A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What do Scotsmen wear under their kilts?

March 24, 1995

Dear Cecil:

What do the Queen's Guards or the Black Watch or whatever really wear under those kilts? And if the answer is nothing, like my boss claims, would the desire to follow such pure tradition really result in inspections at the lineup by sergeants or officers with mirrors attached to their shoes to ensure compliance? I could buy the naked bit, but am sure the inspection part (can you just picture a foot thrust between a guard's legs?) is just some weird man thing. Please tell me the truth.

Cecil replies:

You'll want to sit down for this, Yvonne. Just make sure you're not sitting directly across from a kilt-clad Scot. Apparently they don't wear anything under there, or at least they're not supposed to. I know because I posted this to the Net (soc.culture.celtic) and got numerous replies such as the following: "Me wears the scotty-skirt and I can assure you that correctly there is nowt unner it, however we 20th century derivatives feel the caul a bit and so unless it's a formal occasion, I actually (NO! No! I can't admit anything … not in writing anyway!)"

You're thinking: so what does one weirdo prove? Nowt, I suppose, but when you hear from half a dozen weirdos you have to figure something's up. Here's another. "It is actually true. Underpants or whatever are strictly out. Which reminds me of an old story. American lady: Is anything worn under the kilt? Scotsman: No, madam. I can assure you it's all in perfect condition." Are these guys a laff riot or what?

One more. "Traditionally Scots do not wear anything under their kilts, but the shirts (known as a blouse) have a long tail that [may] be tied between the legs. There are many 'standard' answers a kilt wearer could give you when you ask them [The Question], [including] 'The Glory of God' or in the case of a female questioner, 'Would you care to look for yourself?' … As for what I wear under my kilt, 'I Gird my Loins with the Holy Spirit.'"

Enough already. But what about the inspections? This from Seamus: "The stories you mentioned have some basis in reality, as I have seen a swagger stick equipped with a mirror for just that purpose." I am willing — nay, eager — to believe that said swagger stick was manufactured as a joke. I mean, come on, at least gynecologists do their exams indoors.

And now this closing thought

Dear Cecil:

The real question is, why do Scotsmen wear kilts at all?

Answer: Sheep can hear zippers.

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