Skirts have been worn by men and women in different cultures throughout history. The skirt is considered a feminine clothing item… although there are no hard and fast rules as to who can wear them.
The first recognized form of clothing was the loincloth… which was made of animal skins that men used to cover their genitals. This trend continued for thousands of years until people started weaving leaves and grasses into clothes.
By 4500 BC… people started wearing skirts made out of animal skins and using hides to cover their private areas.
Today’s skirts are much more modest than they used to be back then. It’s estimated that the ancient Greeks wore skirts that were up to six feet long. Even today… some forms of clothing still have long skirts including wedding dresses and other formal attire.
Also read: Why Can’t Guys Wear Skirts?
When Did Skirts Became Feminine?
Skirts were originally worn by men… but they became an important part of women’s medieval costumes between 1100 and 1500 AD. They were often used as part of the armor… such as when they would be layered together with other pieces of clothing in order to protect one’s legs while fighting a battle.
It was only during the Renaissance period that skirts started to become a feminine piece of clothing… with the skirt being seen as a symbol of fragility or femininity. This is because women started wearing them to show off their lower bodies… which made them appear more attractive to men at the time.
Skirts came about due to the changing methods of fashion and culture over time. As seen with Middle Eastern garments today… skirts can be very practical in addition to being fashionable and feminine. They are still popular today amongst many cultures and are worn by men and women alike.
Men… who wear skirts by choice… have been ridiculed and harassed for centuries. However… the most surprising fact is that men wearing skirts is not a new phenomenon at all.
The skirt was popularized as a male attire in ancient Greece. In ancient times… Greek men and women both wore skirts. At that time… it was common for men to wear a pleated skirt (called ‘chiton’) for everyday wear and a full-length robe for formal occasions.
By the 5th century BC… the wearing of the chiton became restricted only to women… whereas the male citizens were supposed to wear an inner garment called ‘indusium.’
A few centuries later… when Alexander the Great conquered Persia and came across men wearing dresses in hot climates… he allowed his soldiers to also wear them. This led to rising in the popularity of skirt-wearing among men in Rome as well.
When Romans conquered Britain in 43 AD… they brought this fashion with them. However… Roman women still preferred wearing dresses over trousers or pants for everyday use.
Even though skirts are traditionally associated with femininity… in many cultures around the world today it is acceptable for male members of the family to wear skirts.
Where Do Skirts Come From?
Skirts are one of the oldest garments known to man. They were worn during ancient times and probably date back to prehistoric times. Skirts were used as a part of women’s clothing and men’s clothing… but in the beginning… skirts were only worn by women.
The ancient Sumerians wore long skirts that covered their feet. The Sumerian skirt was made from two pieces of fabric sewn together to form a tube shape. As time went on… the skirt became shorter and shorter until it finally reached its current length.
The first known written documents that refer to women wearing skirts are believed to be Egyptian hieroglyphic documents dating back to 4000 BC. Archaeologists have found images of Egyptian women wearing short skirts made out of linen material.
Around 1500 BC… the Egyptians developed leatherworking technology which allowed them to develop leather skirts that could be lined with sheets made from cotton or wool. They also created animal skin skirts which they decorated with expensive stones and metals.
Why Are Skirts Considered Feminine?
In Western societies… skirts are generally worn by women and girls. This is because in Western cultures… there have historically been many more social restrictions on what men can wear than on what women can wear.
For example… during the Middle Ages in Europe and Great Britain… it was considered scandalous for men to wear clothing that revealed their legs or thighs… which is why these types of garments were often referred to as “women’s clothing.”
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that male fashion designers started creating clothes that exposed a man’s legs.
- Another reason why skirts are considered feminine is because of the history of women wearing these garments. Women began wearing dresses and skirts way before men started wearing trousers and pants. From this… it can be concluded that skirts are considered feminine because it was first worn by a woman.
- Another reason why skirts are considered feminine is that long ago… women used to wear dresses and skirts for beauty purposes because back then… clothing was viewed as a reflection of wealth.
Also read: Why Are Skirts So Short?
Why Do Guys Wear Skirts?
Many cultures have men who wear skirts (even though they may not be called skirts).
One of the most famous is the Scottish kilt.
Men’s kilts were originally considered functional garments. They were from Scotland and Ireland… where men wore them while they worked outdoors. They served the purpose of keeping dirt and mud out of men’s clothing while at work.
Wearing pants would have been impractical because they would be ruined in short order by the elements. Kilts are designed to be lightweight and easy to take on and off when you’re working hard… or traveling long distances under harsh conditions.
Fijian men are known for wearing skirts: (and many other Pacific Islanders)
The sulu is considered sacred. It is seen as an expression of the men’s respect for the spirit world… a sign of their trust in the Creator… and a symbol of their Christian faith.
The wearing of skirts goes back to the time when Fiji was first colonized by the British. The Fijian men did not want to wear European clothes and they wanted to differentiate themselves from the Gentiles… who they saw as heathens… so they started wearing sulus.
Initially… only chiefs could wear them… but this practice spread… and now all Fijians wear sulus at important occasions such as funerals… weddings… and church services.
There are two types of sulus: the Yalo made out of handwoven pandanus leaves and the Lovo made out of imported cloth. Yalo is worn for special occasions such as church services and lovo for everyday use.
These are just two examples from many. Some countries have soldiers parading in traditional garb that looks like skirts. There are quite a few if you think about it.
But none are of the mini skirt feminine style skirt.
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Do Skirts Have a Gender?
Skirts most definitely have a gender. Although skirts can be used by both genders… they are predominantly worn by women. For example… at a formal event like a wedding or prom… it is customary for women to wear skirts with tights and blouses or dresses.
On the other hand… men would more commonly wear pants with a shirt and tie. This custom has carried over into modern times. Men typically do not wear skirts unless they are participating in dressing up as a hobby or if they are wearing it as part of their job uniform.
Skirts are also associated with femininity and style. It has become very common for young girls to wear skirts from the time they are toddlers up until adulthood. Skirts have also become popular for adults to wear strictly for fashion purposes without regard for gender at all.
It is not uncommon for women to wear skirts when doing yard work or performing some type of heavy labor simply because it allows them to move easily and comfortably throughout the day while still looking presentable in public.
Also read: Why Do Skirts Stick Out at the Back?
In summary… there’s no easy answer to “when did skirts become feminine.” There are many diverse cultural factors that contributed to skirts’ perceived gender… and the reasoning varies from culture to culture. However… the common perception is that men-wearing-skirts is not okay unless you’re doing so for performance or artistic expression.
While gender roles and fashion have changed dramatically over the centuries… it’s easy to wonder when skirts first became a part of feminine attire. However… it is not so simple to pinpoint this occurrence.
Throughout history and different periods… garments served many different purposes. Even in a single era… clothing changes according to whether one was dealing with men or women.
You may also be interested in… What Do You Put Under a Skirt to Make It Poofy? (Add Fullness)
Louise Wilson is an accomplished author, passionate textile historian, and renowned fashion enthusiast with a rich background in the world of apparel.
Graduating with honors in Fashion Design, Louise further expanded her skills and knowledge by completing a master’s degree in Textile History. Her academic pursuits have led her to explore the fashion capitals of the world, including Milan, Paris, and New York, enriching her insights into the global world of fashion.
As an author, Louise’s passion for fashion has found its way into her writings, where she intricately weaves narratives of style, design, and fashion history.