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Why Won't Men Wear Skirts?

This week's column is an opinion piece. It's about Men in Skirts. My opinion is, men should wear skirts.

Not just in the goth club, not just at Burning Man, not just kilts. Men should wear skirts lots more than they do. Why?  Because it looks good, and I like it.

And why don't men wear skirts? Why is it so hard for me to get my boyfriends to wear skirts for everyday wear? There's a huge advantage to wearing skirts, guys—most girls love it. It's instant panty-remover, just like wearing eyeliner. If you wear a skirt girls will totally hit on you. Isn't that a powerful incentive?

Seattle manufacturer Utilikilt is perhaps the most well-known option for men who want to wear skirts.

Not long ago I was in the bedroom of a beautiful boy (as I often am) and he was showing me his skirts. He has an impressive collection of long black twill gothy skirts, the kind that look fabulous on tall slim boys, with and without bondage straps and buckles and zippers. He mentioned one issue with skirt-wearing for men while showing me a skirt in a softer jersey fabric—demonstrated by a frank gesture involving a poking knuckle: men's skirts should generally be of, shall we say, stiffer fabrics, to lie smoothly in front! He related a story of an experience at a club, where a fellow admired his "Man-Skirt" or "One-Legged Pant," studiously avoiding any reference to actual skirts on men. The boy showed the admirer the label of the skirt, which was something like "Club Girl," and explained, "It's a skirt. I'm wearing a skirt. I'm comfortable with that."

There is a groundswell of support for men's skirts this season. As everyone knows, British high street retailer turned US mass-market trendsetter H&M is selling men's skirts for Spring 2010.

Etro, Comme des Garcons, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen all brought out skirts for men in their collections in 2009. There are innumerable articles declaring the trend "official." Runway photographer Peter Stiger has a nice roundup of catwalk shots on his site showing some examples. French fashion roundup France 24 produced this adorable video about the history of men's skirts and their recent revival:

Could the tipping point actually be reached this time? Is there enough cultural impetus behind the trend to make skirts for men acceptable in the West? God, I hope so, but I've hoped in vain before.

There are pictures in my family photo albums of my hippie parents' bearded friends wearing their girlfriends' dresses, from the '70s. I remember in 1981 sitting in front of Stuyvesant High School with a guy named Larry Chua (now a novelist, punk rock journalist and NYU professor). Larry came to school every day in full Boy George regalia—lipstick, eyeliner, plaid skirt, safety pins. He looked fantastic—I adored him. Even in the East Village, he was shocking.  In the '80s my boyfriend Rob used to wear my skirts around the apartment in the New York summer heat, and on one occasion was drunk enough to walk all the way from Chelsea to Soho, past the Latino gangsters at 16th Street, the hookers and pimps at 14th, and the bridge and tunnel bar-crawlers on Waverly Street in one of my hippie batik skirts. Guy friends of mine wore skirts at Grateful Dead shows in the '80s; grunge boys wore plaid skirts when I was in art school in the '90s. My second husband, when we were first married in '99, used to wear my dresses to clubs. My housemate B. says when she was in Episcopalian prep school, a boy took advantage of a loophole in the school's dress code and wore skirts to school every day. The girls loved him, of course.

British fetish retailer sells these gorgeous latex skirts at £250 (US$380).

But the ground gained was lost, in the mainstream at least, after September 11th. Although progress has been slowly but consistently made in genderqueer awareness, mainstream gender roles polarized in the wake of the bombings. Women's clothing became ultra-feminine, retro, ruffly and lacy. Men's clothes reverted to their usual blandness. Every restaurant had macaroni and cheese on the menu, every girl had a charming flowered sweater from Anthropologie, and club guys stopped wearing glitter.

Only now are things loosening up again. Utilikilts, the ten-year-old Seattle-based company, has popularized kilts for alternative guys by providing them with pockets and a manly punk-rock socially responsible ethos. Their kilts are beautifully made, look great, and are a practical gateway drug to get your man into skirts, but as my housemate B. pointed out, they can be a cop-out for guys who hesitate to wear an actual skirt. Still, it's a start! And guys look great in kilts. Guys of all body types—stouter gentleman look classic and rugged in a kilt.

If you want to find the H&M manskirts, you'll have to go to their "Trend" stores, a select group of stores in NY and LA only, with a special "Trend" section. However, there are other sources for skirts cut for the male body. For the slim-hipped goth boy, the British company DracInABox sells long men's skirts with delicious bondage straps. The Black Angel, also in the UK, has an excellent selection of bondage skirts and club skirts as well.

The UK men's latex fetishwear site has a gorgeous pleated kilt in latex, available in a million colors including gunmetal with black pleat insert detail. Sadly, neither Shrine nor Lip Service, the two main manufacturers of men's gothic clothing in the US, does a male skirt. (Or a Unisex Unbifurcated Garment, as the useful kilt site calls them.) For men who'd like to pursue the skirt-wearing lifestyle, there's a charming chat site called The Skirt Café, where men can discuss their skirt-related experiences. 

But honestly guys, don't bother to read about it. Order a skirt online, wear it to a club or a party, and just let the girls crawl all over you. That's my advice. Or you could consider it a request.

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It's the truth!

Even at renfair, I've never been so aggressively accosted by the ladies as when I wore a cheerleader skirt and mesh shirt during grand ring-out. Less a chick 'magnet' and more a chick 'super-conducting electro-magnet'.


I went to see Nine Inch Nails last summer in Indianapolis with my wife and I was wearing my Utilikilt. As we walked in, there were 3 women seated waiting on friends. They took one look at me and all simultaneously started applauding.

Last weekend we were at the zoo w/our 2 daughters and I had 2 different people asking me about where they could get one. One was a woman who was poking at her husband and saying she wished she could get him to wear one. Had another guy ask me about it while I was at dinner that night too. I've worn my kilt in pretty cold weather here in Louisville, but my manager frowns on it so I don't get to wear it to work :(


There's a simple answer to the question in your title, Suzanne: because they don't want to get beat up. I love wearing my kilt, and I think that I look great in it, but there are also certain mental calculations that a man has to make before putting on anything even vaguely feminine. For instance, where are you going to go? Hanging out in a kink or fetish-friendly club is different than going to a redneck bar in a kilt, hakama, or skirt. All males learn very early on that there are physical consequences to even appearing to be feminine, or even just "less masculine." That, even more than ridicule, is a hard line to cross.

One of the interesting things that I've noticed about wearing a kilt is that I automatically, unconsciously, butch up my walk and stance when I have it on. I stand a little straighter, exaggerate my size a little more, make my stride a little firmer. That's not macho posturing so much as it is a form of self-defense.

Like I say, I love wearing a skirt, but you definitely have to be realistic about the risks, too.

LOL Violence

I own 2 Utilikilts and and want my family tartan as well. I was probably first drawn into Aikido by the Hakamas you thought to mention. I even agree with your observation of "butching" it up when I wear my kilts. I don't think it is overcompensation. I think it is because I feel so much more like a "real" man. The tradition, the rebellion, the comfort and freedom. Yes, all the ladies help as well.

What I wanted to say was that I bet the concern of safety is in your head. Don't project. Listen, I am from deep south Arkansas. Redneck HQ. I have NEVER EVER had a problem. I have also lived and worn my kilt on the South Side of Chicago (thought to be the rougher part) and have only gotten complements. At the most I will get a giggle from younger boys. That's to be expected. Think of it like this:

I have never received any REMOTELY aggressive behavior from any other male. Why you ask? Because no matter how much you hate the idea of another male challenging your "dress code" -NO ONE want's to run the 50% risk of getting their ass handed to them by a man in a skirt. Those odds are too high for any man with so fragile a world view and so large an ego to challenge a stranger.

Skirts - summer wear only

The problem with skirts is that they are damned chilly during cold weather, much more so than trousers, in my experience. I've worn my kilt as formal wear, and casual wear, now and again, at outdoor events when the weather was marginal. Even with shorts underneath, or pockets, the advantages of fitted, lined pants are well worth wearing them instead of skirts.

For those in hotter climates, and summertimes in higher lattitudes, then skirts may make sense. But I don't recommend them for anyone when the weather is dropping towards freezing.

Also, I wear mine in the dead

Also, I wear mine in the dead of winter. I find my utilikilt contains body heat wonderfully. I just keep my head warm and enjoy the occasional brisk breeze that gets all the way up there. Now, sitting on something cold is still a bitch. As far as winter goes, I just call it "cock conditioning ".

Men wear skirts

Where is the problem? Just in short: inside of some men which have problems with their own personality. A strong personality will never have a problem to wear something different, i.e. skirts. I do it for example whenever I like, even at workplace which is very public, Going in a concert or go shopping, and never I had a problem.

I enjoy wearing skirts!

Suzanne, thanks for the great article! If only there were more like you in the world! You're support is totally appreciated. I am a male and have been wearing skirts and kilts regularly around the house for years. I usually prefer a long, cotton skirt or broomstick "crinkle" skirt. I find them so comfortable and flowing, I barely ever want to change back to pants. I also wear my skirts out to goth clubs and concerts and have gotten great responses from females. I have had total strangers come up and say "that skirt looks great on you!" and so on. I have worn a three-tiered skirt to a Contra Dance and had so much fun twirling in my skirt. There are usually a couple of men in skirts at every Contra Dance throughout the country and the women seem to really like them! I don't think skirts are for everyone, but for me - they are more of an everyday part of my wardrobe. My blog at offers support to guys in skirts and I also share some personal tips and experiences.

Men Wearing Skirts

Shopping this morning, I think I was probably the only adult female wearing a skirt, out and about. I wish that I could understand what is actually going on here. In my counselling work, I come into contact from time to time with people who cross dress. Is this a cross dressing issue? In our society now, most women spend lots of their time wearing mens clothes, so why should men not wear womens, or am I missing the point somewhere along here?

Re. Valerie

Valerie, there's one thing - skirts aren't only feminine clothing. More, women didn't wear skirts before 19th century, in European culture skirts were masculine. Second thing is that skirts fits male anatomy much better than trousers, so are very comfortable and healthy for us. It's not a cross dressing but return to narmality.

Men, Wearing Skirts.

I enjoyed your reply. To date, with the exception of Scottish pipe bands, the only men that I have seen wearing skirts have been either on stage or enjoying cross dressing. I have no objection to them doing so. In fact, many of them look in as good a shape as any of the same age females. The thing is, those that I have seen were all wearing lipstick and makeup, along with female underwear. I will have to keep my eyes open and I will let you know when I get my first catch.
Best regards
Valerie ( In the Midlands UK )

The return of the men's skirts

I know that men in skirts are uncommon in our culture, but it doesn't mean that this idea is wrong. Maybe on 15th May You'll have an oportunity to see "manly" men in skirts - it's a Men's Skirts Day (it is or it will be if the idea will catch on). Also I have some interesting link for You:

Boys & Men always wore skirts and dresses

Wh do we discuss? Is there a question? What question, please? I think there is no doubt that boys and men always wore skirts and dresses in past. Check out that:
After then you'll understand why men like to wear "THEIR" clothes!

Question is that men

Question is that men generally don't like to wear skirts and dresses. They don't know skirts are "our" garment, havent tried these, so they think skirts are only for girls. They aren't considered that skirted garment fits male's anatomy much better, so skirts are comfortable. Also they don't know the fashion history, history of uniforms. We know they are wrong, so that topics have to be continued for education, to discuss most accurate social campaigns for men in skirts etc.

Men in new skirt look

Dagmar, we all know that's history. As strkemaster said, most men do not consider that a skirt fits the anatomy of male bodies much better than pants.
We have to re-think, and go different new ways how to educate men/people that skirts and dresses much better garments than pants for men.

So let's start the discussion

So let's start the discussion about the methods to educate society. I like the idea of Men's Skirts Day (or maybe Men in Skirts Day). It's on may 15 according to the SkirtCafe. It could be funny day, but are helpful with education, how comfortable can be skirt for man. Also can show the society every man can wear a skirt even Your neighbour, workmate or You (it's not to You, Martinus, You're already skirt wearer, but to other men reading this discussion). But thet Day should be popularized. Have You got any other ideas? There were many attempts to put men into skirts in the near past, all of them have failed. We're not allowed to fail this time, so any proposals are welcome. Let brainstorm begin. :)

Yes martinus, you are right,

Yes martinus, you are right, but I thought people can learn from history to solve the/their future. And to educate people or tell them that a skirt might be much more comfortable for male bodies is like telling a smoker stopping smoking is healthy. Everybody knows it, but they still smoking (wearing pants). So what?
I think it is more powerful to work on public (magazines, TV, radio, newspaper) ever & ever again. Interessting articles: Skirted hero (notice: women usually not heros except they tell it seperately) saved...................... May 15 could be a very good signal but men must go.

Cross Dressing Is Abused Terminology

To have any doctrine of the sexes wearing opposite sex clothes based on ANYTHING, and I mean absolutely anything at all, other than actual anatomical differences, leads to absurdities. Bras are female due to female only interface; athletic supporters are male due to male only interface. But where is there a difference of anatomical interface with SKIRTS? They are about having a waist and legs---human anatomy, not specific to females. All are born naked. Looking at the naked bodies of infants---or of adults, HOW is the conclusion attained that skirts are for females, trousers for males? And if that's the case, how IS it that "only males can cross dress?" Are women HERMAPHRODITES that they can't "cross-dress?" Time to disregard what the Clinically Normative Ones of The Mental Health (social conformity) cult tell us. Skirts/pants are ACTIVITY differences, NOT "sex differences." Pants are first of all EQUESTRIAN, arctic, and "industrial." Horseback riding put men into pants; industrial activity (factory work in 2 World Wars) put women into pants. Graduation GOWNS and judicial robes are remnants of the skirt age for men. Survivals of the skirt age for men include Greek soldiers and folk dancers wearing a pleated white petticoat; Bhutanese male dancers in petticoats; Egyptian male dervishes in fantastic multicolored skirts; highlanders; certain Basques and Peruvians; Fijian cops and soldiers; Tongans, Samoans, Hawaiians, Maoris, English Beefeaters, high Roman Catholic clergy and Indonesian men (and others like the Indian Kathakali dancers, men in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, some of the Mexican Tarahumara Indians---must I list still more??) Psychiatry and psychology are not disciplines that can be repaired---they must be SCRAPPED. They can't tell between SOCIAL FORCES and biological determinism and prattle on and on senseless remarks like "men wear pants because normal male brain chemistry determines it" NOTHING of the sort is true---may the skirted Roman legions, figuratively speaking, march right over these JERKS. Any man not trying to pass as a woman can't be called a female impersonator; no man wearing any type of skirt can fairly be called cross-dressed (but if you DO it's because you're on an AGENDA to STOP men from having choices).

Just COOL - men in skirts

Nothing to ad,, your are right. And skirts are not just healthier, they are looking cool and you'll feel cooler in them on hot days. When it is cold, the effect is opposite. No way for pants to go in competition with skirts.

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