Fashion’s Icon Origin

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The year is 537 BC (Before Celtic). Frolicking in a thick thistle field, Angus McDougall shrieks with such gusto that his cry is heard in a neighbouring valley by his good friend Lachie Tartain. A few hours later (although the definition of “hour” was not actually known at that stage in time), a hairy bare bottomed Lachie quickly dashes to his friend to identify the origin of his voluminous outburst of consternation.

He quickly finds his friend sitting cross-legged in a grassy field with deep scratch marks that not even Angus’s copious hairy legs could conceal. To his great alarm, Angus was still fuming in a Celtic expletive dialect that was quickly expanding even Lachie’s quite broad vocabulary. “Enough is Enough” Angus shouts, pointing to his thistle beaten legs, with his hands strategically pointing higher up his body with a manly concern regarding his long term procreative dignity. “Give me a flint, let’s burn the whole of this thistle infested terrain down for the sake of future Celtic generations!”

Just as the flint was about to ignite a massive bonfire positioned centrally in the obstreperous thistle field, a thoughtful representative from the formidable King’s Guard just happened to be passing by and loudly proclaimed the “26th Law of the Celtic land” that prohibited any incineration that might affect Scotland’s natural heritage. “Stop in the name of the King you hair embellished man!” to which Angus immediately ceased his destructive thistle life endangering combustible plan.

Angus quickly rebutted with yet another rich array of complex Celtic expletives and pointed emphatically at his red, bleeding legs. A real Celtic “barnie” was about to eventuate, but thankfully Lachie quickly interjected before any dangerous use of the large, sharp thistle held in Angus’s hand could be thrust in a very forceful manner into the annoying King’s Guard’s body.

Fortunately, Lachie had a curt cunning plan that would provide the perfect solution. He pulled the monochromatic saddle cloth off the horse of the King’s Guard and quickly wrapped it around Angus’s legs. With a look of dismay, Angus used the cloth to wipe the red blood, and the green and yellow thistle smears from his body, and then threw it vehemently back in the direction of the King’s Guard. The cloth landed flat and unfurled on the rough Celtic landscape. All three men looked in wonder at the criss-crossed coloured patterns that Angus had created.

Yes, my dear readers, this was the origins of the Celtic tartan. In what was typical Lachie Tartain fashion, he claimed the idea as his own, but through the passage of time, the Tartain eventually became the well-loved “tartan” (with the dropping of the “i”) that all Celts now claim as their own. Yes, it is indeed a “true” story, or so I’m told.

NB: But the “i” was never forgotten. If you listen to a Scotsman or Scotswoman today, the word “aye” (aka the “i” from the Tartain) still lingers which accurately personifies a true Celt, complete with his or her own tartan.

That Bushy Benefit

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At the age of 61, Dame Chloe Smythe DCVO, MP decided it was finally time to retire. She was an acclaimed Scottish politician with a unique personal attribute that was very rare these days in public office, that being, everyone seemed to genuinely like her, and still even more unusual, they actually respected her.

As a lifelong friend of Dame Chloe, I had the privilege and honour of interviewing her in her private Westminster office on her last day as a British politician. She was dressed impeccably in her signature body hugging tartan trousers, complete with white satin long sleeved shirt, as she invited me to sit down in one of her well-worn leather chairs and promptly poured me a large glass of Edradour whisky (neat, no ice, as was her custom).

After some polite warming banter, my friend signalled with the customary tweak of the top undone button on her shirt that she was ready for the interview to commence, to which I took my cue.

“Dame Chloe, the readers of The Times newspaper want to know the core essence of why you are so popular with your political colleagues on both sides of the fence? You appear to have only supporters, no enemies? What is your secret?”

After many hours of polite and honest conversation that enabled the full contents of the bottle of Edradour to be consumed, I was educated on the true source of her niceness. However, the origin was most unexpected. I thought it might have been due to her ever-pleasing manner, her dark blue seductive eyes that neither man, nor woman could resist, but no, it was none of these. So what was it you may ask?

The answer was in her eyebrows. Yes, her eyebrows.

Dame Chloe was a ladies lady. She was not one to trim, nor style the hairs above her eyes; they were allowed to propagate with a growth freedom not normally reserved for a woman. Dame Chloe was also very quick to condemn men for the grooming edict that swayed them to similarly trim their eyebrows.

According to a slightly known study done at Glasgow University in 1923, a soon to be famous Research Psychologist named Dougal Edradour, discovered that eyebrow hairs have an inherent sensory ability that can “read” people’s emotions. However, this capability only works when the other person is in close proximity, and only when the emotion reader’s eyebrows are in a natural, uncorrupted hairy condition. Chloe and Dougal were close whisky drinking colleagues in their student days, hence the connection.

Dame Chloe’s prowess was in being able to utilise her eyebrows to read how her political opponents were feeling, and then to modify her behaviour accordingly. It was no wonder she was so well liked! But, this was no easy feat, particularly as she needed to be in a close eyebrow receptivity distance, to which she used her charms accordingly to masterly effect.

So dear readers of The Times newspaper, the answer is simple. Should you want to improve your empathetic ability with your family and work colleagues, just leave your eyebrows alone, let them flourish to their natural, thick bushiness ability.

 

It’s the Stalk

A French Guy Really Wearing a Beret

Over the centuries there has been one grand piece of clothing that has been worn by many a mighty warrior that immediately symbolises unity of nationality, pride and belonging. These illustrious fighting men and women, be they French, Spanish, or Scottish, all wore this famous and readily identifiable hat called the beret in various styles, colours and forms.

Today, it is still worn as a statement of artistic intellect, or by those who want to make a statement of fashion, or simply by those people who just know better than others. I, for one, happily wear my beret and relish the admiring glances of those around me who are obviously most envious of my beret ownership good fortune.

There is something unique about wearing a beret, which needs to be done with a slight skew placement upon your head, so as to achieve the correct appearance. But once done, there is a “feeling” that permeates your thinking. Those who have had this beret wearing experience will immediately relate to this comment.

As a “thought academic”, following “years” of extensive research, I believe I have now formed a beret hypothesis on the origins of this “feeling”.

The “research” suggests that this “feeling” is concentrated when many wearers are in close proximity. This could explain why those warriors of yesteryear were such a formidable force when they all wore their berets together in military formation? With the advent of the more safe and bulletproof soldier headgear, the frequency of beret use understandably diminished, as such, so did the “feeling”. It is also interesting to note, that the French, Spanish and Scottish armed forces are no longer as feared to the same extent as they used to be, surely this is “no coincidence”?

Now let’s move to another area of the “feeling” research. Those in the artistic fields, for example the French Impressionists, or Film Directors, all have reported an additional influx of creativity when wearing their berets. Yes, it’s all in the “research”.

But there was a most surprising and curious theory identified that the “research” almost overlooked. Apparently the origin of this “feeling” is due to the small stub in the top centre of the beret called the “stalk”. It just so happens that this stalk acts like a thought transmitter between beret wearers. The longer the stalk, the greater the range of the thought transfers! A truly phenomenal discovery!

Now should you be an innovative thinker, you will immediately recognise the practical application with this “stalk” discovery for the corporate office. Yes, the answer is simple; all employees should be encouraged to wear a beret, particularly those with long stalks. Once worn, I’m sure that your organisation’s ability to develop new and novel business ideas will increase exponentially. There will also be a supplementary benefit, that being, all your employees will look brilliant!

It’s That Fabric

Tartan Dress

The year is 649 BC. Snuggled in front of the large open fire sits a cross-legged, middle-aged Celtic man with a scruffy reddish beard. He has just received his invitation to the official lamb annual sacrifice and he is all in a quandary as to what to wear for such a significant occasion. He looks rather forlornly at his tatty worn breaches and looks deep into the glowing wood embers for some fashion inspiration whilst quietly sipping on a wee dram of a noxious fermented barley brew. After a few hours, his throat is scourged of all feeling, his beard is nearing the stage of spontaneous combustion and his eyes are wishing they were positioned in the back of his head so as to avoid the fierce radiant heat. But with a surprising, and somewhat unexpected experience, a creative and unplanned thought begins to permeate and develop.

The year is 689 AD. A fierce battle is being fought in the land of Killiecrankie. Leading the charge is a gallant man called McDonnell. He, and his band of impressive warriors, are bamboozling the enemy with a distinctive coloured uniform that flaps loudly with repetition in the cold Scottish highland wind against their large hairy thighs as they confront their foes with swords extended.

The year is 2015 AD. A young woman walks along the platform of a London underground tube station wearing a patterned red dress that turns many a head yielding a look of awe and bashful uncertainty. The pattern is traditional, complements her lipstick, and is minimal in fabric volume and body coverage. However, the wearer is not perturbed, as it has achieved the required visual objective of individual differentiation.

Yes, there is only one fabric that can achieve all of the above unique personal requirements, and more! This fabric is a creative combination of different colours, lines and squares that the observer could only assume was initially a creative mistake. Yet, it was not made in error. No, it is a handiwork of true fashion innovation and one that has travelled successfully throughout the ages and will continue well into the future.

It is known by the name of “tartan” and it is immediately recognisable by populations and cultures across the globe. It identifies the wearer with a persona of difference, and one that is prepared to cross the boundaries of tradition, particularly in this day of corporate fashion conservatism.

So, next time you are trying to instil and propagate a culture of innovation in your corporate organization, the choice is simple. Wear a tartan item of clothing, and you will be noticed and definitely not forgotten!

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