Men in skirts

In Designers, Men on May 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm



There’s a man in the small coastal town where I live who likes to wear mini skirts. He’s not a crossdresser in the Little Britain ‘I’m a lady!’ manner, he’s not a trannie and he’s not a drag queen. He just likes to wear skirts.

He’s got great legs.

When he’s not working his tight jersey minis, his favoured attire is dancer-style leggings, with a singlet and a short jacket. He usually wears a straw hat, quite often with ivy and the like twined around the crown. On his feet it’s ballet shoes or flip flops. He’s got long dark blond hair. And a beard.

One item of clothing he doesn’t care for is the underpant and as, to quote my husband, ‘God was quite generous to him’, you can imagine the display in a pair of white stretchy nylon leggings. The full deli counter. Even in the pale pink mini I saw him in the other day you could clearly make out the contours of his man dangles.

He’s one of several eccentric dressers in this eccentric town. I saw a new one today, to add to my mental collection. He looked like an Impressionist painter from central castings, in white suit-style trousers, full-sleeved shirt, cravat and waistcoat. Splendid beard and moustache, wild woolly hair. No shoes. Just walking around. Doing his groceries. Five bananas please.

There’s another one who wears very short leather lederhosen which display his butt cheeks and if he sees you notice, he turns to ‘display’. He’s a certified pervo and no one’s seen him for a while.

Skirt man isn’t a pervo. Maybe a little bit of an exhibitionist, but I think it’s more about expressing himself. He spends a lot of time walking in the woodland on the edge of the town and is clearly a bit of a Hello Birds, Hello Sky kind of a chap.

What I find surprising is not so much what he wears, as how people react to it.

I was waiting for someone (my mother, who was in with Ronnie, the hairdresser) when he strolled along the main pedestrian thoroughfare in that pink skirt the other day, so I was at my leisure to watch his progress (my phone didn’t work inside the salon).

The reactions followed him down the street like a Mexican Wave, as the people sitting in the pavement cafes looked surprised, amazed, amused, shocked and disgusted.

I find this pretty amazing, because there are so few things left which shock people, but a harmless little hippie dude who likes to be comfortable and show his tanned legs is regarded as a freak.

It will change someday, surely? It’s been so long coming it’s ridiculous and the arguments in favour – women can wear any man’s clothing item/kilts/Ghandi/David Beckham in a sarong/Boy George – are so well rehearsed I can’t even be bothered to go over them again.

Just Google ‘men in skirts’ and up come pages of articles, going back years, about how it is finally going to happen, it really is going to be fine for men to wear manskirts, if they want to.

But still it hasn’t happened and I don’t get why not. Manwoman models were the big story last fashion show season, so it was deemed fabulous for men to model clothes designed for women – but it’s still not OK for men to wear a particular shape of clothing because it’s traditionally considered a girl garment in our culture. Nuts.

A couple of years ago, chainstore H&M even released one as part of their mens’ collection (see main pic). And there were masses of the things on the Milan catwalks in the last round of menswear designer shows. So will it finally happen soon?

Marc Jacobs (above and left) is certainly putting his stylish heft behind the notion and I think he looks great. So does this guy, below, captured by The Sartorialist.

What do you think of men in skirts?

  1. I love a man in a skirt – especially if he has great legs, and many men do, not that you’d know in trousers. A friend of mine wears them to clubs every now and then, to great acclaim and much popularity but then it’s an attractive and confident man, secure in himself.

    The fact that it’s so unacceptable for men to wear skirts (or dresses) illustrates how far we have to go, and how our culture still considers women to be less than men, and so for a man to appropriate our clothing is to somehow demean himself.

    I wish I could come visit your town – we need more people who push the satorial boundaries. I was just talking about this last night: our culture is so affluent and yet most of us wish to dress plainly and shabbily. Such a pity.

  2. As a child I lived in skirts.
    My favourite was a red cottton polkadot knee length with white lace trim. I even burned my hand trying to iron it.
    Of course I didn’t know that boys didn’t wear skirts,and my parents didn’t bring it to my attention so it wasn’t until school that I noticed they were a girl only garment.
    Still, in non school time I lived in them, aswell as dresses and one piece bathing suits.
    I’m not a cross dresser or a drag queen. I don’t have the desire to put on a skirt anymore because it doesn’t make sense to me as a grown man.
    While i am always ready to try a new trend, skirts just look odd on men.
    A sarong I can get behind, but in a dry urban environment I don’t like the silhouette of a man in a skirt. Maybe I’m just in the slow fashion group.
    Sure marc jacobs looks good with the army boots, but I think he’d look better if he was wearing shorts instead of the skirt.
    Its weird because I hate that women get all the options in fashion, but whether its cultural or purely aesthetic a man in a skirt just seems wrong, unless its the whole drag deal.
    I am speaking from a fashion viewpoint, when it comes to the right for an individual to wear whatever he pleases I will fight for that right. I just won’t be doing it in a skirt.
    I was at big w the other day with my mother and found a kids dress. It was a black tshirt dress with minnie mouse on the chest and a black and white polka dot skort with pink ra ra frills.
    I was in love, and reminded my mother how I wouldve begged her for that dress had I been 5 yrs had everything spots frills and minnie mouse.the boys clothes are never that much fun.
    skirts for men could be like some prada shoes, I think they’re ugly at first, but then a year later am searching for a pair on ebay…

  3. I can’t see it catching on in Australia. It’s great for some of our Pacific and Asian neighbours (and sensible, given their climate) but in this country it would be a very, very brave man who headed out into town like the guy from the Sartorialist’s site.

  4. LOVE men in kilts. Wish my husband would wear a kilt. He has fabulous legs (prop forward at school, natch).

  5. Funny that a man in a kilt makes me swoon (husband married me in one) and yet the idea of a man skirt leaves me cold!

  6. I agree with Trish, can’t see it catching on here in Oz. Even the most confident of hetero blokes down here wouldn’t even be caught dead with a manbag, let alone be seen in a skirt. My husband (who also has great legs, much better than mine) won’t even use the gorgeous Bally satchel I bought him, preferring instead to lug around in every pocket available approx. 5 tonnes of man stuff, namely phones, keys, wallet, loose change, bits of paper etc etc. All of which ends up on the kitchen bench every evening and is DRIVING ME MAD. Sorry, off topic there. Kilts yes (and only if in a marching band and you’re the guy with the bagpipes), skirt no.

  7. I lived in skirts when i was a kid.
    My favourite one was red cotton polka dot with white lace frill. I even burned my hand trying to iron it. It wasnt until i went to school that i realised skirts were a girl only garment. notheless i still wore them in my own free time, along with shoelace headbands and one piece bathing suits.
    I’m not a drag queen or a cross dresser, and as a grown man i have no desire to wear a skirt anymore. If i grew up in a society where men wore skirts im sure i would still be wearing them. i’m not a macho type by any means and even though i would wear a skirt if felt like it, ijust dont want to. to. Not anymore. I don’t know if this is social conditioning, or if i just got it out of my system as a kid but mostly i don’t like the silhouette of a man in a skirt. Sarongs i like, but on dry urban environment a skirt on a man doesnt do anything for me. Even though marc jacobs looks great with his combat boots i cant help but think he’d look better in shorts, if he must show off his legs that is.
    i was in big w the other day with my mother and i found a dress in the girls section. i fell in love. it was a tshirt dress with minnie mouse on the front and it had a polka dot skirt with pink ra ra frills. i reminded my mother that is i was 5 and saw this dress i wouldn’t have let her leave without it. boys just never had anything that fun.

    • I know several little boys who are now as you were – and like you, v v v v lucky to have cool parent who don’t BEAT them for it. You are the son I never had, as you have always known xxx

      • awww soo sweet, that made my day 🙂 and yes my parents are great im very lucky 🙂 ps sorry for the double post before

  8. Loved this post – the visuals are just wonderful! My dad is eighty and will use any excuse to hop into his kilt! I’ve seen some men wearing sarongs in Sydney, but only along a select number of the Eastern Suburbs beaches. But there’s no way my husband would wear a skirt, that’s just too metro for him.

  9. Don’t care if men wear skirts or not. Far more interested in seeing if your run of the mill, garden variety type of bloke would wear high heels on a regular basis. I suspect not.
    Also, that is a very nice ass. Thank you for posting.

  10. “The full deli counter” … “man dangles” … oh Maggie, I can’t wait to stop crying tears of hysterical laughter so I can finish reading the rest of this post! I really enjoy your writing and am so glad you’ve got this fabulous blog. Thanks!

  11. I have always loved men in skirts. Nothing sexier in summer than seeing boys in sarongs swanning up to the bar. That is probably why I love gladiator movies, all those macho chaps sporing leather skirts!

  12. I love a man in a skirt, especially on a club dancefloor.

    I now wonder what you think about men in leggings? Not sporting leggings of the jogging accessory type, but daywear leggings. I heard them disparaged on the radio here the other day and I thought that was a bit of a shame, as men have the right to be comfortable in lovely stretchy fabrics as much as women. Especially when worn under skirts!

    • On the right man – worn with confidence – I think they look fantastic. They’re athletic attire, what’s the problem?

      I do believe all these antiquated ‘rules’ are going to change over the next 10 years or so. Multiculturalism will be a big part of it – young Pakistani girls wearing trousers (for religious reasons) under skirts to school kicked off the whole trend for jeans, then trousers under dresses, to the point where leggings under dresses is now a completely normal outfit. I remember how weird those girls looked when I first started seeing them in the 1970s!

      This is a classic example of clothing reflectings fundamental changes in society. I love all that. x

  13. What is a kilt, if not a skirt? I remember in the 80’s often seeing a tall, dark haired guy wearing a kilt around Sydney. He wore it well and looked fabulous. Does anyone else remember him? I must admit, the idea of a stretch lycra skirt on a bloke doesn’t appeal. But a nice, heavy, masculine piece of cloth. Why not I say?

    • 100% with you. There were guys at my Scottish uni who wore the kilt daily, it was what they had always worn and they were so comfortable in it they looked super cool.

  14. My kids and I loved this post, Maggie (“look, Mummy, Maggie has a photo of Daddy’s bottom!”)

    Told my husband (who is found of a sarong) about this post, and it inspired him to do his run in running tights without shorts over the top. Don’t think he’ll ever do the skirt or dress thing though.

    Nice legs are nice legs and most belong to men.

  15. I think that it’s bit like the Madonna song, “What it feels like for a girl”:

    “Girls can wear jeans
    And cut their hair short
    Wear shirts and boots
    ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
    But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
    ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
    But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like
    Wouldn’t you
    What it feels like for a girl”

    So i think that boys doing things typically feminine is seen as weak, and a demotion. But not vice versa for girls?

    I wouldn’t wear a skirt to work , but if I did it would be one of these..

    Practical AND cool in Summer!

    • I posted this once and then lost it – so apologies if you get it twice. You are totally ON it here. That is exactly it. Also why I have mixed feelings about drag which I love, but confuses me too. Those Utility Kilts are genius. Great over leggings with chunky boots. xxx

  16. PS if I looked like Andrej Pejic however, I would just wear anything I liked..! Sigh..

  17. Oh I love this!! Great blog and great pics!
    My son is 19 and he and his friends have been known to raid my wardrobe and don a skirt or two. Plus tights. And go out like that (admittedly to the shops, not further). But here’s the thing: they look good….
    I wish it would catch on, I really do.
    And if there was ever a reason to move to Scotland – this has to be it!!

    • Thanks so much for kind words xxx I’d like to see your son and pals like that – was it for a dragged up laugh, or a style thing? I’m intrigued.

      • Well, it was in all truthfulness, actually a bit of a laddish lark to start with (c’mon, I dare us all to go out like this…!), but when I saw them swapping admiring comments (“Yeah, you’ve got the legs for that skirt….”I know, I know!”), I think the dye was cast…They all swap clothes like girls too! Which I find rather endearing (even if my washload expands exponentially…..

        I will do my utmost to drag (pardon the pun) up a piccie or two!

      • I think they sound WONDERFUL. Oh lucky generation of girls to have blokes that to go out with…

  18. Yesterday I was looking at a pic of Kate Moss and her brother Nick both modelling kilts (for Burberry I think), Nick looked amazing! BTW the book is Mario Testino’s tribute to Kate (all his fave pictures of hers he’s taken over the years), worth a look peeps!

    As an aside, I was holidaying on the NSW southern coast a few years back, one of my gay friends was wearing a sarong (we were at the beach so quite appropriate), he was getting a few admiring looks from the young women, all very amusing!

  19. I love a man in a skirt too (reminds me of punks in kilts and bondage pants perhaps…?). Sadly, though, I can’t see it ever going mainstream.

    Men in leggings though, just leggings? No thank you. Sorry.

  20. I have no problem with men in skirts, as long as they are masculine.

    Just as a woman’s suit needs different tailoring, I would prefer to see men in garments designed for them. I think this is why people have said they like kilts, they may be “skirts” but they are manly. A woman’s kilt is actually quite different, to allow for hips and waists that most men don’t have, so why should men have to fit into things designed for women?

    I don’t think people should be restricted, however I think it would be sad if we all dressed in the same harmoginsed way – on a heading towards a Star Trek unitard. Let’s keep some identity for the sexes and dress for the different bits god gave us!

  21. Interesting too that to get away with the skirt thing a man needs to be hyper masculine, Scottish, bearded, swearing and potentially violent.

    And the kilts are black and strong colored.

    Someone soft, gentle and wearing Laura Ashley prints would just not cut it, no?

  22. Maggie, Its a matter of a) confidence and b) tolerance. As you noted, many people are disgusted by a man in a skirt, yet accept the fact that some men wear kilts and don’t question the fact that Fijian police waer a kind of Fred Flintstone tunics, not to mention innumerable Indians, Africans and Arabs that go without pants. So tolerance is a long way from being consistent. It will also take men not used to wearing a ‘skirt’ of any description to feel confident. Our meadieval peasant forefathers may have worn a rustic tunic, but it has been pants for a long time. I saw a young lad wearing ‘denim meggings’ and yes he was confident. I have worn a kilt on a few occasions, but always for a scottish event, so it was a case of when in Rome, etc. I don’t find them particularly comfortable, especially in cold weather and would not chosse to wear them regularly.

  23. Many comments are rather hesitant about the idea. At times I do wear a skirt and I must say that the comfort is a positive aspect, especially when doing long distance driving (700 miles on a day or so). Furthermore it has been mentioned also by urologists that wide clothing that doesn’t contrain the groin area is better for both genders.

    Looking back in history, skirts were only introduced for women in the 19th century, men wore skirts till the end of the 19th century in rural areas. The concept of not wearing garments of the other gender is based on church law which became a part of psychiatric believes early 20th century when women wearing trousers were considered mentally ill. Reason for including the aspect of not wearing clothes of the other gender in penal (church) law around the year zero was to be able to punish men who were offering services as if they were women.

    • Gee, aren’t you glad we weren’t alive then? V good point about getting some air around the privates… Tight jeans are a nightmare for both sexes, I think!

  24. Good thread and an interesting read, Thanks. I have a small website trying to convince the western male to try a skirt, In the widest sense of the word, kilts are included as they skirt the body. They are very comfortable, certainly for driving as mentioned. I also happen to think that if you get a guy to try one, he would be hooked.
    I wear Sarongs more than skirts as they seem to be more acceptable, but the strange thing is. when I wear a denim skirt, ( knee length,) people don’t seem to notice at first, then after a while you see the “double take” once they realise your in a skirt.!
    However, I imagine a short pink skirt without underwear would certainly turn heads !
    Thanks for a good read, I would like to quote you and link to this thread with your permission.

    • Thanks so much for posting – keep up the good work. I think it can be an excellent look. Feel free to quote me, as long as you put the link in, I will be delighted. Can you send me the link when it’s up? x

  25. Scares me how good they look! Those legs!

  26. Hi Maggie,

    Great article, while it is taking time we are seeing the trend grow and take hold. I am a male and wear skirts always at home and sometimes in public. the truth is that men CAN look masculine in skirted garments, designed and made manly for men and that its time that men have the same freedom and equality in fashion as women! If women can wear pants and shorts, that were originally men’s garments, in a feminine way, then a man can wear a skirted garment in a masculine way.

    People forget that it was only 60 years ago that it was unacceptable and improper for a women to wear a pair of pants, now not only do they wear pants (more often than skirts) but they have adopted every aspect of men’s clothing and it is seen as completely acceptable. Yet, attitudes towards men’s fashion have become even more restrictive and sexist. Whereas, the same negative comments people make about men in skirts are the same comments that people made about women in pants. Today, it would be seen as sexist and unacceptable for a person to say to a woman that she cannot wear pants, yet many pant wearing women are the first to say No to men wearing skirts in a masculine way.

    There is a double standard in fashion today. Men are restricted to the same boring bifurcated garment and told they have no option, yet women’s have absolute freedom to wear what they please. The most comfortable garment for a man to wear is an unbifurcated/skirted garment, to be told we must always and only wear pants and shorts is what we call trouser tyranny. Certainly women would not let anyone tell them they can never wear pants, so why can we not have the same equality for men, is this not sexist towards men? Outside of the west, the skirt is worn by men in most cultures, 50% of the men in the world wear skirts and they are seen a masculine, why not in the west?

    Its is time that men are free from prejudices in fashion, a man in a skirt is no more a gay than a woman in pants is a lesbian, he is no more a crossdresser in a skirt than a woman is a crossdresser in pants. You see it is not about crossdressing (by the way a women today would find it almost impossible to crossdress) it is not about feminising men, nor blurring gender lines. It is about men being masculine in a skirted garment, made and designed for men, so that men can have the same options as women to be comfortable. No one looks at a woman today and thinks that she looks like a man as it has become acceptable, but there was a time not so long ago that they did think this of women. So the question remains, why do we think that a man cannot look masculine in a skirt (just like they do in a kilt). We have abolished the rule that women cannot wear pants, so why have we not abolished the rule that men cannot wear skirts (as men)? What separate men’s clothing and women’s clothing should not be function, rather simply style!

    Gold Coast

    • The one problem with what you are saying here is that you are only advocating “masculine” skirts. Like a kilt or a utilikilt. Have you actually priced any of these? An average cost of 150.00+ for one garment. Even the skirts made for men that come from europe run to over 200.00 USD. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford that kind of thing. Meanwhile, the average womens skirt runs around 20.00 – 60.00 new. Why should a man have to continue to be restricted to “Made For Men” garments when women can wear mens clothes with no problem? Saying that it has to be a masculine skirt is still restricting. Still no freedom here. Think about it.

      • Good point, well made – it’s so unfair how much more expensive men’s cloths are generally.

      • Well said. While I agree that a particular style of clothing “made for men” costs so much more than for women, I don’t agree that the men’s skirt should be the only option for us guys. The utilikilt, the common kilt, and the very few other men’s skirt designs are not the style that I personally like or would want to wear. I want the same options as the women have in way of colour, style, lengths, and fabrics. Just like women have the exact same choices as a man, for example, they can get the same t-shirt in the same colour, pattern, fabric, but the only difference is the cut to fit the woman’s shape. Men need the same choices in skirts and dresses but cut to fit the make physique. A skirt that isn’t a tight fitted garment has no particular cut to it to shape any physique so therefore it should be a unisex garment anyway.

  27. What a great article to come across. I landed here by chance on a google search. I am a late 20’s male in Sydney and love the idea of men in skirts. As much as i love seeing women in skirts, i do think men should have the same fashion freedom with their choices. I would be a daily skirt wearer if i had the confidence and not be worried about the stupid remarks that i would get. I am a decent looking fella and in good shape. I have gone out on my regular daily duties in tights/pantyhose under my shorts because i do like the look and feel of wearing tights. Although i felt comfortable, i would still be ridiculed and hear snickering and laughter from people i pass. I find it absurd to receive this sort of attention when i am not looking for it. I am left to wearing tights and skirts in the confines of my own place. I think it could help if i were to have an understanding and open minded girlfriend that wouldn’t be embarrassed to be out in public with me wearing whatever makes me feel comfortable. Those girls are very hard to come by. I guess i will have to keep waiting for the day where it becomes mainstream.

    • I absolutely HATE wearing tights! They make my legs feel like they are in prison! I love skirts for the freedom, so interesting that you like the feel of the combo. I think it will all get free-er. They were some young men – early 20s – on X Factor in UK last night, in full make up, Not drag queen, or David Bowie, just enhancing make up that they like wearing. In 20 years time I think it will be fine to wear whatever you like, whatever your gender. x

  28. You say that there are so few things left which shock people, but I think this is mistaken. I think this whole idea that our modern society has been desensitized towards all sorts of horrible things is mistaken. All things different from a norm, no matter the time or the culture, will be shocking to the majority. What seems like fewer things to be shocked at is simply the fact that what used to be strange has become it’s own norm (goth/punk fashion, sexualized and/or violent media). However, there will always be people who will be easily shocked by anything little thing outside their own norm and others will never be shocked by anything. Even if men gain widespread acceptance for skirt wearing and other such feminine things, there will be those who oppose it for many decades to come. Now that’s not to say I oppose men wearing skirts and such. I, in fact, support all things which aim to grant equal rights.

  29. Don’t be shy just go and do it I have for the last 5 years and do not regret it it is so comfortable. I just keep it simple a knee length cotton or denim skirt no frills or lace. I have about 20 skirts

  30. You’re a brave man Terry. I only wish I had the balls to do the same. I also would not do frills and lace because I personally think it starts to become a fine line between what would be deemed feminine or not. What area are you from and your age if you don’t mind me asking.

    • Thanks David. I never thought of it like that [being brave] I just feel so comfortable when you wear a skirt that there is no argument. Im from Wollongong I run a take away food business Im 53 years young. Have a good day David a enjoy whatever you do.

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