Hi, I’m Mathew, and I’ve always been fascinated by skirts.
I remember the first time skirts really caught my attention: It was when Jared Leto announced on his blog that "real men wear skirts" back in 2010. He, and a few other celebrities, made skirts seem so fashionable, and it was a look I've wanted to be able to pull off.
Over the years, I’d occasionally come across a skirt (often while traveling) that I would get excited about, purchase, and wear exactly once.
I couldn't help but wonder what it was really like, as a guy, to regularly wear skirts?
To find out, I decided to wear skirts every day for an entire week. I was definitely nervous about the endeavor, but I'm competitive, and love a good challenge.
• Wear a skirt, kilt, sarong, or skirt like item every day for a full week.
• No duplicates! I have a lot of clothing and during a normal week I make it a point not to wear the same thing twice. I know, it's kinda vain... But I'm a fashionista, and to make this realistic I decided to extend that rule into my skirt week.
• Nothing silly. I'd wear my skirts as a fashion statement, not as a joke.
Day one: sporting my first skirt to a Sunday brunch and sweating my ass off.
I may have looked confident in the Instagram pics, but in reality I was a nervous mess trying to pick out my first skirted outfit.
I spent probably a good hour getting ready, which is a really long time for me. Selecting my outfit was incredibly daunting. I definitely relied on our pets for support and encouragement (mostly in the form of snuggles).
Since skirts are usually viewed as a feminine article of clothing, I felt obligated to wear a few more masculine items (including pants underneath the skirt) in an attempt to balance things out. I was also feeling increased pressure to put together ~the perfect~ outfit. I wanted to reduce the potential for criticism, and thought that if my outfit was really on-point, people might think I was some European trendsetter and therefore not judge me as harshly?
I was miserable in the heat. I’m a really sweaty dude and am extremely self-conscious about that fact. The combination of the skirt and the nonstop sweat had me feeling extremely uncomfortable.
Normally I’d wear shorts to brunch on a hot day, but I didn’t feel comfortable showing visible leg under my skirt and suffered for this decision. As a result of my attempt to make my outfit seem more masculine, I spent the afternoon feeling like an awkward, sweaty mess. I was literally dripping sweat on my plate as I ate, wishing that I could remove either the skirt or pants.
I'd also become consumed with worries about what other people thought of my first skirt.
I'm not the type of person to normally look for approval of what I'm wearing, and frequently do the opposite of what people tell me purely for spite. But I couldn't help myself... I was refreshing Instagram every few minutes to see what people thought of my skirt, worried that the comments would be negative.
Day two: my first day wearing a skirt to work.
I was concerned that my outfit might be controversial, so to keep it looking somewhat masculine I again went for denim.
This time in the form of a tortuously uncomfortable, long-sleeved, button-up shirt. Usually long sleeves aren't an issue in San Francisco, but we were having a week of unbearable heat.
Posing for photos made me felt insanely awkward. Once we were done, I pretty much hid behind my desk for the remainder of the day.
I'd thought that taking the pics in a heavily trafficked place would help me get over my insecurities. But instead, as soon as I stepped outside I became consumed with worries and self-doubt. I felt like every person who passed by was looking at me and judging. It was brutal.
The weird part though, was that although I didn't feel good about my look, I was getting tons of compliments.
Day three: busting out my favorite leather skirt despite the heat.
Although most of the feedback on yesterday's kilt was positive, one person on Instagram commented that they didn't like my Birkenstocks, so I decided to rock a pair of boots on Tuesday.
Plus, it was just a few weeks prior that Kim Kardashian told all of us that we really "should wear fall boots with a skirt." So I let Kim and the commenter sway me into wearing boots, a decision I later regretted because seriously, nothing beats a Birkenstock when it comes to comfort. Lesson learned.
Tuesday was our San Francisco bureau launch party, and my leather skirt was a total hit!
Later, I snuck away to my local Whole Foods — which I'd been avoiding — for some potstickers. I had worried that if one of our regular cashiers spotted me in a skirt they might judge and treat me differently on future visits.
But nothing special happened and I was starting to notice that most of this concern was usually all in my head.
Day four: the day I decided to try something shorter.
Hello, confidence; goodbye, extra fabric!
When I arrived at work, however, co-workers were bummed that I wasn't yet showing bare leg. "I have to build up to it," I insisted. But in reality, I wasn't ready. I wasn't feeling confident enough yet.
Wearing this shorter skirt, with my favorite pair of Birkenstocks and a fierce top, had me feeling hella fly. However, I was realizing that my pants had become my uncomfortable safety net. I'm not terribly self-conscious about my legs outside of the office, but I was being hesitant. It was almost irrational, but I was frightened that wearing a skirt without pants would be a step over the line.
While making dinner that evening I toyed with the idea of going pant-less.
My legs felt so free, and I was comfortable. Truly physically comfortable. For this first time all week.
Wearing the skirt without the cumbersome pants was so comfortable that I almost felt silly about not letting myself experience it earlier in the week.
While my confidence was high, I meticulously planned my outfit for the following day, fully committed to going pant-less no matter how anxious I felt.
Day five: the day I finally wore my skirt to work, without pants underneath.
Honestly, this was my favorite outfit of the whole week.
I was feeling more confident than ever, and the skirt was also super comfortable. Wearing it without a layer of pants underneath was incredibly freeing.
I'd thought that wearing a skirt with no pants would make me feel even more awkward and uneasy, but it didn't. Surprisingly the opposite happened. I felt empowered and unique.
While waiting for my BART train I had a minor Marilyn Monroe moment, and quickly learned to hold my skirt down in windy areas.
Then, when I got to work and sat down, this happened:
Day six: the day I went back to wearing pants because it was cold out...not because I felt like I had to hide my legs.
As I was leaving our house though, I got caught in a lengthy conversation with our lead plumber. As I stood there — wearing my white skirt — I started feeling insanely self-conscious.
It felt like I'd reverted back to the beginning of the week. I was totally caught up in gender norms and had mistakenly assumed that someone working in a traditionally "male" role (plumbing, construction, etc.) would treat me differently if they saw me wearing a skirt. But the assumption was on my part, because again, nothing happened.
While continuing to obsess about reactions to my skirts, I noticed a friend left a comment saying that my outfits kept getting better. This affirmation reminded me how silly I was being earlier.
Day seven: relaxing at home in a simple sarong.
I was a little sad that skirt week was almost over.
My sarong was nothing special. I spent most of the day writing at home, so physical comfort was important. But I didn't want to end the week on such a casual look. It felt...almost like sacrilege.
I decided to break one of my own rules (about not wearing any repeats during the week) to give my utility kilt the justice it deserved!
I cringed every time I looked at the pictures of myself in the utility kilt from earlier in the week. I was feeling really unconfident, and it totally shows in the photos. So instead of wearing my sloppy sarong to dinner I broke my own rules and wore my kilt one more time. It felt like the perfect way to officially end my week of skirts.
I'll definitely be wearing my skirts again!
I realize now that the social stigma about men wearing skirts doesn't really exist anymore. People don't seem to care. The anxiety I was feeling, and the fear of judgement... it was all my own insecurities.
• Skirts can be functional and convenient. On a cold day throwing a kilt over pants will warm you up, and on a hot day wearing a skirt is infinitely cooler than pants or shorts.
• Showing a little leg can make a bold statement. I hadn't anticipated how vulnerable baring my legs would make me feel, but once I finally bit the bullet, I felt a little ridiculous for not showing leg earlier. Plus, visible leg doesn't necessarily make your outfit look more casual, especially with the right footwear!
• Skirts definitely aren't just for women. It's 2015, y'all. The concept that an item of clothing should be reserved for one gender is archaic. Wearing my skirts didn't make me feel any more or less feminine. Instead, they made me feel empowered.