Citizens Report American Irish Culture

Danahey on the loose without a kilt at the Chicago Scottish Fest and Highland Games

The author without his kilt.
The author without his kilt.

I made my annual trek to the Scottish Festival & Highland Games in Itasca this weekend for my usual reasons: to sample whiskies, eat organ meat mixed with oats (with hot sauce),  shop for peat, see large men toss cabers, and take in a tune or to, be it a piper piping or a sassy lass from “Brigadoon” singing a show tune.

This time, though, I didn’t don a kilt. I’m taming my dragon. In 3D. Which reminds me – I want to market sporrans that say, Dragon Feedbag, Nessie’s Headrest, and Don’t Disturb My Lochness Monster. But that’s the Irish in me.

Anyway, not wearing a kilt only made me aware of how many people now are wearing kilts to this event. It’s like going to a bar and not drinking. Or standing 15 feet outside that bar and realizing, yeah, dumbasses still smoke cigarettes.

For the Games, I did wear some plaid shorts to blend in a bit. And a cap. That was a relatively common look, too – and one I must admit I sport a good part of summer. I am so suburban.

The other looks I noticed, I chronicled on my Facebook page. Hey, I went solo this time, so it was a way to amuse myself, as my buddy Marty was busy as emcee at the music stage.

Some of the looks were combos of the ones below. And I didn’t include pipe bands – mostly just patrons I saw.10505421_10203222427474582_1019473361034118319_n

Either way, more and more men – myself included-  seem to be getting comfortable traipsing about on a warm day in a tartan, making their own fashion statements – while collecting their under-sweat in cups to use to make haggis, as tradition dictates.

So here’s the list, in no particular order, as I’m tired.

Dingos ate my bagpipes/Crocodile Dundee: These guys combine the Australian outback look – floppy, khaki cotton hat, sleeveless shirt, boots – with a tartan.


Game of Thrones extra: I’m not sure if anyone in Game of Thrones wears a kilt – because I don’t fawn over TV shows that take/talk way too long to get to the goddamn point – but I’ve seen enough of it to think some of these guys wish they were Lannisters. And they will never get with that hot chick who has the dragons.10489767_10203222222269452_2427813025101083952_n

Dad with stroller: Many don’t realize that Highlanders invented the stroller. It’s referenced in Braveheart. And Trainspotting.

The Ren Faire merchant: He wears his gear because it’s his job, and he likes it.

Hipster with tie instead of kilt – or hipster with neck garb and kilt: Khakis, white button down shirt, fedora of some sort, requisite facial hair, and Royal Stewart tie – because he’s too cool to wear a kilt but wanted to ironically fit in while drinking single malt. His counterpart wears a kilt with his stylish glasses and a foppish scarf perfect for an 85 degree day.


I’ll wear everything that looks Scottish BUT the kilt: It could be a plaid shirt.  Or a tam. Or maybe even a knife in a sock, worn with some shorts. It’s like not wearing a toga to a toga party. AKA, Grandpa.

My plaids don’t match and I don’t give a rat’s ass: In less politically correct times these folks were called Pollacks. It’s safer now just to call them white guys.

Hipster in trucker hat: Under 28, with facial hair and a look that cries out for a cigarette and some sort of canned beer.10447160_10203222227549584_1448658411198152519_n

Fievel McDuff: This looks says, I like “Fiddler on the Roof”, and I like “Brigadoon.” Or, I like Tolstoy, and I like Robbie Burns. Or, I’m an old school Trotsky-lover, and I’m an Adam Smith fan, too.

MacBiker: Typically middle-aged or older with facial hair of some sort and maybe a shaved head, these guys look like they’d beat up hippies at Rod Stewart concerts in Scotland – if it were the 1970s. Bonus points for wallet chains on their kilts. The younger version could easily be mistaken for being a fan of some sinister sub-genre of heavy metal music popular mostly in Edinburgh.

Roman Scott: That would be a good soap opera name, but it  also describes dudes who wear sandals with their man-skirts. This look is made all the better with a blouse – or whatever it is you call one of those shirts that laces up at the neck –  and a kilt worn above the knee.

The biker chick: The boots. The tattoos. The purse. The black spaghetti strap t-shirt. She’s be wearing this with or without a kilt.


Groundskeeper Willie: The cap, the scraggly facial hair, and the knobby knees are the giveaways. That, and the tractor in the parking garage.

Gandalf/Dumbledore: Sure, neither movie/book character wore a kilt, but for some reason the guys who try to look like them only look more like them by wearing a kilt – even if they don’t quite accessorize correctly with man bags and backpacks.

MacPreggers: While a lot of guys in pipe bands are big boys, they don’t typically wear tops that only accentuate their watermelon bellies. Alas, these lads need to buy more billowy tops, lest they confuse any ob-gyns milling about.

Golfer: Think the late Payne Stewart. These (usually) suburban guys look like golfers no matter what they wear. It’s in their genes.

My Dockers were in the laundry: Golf shirt. Sneakers. Kilt. Sort of like the above, but sloppier.10422421_10203221985303528_3784302690524888926_n

Pale and shirtless: Why bother with a shirt, when you probably aren’t wearing underpants, either?

Gym guy: He’s in a kilt because it’s just another way to show how buff he is.

Duck Dynasty/Ted Nugent: Camouflage kilts – just like they wore in the historically inaccurate Oscar-winner Braveheart – combined with long hair and a ballcap, would be the look the NRA would sport, if there were an NRA in Scotland.

The Lou Reed or the Johnny Cash: He’s all in black. With sunglasses.


Utilikilt-er: These are the cargo shorts of kilts, with umpteen pockets. But seriously, despite what the ads for the brand want you to believe, who the hell is gonna wear a kilt while working construction or while doing anything that involves a ladder? Still, a good choice for the modern man who has a wallet, a smartphone, cigars and a flask to store.

The leg-splayer: Sitting there in a folding chair,  he wants you to ask. He’s begging you to look. You read the Scottish version of the Bible, right? DON’T DO IT! YOU’LL TURN INTO A PILLAR OF SHORTBREAD.10505499_10203222581318428_4570974912013319232_n

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