My favorite moment from this year's Oscars was watching Mark Andrews, the director of Brave, accept the award for Best Animated Feature Film. I have not seen the film, nor am I familiar with Mr. Andrews' work, but I enjoyed this moment because Mr. Andrews was wearing a kilt. This simple choice of attire made me happy for several reasons:
- I support the idea of men having more choices when it comes to dressing. The other men who attended this year's Oscars all looked the same, all dressed in similar tuxedo uniforms. Besides Mr. Andrews, the boldest statements in men's clothing consisted of a "brave" actor who chose to wear a black shirt or who added a vest to his uniform. Men's wardrobes were boring. Women's styles, on the other hand, were complex and fascinating. Designers fawned all over the female stars, hoping one of them would choose their gown and grant them worldwide exposure. These women spent months choosing just the right look, the right fabric, the right silhouette, shoes, accessories, hairstyle, makeup and on and on and on. The biggest choice a man has to make is whether to wear a two-button or three-button jacket. Whoop-de-do.
Whenever I wear a kilt, I am asked the same question: "Why are you wearing that?" This is sometimes asked in a sneering tone, the subtext being, "Why on Earth would you be caught dead wearing that ridiculous garment?" If a man chooses to dress differently from the norm, people do not understand why, and they will demand a reason for his "unusual" clothing. If I were Scottish, or if I played a bagpipe, my choice of the kilt would make sense to people.
When Mr. Andrews got to the podium to accept his Oscar, he joked, "I just happened to be wearing the kilt," suggesting that his style choice was not linked to the theme of his film. Most people presumed that he wore the kilt to the Oscars because his film is about a Scottish princess. That was his "reason" for wearing the garment. Mr. Andrews was not the only man in a kilt at the Oscars. The father of host Seth MacFarlane was also wearing a kilt. MacFarlane is a Scottish name, so Seth's dad had a handy reason to wear a kilt as well.
I am of Italian heritage, so I do not have a solid "excuse" for wearing a kilt. The simple truth is that I wear a kilt because I like it. I like the way it looks and the way it feels. And, admittedly, I want to stand out from the crowd. I appreciate the attention it garners.
I wear a kilt often, for no reason other than the fact that is the garment I pulled from my closet that morning. I have many of them: tartan ones, solid colors, denim, even a leather one. I have purchased them from some of the many modern kilt companies that have sprung up in the past 10 years: Utilikilt, AmeriKilt, USA Kilts. I wear them to work, to the supermarket, to the movies, wherever I feel like it. People may look at me oddly, but I do not care.
There are drawbacks to wearing the kilt, I admit. The biggest is that complete strangers will walk up to me without so much as a "hello" and ask what I am wearing under my kilt. I will hear the same question dozens of time in a single day: "Are you wearing any underwear?" (or its many variants: "Are you going commando?" or, "Are you wearing that 'regimental' style?" or, "Is it... drafty... down there?!" or, "Are you a... 'true Scotsman'?") This is annoying, to say the least. If a woman wears a skirt or a dress, no one would walk up to her and ask these questions. If someone did, that person would get smacked in the face, at the very least. But I have learned to smile and say something clever like, "What's worn under my kilt? Nothing is 'worn' down there; everything is in perfect working order. Har, har, har!"
Answering this annoying question is a small price to pay for the pleasure and contentment I derive from wearing the kilt. Hey, if it makes me happy, why not? I do not have to look like everyone else. I choose to be different, and I do not have to justify my attire to anyone. And I applaud men like Mr. Andrews -- and Kanye West, Nathan Fillion, Ashton Kutcher, Alan Cumming and Gerard Butler -- who are opening up men's options one kilt at a time.