It’s as iconic a piece of attire as the ten gallon Stetson, the Indian sari or the kimono from Japan. Hell, it’s up there in the pantheon of Cool Things to Wear with Coco Chanel’s original LBD. It will forever be associated with Scotland, even though its origins are oft-disputed and prone to cause heated arguments. Men who wear it for the first time think they’ve suddenly morphed into Mel Gibson in Braveheart and immediately start banging on about ‘Freedom’. And it drives lots of women – including me – crazy at the thought of ‘What Lies Beneath’…
I’m talking, of course, about the kilt.
We could get into that aforementioned heated argument about its origins – was it Scottish? Irish? Was the kilt as we know it really invented by (the horror) an English Quaker? – but the simple fact is that the kilt, in one form or another, has been around since the 16th century. The original Gaelic shawl, the feilidh-mor or ‘great wrap’, consisted of patterned fabric that was usually made out of heavy wool. In author George Buchanan’s 25 volume (he must have been exhausted…) book called ‘The History of Scotland’, published in 1852, you can find what is believed to be the first ever written mention of a kilt-like garment as we now know it. Over the next century shorter, lighter and more comfortable versions appeared, with the now-famous tartan pattern (or sett) until it was the outfit du jour for clansmen in the Highlands.
And have you ever heard the phrases ‘Full Scotsman’ or ‘Going Regimental’? Their origins lie in kilts traditionally being worn without anything beneath – a precursor to ‘Going Commando’ with no underwear, if you must – by the Scottish military, which led to much fevered speculation when the army was in town. ‘Le Pretexte’ the famous print I’ve added below, depicts Scots Guards during the Napoleonic wars, with a couple of French ladies attempting to ascertain if the soldier does indeed have any undies on…
Now, of course, the kilt is one of the most recognisable items of national dress in the world.
There’s something about a man in a kilt that makes lots of women go a little weak at the knees. Even centuries ago they looked pretty damn hot – take a look at this dashing chap:
And then there’s this guy, looking mean and moody with his flowing locks and very long sword:
At this point I think I’ll mention Liam Neeson. Yes, he’s still alive and busy being handsome, but he did play the 18th century Rob Roy in the movie of the same name so here’s a pic of him looking all windswept and moody in a kilt:
Neeson is not the only actor to get in on the Historically Hot in a Kilt act – here’s another thespian going full Scottish snarling warrior, the above-mentioned Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Gibson played 13th century William Wallace, and while many a Scot would rather the film had never been made, it certainly cemented their country and its kilt firmly in the public’s consciousness.
Bless that horse. Just look how happy it is to have Mad Mel riding it…
And while we’re talking about feeling happy, how about this photograph of the magnificent specimen that is Sean Connery – looking positively regal, with a hint of ‘what’s under that sporran?’ – because looking at it makes me very cheerful indeed…
Anyway, over time the kilt has been spotted around the world, especially when Scottish stars turn up on the red carpet or for whatever posh event they’ve been invited to. Here, in no particular order of hotness (because they’re all very, very hot) are some of my favourites:
Ewan McGregor in full red-and-green tartan collecting a gong? Yes, please.
Then there’s this cheeky chappie: James McAvoy, smiling in the snow while tucking his hands into his waistband to keep them warm (shame about the other bits that are exposed to the cold…)…
And here’s Doctor Who himself, David Tennant, arriving at some movie premier or other that I don’t care about because all I want to do is look at him:
And Gerard Butler, who made us drool wearing a shawl and skimpies when he played Leonidas the Spartan in 300, rocks a super-sexy kilt on the red carpet here:
So that’s a few genuine Scottish hunks, but here’s quite a few more – a Buffet of Beefcakes, if you will – all lined up and looking incredible, just for our enjoyment:
Yes, that is the Scottish national rugby squad, if you must know. Not that it matters – JUST LOOK AT THEM.
It’s not just Scottish guys who get to enjoy the feeling of FREEDOM! (etc.) that wearing a kilt allows, either. Hollywood has been known to indulge in the tartan every now and again, including 24’s Jack Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland:
Good ol’ Southern boy Matthew McConaughey carries a kilt off pretty well here:
Then here’s Vin Diesel looking all smiley and be-kilted but still exuding ruggedness and generally being a Hard Bastard who can drive cars very fast and furiously or something:
Even politicians can’t help themselves sometimes, as the lure of the kilt is so strong. Here, as a final photo, is the ever-lovely Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, being lovely and nice and oh-so-lovely, putting the world to rights while enjoying the breeze between his lovely thighs.
So that’s a little potted History of Hot Men in Kilts, with a handful of tasty photos for you to enjoy. Did I miss any kilt-wearing hottie off the list? Is there anybody you would really, really like to see wrapped in tartan? I’d love to hear from you, so you can email me, or get in touch via any of my social channels.