think about it
Your cart is empty
Visit The Shop

men in skirts: can you dig it?

Image: Oddman47 via Wikimedia Commons

Image: Oddman47 via Wikimedia Commons

Since the end of the Victorian era, men’s fashion has been pretty darn boring.  The 20th century saw men coupling their upper-body wear with almost exclusively pants, shorts or other bifurcated items of lower-body wear, and that’s been it.  Not a skirt in sight unless we count Scottish kilts, which, outside of Scotland, feature only at weddings and other such formal occasions, anyway.  Maybe it was the industrial revolution forcing people into factories where overalls and other pant-based garments proved safest, or maybe it’s that societal values such as modesty and sobriety started taking precedence over Romantic era frivolity and pomp. Whatever the reason, most 20th and early 21st century men’s fashion was dull, drab and predictable.  My question is, why?

Sure, there have been a few attempts to diversify the scene over the years – the unisex fashion movement of the ’60s saw women don pants; men wore floral shirts in the ’70s; and designer Jean Paul Gaultier has made numerous attempts to bring back male skirts in the past thirty-odd years (starting from his Spring ’84 ‘Et Dieu Créa l’Homme’ (‘And God Created Man’) collection) – but on the whole, nothing has really changed.  Is it a question of gender normativity, lazy designers, or closed minds unwilling to accept new ideas?

Inevitably, how we dress and what we wear affects how we feel – as they say, clothes make the man (or the woman).  But is something like a man wearing a skirt really so radical?  After all, women have been wearing pants for decades, and though it took some time for it to become wholly socially accepted, jeans and trousers are now so much part of the average Western woman’s wardrobe that to imagine life without them would be difficult.  The situation with men seems to be much more rigid.

Today, it almost seems that it’s not the men who wear the clothes; it’s the clothes that wear the men.  Men are confined to pants and shorts, and if they branch out into skirts, dresses or even a very colourful vest, questions of homosexuality, transvestism or questionable manhood often arise.  And while these reactions may seem unreasonable to forward-thinking Lip readers, the issue is not so simple.

Imagine, as Charlie Porter did in an article for The Guardian in 2002 , a man dressed in an above-the-knee skirt going to your local shops to get a carton of milk.  Everything else is the same as it would otherwise be – he’s wearing a shirt and tie, or else a jumper and some trainers – but instead of pants or shorts, he’s wearing a skirt.  As Charlie Porter put it, ‘[h]owever radical you think yourself, whatever open-minded stances you take on sexuality and nonconformism, you would more than likely laugh at him or, worse, feel ashamed.’

Personally, I don’t think that I would react that way – in fact, I have seen men in skirts before, and it was no big thing.  Maybe my mind has been opened to the idea by designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and fashion blogs like The Sartorialist, or maybe I just don’t care how others dress, but it was totally fine.  I would hope that people wouldn’t be so closed-minded as to feel shame for someone else for their choice of clothing, but, as we’ve seen, people are wont to shame others for their choices, even where these choices don’t affect those judging in the least – homophobia, anyone?  Nevertheless, the issue remains – is the world ready for men in skirts again?

One possible test for whether the world is ready is whether heterosexual women would be happy with their boyfriends/partners/husbands wearing skirts in public.  Personally, I don’t know how I would feel about it.  Sure, I think that men’s fashion is boring – that it could do with some variation – and sure, I’m fine when men I don’t know wear skirts around me, but to be in a sexual relationship with a skirt-wearer?  I don’t know if I’m there yet.  He’d have to be extremely masculine in every other sense (whatever ‘extremely masculine’ means).  And even then…

What do you think?  Are we ready for men’s skirts again?  Could you date a skirt-wearer?  And what about accessories and footwear – could you go out with a man who wears necklaces, handbags or heels?

125 thoughts on “men in skirts: can you dig it?

  1. The idea that men can’t (as opposed to simply don’t) wear skirts is a cultural one, not one based on physiology or any kind of natural law. Men don’t generally wear skirts because we set up our (meaning Western, in my case) culture that way. I’ve worn skirts at home and would love to wear one in public if I could get away with it, but no one wants to be the first. And unlike the first women to wear trousers in public regularly, the first men to wear skirts in public regularly (other than maybe utilikilts, which are deliberately made to exaggerate their masculinity) won’t be regarded as trying to “step up to pants”, but accepting some kind of “demotion” to femininity, which is a sexist idea in the first place. I can see myself wearing a basic cargo skirt or denim or khaki skirt in public and not being noticed that much, but I don’t think you’ll ever see me (or many other men) wearing something like a ruffled miniskirt in public–those might be comfortable, but they’re designed to show off a woman’s legs, hips and derriere. Any “design language” for mainstream men’s skirts will have to take into account that most men will be trying to get comfortable, not pass as women – for one thing, most of us will want pockets, because we won’t want to carry purses. Men who want to cross-dress (which doesn’t bother me personally; do what you enjoy doing) have as many options for skirts already as they can fit into. ;)

    • Thanks Chuck the words you used expresses exactly how feel about the subject. I would love to be comfortable wearing a skirt but that would seem out of place. I’ve seen men wear dresses but more as a cross dresser than a guy wearing a dress. I’d more into skirts anyway not a full body dress. So again I thank you for those words of encouragement.

  2. Hi all, have been wearing my skirts around my own home for the last week. Certainly a lot more comfortable than trousers. Designs, fabrics, lengths also so much better. Guys give it a try. I was a bit ackward in wearing a skirt in vront of my girlfriend to start but now dont give it a second thought. All men should try it if they wish. Skirts were for men before they were pinched by women. ))

    • I agree. I wear 6″ stiletto heels, gold anklet, taupe pantyhose, silk thong, white transparent blouse, black bra with a black open vest. I go out in public often and it is a great feeling. I get positive looks from both women and men. What a thrill.

  3. I am a older guy happily married and wear skirts a lot , we go shopping and all around town . I normally wear denim skirts about 3 to 4 inches above the knee and regular dress shirt or Hawaiian type and never have any problems not even negative comments . I even get a few positive comments from the lady’s . My advice guys is to try it don’t go crazy Bright colors just normal Jean or black and just walk normal but of course keep your legs together lol .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>