Border clans and families, of which Carruthers is one, never wore tartan and most certainly did not wear kilts. However, as we move towards the festive season the kilt has become more popular. Mostly noticeable at social gatherings such as Weddings, New Years Functions, Burns Night and other formal occasions, many Scot whether Highland, Lowland or Border will wear a kilt at some time in their life. As such many of the border clans and families now have their own registered clan/family tartans, Carruthers being one (STR11700). As such the Bruce tartan remains registered to Bruce irrelevant of prefixes or suffixes ie ancient, modern etc and is not a Carruthers tartan.
Is the wearing of the kilt still popular in Scotland?
Interestingly, a YouGov research Poll carried out in 2016, suggests that two thirds (67%) of Scottish adult males say they have worn a kilt, rising to three quarters (74%) for those who were born in Scotland.
It also seems that Scottish women are also big fans, and we are sure that this is reflected the world over, where as many as 91% of Scottish women say that men wearing kilts is a very attractive look. They are also in rough agreement with men on what should be worn underneath a kilt ie that nothing should be worn, although there are also those, like some men, who would support the wearing of underwear and do.
Where do clan/family tartans and the traditiion of no underwear, come from?
Traditionally, as said ‘nothing’ is worn under the kilt. ‘It is all in good working order’ or ‘my socks and shoes’ are the usual reponses when a Scot is asked, but where did it begin.
The wearing of the kilt by men ‘throughout’ Scotland and not simply the highlands, was really initiated and popularised by King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh and his ‘Grand Ball’ of 1822. This function actually lit the touch paper for clan and family tartans to be assigned/recorded to a particular clan/family.
The request from the king to his guest list at the time was to wear their clan tartans. This caused a rush to have a tartan recorded next to their family name.
Some used old regional tartans dated slightly earlier than 1822 and linked them as their own, some were brand new designs or taken from the Sobieski brothers pattern book, but from there on in as they say, the rest is part of Scottish Clan culture and history.
Based on the evidence, until the early 1800’s Scottish tartan historians advise us that clan/family tartans simply did not exist, anything else is simply just conjecture.
Prior to that, tartans were either regional or military, the latter being the first to have a specific tartan linked to them as a collective i.e. everyone wore the same tartan.
It seems therefore that, just as the clan/family tartan was influenced in part by the military regiments, so too was the tradition of ‘going regimental/commando’ by ordinary kilt wearing Scots.
As such the underwear issue stems back to the traditions of the Scottish military themselves. It is my understanding that underwear was never worn in any Scottish Regiment who wore kilts, some of course wore trews, and after amalgamation it is still the requirement in the Royal Regiment of Scotland if the kilt is worn.
From the military, one has to assume the ‘traditional’ way was passed on by soldiers to their family and friends and through them filtered into the general population of Scots, who progressivly began wearing the kilt. These same Scots wishing to reflect their family’s history and culture sought their own visual identity, by having a tartan registered to their name.
NB Only a Chief can register an official tartan as ‘Clan / Family’ with the Scottish register of Tartans. If it is not listed against the name on there, it is neither official nor recognised as a clan/family tartan.
At this point it is fair to state and accepting common sense, part of the dress code for Scottish Country Dancers and athletes at the Highland Games is the wearing of underwear.
But is the attitude to the wearing of the kilt still popular in Scotland?
It seems a hugh yes, the poll also suggests that Scots overwhelmingly see kilts as an important part of their heritage, with nearly nine in ten Scots agreeing on this point.
However, at present, kilts are worn primarily on special occasions as stated above, with a great many Scotsmen having worn a kilt in their lifetime. The research further suggests that there is an increasing appetite to normalise kilts for everyday wear, although that is currently not the norm.
So, the kilt definitely remains popular in Scotland, but then as our national dress, surely that is what we would expect. It helps define us as a nation and enhances our national identity.
But what is worn under it these days?
It is not the first photograph we have seen where the kilt wearing men at a Scottish wedding are photographed in a ‘Braveheart’ moment, mooning the camera. If close family and friends are anything to go by, tradition still counts, and it remains one of the only modes of dress that will always make a Scotsman feel tall and proud, especially if wearing the tartan of their own clan and family.
As such, although it is the wearing of the kilt that is important to one of Scottish descent or birth, underwear remains a personal choice. But no underwear under a kilt is definitely very comfortable, offers a strange sense of freedom and of course remains the traditional way. These are only important if any of these actually matter to you.
So the advice has to be…..wear the kilt, ideally in the tartan of your clan or family, but enjoy the pride that goes along with it and note the points on the video above.
Wear it with or without underwear but as traditionalists of course many of us Scots still prefer the latter, its in part a pride and cultural Scottish thing.
Saying all that, the mystique still exists as not all Scots, nor in fact anyone else who wears a kilt, will choose to go ‘regimental’. As such we are certain that the age old question to a man in a kilt of; “what do wear under it” will never really grow old or in fact come to a end anytime soon.
To find out if a clan/family tartan is registered to your name, a listing of all official clan/family tartans is held by the Scottish Register of Tartans, a Scottish Government Agency, based in Edinburgh. Just type in the surname and, if it exists it will be there.
Although available directly from our Scottish weavers; the House of Edgar in Scotland by any kiltmaker, here is a list of our preferred suppliers of Carruthers tartan worldwide; see here
Below is a chart copyrighted to our society to give you an idea of some border tartans and when the were registered or are recorded as being registered.