Monday, January 23, 2012

Burns Night Dinner Dance: The Outfit

This past weekend we celebrated Burns Night by attending the Robert Burns Dinner Dance & Ceilidh Event. Our party was on the 21st of January, though the actual Burns Night is January 25, the poet's birthday. The dress code said either formal evening wear or Scottish Traditional dress. Of course, Scottish Traditional means a kilt. Our friend (and the event organizer) Colleen encouraged me to rent the whole kilt outfit from one of the local stores.

I considered the options. I own the tuxedo I was married in, so it would be very easy to just wear that. All I'd have to do was iron the tux shirt, everything else was ready. BUT, this might be a once in a life time opportunity to try out wearing a kilt. Most guys I know wouldn't be caught dead, alive, or, most importantly, on film in what looks like a skirt. I realize it's not a skirt and the kilt has a fine and long tradition among unquestionably manly men. What made the final decision for me is my principle to try out new things at least once as long as they are not morally questionable. So I toddled off to the nearby department store to rent a kilt.

The lady at the store was very nice but not very familiar with her new computerized system for ordering formal outfits. She had a hard time getting my account set up and selecting all the different pieces I needed. The outfit includes about a dozen items, several of which needed measurements. The lady measured me with her tape. Jacob was worried I'd get a paper cut from her tape, just like he got a paper cut at Ikea from their tape measure. I was uninjured by the measurements.

The next week, I picked up the outfit. I tried the jacket and kilt to make sure they weren't too small. They seemed fine, so I left the store with the whole outfit, which weighed seemingly fifty or sixty pounds. Luckily we had driven to the store otherwise it would have been a long walk home.

The next day was the dance. As I opened the garment bag and took out all the parts, I realized I had no idea how to dress myself. The lady at the store never mentioned anything. You'd think they'd have some handout or small book or pamphlet to get a guy started.

I couldn't unsheath the Sgain Dubh (little knife)--bummer!

YouTube came through for me. This video shows how to put on a Prince Charlie outfit (the style that I rented). It was very useful for me!

It was almost completely useful, except that I also had a belt. This video, you may have noticed (if you watched the video), mentions nothing about a belt. You'd think a belt would be no problem, but a kilt doesn't have belt loops. YouTube came to the rescue again!

Even with all this help, it took a long time to get ready. Tying the brogues (shoes) was not tricky but was time consuming. The laces go around the calves a few times, though the effect was lost on me since I had black laces on black hose. Also, getting the sporran to hang right took a little effort. I think this was the first time it took me longer to prepare to go out than my wife. She did not give me a hard time about it. I have the best wife ever!

The babysitter came over and took our photo just before we headed out to the dinner dance.

My Scottish look, sans my bride

Oh, and I didn't go as an authentic Scotsman, if you were wondering. More on the dinner and the dancing in the next posts!

The day after the dinner dance, my wife and my son Jacob had this conversation at snack time:

J:  When I'm a grownup I'm going to wear a kilt and go to the Scottish Dinner Dance like Daddy!
M:  That's a great idea!
J:  But I'll go with the person that God knows about.  You know, you said God already knows about the person who'll be the Mommy.
M:  ?
J:  When I'm a Daddy she will be the Mommy.  You said God already knows who she is.
M:  (wipes tear) Yes!  God already knows who you will marry and go to the dinner dance with.
J:  (chomp chomp on graham cracker, unconcerned)


  1. OH, I like it! Very nice indeed!

    (and the conversation was nice too. :-D)

  2. If we start going regularly, it might be worth investing in my own set. I'm definitely going to pick up a book of Burns's poetry.

  3. Joseph, you look tiiiight in that kilt! I bet it was a really fun night. Not sure I'd be brave enough to wear one, but I appreciate you documenting it all here for us. The convo with Jacob is adorable. What a cutie :)

    - Nate