Manly men always wore dresses.
History of male fashion and skirts.
So recently the biggest argument besides why masks have to be worn in covid hot spots involves Harry Styles snd his vogue cover shoot shoot. For those of you who have managed to avoid Twitter during the pandemic, Harry Styles killed it when he wore a dress in vogue magazine.This has of course led to several right wing tweeters to create the “bring back manly men” movement.
However, what if I was to tell you that the entire dour no frills perception of men’s clothing g is actually pretty recent?
In Ancient Rome for example pants were seen as only being worn by the celts who the romans viewed as barbarians. For Roman men the tunic, which resembles a modern shift dress was worn by everyone.
As the Roman Empire expanded pants did begin to creep into the military however they were not part of an everyday wardrobe.
Meanwhile ancient Egyptian men wore lavish gauzy kilts and fine gold jewelry. In fact a sign of vitality and masculinity involved wearing as much ornate jewelry as possible.
This look barely changed during the medieval area. It was quite common for men to wear robes, tunics and dresses. In fact when we think of the medieval period we often think of the tabard, a tunic garment worn by heralds.
It was until the 14th century when tunics became shorter that hosiery became a standard part of the wardrobe. It was hosiery that led to pants, but even then the bloomers resembled pleated skirts.
For example look at this stunning outfit.
The “dress coat” is so lavish it resembles a fit and flare cocktail dress. The colour is a vibrant red and the wigs glorious dark curls would give Kylie jenners wigs a run for their money. This was considering a manly man, in the 17th century.
It wasn’t just coat cuts that resembled dresses! A true manly man would insist on showing off their legs in portraits while wearing fancy high heels. This portrait of King Louis for example shows the ruler of France displaying his powder blue gams while wearing fine silk snd pearl heels.
A truly manly man also commonly wore rouge, face powder beauty marks and lip color. This look was designed in order to hide small pox scars, uneven skin tone and bring colour to unhealthy skin. In practice however it looked like a death mask with stark red cheeks.
So what changed? When did masculine fashion embrace stark simple suits with zero cosmetics snd short hair?
The clothing can be traced to George Brummell. During a time where the upper class floated about London’s like grand silk parade floats Brummell insisted on simple sophistication. Brummell only wore beautiful cut wool suits, elegant jackets and trousers. Thanks to him men’s fashion changed, stark and simple became the new norms.
As for the lack of cosmetics and personal hygiene? Blame Queen Victoria. Claiming that cosmetics were a work of the devil Queen Victoria soon got rid of male cosmetics. After her death only women returned to wearing lipstick and eye makeup.
So there you have it, the next time you insult a celebrity for dressing in women’s clothing remember that your ideas behind masculinity are pretty new!
Let’s face it, up until three hundred years ago the history of male fashion tended to follow the aesthetic of wild birds. Males were the ones in bright alluring feathers, women in dull muted colours and textures Also anyone can wear anything! Life is to short, go ahead and wear a skirt and leave Harry Styles alone.
As Michelle Visage said on Rupauls drag race.
It’s a piece of fabric.