The Toughest M.U.G.s: Dressed To KiltBy Shawn Baker / Sunday, December 21st, 2008
“How verdant is the heather, how manly are my loins?”
The song rings down the glade as the Highlands meet the Lowlands.
The kilt is back with a vengeance, though it never truly went away.
Old by 19th Century standards when it was popularized by the Scots, the garments are becoming more visible than ever. The Scottish Military still requires them as a uniform. In Europe, rugby players and their roughneck fan base don them on and off the field. They’re even turning up on the runway. Now the kilt even has a fab subcultural acronym: the M.U.G., i.e. the Modern Unbifurcated Garment.
Why the resurgence at this time in history? Aesthetics for starters. The look is undeniably hot and surprisingly complimentary to nearly every type and age of man.
Legs characterized by granite thighs and vascular calves can often be a man’s best feature after all. The kilt accentuates the power of the waist, the breadth of the shoulders, the contours of the hips.
You can dress it up or down depending on the event, be it a rowdy night on the town or a movie premiere. The traditional tartan wool look has spun off to more contemporary leather and denim styles.
It can be hiked up with no fuss or muss during a heated tangling. And all the better if a stiff breeze should happen along. Imagine urban centers full of kilted he-men on escalators, on motorcycles, on dance floors; surly, drunken bastards carousing and losing their laundry as they fight it out; young male starlets cavorting in Hollywood sans underwear like their bimbo counterparts; gym-built hulks having their M.U.G.s blown upward as they stand over subway grates in Marilyn Monroe fashion.
As with any daring fashion shift, traditionalists are likely to dread that all our established sexual roles and tidy standards of decorum will be threatened.
How could society ever hope to handle such hooliganism if men go pant-free? There was a time when raised hemlines for the ladies provoked all manner of fears that primness would fall by the wayside as they became shameless hoydens ready to unscissor their legs for every man in sight. My god, wide-spread de-kilting might run rampant.
Of course those left-leaning Hollywood types are leading us astray with their own thigh-exposing antics. Across-the-pond celebs like Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, David Beckham, Gerard Butler (right), Sting and Robbie Williams have sported the look and now it’s catching on stateside with babes like Vin Diesel, Kiefer Sutherland and James Marsters M.U.G.-ing it up with gusto and looking fine in the process.
Still, the kilt’s public profile being raised at this precise point in time has more driving it than just being fashionable. There are those sartorial items that become totemic to their owners — bearing a fetish quality beyond their literal designs — and speak to a deep-seated need.
A Retrosexual movement is brimming in response to the ubiquitous Metrosex trend. There is a relatively small but fervent collective of men on both sides of the fence who are beginning to tire of the relentless electrolysis, tanning, waxing, grooming and tweezing that’s been all the rage as of late. The kilt as the garment of our ancient forebears is emblematic of a turn back toward a barbarous and rough-hewn primitivism that patent leather loafers and the button fly just can’t seem to match.
It’s hard to believe that there ever was an epoch when men weren’t encased in high-end suits, fatherly cardigans, polo shirts and boring trousers. Falling somewhere between the high-cut loincloth, the three-quarter Polynesian sarong, and the full length Japanese hakama, the kilt was designed to give its wearers freedom of motion, allowing them to race fleet-footed across the moors, wade through treacherous rivers and climb jagged cliffs to evade enemies. Its looseness and durability were vital.
The Scandinavians, Celts, Gauls and Romans didn’t bother with two-legged duds for there warriors and soldiers, the kind of men who could snap a neck between their tensed thighs. With their legs stanced wide for battle or a fervent tryst, these barbarians would’ve scorned the notion of cladding themselves in the likes of sensible khaki pants that restricted them below the waist.
Women aren’t the only ones who were forced into an absurdly modest paragon of raiment through the ages. Has their even been a prissier, more epicene deportment for men than the Elizabethan Age with its frilly collars, dandy tights, ruffled vests and ghastly white wigs? The Victorian Period gave us knickers that buttoned at the knees for extra comfort. And argyle. Whither the Vikings of yore, the Huns of yesteryear?
Maybe no living man of that time could match the aerobicized bronzed perfection of Marc Singer in The Beastmaster — garbed in a primeval fringed and studded kilt by way of mid-80s Chippendale dancer tear-away — or his latter-day TV heir Daniel Goddard(right) in his rustic rawhide wrap, but who knows what manly wonders prehistory once held that have gone into the dust, unknown but still stirring somewhere in our racial memory? If the mini-skirt was regalia for women in the 60s and a badge of their burgeoning liberation, then the kilt is its masculine equivalent– the reclamation of the vestigial man.
If movies are any indication, the shift has been coming for over a decade. Braveheart and its ass-flashing fighters headed the charge and other epics — many of which feature the kilt or one of its variations — have hit screens since and drawn their male audiences back through time to an unspoiled era where nary a pair of generic Gap blue jeans exist. The Thirteenth Warrior, King Arthur, The Lord of The Rings, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven and Alexander were stepping stones to the loin-bearing, Eroto-Carnage of the mega hit 300. Apocalypto, Pathfinder and 10,000 B.C. have followed suit, with new adaptations of such pantless pulp sagas as Conan The Barbarian and Masters of The Universe in the works.
Kilt-honoring web sites have also taken root featuring men proudly modeling their M.U.G. attire or gazing in earnest at others wearing theirs, sometimes the two objectives overlapping. Is Man on the brink of casting off his modern shackles, ready to rend his dress pants, cleave the fax machine with his battle axe and raze the false idol that is the cell phone with a spear thrust as he summons up the ancestral spirit of his inner Visigoth?
The Kilt Revolution. It has all the benefits of those woodland adventure, get-in-touch-with-your-lost-macho-side, midlife crisis wilderness junkets…just minus the talking sticks, Trans Ams and uncontrollable weeping.
Our fantastically hot top kilt shot is courtesy UK Naked Men.
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