There’s no skirting the topic—skirts aren’t just for women anymore. In fact, they’ve always been for men, too.
In ancient Greece and Rome, skirts on men were associated with youth, virility, and hyper-masculinity. Ancient Egyptian nobles, on the other hand, were known to don schenti, a rectangular piece of cloth wrapped around the hips. For decades, fashion designers have sent men down their runways in skirts, while guys in movements like punk and grunge have slipped skirts on as symbols of self-expression. A straight and married grandfather went viral for pairing his button-downs and suit jackets with high heels and pencil skirts.
Nowadays, as more people embrace non-binary fashion, and celebrities and influencers alike help push it to the mainstream, it seems like the man in a skirt is no longer the stuff of history, couture, or subcultures—he’s now the average guy on the street.
“I am 6’4”, and around 210 pounds. It is incredibly hard to find a skirt that will fit me,” Liam Kalhagen, a 19-year-old student from Oregon, told VICE.
Kalhagen started flirting with the idea of wearing skirts in an attempt to spice up his style, and finally found one that fit him at a thrift store.
“Most stores have men’s and women’s sections. Except you can find everything you would in the men’s section in the women’s, but not vice versa,” said Kalhagen.
He pointed to how jeans are generally unisex, but skirts and dresses are usually only made for women.
“The world of men’s fashion has significantly less styles of clothes than the women’s realm. Why can’t [skirts and dresses] specifically designed for the male body be available for purchase at everyday stores? Makes no sense to me.”
For Kalhagen, putting on a skirt was both a response to these sartorial limitations as well as a challenge to his own styling savvy.
“I wanted to be able to pull it off,” he said, adding how people are now becoming less judgmental and that social media has helped normalize the idea of a man in a skirt.
On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #boysinskirts have a total of around 168.5 million views, while those with the hashtag #meninskirts have around 52.4 million all together.
Kalhagen’s own TikTok video of him in a skirt has gotten around 1.2 million views and more than 396,000 likes, with comments that read, “You look amazing in this” and “This is so powerful.”
Brian Batesy, a 22-year-old actor and influencer from Massachusetts, has a simple reason for wanting to wear skirts.
“I love how they look,” Batesy said. “They make my legs look great.”
He said wearing skirts can also feel rebellious because they’re a statement against “lame and boring” social norms.
“In my opinion, clothes aren’t inherently gender-specific,” he said. “Skirts are for everyone. It’s a garment and it shouldn’t be attached to any gender.”
“In my opinion, clothes aren’t inherently gender-specific… Skirts are for everyone. It’s a garment and it shouldn’t be attached to any gender.”
These sentiments on clothing and gender resonate with 27-year-old cybersecurity analyst Casian Moore, from California, who said that what he wears has nothing to do with his sexuality.
“The problem is most people assume that gender presentation aligns with sexuality,” he said.
That’s not to say that gender and sexuality have no place in conversations about men in skirts. They do, and they’re important ones.
“People have been harassed, beaten, and killed over their gender presentation,” he said, “The only reason I can even wear skirts in public is because of the sacrifices made in the queer community.”
Moore identifies as a cisgender heterosexual man, and said that while he likes wearing skirts for the style and comfort, he also wears them in solidarity with the community that made it possible for men like him to wear skirts and be accepted.
“Hate crimes against trans women and other LGBTQ members are a regular occurrence. With a new generation of people normalizing gender fluid fashion, I’m hoping this will help LGBTQ members feel more comfortable presenting their preferred gender in public,” said Moore.
As people become more free to explore their genders and sexualities, they’ve also become more free to explore ways to express themselves, including through fashion.
“I think as the gender barrier starts to crumble, we will hopefully see a lot of things that are seen as traditionally masculine or traditionally feminine become more fluid and approachable by any gender identity,” Kalhagen said. “If we can remove the social norms surrounding clothing, men should feel free to express themselves in whatever [ways] they want.”
Moore said random people come up to him to compliment his outfit when he wears skirts, but he also still gets a few “what are you wearing” stares every now and then.
Kalhagen has had similar experiences, adding that he gets a kick out of people’s facial reactions to seeing him in a skirt.
“I know that people are judging me, but that is just a side effect of putting in work to change the societal norm surrounding men and fashion,” he said.
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