Men's skirts are skirts worn by men. The wearing of a skirt is conventionally, in North America and much of Europe, an expression of a female role. However, people have variously attempted to promote the wearing of skirts by men and to do away with this sex distinction, albeit with little general success and considerable cultural resistance.
In the 1960s there was widespread reaction against the accepted (North American and European) conventions of male and female dress. This unisex fashion movement aimed to eliminate the sartorial differences between men and women. In practice, it usually meant that women would wear male dress, i.e. shirts and trousers. Men rarely went as far in the adoption of traditionally female dress modes. The furthest that most men went in the 1960s in this regard were velvet trousers, flowered or frilled shirts and ties, and long hair.
In the 1980s, a few male celebrities dressed in skirts, and fashion designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, John Galliano, Kenzo, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto tried to promote the idea of men wearing skirts, but failed to popularize the idea. Male skirt wearing remained firmly linked with ideas of effeminacy.
The exhibition display pointed out the lack of a "natural link" between an item of clothing and the masculinity or femininity of the wearer, mentioning the kilt as "one of the most potent, versatile, and enduring skirt forms often looked upon by fashion designers as a symbol of a natural, uninhibited, masculinity". It pointed out that fashion designers and male skirt-wearers employ the wearing of skirts for three purposes: to transgress conventional moral and social codes, to redefine the ideal of masculinity, and to inject novelty into male fashion. It linked the wearing of male skirts to youth movements and countercultural movements such as punk, grunge, and glam rock, and to pop music icons such as Boy George and Adrian Young.
Ellsworth eavesdropped on several visitors to the exhibition, noting that because of the exhibition's placement in a self-contained space accessed by a staircase at the far end of the Museum's first floor, the visitors were primarily self-selected as those who would be intrigued enough by such an idea in the first place to actually seek it out. According to her report, the reactions were wide-ranging, from the number of women who teased their male companions about whether they would ever consider wearing skirts (to which several men responded that they would) to the man who said "A caftan — after a shower or in the gym — can you imagine? 'Excuse me! Coming through!'". An adolescent girl rejected in disgust the notion that skirts were similar to the wide pants worn by hip-hop artists. Two elderly women called the idea "utterly ridiculous". One man, reading the exhibition's presentation on the subject of male skirt-wearing in cultures other than those in the North America and Europe, observed that "God! Three quarters of the world's population [wear skirts]!".
The exhibition itself attempted to provoke visitors into considering how, historically, male dress codes have come to this point, and whether in fact a trend towards the wearing of skirts by men in the future actually exists. It attempted to raise challenging questions of how a simple item of dress connotes (in Ellsworth's words) "huge ramifications in meanings, behaviours, everyday life, senses of self and others, and configurations of insider and outsider".
Kilts, and derivatives of the garment remain popular. One manufacturer of contemporary kilt styles claims to sell over 12,000 such garments annually, resulting in over $2 million annually worth of sales, and has appeared at a major fashion show. According to a CNN correspondent: "At Seattle's Fremont Market, men are often seen sporting the Utilikilt" US News said in 2003 that "... the Seattle-made utilikilt, a rugged, everyday riff on traditional Scottish garb, has leapt from idea to over 10,000 sold in just three years, via the Web and word of mouth alone. "They've become a common sight around Seattle, especially in funkier neighborhoods and at the city's many alternative cultural events. They often are worn with chunky black boots." writes AP reporter Anne Kim. "I actually see more people wearing kilts in Seattle than I did when I lived in Scotland," one purchaser remarked in 2003.
In addition, since the mid-1990s a number of clothing companies have been established to sell skirts specifically designed for men. These include Macabi Skirt in the 1990s, Menintime in 1999 and Midas Clothing in 2002.
Outside of Western cultures, male clothing includes skirts and skirt-like garments. One common form is a single sheet of fabric folded and wrapped around the waist, such as the dhoti in India, and the Lungi and sarong in South/Southeast Asia. Some long robes also resemble a skirt or dress, including the Middle Eastern and North African caftan and djellaba.
SKIRTING THE ISSUES; CHECK OUT THE LEG SHOW THAT GOES WITH THE COSTUME INSTITUTE EXHIBIT OPENING TUESDAY.("Bravehearts: Men in Skirts")(Book Review)
Nov 03, 2003; Here's the book that goes with the exhibition "Bravehearts: Men in Skirts" opening tomorrow at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume...