Men’s skirts: From Brad Pitt to Lil Nas X, more and more men are embracing fashion


Written by Megan C. Hills, CNN

When Brad Pitt arrived at the premiere of the new movie « Bullet Train » last month, his casual linen outfit made headlines everywhere — or some of it, at least. The actor, who is known for his hyper-masculine roles in movies like ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ complemented his blush pink and brown ensemble with an eye-catching touch: a skirt.
« I do not know! » Pitt then explained to Variety magazine the inspiration behind her wardrobe choice. « We’re all going to die, so let’s spoil it. »

Pitt joined a growing list of stars recently photographed wearing neutral skirts, from Oscar Isaac’s pleated below-the-knee number at the « Moon Knight » premiere to Lil Nas X’s metallic pink miniskirt. Actor Billy Porter, « Schitt’s Creek » star Dan Levy, basketball player Russell Westbrook and rapper A$AP Rocky have also embraced the trend.

Outside of Hollywood, the phenomenon has been gaining traction for years, according to Carl R. Friend, the administrator (and self-proclaimed « Master Barista ») of The Skirt Café, an online forum dedicated to men’s skirts. Although he believes there is « undue » attention being given to celebrities wearing skirts, he nevertheless welcomed the increased visibility.

« It is what it is, » Friend, whose interest in skirts dates back to the 1980s, said via email. « And if that breeds an acceptance of skirts on guys, then I guess that’s for the best. »

Fustanellas, kilts and more

Although skirts are now commonly associated with women’s clothing, men have worn them at various times throughout history. Pleated fustanelles, for example, can be seen on ancient Greek and Roman statues, while more contemporary versions have since been worn in Balkan countries like Albania, which consider them a national costume. Tartan kilts have remained a staple of Scotland’s national pride since their beginnings in the 16th century, although today they are often reserved for special occasions.

In many parts of the world, however, skirt-type men’s clothing is part of everyday wardrobes. The sarong, a typically brightly patterned wrapped skirt, is worn by men in Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Pacific Islander cultures. Variations of the sarong such as the « sulu », a wrap-around style used in both casual and formal settings in Fiji, and the « lungi », which is worn in South and Southeast Asia, remain popular styles. for men of all ages.

Related video: The surprising history of men’s fashion

Football star David Beckham was pictured wearing a patterned sarong in 1998 (he was teased in the media at the time but later said in an interview: « It’s something I never regret because that I thought it looked good and would still wear it now. ») But in much of the Western world, tastes shifted away from baggy men’s clothing by the 18th century, Friend said.
« We are still working under sayings that came out of the industrial revolution – long clothes and high-speed machines don’t mix, » he said, while highlighting the impact of the French Revolution, which saw the country’s taste for flowing, flamboyant brocade textiles were eschewed in favor of nationalistic colors and practical, fitted clothing.

« The French Revolution… had a dramatic ‘dumbing down’ of male dress compared to, say, the Renaissance, » Friend added.

A new wave

In recent years, evolving conversations around gender and identity have sparked a collective reflection on what it means to dress like a man. Gen Z and young millennial stars, such as Harry Styles and Lil Nas X, regularly bring elements of femininity into their wardrobes — and retailers are taking notice. Online stores like ASOS, Mr Porter, Cettire and SSENSE are among those now offering men’s skirts, many of which would be indistinguishable from women’s clothing designs without the men’s designs.

Basketball player Russell Westbrook in a skirt outside the Thom Browne show during New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2022. Credit: Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

On TikTok, meanwhile, the #boysinskirts hashtag has been viewed more than 240 million times, with male users sharing their outfits and styling tips.

On his Instagram account @theguyinaskirt, style blogger Shivam Bhardwaj shares joyful videos and photos of himself wearing skirts — in all colors and styles — with his audience of more than 22,000 people. He said that while much of the media attention surrounding the trend has focused on straight male stars, members of the LGBTQ community have long worn skirts — and even been ostracized as a result. In 2020, American talk show host Wendy Williams apologized after imploring gay people to ‘stop wearing our skirts and heels’ on her show, when this year a gay man in a skirt was allegedly attacked at the UK after attending a concert by singer Yungblud – an artist known for his fluid style.

« People don’t celebrate men in skirts as much as they celebrate straight designers or celebrities, » Bhardwaj said via email. « It makes me a little sad that people don’t recognize that men in the (LGBTQ) community have been wearing skirts for many decades, and we’ve played a major role in breaking that stereotype. »

Guest of the Dries Van Noten's brand at the spring-summer 2023 show wearing a beige pleated skirt.

Guest of the Dries Van Noten’s brand at the spring-summer 2023 show wearing a beige pleated skirt. Credit: Edouard Berthelot/Getty Images

The fashion world has also helped normalize men’s skirts, with designers such as Dries Van Noten and Raf Simons sending men to their runways to wear them in recent years. A pleated gray kilt by Thom Browne (the aforementioned design worn by Oscar Isaac, Dan Levy and ‘The Hobbit’ star Lee Pace, among others) has become a celebrity favorite, with the American designer shaking up traditional menswear tailoring through its unexpected silhouette.

« Skirts or any clothes don’t describe your gender, » Bhardwaj said. « Clothes are made to express your feelings to people in the world. »

Progressive acceptance

Friend, who is married to a woman, also hopes to debunk the idea that skirts are tied to specific gender identities or sexual orientations, saying « a lot of people make incorrect assumptions about it. » Skirt Cafe users are « a community that doesn’t want to give up or give up our masculinity » to just wear skirts, he added.

Members of the online forum tend to favor more basic skirts, Friend explained, with denim and shorter styles being among the most popular. Users also share style tips and their favorite new finds, while the site also hosts a list of men-friendly skirt brands. Recent recommendations include custom fleece-lined winter skirts from Virginia brand The Mouse Works and a builder’s kilt from Scottish workwear brand Blaklader: a heavy-duty black cotton model with all sorts of pockets for hammers, screwdrivers and other tools.
Lil Nas X wearing a metallic pink skirt at a concert.

Lil Nas X wearing a metallic pink skirt at a concert. Credit: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Nonetheless, gender stigma makes wearing skirts in public a daunting prospect for many men, and those who do remain in the minority. Friend’s fascination with clothes began in the mid-1980s when he saw a man on a train wearing a long white skirt. For a long time, he was hesitant to incorporate skirts into his everyday wardrobe due to working in a « high-visibility customer-facing role ». He finally took the plunge in 2002, when he made his own miniskirt from his wife’s fabric scraps.

“The first time I had the courage to step out, I was hooked on the idea because it was the first time I felt a breeze on my legs in decades,” he recalled. « I commented to (my wife): ‘I’ve been cheated on all these years.’ She learned not only to accept it, but also to embrace it, because all of a sudden I started caring about what I looked like. »

Bhardwaj said wearing skirts has become more socially accepted, adding that the response to her story has been « very overwhelming » and has resulted in « so much love from all over the world ». The fashion blogger, who now owns more than 100 skirts, comes from what he describes as a « lower middle class » Indian family whose style choices were often questioned. His interest in skirts was born when he bought one for a friend and decided to try it on before posting a video of himself wearing it on social media.

Billy Porter at the Oscars in 2020, wearing a prom skirt.

Billy Porter at the Oscars in 2020, wearing a prom skirt. Credit: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

« This skirt has literally changed my life and helped me express myself in the best way possible, » he said. And while Bhardwaj said Indian society has a ‘very long way to go’ when it comes to accepting men in Western-style skirts, he has been complimented on the street where he lives in the state. Indian from northern Uttar Pradesh. He is happy to wear his outfits every day, not just on social media.

« I literally thought no one would ever accept me up my skirts, but people proved me wrong and they accepted me with open arms, » ​​he said.

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