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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KCL chapter.

I find it astonishing how a single piece of fabric has the power to transform a macho, virile man into an effeminate, emasculated boy. The dividing factor between these two characterisations of the same male is what surrounds their legs. The former – a solid pair of jeans, the latter – a simple, unassuming skirt.

Only girls can wear skirts

The common view that only girls should wear skirts is becoming ever-controversial and subjectively old-fashioned. Now before we get into the nitty-gritty of why it is okay for men to join the fashion trend of skirts, let’s dissect this attitude and the reasons behind it.

Skirts as a symbol of femininity can be traced back to the Middle Ages in the West. Skirts perform as part of the female school and work uniform. In traditional events such as weddings, men wear a trousered suit and women are made up in big white dresses. Skirts are even the silhouette on the door of women’s toilets. Everything about a skirt is painted to be utterly and entirely female. So with this prevailing association, if a man were to one day wake up and put a skirt on, this used to appear very out of the ordinary and questionable, and many people did not like it.

But did you know…?

Right girls, time to give our skirts back to the guys! Believe it or not, skirts were actually designed for men. In Ancient Egypt, sheets wrapped around the lower body, called Shendyt were initially worn by men. You can see it for yourself in ancient paintings and hieroglyphics. Women did in fact wear dresses in the Ancient Egyptian era which are arguably more modest than skirts. So in a reverse gender kind-of anarchic subversion, it could have been the women telling the men to cover up! On a side note, how does a piece of fabric have the properties to be masculine or feminine? Who decides that? Can’t we just be grateful it covers one’s genitals? This division is comparable to the gendered division of pink and blue. In my head, pink is girly and blue is boyish, and as much as I try to mentally swap them or assimilate them, I naturally and instinctively gender them, and I don’t know why or how to stop! It’s interesting, was this association enforced or is it just hardwired into our brains to think this? Concepts like this are too baffling to dwell on for too long. Maybe one day, in many generations to come, colour won’t even exist, and everything will be grey… I’ll end my tangent here so we can dive into the next topic.

The Kilt Debate

So far, we’ve touched on the notion of people disagreeing with the scope of men wearing skirts for fashion, but when it comes to kilts – people don’t seem to mind quite so much. In Scotland, kilts are regarded as national clothing and are symbols of honour for the nation. A few centuries ago, those who wore them were perceived as affluent and well-esteemed, and they were also worn to protect against harsh weather conditions. In modern Scottish society, kilts are worn by men to Scottish sports games or pubs in the spirit of patriotism and in support of alleged sports teams.

So, what we can gather from this is that when what is essentially a skirt is worn with a practical reason behind it, it is more vastly welcomed and even praised; as opposed to if it were for mere style purposes. To make matters ironic, Highland kilts were traditionally made for men, not women, and even nowadays it is rare that a woman should wear a kilt. In a traditional sense then, skirts were normalised in the form of kilts and the men who wore them were not seen as effeminate or emasculated – they were seen as noble men fulfilling a duty to their nation.

The dispute regarding which gender can or cannot wear a skirt seems overly two-dimensional. When taking into account other cultures and the ways and whys they wear skirts, the apathetic attitudes towards this occurrence become arbitrary and unconstructive.

Harry Styles as a Style(s)-King

In 2020, the former ‘One Direction’ band member and current solo artist, Harry Styles, revealed to ‘Vogue’ magazine his amazement for women’s clothes. He is pictured wearing a Gucci jacket and dress on the cover of a ‘Vogue’ article entitled ‘Playtime with Harry Styles’. However, this was faced with some controversy. In response to this cover image, (and others of the same nature), Candace Owens, a conservative activist tweeted: ‘bring back manly men,’ further insisting that ‘there is no society that can survive without strong men’. Now, I’d briefly like to step back and ask some serious questions: does wearing a piece of fabric over his legs, instead of woven between them reduce a man’s physical strength? Does it immediately suck the strength from his biceps and is then instantaneously restored once he removes the offending dress? Does his testosterone escape his body? Does his voice suddenly revert back to that of a young boy or (even more horrifyingly) a girl? Does he transgress to a prepubescent, infantile state? I don’t believe any of these things happen as a sheer result of wearing a feeble article of clothing. If Styles was to clothe himself in a kilt and hold a set of bagpipes, I don’t think Owens would have much to say. Anyhow, Styles silenced Owens in his own epigrammatic way by posting a picture of himself wearing a blue suit and eating a banana captioned ‘bring back manly men’. If Harry Styles can unashamedly and proudly wear a dress and feel just as masculine as he chooses to, then anyone can. Of course, Styles is not the first male celebrity to pose in a dress, nor the first male for that matter – but with his large and ever-increasing public profile, it perhaps revolutionises the way fashion and gender are, and can be perceived.

Now we have established that attitudes against men wearing skirts are backwards and degenerative, we can move on with positivity towards expressing ourselves through clothes no matter your gender. The world needs more brightness, especially with the way things are going – so why not let people be happy? Clothes are a marvellous and transcendental way of decorating our outer bodies, and really, they are genuinely just quantities of fabric. So wear them however you want to!

Hi! My name is Amelie and like most people on this site, I have a huge passion for writing and expression. I love English Literature and my main hobby is reading. I love exploring new ideas and concepts about the world and think it helps to develop you as a person. I'm a big fan of the universality of writing, how it allows everyone to express the things they feel and acts as a release. Her Campus will allow me to write about my interests, as well as things pressing in today's society and I'm really excited for my journey!