I retired my skorts mid-fall, when the temperature plummeted and weather-shaming swung into high gear. This happened around the same time that I dug deep into my dresser for my tights, only to find that they all have holes in the toes or snags snaking up the thighs. So I gracelessly transitioned into winter dressing, a process which immediately reminded me that leggings are far more exhilarating to wear on weekends than weekdays, and that nothing takes the wind out of my sails like putting on a pair of proper pants in the morning.
Then, about a month ago, I saw a woman crossing Lafayette Street wearing a puffer jacket with a calf-length kilt in a yellow-streaked tartan. She looked devastatingly chic and by equal measures, warm. Suddenly my entire perception of kilts shifted: Kilts are winter’s skorts!
As a matter of coincidence, I had been following a new brand, Le Kilt, for a while, and had become smitten with its ability to make clothes most commonly associated with bagpipers look feminine, and also with its sustainable practices (the brand uses ethically-sourced wool). Le Kilt has been on the kilt beat since it launched in 2014, and they’ve been in good company with recent collections: Burberry’s Fall 2017 collection leaned into the house’s heritage once more with kilts aplenty, ranging from a high-waist wool number to a plastic interpretation lined with silk. Gucci’s recent cruise collection came out of the gates running with embellished tigers and dogs appliquéd right smack in the middle of its kilts. Meanwhile, J.W. Anderson and Esteban Cortazar remixed tartans like an end-of-year DJ Earworm track in skirt form.
My fondness for skorts, and then kilts, probably stems from the all-girls grammar school uniform I used to wear: a navy blue tunic tailored just so, allowing one to wear their mesh gym shorts underneath every day for P.E. class. I of course grew to think of these mesh shorts as underwear, so I wore them beneath the tunic even on days when we didn’t have P.E. or gymnastics or recess. Similarly, the roominess of a kilt is one of the reasons it appeals.
The kilt works because it can be broken down into an equation: success = vacancy underneath for another layer (more fortification against winter) + the insulating powers of wool + maximalism in the form of a bright tartan, finding its shape with a flattering A-line silhouette. If you’re not on this Scottish bandwagon with me yet, I recommend you binge-watch season 2 of The Crown and then spend a lot of time recreationally researching photos of Prince George.
Additionally, with a title as sticky as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire or What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Joseph Charles Thompson’s 1979 tome So, You’re Going To Wear The Kilt will teach you all the things I can’t about wearing one: like how, historically, kilts don’t have pockets, so the sporran (Scottish Gaelic for purse) is supposed to strap on like a fanny pack and hold your PKW (phone, keys, wallet).
As a recent convert, I can tell you this much: You’ll never lose the key to your apartment if you keep it hanging on your kilt pin.
Illustrations by Edith Young.