Engineer Mark Bryan was in college the first time he put on a pair of heels. Initially, it was a joke; he was dating a woman who, in heels, was taller than he was, and so he tried on a pair to give himself a boost, too. But, he found that there was nothing funny about how he felt in them. “I was very comfortable wearing them,” he told Refinery29 . So much so that, five years ago, Bryan started wearing heels full-time. Then came the skirts. “The skirt is just an extension of, basically, being able to show off the heels a bit more,” he said.
Today, Bryan boasts over 500,000 followers on Instagram , where he documents his daily outfits, which often include a shirt-and-tie combo with pencil skirts and pumps. “I never bother about what people think because to me I’m not doing anything wrong,” he said.
It seems that 2021 agrees with Bryan. This year, global fashion search site Lyst reported that a Thom Browne menswear skirt was one of the top-searched items of 2021, marking the first time the silhouette has been on the site’s top trends for men. Celebrities like Harry Styles , Bad Bunny, Billy Porter , Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Diddy, and Lil Nas X have chosen skirts on the red carpet and in music videos. Just last week, comedian Pete Davidson showed up to the 2021 Met Gala in a Thom Browne dress that he wore with a blazer and sunglasses. And while many designers continue to show men’s and women’s lines on separate runways, some have started to erase gender divisions, with brands like Versace and Balenciaga merging their womenswear and menswear in one collection. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mark Bryan (@markbryan911) Despite its recent popularity, skirts in men’s fashion aren’t a new phenomenon. According to Jo Paoletti, an independent scholar focused on the history of dress in the United States, it was customary for European men to wear skirts before the 14th century, when they started wearing pants for ease of horse-riding. And, up until the 19th century, Paoletti said that young American boys wore skirts until they were old enough for trousers. According to her, this is how the skirt became “not only associated with being [a woman] but with being young or not being a grown man.”
While traditionally menswear-inspired trends are commonplace within womenswear today, society is less accepting of men wearing skirts and dresses. “It’s okay for women to adopt men’s clothing, and that has to do with the power and status difference of masculinity and femininity,” said Paoletti. “For a man to adopt something that’s feminine is seen as giving up his power.”
Jorge Dugan, a Netherlands-based fashion designer, has worn skirts since 2019. He likens the current fight for men to wear skirts to Western feminists in the 19th and 20th century who saw pants — called bloomers — as a key symbol of women’s rights. From suffragist Elizabeth Miller’s early […]