Long, short, tunic, habit, chiton or toga, the male skirt has been the favorite garment of people, civilizations, tribes, kings, and warriors. It has ruled in temples, courts, agora, and battlefields. But, in 1789, to the cry of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”, trousers have become the flag of revolutionaries and skirt was put in the pillory.
In the modern West, wearing a skirt is still inconvenient for men because it is a garment associated with the female world and it is a symbol of lack of masculinity. But it is amazing how the points of view change when we look from another perspective.
Think about the kilt. Prince Charles, Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor o Gerlad Butler with the kilt and knee socks look like “William Wallace”, they are daredevils and dark and with patriotic pride, they say: “It’s a kilt, not a skirt”.
Also, the Tartan Skirt, the traditional symbol of Highlands, it is not very different from a piece of cloth rolled around the waist. However, if we think about Maasai wrapped in their gaudy colored drapes (Shuka) and dressed up with bead jewelry and iron wires, the first thing that will come to our mind, won’t be a tribe of female men in skirts, but a tribe of warriors, hunters, and skilled fighters.
For the utopian hippies, instead, the skirt embodied the image of a future society without gender diversity; for punks, in their rebelliousness, it was a symbol of contempt for the patterns and models imposed by the society; David Bowie, as an incarnation of the excessive glam rock, showing off white fur, glitter, feathers, rafts, and skirts, denied clothing as an expression of personality.
In 1984 people shouted to the scandal when the irreverent Jean-Paul Gautier debuted with his first men’s collection “objectification of men”, questioning the clichés of clothing and dressing a rough and macho man with skirts, scoop-neck sweaters and sailor’s t-shirts with uncovered back.
But on second thought it is fashion. As well as if Joaquín Cortés dances in a skirt is art, and if Billy Porter shows up at the Oscars with a wide black skirt is show biz. If the male uniform of the Starfleet of Star Trek is a mini dress, the Skant then is science fiction.
Summing up, in today’s society, the acceptance of a man with a skirt (or his refusal) is essentially related to the historical, cultural, environmental, religious, ethical and creative factors. Its decontextualization leads to hilarity, discomfort or distrust. If we ask a man to wear a skirt, he “will be struck to the idea to appear effeminate” as the journalist Arwa Mahdawi wrote in “The Guardian”.
In a West that has consecrated the skirt as an icon of femininity, for the male culture the time to welcome it in its wardrobe has not yet arrived.
A day, maybe, the idealistic hope of David Hall of “give men more freedom without meaningless extravagance, but without dull conformism” will be realized.
On the other hand, when Elizabeth Smith Miller, the first woman who has worn trousers in 1851, showed up in public with Turkish wide trousers was hit with vegetables and snowballs, insulted by men and accused of outrage against decency.
It has been a long road, but finally today also a woman with trousers can give of herself an image of strength, power, and career. Maybe, in the next future, it will also be for a man wearing a skirt.
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