Daddy's New Dress

Women shun the skirt to play equal; men wear it to make a quiet statement

One of the most heartrending articles I've ever read is posted online on the wonderful website, The Huffington Post. The writer, Nils Pickert, often wears women's clothes in public and explains why: his five-year-old son loves wearing his big sister's clothes. Pickert writes: "It is not OK for anybody to mess with my son about his outfit. Hence I wear dresses and skirts so that any person who has a problem with that and feels the necessity to express his or her resentments can mess with me."

The feature is a beautiful lesson in parenting, but it's also one in tolerance of differences. Why must we mock, or even question, anything that is not like us? Why must we allow our prejudices to define our choices? And why must we conform to standards others set for us? Interestingly, crossdressing is the new black. The men's Spring Summer shows in Paris this year were mostly about skirts for men. Givenchy's Ricardo Tisci had flowers on skirts that reminded one of Georgia O'Keefe paintings. Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons showed calf-length numbers. Rick Owens made unconfortable-looking hobble skirts. Yohji Yamamoto's were the most androgynous: they were baggy culottes that harked back to Samuraiwarriors.

From August this year, the formerly stodgy Oxford University is changing its strict dress codes too. Students taking exams or attending formal events at school can wear clothing of another gender, following a request from the university's lesbian, gay and queer society.

Hombres En Falda is a Madrid based website that's dedicated to men in skirts. It loudly states it isn't about men in inappropriate clothing or transvestitism. Rather, it has sections based on the history of men in skirts, famous people in skirts, advice for first-timers, shops that stock men's skirts and experiences of frequent wearers.

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