THE First Minister created a stooshie this week when he turned up in Tinseltown, and not just because he appeared to get Washington and New York mixed up when he chatted on Craig Ferguson's chat show.
No, Alex Salmond arrived at the LA premiere of Pixar's new Scottish movie Brave (the story of a little girl who appears to be the love child of Rebekah Brooks and Oor Wullie's da) wearing trews, as pictured below. It left the nation wondering: "Brave move, Alex. Or downright daft?"
Even former First Minister Jack McConnell criticised Mr Salmond's attire, a man clearly missing the self-awareness gene given he once wore a camp skip-the-gaily skirt and Soapy Souter socks at Tartan Week in New York.
But the question is why did Mr Salmond, a man of some considerable girth, risk creating international mirth by wearing trews? It's a puzzle to ponder over one's porridge oats this weekend.
Yes, you can appreciate the First Minister's preference for wearing tartan while in Hollywood; the Pixar film fantasy can sell Scotland in a way reality never could. And Mr S has to be seen to be more Scottish than a collector's box set of Moira Anderson LPs. And perhaps he felt had he worn the kilt his less-than-slender figure may have made him a figure of fun, the unkindest perhaps hinting he'd looked like a Maris Piper supported by little checked-pattern legs.
But trews? In California? For one thing, they're cold weather trousers, dating back to 1538 and worn during the Highland winter. Not appropriate for hot smog weather. Yes, from the early 17th century onward, they were part of the Highland wardrobe for chieftains and gentlemen worn whilst on horseback, but the First Minister arrived by stretch limousine.
And from August 1746, these narrow-legged pants were thought to be pants by Highlanders, who wore them under duress following the ban on their native Highland kilted dress.
In more modern times, look what trews have become; they've metamorphosed into tartan plus-fours, worn by golfers of all people. They extend just four inches below the knee and are often worn with Argyle knee-socks.
Enough said? No? Well, trews/plus-fours were popularised in the US by the Prince of Wales during a 1924 visit but in more modern times uncompromising toff and self-proclaimed odd-ball Sir Nicholas Fairbairn wore them like a second skin. He also wore buckled shoes and his belt over his jumper. Proof enough?
Yes, trews were worn in a post-modern ironic sense by the Sex Pistols, but is this the image the First Minister wants to evoke?
And sure, nice Simon Callow wore trews in Four Weddings, in a whimsical way during a Highland party scene. But his foolish character danced right into a heart attack. Proof enough?
Now trews may one day become fashionable if Pippa Middleton ever appears in a pair. But Mr Salmond's trews true adventure hasn't really helped the cause. Perhaps best wear a tartan tie next time and leave it at that.
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