Skirting Around The Issue

By Stephen Webb, ABC News London

The right of men to wear a skirt isn’t an issue you hear much about, but according to the U.K. Guardian newspaper, some are deeply committed to removing the taboo surrounding men and skirts.

Dominique Moreau is the president of Hommes en Jupe (Men in Skirts), a group of 30 men from western France who wear skirts in their everyday lives.

"We're fighting against prejudice and cliches," he told the Guardian. "Women fought for trousers; we're doing the same with the skirt."

The "men in skirts" movement isn’t isolated to France. Numerous Web sites and blogs dedicated to the movement are hosted from countries including Britain and the United States.

Skirtcafe.org, boasting nearly 500 members, describes its self as “an online community dedicated to exploring, promoting and advocating skirts and kilts as a fashion choice for men”

U.K.-based Tim Stannard, who runs a Web site championing male skirts, insists the trend has nothing to do with homosexuality or cross-dressing.

“I could wear an earring…neck chinas…grow a pony tail… Any of these would be perceived as expressing my individuality… [But] Put on a skirt! Well, have I 'turned'?

“If you think in anatomical terms, for men to have a centre seam is illogical,” he writes on his Web site.

The established blog The Sartorialist also joined the debate last month, featuring highly fashionable male skirts.

It seems to be only a taboo in the West. Many cultures have garments very similar to skirts which men wear because they are practical: for example the sarong in Asia, or the djellaba in Africa.

According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which hosted an exhibition of male skirts, the convention of wearing only pants is relatively new.

“In the West, men have not always worn trousers. It was with the evolution of tailoring from the 14th century that bifurcated garments gradually became associated with men’s dress and masculinity. Previously, both men and women wore draped or unshaped garments and tunics.”

Celebrities such as David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and David Beckham have all donned skirts, but the look has yet to become acceptable in everyday life.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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