Are men’s skirts poised to be the next fashion essential? | Fashion

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The summer sun is beating down, but you are a man and pants are expected of you. It’s not like that. From Hollywood superstars to local dumpsters, men all over the world are ditching their pants and starting a skirt revolution.

This week, Brad Pitt wore a kilt to the Berlin premiere of his latest film ‘Bullet Train’. When asked about his fashion choice, he simply replied “the breeze, the breeze.”

And it may not have been on the red carpet, but Binman Lee Moran made a similar stir when she showed up to work in a hi-vis kilt.

Moran had been told he couldn’t wear shorts to work due to health and safety concerns. Facing a sweltering heat wave, the British scavenger opted for an unregulated kilt to avoid sweating on shift.

One of the biggest proponents of more androgynous masculine styling options is Harry Styles.

Much has been made of Harry Styles’ now-signature androgynous looks, from his sequined jumpsuits to his Vogue cover dress. The pop star is so pervasive in today’s culture that he’s even spawned a course dedicated to him on Texas State University.

Will skirts join the conventional male wardrobe?

It’s not that simple, suggests Jay McCauley Bowstead, Professor of Cultural and Historical Studies at the University of the Arts London.

Looking for fashion trends on the Met Gala runways and Vogue covers, many of the celebrities in question are looking to gain publicity through attention-grabbing clothing choices.

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“For a long, long time, there has been an expectation that the dress worn by a celebrity, an actor or a musician will be scrutinized,” says McCauley Bowstead.

“So there’s no inherent reason why as a male celebrity you wouldn’t want to grab that attention as well. Since getting attention is part of your job.

But even if celebrities’ motivations for wearing skirts and dresses may be just to grab attention, there’s still an underlying cultural shift in menswear to drive them to those choices.

As we move away from the hegemony of the tuxedo as formal male attire, non-celebrities continue to see examples of more androgynous dress styles.

“Having things on the runway or on the cover of magazines that feel very avant-garde or the fact that most people on the street don’t wear them doesn’t mean those representations are meaningless, because you could nonetheless to argue that they represent a form of resistance or a kind of symbolic contestation of the dominant gender order”, explains McCauley Bowstead.

And it remains a controversial resistance, argues McCauley Bowstead. There’s a reason Lee Moran attracted the attention of the press when he showed up to work in a kilt. The cultural taboo for men wearing skirts remains pervasive.

“The vast majority of men, myself included, would not feel comfortable wearing a skirt,” says McCauley Bowstead. “I consider myself someone who has very progressive views on gender and working in a liberal, queer-friendly context. And I wouldn’t wear a skirt.”

Forming masculinities throughout history

However, it is important to remember that the skirts and sequins of today’s androgynous celebrities are not inherently masculine or feminine.

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The exhibition ‘fashionable masculinities’ running in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London offers visitors a history of men’s fashion throughout history.

While the last room contains the royal dress worn by Billy Porter at the 2019 Golden Globes and an indigo outfit by Harry Styles, it is in the historical outfits that visitors see a broader definition of menswear.

From the introduction of pink dye to men’s clothing to frilly regency-style gowns, the exhibition’s Overdressed section reveals past styles.

“Overdressed is like a fabulous dress-up box where we cover fabulous 18th century looks and portraiture with 1960s looks and contemporary fashion to celebrate moments in history when menswear has embraced color and decoration,” says Rosalind McKever, co-curator of the “Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

“We really wanted to think about the ways that contemporary womenswear has been influenced by historical menswear. So we have wonderful examples where contemporary designers — we have a great look by Gianni Versace, which is a women’s coat ) have been inspired by historical menswear – in this case, a painting from our own collection from the early 17th century, showing a doublet (jacket) and baggy breeches that Versace reinterprets as a form-fitting jacket and a great skirt,” says McKever.

Queer appropriation and skirt use

A man in a skirt remains an undeniably queer aesthetic today. So much so that Harry Styles’ fashion choices have sometimes been accused of appropriation when he doesn’t reveal his sexuality.

The appropriation question around Harry Styles asks if wearing stereotypically feminine clothing as a man was an insincere use of the queer community’s choices.

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Dr. Justin BengryProfessor of Queer History at Goldsmiths, University of London, believes we need to look beyond current essentialist definitions of queer to embrace the experimentation of people like Harry Styles.

“We have incredible stories of sexual and gender diversity and fluidity across time, place and culture. This historical reality of our incredibly queer past should inspire us to consider the possibility of at least a wonderfully queer present, in which people, celebrity or not, do not need to define themselves by the labels we choose for them, even if that may satisfy our needs. to be seen and validated,” he says.

“So, just as someone could be ‘potentially straight’ and exploit that privilege to use the subversive potential of queerness to draw attention to themselves, that person could also be ‘potentially queer.’ Or they could be something else that, at least for them, doesn’t really fit into those labels,” adds Bengry.

McCauley Bowstead also points out that when considering Styles’ fan base (mostly young women), his status as a hot character is helping to change perceptions in the straight community.

“There are a lot of young women who are obviously drawn to this softer performance of masculinity, one could argue that it represents some kind of weirdness of heterosexuality, or a space where young women are returning the gaze that has tended to focus on them. “, said. she says she.