Escaping the tyranny of trousers
It is, at first appearance, the most improbable of garments--something like a carpenter's tool belt, made of heavy canvas, dropped to the knee, and pleated all around. But the Seattle-made utilikilt, a rugged, everyday riff on traditional Scottish garb, has leapt from idea to over 10,000 sold in just three years, via the Web (utilikilts.com) and word of mouth alone. The original runs $115 (extra if you require the "beer gut cut"), but many men prefer the $175 Workman's model, with adjustable hammer loop, saddlebag tool pockets, and, for the prudent roofer, a "modesty snap" between the knees.
A recent gathering of Washington, D.C., utilikiltarians included a tattoo artist, a tour guide, a computer jock, and an armored-car guard. Bill Johnson, an imposing firearms instructor and former marine, summed up the appeal nicely. "I like it, it's comfortable, and I look damn good in it." -Thomas Hayden
This story appears in the May 5, 2003 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.