Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Britain From A to Z: K


One thing that is always interesting to look out for while on a foreign trip is the clothing native to the country you are visiting. While most people we saw in the UK wore clothes similar to us in the US, there were occasions where we saw differing garb. The most prominent difference we encountered was in Scotland.

Most people are familiar with Scottish men wearing skirts. The Scots try to hide this by calling them kilts, but we Americans are not easily fooled. We know it is really a skirt. The kilt is usually made of wool--appropriate given the number of Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores we saw on our trip--in a tartan pattern. Of course, there has always been the question of whether or not kilted men wear underwear under that kilt. This question was immortalized in a song entitled "The Scotsman" written by Mike Cross. Give it a listen to get the answer.

The kilt is usually accompanied by a number of other elements of clothing. One is the purse. Yes, Scottish men carry purses. In an attempt to disguise this one, they are called sporrans. This is Scottish Gaelic word for purses. So, it's really only a disguise to outsiders. To complete the outfit, there is usually a dress shirt with either a tie or a tartan scarf, tall socks, shoes, and sometimes a cap. In more formal settings, things can be even fancier with jackets and so forth. This attire is typically called Highland Dress. Here are three photos of Scotsmen wearing kilts and differing accoutrements.

To their credit, Scotsmen don't eat quiche. And just in case that doesn't convince people they are real men, they sometimes carry a dirk, which is a long thrusting dagger. Just try to make fun of them when they are toting one of these.

In England, I didn't see much unique clothing except of course people wearing shirts sporting their favorite football team's logo. Of course, you do realize that football across the pond is what we in the US call soccer. Anglophiles like to call American football "handegg". I'm not sure if this is a compliment or an insult. Oh, well.

Come to think of it, one unusual type of clothing was the uniforms of the guards stationed at the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. It's definitely different than anything I've seen the US military wear. But them guns be cool.

In Wales I don't recall seeing any unusual clothing except for the costumes worn by some of the performers at Cardiff Castle's Welsh banquet. But that doesn't really count since entertainers are know the world over for wearing unusual, even outlandish, getups. Think Elton John, Madonna, and Liberace. And now Miley Cyrus is trying to make her mark. The harpist / pianist at the banquet wore a nice traditional Welsh outfit known as the Welsh National Costume.

As a fun closeout, take a look at this short cartoon. My Bunny Lies Over The Sea.

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