Why I Strongly Dislike Utilikilts

Maybe I’m too much of a purist, and it’s very possible so feel free to call me out on it, but I hate Utilikilts with an undying passion.

First let me explain where I’m coming from: I play the bagpipes and own two kilts of my own. I come from a place where a kilt is neither a skirt or a costume, but rather a traditional article of clothing symbolizing an entire (and very proud) culture.

The Utilikilt is a poor knock-off of a symbol of the entire Scottish culture. In fact, it is just a skirt and the mere attribution of the name ‘kilt’ to it is an insult to kilts. I’m trying to make this not sound like a rant, but it’s sounding an awful lot like one. Let’s put them side by side and see if you get it.

Saint Patrick’s Day sort of makes fun of everyone who’s Irish because everyone puts on a green shirt and calls themselves Irish when they’re not. They’re just using it as an excuse to be drunk. It’s the same way with Utilikilts; they’re cheap knock-offs of something people take very seriously.

What I’m talking about is technically called cultural appropriation, or the adopting of some elements of a culture by another group (check wikipedia if y’all don’t believe me). However, it’s really hard to tell whether someone is trying to be nice about it and show their appreciation of the culture or whether they think something is just pretty or cool without knowing the object’s cultural importance. Now, usually it is considered offensive only when there is a minority culture and a majority culture, but I disagree with that definition. Why does the dominance of one party over another make it offensive?

I guess this sounds like a real first world problem, but I suppose if you haven’t been in this situation it’s hard to explain how an article of clothing can make one’s eyes burn. And I know there are so many more cultures that have more problems along these lines than one can shake a stick at (ex: Native Americans), but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem for those who take pride in their Scottish and Irish heritage.

What do you all think? Think I’ve played in too many St. Patty’s Day parades and need to go take a nap and stop whining? Let me know in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Why I Strongly Dislike Utilikilts

  1. While I can see where you are coming from, I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. It is not that big of an issue in the way of Utilikilts, and their creation was based on an appreciation of Scottish culture and for the design of the kilt as a clothing item/textile. Try to think of it in those terms and I think you’ll lighten up, there are so many other things to put your time/energy into 🙂

  2. I mostly agree with you, but I thought that the point if a utilikilt was that you can fit more pockets on a kilt than on a pair of pants (hence the name), not for ironic fashion.

    • The sporran (the black leather thing on David Tennant’s crotch) usually opens and functions as a pocket and is always worn with a kilt. A sporran bigger than a lot of purses. So for pocket functionality, there really isn’t much of a difference.

  3. Ive got to ask, are you American? Because you write like an American, not a Scot, so I think its interesting that you’re being so defensive.

  4. Where I have more than one tartan I am permitted to wear without paying homage to Cambel or one of the other clans willing to share with even us lowly yanks… I have found the cost of a kilt too extraordinary to buy one. Additionally there I that matter of having a lack of pockets. Perhaps it may have something to do with a utilitarian purely function over form that I find the utilikilt a great idea… perhaps again being a yank I appreciate a summer weight kilt… or perhaps those that are purists just don’t gettl it.

    It took me a while to warm up to the utilikilt, facing facts it takes a manly man to wear one and not feel out of sorts with the American rule against men in skirts even if you can explain that you are really wearing a heavy wool blanket. I often suspect this is why Americans dislike bagpipes and not because they ever sounded bad…

    The Utilikilt does have a purpus and it more closely resembles a kilt than a woman’s skirt. It even is put on in the same way as the more traditional kilts and when taken off lays flat like a blanket (granted not really a good blanket).

    There is no mockery involved and imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The addition of pockets was a great idea 5000 years in the making

  5. If you’re concerned with cultural sensitivity, you should be aware that Irish people are very insulted by St. Patrick being called “Patty.”

  6. I think what I’m hearing is that wearing a Utilikilt represents a form of cultural appropriation.
    Is that correct?


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