skirts for men

What different types of skirts are there?

If you’re interested in skirts but don’t know your mermaids from your peplums, we’ve got the beginner’s guide that you need.

In the last post, we look at the eight basic lengths of skirts; in this one, we’ll look at some of the different styles that are available.

Typically a skirt is described using both length and style – a knee-length cargo skirt, a midi pencil skirt, and so on. The only skirt that seems to evade this double nomenclature is the mini skirt. Quite often, mini skirts are described just as mini skirts even though they may be tube skirts, cargo skirts, A-line skirts, and so on.

Theoretically I suppose you can combine any pairing of length and style, although I think in practice some of the pairings would be difficult. A micro tulip skirt or asymmetrical skirt, for example, would be extremely high cut and might display too much skin for the wearer’s comfort, but that’s down to the individual.

And finally, again, some of these have different names and definitions according to where you shop. One of the common ones I have seen are tiered, circle and overlap skirts, which often seem to share names and silhouettes, but there are others. I think that, despite my extremely average skills with Procreate, there’s enough here for you to get the jist.

A note on kilts: even though they come in male and female versions, I have omitted them from the list below. These are the shapes that traditionally have only been marketed to women. We’ll have a look at kilts in a separate blog post, because they need a separate discussion.

A further note on skorts: skorts are a combination of shorts and skirt; shorts with a skirt over the top. Usually the skirt covers the shorts, and quite often they’re an athleisure piece of clothing used to hide the underwear while doing exercise. They can theoretically be any length or style. I have omitted them from the list because they’re technically not a skirt. The word “skort” itself on the other hand is one of those crimes against humanity perpetrated by marketing departments who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. See also: “spork”.

A-line skirts

Imagine a capital letter A, and you’ll get the idea; it’s narrow at the top and flared at the base.

They can be any length but typically they come in lengths between mini, and below the knee.


As the name suggests, this skirt is higher on one side than the other.

Usually, one side is higher than the other, or the front is higher than the back (rather than the back being the highest hem). The difference may be subtle or very pronounced, but usually it’s obvious enough to be seen as an asymmetrical skirt and not just a normal skirt worn lopsidedly.


Being shaped like a bell, it is narrow at the waist; flares out over the hips; remains more consistently cylindrical through most of the length; and then flares more dramatically at the bottom.

You know, like a bell.

Box pleat

The easiest way to think of this is looking like a kilt but without the wrap element. It may be straight for some of the length, but will then turn into large, thick pleats.


Imagine cargo shorts, but a skirt. Usually has belt loops, a zip or button fly, and lots of pockets, both on the waist and the leg.


These are an unusual one. They are almost always ankle length; as tight if not tighter than a tube skirt for the whole length; but typically not made in a material that has much stretch, and will not feature a dramatic slit (if any at all). It makes the wearer adopt a tiny, hobbled gait, hence the name. They’re sometimes viewed as fetish wear and it’s fair to say they’re not hugely practical as far as adequate ambulation is concerned.


A layered skirt literally looks like you’re wearing multiple skirts, one on top of the other, with the shortest at the top.

Compare this with the peplum and the tiered skirts.


Mermaid skirts are always at least midi length. They’re usually tight or very tight for most of the length, until a dramatic, swishy flare at the bottom. The shape resembles a mermaid’s lower half, hence the name.


Like a pencil with the point at the top, the pencil skirt is nipped in at the waist and then cylindrical. They will typically have a slit in the back to make walking possible. They are usually of around just above the knee to midi length, although mini skirt versions are possible. Quite often seen in office wear.


Imagine a mermaid dress but with the flared part at the top, coming down from the waist a short distance, swishing about over the top of a tight bottom half.


Pleated skirts can be any length, and the pleats themselves may be quite broad, like a kilt, or very narrow.

The difference between this and a box pleat is that the pleats will continue right up to the waistline, in much straighter lines than I have managed to draw here.

Ruffle hem

Imagine a 1980s ra-ra skirt, which is a sentence I thought I’d never type. Ruffle hem skirts are usually longer than micro skirts but no longer than the knee; tight or fitted at the top; and then flared and ruffled at the bottom.


I have seen it described differently, but my understanding of a tiered skirt is that it is made of three distinct sections, joined together horizontally.

Maybe they are different colours, or materials, or patterns, or fits. But the main principle is that the horizontal sections are joined together, and do not overlap.


Tube skirts can be any length from micro to ankle. Typically, they are made of a very stretchy material which clings to the skin when not stretched, like a jersey material. They do not have slits, and therefore at lengths longer than mini have an effect on the way the wearer works, and the effect becomes more pronounced the longer the skirt is.


The tulip skirt is a sort of wrap skirt with a very pronounced, usually front, split. Imagine the way that a tulip’s petals are shaped, and then hang the tulip upside down; that’s how a tulip skirt looks. The rounded effect comes from being nipped at the waist, flaring out slightly from the waist in a slight curve, and then tapering in again at the knees.

It usually comes in lengths around knee length. Much higher, and the split will reveal the crotch area. Too long, and the tulip shape will be lost.


Rather than being one continuous band, the wrap skirt features an overlapping section to produce a double thickness, usually at the front, like a kilt.


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