skirts for men

A detailed yet concise timeline of men wearing skirts and, to a lesser extent, dresses

Contrary to popular opinion, Harry Styles did not invent men wearing dresses.

And so now we move on to the second of our in-depth series of articles looking at men and gendered products; this time, we’re looking at men wearing skirts (and to a lesser extent, dresses). There are already a lot of articles out there that summarise the history of men wearing skirts, and I debated for a long time about rehashing that idea before deciding to do it anyway.

The point we’re making with this list, if it has a point at all, which is always debatable when I write anything, is that the history of men wearing skirts goes back further than you think; and that the trend for men wearing skirts and dresses didn’t start with Harry Styles and Vogue. Frankly, when Brad Pitt turns up to your do in a skirt, it’s a sign that men’s skirts are about as mainstream as mushy peas. So, let’s have a look at what’s happening. I’ve included links so you can check out how they’re being worn. 

But frankly, if you want to see the perfect way for a bloke to rock a skirt, just do a Google image search for “Marc Jacobs wearing a skirt” and luxuriate in his otherworldly sartorial perfection.

A note on terminology

If you’ve not come across the word before, ‘bifurcated’ means ‘forked, divided’. A pair of trousers is a bifurcated garment; the seam stretching from the gusset creates a fork into which each leg fits. It follows then that a skirt is a non-bifurcated garment, as is a dress or a tunic.

Sometimes we speak of a non-bifurcated garment when we don’t want to use words like skirt or dress, so that we don’t give the wrong impression of the garment; a thob or a kaftan may be described as non-bifurcated garments, but they’re not described as dresses. Basically, all dresses and skirts are non-bifurcated garments but not all non-bifurcated garments are dresses or skirts. Okay?

Events relating to men wearing skirts and dressesWider cultural events sometimes only
tangentially related to men wearing skirts and dresses
2130 BCE – Men in the Old Kingdom of Egypt wore a shendyt, a kilt-style wrap skirt.
2040 BCE –  In the Middle Kingdom, the shendyt was longer, reaching the ankles.
1550 BCE – In the New Kingdom, the design of skirts becomes more intricate.
260 BCE – Chinese men were wearing kilt-like skirts during the Warring States Period.
221 BCE – Skirts worn by Chinese warriors were much shorter – from knee to mid-thigh, comparable to a mini skirt today. Examples can be seen on the Terracotta Army figures
100 BCE – The historian Diodorus Siculus described the Celts and Germanic Tribes as wearing a chiton or khiton, which is a one-piece tunic type, non-bifurcated outfit worn by both Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans. 
11th century CE – Men wearing non-bifurcated garments are clearly depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.
13th-15th century CE – Men’s skirts start to get shorter and more flared – what we might today call an A-line mini – in order to ride horses more comfortably. In Greece and SE Europe, men are wearing a similar, flared skirt called a fustanella.
16th centurykilts are documented as being worn for the first time.
18th century – “The Great Masculine Renunciation”, a term phrased by John Flügel to describe the change in men’s wardrobes away from decoration and adornment to a more sombre and conservative style of dress; dressing like someone dug up an industrial revolution mill owner’s corpse, or Jacob Rees Mogg.
18th century – the great kilt, previously worn as both a skirt and a cape draped over one shoulder, is shortened to be a garment that sits on the waist.
1800Beau Fucking Brummell ruins men’s clothes for all time, leading men to believe that the height of fashion is boring silhouettes in black or grey with no individuality or flair. If you ever come across a time machine, don’t waste time killing Hitler, kill Beau Fucking Brummell. 
1927 – The New Health Society proposes that, “all English boys should wear the kilt on the grounds that it was the most hygienic and healthiest garment, in addition to being ‘easily the most becoming of all boys’ wear’”. (Andrew Bolton, Bravehearts)
1929 – 1940 – the Men’s Dress Reform Party is actively campaigning for a change in men’s clothing, being deemed “ugly, uncomfortable, dirty (because [it’s] unwashable), unhealthy (because [it’s] heavy, tight and unventilated)”.
1964 – Mary Quant is credited with inventing the mini skirt (she didn’t) and naming it after her car. Good job she didn’t drive a Mercury Cougar.
1966 – French designer Jacques Esterel releases a skirt suit for men. Unisex clothes stay a key theme for him and in 1970 he releases a tunic dress. His vision of unisex clothes is based on feminine garments, not masculine garments.
July 1969 – Mick Jagger wears a white voile dress from Uk label Mr Fish as the Rolling Stones play a concert in Hyde Park. Never one to shy away from a little gender play or shagging David Bowie, he later dresses in drag to pose for celebrity polaroidist Anton Corbijn.
1970 – Austrian-born US fashion designer Rudi Gernreich releases unisex mini skirts as part of his avant garde ideas for unisex fashion.
April 1971 – David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” album is released. On the cover, Bowie is wearing a man’s dress from Mr Fish.
October 1982 – Culture Club make their first performance on Top of The Pops; Boy George is wearing a white smock dress over white trousers. My Dad maintains for years that Boy George is a girl, despite there being a clue in the name.
July 1984 – famous laundrette stripper ho Nick Kamen appears in I-D magazine in several skirt outfits, shot by “singer” and photographer Jamie J Morgan
October 1984 – Kris Kirk and Ed Heath publish their book “Men in Frocks”.
1985 – Jean Paul Gaultier is the first designer to show skirts for men on the catwalk.
1991  – Gaultier continues the theme, with male and female models wearing matching black dhotis.
November 1992 – Supermodel of the World RuPaul Charles releases her single “Supermodel”.
September 1993  – Kurt Cobain wears a blue floral dress on the cover of The Face magazine.
June 1998 – he of the god-like right foot and question attitudes towards LGBTQ people when faced with a truckload of Qatari petrodollars, David Beckham, wears that sarong on a night out in Nice with wife Pointy Finger Spice.
August 1999 – former and probably still Dexy’s frontman Kevin Rowland wears a white dress and white hold-ups whilst performing at the Reading festival (Reading the town, not reading the present participle).
Autumn 1999 – Walter Van Beirendonk’s AW 99-00 runway collection features skirts and tights for men.
July 2000 – former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Kenny Logan (Wikipedia says, ‘not to be confused with Kenny Loggins’) wears a Dries Van Noten kilt for shots in GQ magazine.
November 2001Samuel L Jackson wears a kilt, looks badass to the premiere of his film The 51st State.
August 2002 – the website “Bravehearts against Trouser Tyranny” is launched.
November 2003 – February 2004 – The Met Museum puts on their display “Bravehearts: Men in Skirts” accompanied by Andrew Bolton’s book of the same name. There’s a review of the book here.
May 2004 – Brad Pitt predicts, “Men will be wearing skirts by next summer. That’s my prediction and proclamation. The film [Troy] answers to both genders. We were going for realism and Greeks wore skirts all the time then.”
August 2007 – the forum is launched, as a place for male wearers of unbifurcated garments to gather online. 
February 2009Season 1 of RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Logo TV in the US. The season, reputedly put together on a budget of $100 (half of which was spent on Vaseline to smear on the lens) was won by BeBe Zahara Benet.
Spring 2012 – Yohji Yamamoto features male models in skirts in his Spring collection.
May 2012 – Marc Jacobs wears a black lace dress and white boxer shorts to the Met Gala; it sells out immediately after.
July 2012 – Marc Jacobs wears a black skirt with a white shirt to the Dior Couture show.
January 2016 – Jaden Smith is featured wearing a skirt for Louis Vuitton.
February 2018 – Robbie Williams wears a kilt whilst performing onstage for 60,000 fans in Melbourne (Australia, not Derbyshire). The only good picture I can find is on the Daily Mail website and fuck that online toilet paper.
February 2019 – Billy Porter wears a black tuxedo gown to the Oscars.
October 2019 – the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK airs on BBC3. The season is won by The Vivienne, with the People’s Princess Cheryl Hole being a bottom. Twice.
February 2020 – Bad Bunny posts pictures of him wearing a sweatshirt over a white dress on Instagram.
February 2020Billy Porter attends London Fashion Week in, amongst other things, a Thom Browne skirt and a black tulle tutu matched with white knee-high heeled boots.
September 2020 – Dan Levy wears a Thom Browne skirt suit to the (virtual) Emmys.
November 2020 – Harry Styles appears on the cover of US Vogue wearing a Gucci dress; he also wears a Chopova Lowena belted skirt for the shoot. Rumours abound that Harry Styles has invented men wearing dresses.November 2020 – Hitler apologist and moon landing denier Candace Owens is widely mocked for her “Bring back manly men” tweet in response to Styles’ Vogue cover.
December 2020 – actor and playwright Jeremy O Harris wears a skirt from his 20-piece gender neutral capsule collection.
January 2021 – The NBA’s Jordan Clarkson wear a plaid kilt from Fear of God.
February 2021 – US Engineer living in Germany Mark Bryan, known for his Instagram feed of him wearing high heels and skirts to the office, appears on his first magazine cover.
April 2021 – Kid Cudi wears a floral Off-White dress by Virgil Abloh for his SNL performance
May 2021– Lil Nas X appears on the Jimmy Fallon show wearing a plaid skirt.
June 2021 – Billy Porter wears a rainbow gown to mark the start of Pride month.
June 2021 – fashion website Lyst reports that searches for agender fashion and men’s skirts have greatly increased.
July 2021 – A$AP Rocky wears a Vivienne Westwood kilt on the cover of GQ.
July 2021 – Brad Pitt wears a two piece linen skirt suit to the premiere of the movie Bullet Train. Skirts for men are officially no longer edgy.
August 2021 – Billy Porter wears a Ben Chellal coat gown to the Cinderella premiere.
Autumn 2021 – Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Molly Goddard have men’s skirts in their FW 2021 collections.
September 2021 – Pete Davison wears a Thom Browne suit dress, which he describes as, “a little bit slutty nun”, to the Met Gala.
November 2021 – Kid Cudi wears a white wedding dress to the CFDA Awards designed by Eli Russell Linnetz for ERL.
2022 – The V&A put on their exhibition “Fashioning Masculinity”.
July 2022 – rapper Bad Bunny models a pink mini-dress for Jacquemus.
Autumn 2022 – Off-White, Jan Jan Van Essche, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Y/Project, DSquared2 and Egonlab show men’s skirts in their FW 2022 collections.

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