonald married Elizabeth Tudor, a cousin to the Queen. Apparently it wasn't too cool for a royal to get hitched with a Scotsman, so Donaldson was used to fool the gossips, I suppose. Still, I'm made up of watered down MacDonald blood so I'm more than happy to wear the MacDonald family tartan.

A more pure Scottish bloodline comes from my grandmother's mother who was a Wallace. The Wallace family tartan is a fairly popular one and has both a dress kilt and a hunting kilt. Both Wallace tartans will be worn at times throughout the year.

No doubt there are other Scottish branches in my family tree but none are as prominent as the Wallace and MacDonald families so when you see me wearing a tartan kilt it will be representing one of these clans.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Year In A Kilt. What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

"Every man dies. Not every man really lives." Mel Gibson as William Wallace in "Braveheart"

When one is about to turn 50, one starts thinking about topics like living and dying. Truth be told, one probably starts leaning a little heavier toward the "dying" thoughts but I suppose that's natural. As for me, well, I hope I have a lot more living to do and what better way to celebrate the remainder of my living than by doing something I've never done before?

 I admit I've never been much of a daredevil kind of guy. Skydiving and bungee jumping don't appeal to me. I don't have the finances to run out and buy a Lamborghini and I don't have the energy to get tanked and marry a 22 year old reality TV star in Vegas (hey, don't think they aren't lining up for the chance...). I prefer to celebrate in a more laid-back fashion. Still incorporate the danger of skydiving, the style of the Lamborghini and the romance and sexuality of the Vegas marriage. What else could capture all of these things better than wearing a kilt for an entire year? You knew I was going to say that, right? Well it's the title of the blog for haggis' sake!

Oh. One other confession. I've never owned or worn a kilt before. For many years I've wanted to own one but they always seemed so expensive and I never go to enough Celtic festivals or Renaissance Faires to make it worth it. The majority of my heritage is Scotch/Irish so I've always had the kilt on my list of things to purchase one day but always put it off. Recently I was making a mental list of things I would like to do after I turn 50 and I thought about wanting to buy a kilt. One thing led to another and I suddenly thought, "What if I commit to wearing a kilt every day of my 50th year?" Next thing I know, I did just that. I committed. In front of someone else even. I guess that means I gotta do it. Yeah.

After a little research I discovered there are some companies that make very affordable kilts. They may not be the traditional 8 yard wool kilts that some Scots believe you have to own to be in their snobby little "kilt club" but they're good enough to allow you to pull up the pleats in the back and tell those guys to kiss your pasty-white arse! That's good enough for me. Suddenly I find myself with seven kilts hanging in my closet. I'm all stocked-up now for my adventure! This is gonna be fun! Or really, really sad.

Oh, yeah. The adventure. Let's discuss that briefly.

My plan is to wear a kilt every day of my 50th year. I turn 50 on April 27, 2012. That will make the adventure expire on April 27, 2013. I don't want to discover things during the actual year of my adventure that may shut down the process so I plan on making several "trial runs" beginning January 1, 2012. There is no sense in being completely overwhelmed during the year. I feel I could use a few "warm up passes," so to speak. I will make occasional kilt-wearing excursions beginning with the first of the year which I hope will give me the required experience and testicular fortitude necessary to be a dude wearing a skirt every day for a year. Yes, I'm  nervous about it. This blog will document my feelings, my encounters, my adventures, my failures and my successes. I encourage you to come back and read the blog on a regular basis and give me encouragement and support. God knows I can use the support. If... you know what I mean...