Utilikilt is a company founded in Seattle, Washington, that produces Men's Unbifurcated Garments, or MUGs, for short. The original utilikilt is a cross between a traditional kilt, with stitched-down pleats, and a carpenter's tool belt. Good belt loops, sturdy canvas, large patch pockets and a hammer loop, all made out of the Carharts colored brown duck. Apparently some men tired of wearing trousers in the summer heat drummed up this idea, and went for it.

Needless to say, at the Sacramento Valley Scottish Games, you are far more likely to see men in skirts wandering around than you would on, oh, the Washington, D.C. Metro. The games were described to me as "lots of big guys in kilts throwing heavy things". With whisky tasting and haggis and bagpipes. What's not to like?

Personally, I am a huge fan of men in skirts. Traditional kilt rig, a Burmese longi, a sarong, or a utlitikilt, I'm in favor. Highly. First of all, gents, let me tell you that a kilt or a sarong is very flattering to men's anatomy. The traditional kilt is worn high, with a wide belt, and is supposed to hit mid-knee. The tight waist makes men's shoulders look wider, and heavy socks and brogues draw attention to nice, muscular calves. They work on those heavy guys, as well - strong legs, broad shoulders, okay, maybe he has a bit of a gut but if he can pick me up under one arm along with 120 pounds of telephone pole, I won't fuss.

The sporran, that little bag worn in front of the kilt, (and apparently is usually made out of some small creature that you've clubbed with one of the heavy things (see above)), is supposed to swing in rhythm with your marching. And yes, gentlemen, you are supposed to go commando. If you think this doesn't lead us ladies to imagine...uhm, things, as it were, why were they selling a tee shirt that says "Objects under kilts may be larger than they appear"? The kilt, the sporran, and everything else is supposed to swing in rhythm. Loooove this pipe bands, ta-rum, ta-rum.…

The utilikilt is worn lower, on your hips, as a pair of work pants would be. Their advertising kit is hilarious, describing the proper fit - from "skinny guy, no ass" (wertperch), "athletic with bubble butt" (yours truly), to "big stomach and big ass" or "lift and synch" (sic - I assume they mean cinch) and of course their trademarked Beer Gut Cut. If you have a beer gut, for 25 extra bucks you can get the beer gut cut, so it'll ride down below your belly, but the hem will still ride straight. As they say, they are the only ones in the "men's gawment industwy" (sic) with this offer.

The utilikilts now range from the original, to red or blue corduroy, through some slimy-looking nylon fabric (this one did not appeal to me, can you tell?) to 100% cotton, The Survivor. Detachable pockets (handy for airplanes, you just put the whole pocket through the x-ray machine), and the pockets have belt loops, in case you want to hang them from your belt instead of the snaps. What else? A key loop, and the requisite "modesty toggles", belt loops, sturdy closure snaps. The story is that you can carry a case of beer in the pockets. It doesn't specify bottles or cans, but wertperch easily managed a half-rack of Red Hook, in bottles. From someone who build clothes out of string and has studied how good clothes are put together, this is one of the most well-thought-out garments I've ever seen.

When you purchase one, they say "Welcome to the Utiliclan."

To him - "Enjoy your freedom."

To me: "Enjoy your access."

Needless to say, their marketing is clever, funny, and they have our number.

Yes, we bought one. And I want one as well. Now I just have to decide whether to go with the mini, or traditional knee length.

Not to mention that I got to see my somewhat reserved and modest stiff upper-lip Brit husband being dressed (and undressed) by an enormous, bearded, tattooed guy. In a skirt.

Picture currently on his homenode, or failing that, http://tinyurl.com/37e6t

"To his horror [Toad] recollected that he had left both coat and waistcoat behind him in his cell, and with them his pocket-book, money, keys, watch, matches, pencil-case— all that makes life worth living, all that distinguishes the many-pocketed animal, the lord of creation, from the inferior one-pocketed or no-pocketed productions that hop or trip about permissively, unequipped for the real contest. "
- The Wind In The Willows

Christine bought me a Utilikilt in 2006, and sadly, after six years of constant summer use, I am about to lay it down for the last time. It's had thousands of wearings and washes, and is beginning to get raggedy beyond any repair potential. It's a sad event, for many reasons.

The kilt is a great garment. In practical terms, it's ideal for me. I live in the hot Sacramento Valley, and some summer days can be brutal to someone raised in chilly England. The kilt provides a natural air-conditioning around the goolies while walking, by gently swishing air around the sweaty bits. When standing, the process still works, but one needs to rock back and forth to encourage that breeze. It's a great feeling when it's 104°.

I realise that I'm in danger of giving away what I wear under my kilt, so I will move along. I do occasionally get odd looks, but a surprising number of positive comments about the kilt, mostly from women, though many men have commented that they wish they had one. Occasionally I do notice women having a good ogle, and once caught a young woman trying to take a photo up the kilt. I was surprised, slightly offended but secretly very pleased.¹

Now I wear a Utilikilt for a variety of reasons. Climate I have mentioned, but the kilt that Christine bought for me is the top-of-the-range Survival model, which boasts deep, trouser-style pockets, two rear elasticated patch pockets, and two huge snap-on cargo pockets. Between them, it is said, one can carry hrair bottles or cans of beer (twenty is the "official" number). Now I tend to carry a lot of stuff anyway, and on a shopping or hiking expedition need even more storage space.

As an aside, I was on a cross-country trip a couple of years ago along US Highway 2. I wore it every day because frankly, eight hours in the car makes the fellas sweaty. Of course, in liberal Davis, wearing the kilt is one thing, but in the deep Midwest, I was even more the curiosity. Every diner, petrol station and bar had its rubber-necking denizens, and yes, many of them did inquire "Is that a kilt", and yes, it is. Several men were envious of the attention I had from the womenfolk, and some of the women volunteered that their men would look good in such attire.

I will miss the capacity, if not the cooling factor (it is now winter, and I have several months before I will need to cool the boys in this manner) and I must save up my pennies until March. In the meantime, I'm attracting many comments surrounding my wearing of bifurcated nether garments; many of the regulars at the Farmers' Market miss it. Jeans, I am told, do not become me like the kilt.

So, what is worn under the kilt?

"Nothing is worn, it's all in perfect working order!"

So anyway, coming back to my original point, I do get rather a lot of comments, mostly about how dashing I look, how practical it must be, or how many bottles of beer it can hold. Just occasionally, some brave soul inquires as to what's worn under the kilt, or (by men, usually) whether I am going regimental.

I have many answers for this one. My stock response is "A gentleman does not reveal what he wears under the kilt", and I usually get a smile from that, and the conversation is dropped. Occasionally, I coquettishly lift one side of the skirt to reveal a hairy knee and a few inches of thigh, before dramatically dropping the hem with a shake of the head, as if to say "that's all yer getting". On one occasion, I raised the apron to reveal Union Flag boxers, to enormous delight.

One woman, however, went beyond the pale. Not content with a humorously evasive response, she pressed on. She was pretty serious about this, insistent and rude. In such situations, one is obliged to be pleasant, and I was, for I am an Englishman and bred to be polite. After two increasingly probing questions, I was forced into a corner, and came out fighting. "I will tell you, madam, and even show you. But you must tell or show what you are wearing under your skirt."

Cue the retreat of the offended party, and the delight of onlookers. And no, in case you were wondering, I will not tell you. There is basically only one way to discover this Englishman's secret, and that position is currently taken.

¹ Okay, I admit it. I also like the attention.

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