Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Hommes en Jupe

working this summer's florals

I often daydream about time travelling into the future, just to see what people are wearing, and if there is anything new to come in fashion.

A small revolution in France might give a clue:

Dominique Moreau is a trailblazing freedom fighter, a man battling for equality and recognition in a world of prejudice and gender-based stereotypes. At least, that is what his supporters say. To others who may be less aware of the socio-political implications of his sartorial habits, however, Moreau's heroism is less apparent. To them, he is just a bloke in a skirt.

"Today, millions of men around the world wear skirts, like the sarong in Asia or the djellaba in Africa, without being bothered," he insists. "Why not us?"

Moreau is the president of Hommes en Jupe (Men in Skirts), an association of about 30 men in Poitiers, western France, who don skirts to go about their everyday lives. For them, getting dressed in the morning is less about style and more about political substance: they are fighting to reclaim an item of clothing last worn by Frenchmen more than 500 years ago.

"We're fighting against prejudice and cliches," says Moreau, a 39-year-old civil servant who quotes Virginia Woolf as a gender-bending inspiration. "Women fought for trousers; we're doing the same with the skirt."

And yet trousers are more functional. If you're a man and don't have does-my-bum-like-big-in-this issues, which on the whole men do not. What with their lean legs, an' all.

16 comments:

Lucy Sussex said...

Daggy (as the Australians say), unless it's a pencil miniskirt worn with tights, to show off those lovely long, lean legs. The medieval jerkin revisited, though not, perhaps, the codpiece. Anything that shows off men's far more hairy legs is out. The sarong is ideal for hot weather.

Anonymous said...

I think that skirts that allow full leg movement are more practical, especially in the summer. No crotch issues, less need for tailoring...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, will they start shaving their legs?

Linda Grant said...

Or better still, waxing.

lagatta said...

The Fijian Sula - sometimes merely wrapped like a sarong, but there is a business and formal-wear version with buttons and pockets - great for a hot climate (I don't think men of that ethnicity tend to have particularly hairy legs). As for the North African djebella and West African boubou, those are long garments - indeed very comfortable in hot climates - but they require great posture. And of course the Scottish kilt solves the hairy-leg problem by wearing it with knee-length socks.

knitwit said...

I think this movement's been gathering momentum for some time now: here's a piece on it from 1996 (note mention of "God's own air-conditioning.)


http://www.sfweekly.com/1996-09-04/
news/skirting-an-issue/

dinazad said...

The other day, at my favourite second-hand clothes shop, the proprietor suddenly growled: "Don't you dare snigger or stare, that's a good customer". So, while ostensibly inspecting the skirts-and-jackets part of the shop, we sneaked looks at a well-groomed gentleman in his late middle-age, nothing out of the common, good tie, crisp white shirt, good quality jacket, black, polished shoes: a banking or bookkeeping type. Who wore a skirt. It seems he regularly buys business skirts or (ladies') suits - he prefers skirts because he finds them more comfortable. After the initial shock I had to say:Why not? If he likes it that way, why shouldn't he war skirts, especially well-tailored ones? After all, I sometimes take the liberty (or used to, as long as it still fit) of wearing a gent's tux....

StyleSpy said...

It's not the skirt I mind (Well, actually, I do mind that skirt, it's awful), bit mostly it's those boots with that skirt. I support men's right to wear les jupes, and I don't even demand that they shave their legs; but are they prepared to take the inevitable next step and acquire a shoe wardrobe to go with their skirts?

lagatta said...

À propos des hommes, will Harry be doing a little report on l'air du temps in Paris?

I haven't been to Paris for two years now, and it is always interesting to see the current fashions and ways of life.

Interestingly in French, we have "la mode" and "le mode" -

"la mode actuelle" as in fashion - "le mode de vie" as in way of life.

Arabella said...

The 'utility kilt' was increasingly popular in San Francisco when I lived there a year or so ago. It was/is considered a work garment; the men I saw wearing it were always very well groomed about the leg area and favoured the Scottish style of sock and good shoes.
www.utilikilts.com

Anonymous said...

The true revolutionary would wear a dress.

- desertwind

Anonymous said...

I support gender equality. I like my pants in the winter, and skirts and dresses in summer, so guys should have the same options if they like. I am thankful I am not confined to stockings and heels as were earlier generations. On guys, I would rather see knee length shorts or kilts, than skirts but I could get used to them. Please leave the florals for the ladies.

See NYT for very recent article on shorts in men's work fashion.

Arabella said...

Yes, skirt-wearing men should avoid florals and accompanying knits unless they're going for the Pythonesque on purpose.

Anonymous said...

On the Satorialist http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/ there is a long discussion about men in skirts, sorry couldn't find the backlink, but just search for "Men in Skirts". In summer when it is really hot and there is no air condition (as almost everywhere in Europe) skirts are immensely more practical. I used to wear trousers only, but nowadays especially in summer I wear almost exclusively skirts. Because they move.
I always told my envious male colleagues to just take a heart, especially at university.

Anonymous said...

I like my men in pants. And I like it when they take their pants off. But that's it.

Rosaria said...

I like my men in pants. And I like it when they take their pants off. But that's it.

That was my comment. I'm definitely not anonymous, just pressed wrong key on keyboard. Oh dear, it's been a long day.