Lessons From the Great Male Skirt Rebellion of 2017

Lessons From the Great Male Skirt Rebellion of 2017, by Vanessa Friedman.

[Men] were being ordered to wear trousers, rather than shorts, in the midst of a [recent northern hemispheric] heat wave. The resulting ad hoc protest united men across countries, age groups and employers. It took the form of … skirts. And therein lay some important lessons.

An early example came on June 19, when Joey Barge, who works at a call center in Buckinghamshire, in southern England, went to work in tailored navy shorts, despite their not being included in his office’s dress code. He documented the decision on Twitter:

The answer was no, and he was sent home, whereupon he changed into a dress — a simple black and hot pink number — and returned to work.

The next day, bus drivers in the French city of Nantes who had been told that company policy did not allow shorts even though their vehicles were not air-conditioned and (as they pointed out) they were generally hidden from the waist down, showed up for work in skirts. …

And the protests did effect change: Mr. Barge’s employers relaxed their policy and allowed male employees to wear three-quarter-length shorts in black, navy and beige … By Thursday, Semitan, the French bus company at the center of the Nantes protest, had told drivers that they could wear black or beige shorts as a temporary measure and that the official policy would be reviewed …

Though the shorts protesters were not suggesting that they wanted to wear skirts as a rule, the ease with which they adopted the garment, and the geniality of the reaction to their sartorial statement, certainly suggested a breaking down of traditional dress prejudice.

As Mr. Gaultier told The New York Times after his show in 1984: “Wearing a skirt doesn’t mean you’re not masculine. Masculinity doesn’t come from clothes. It comes from something inside you. Men and women can wear the same clothes and still be men and women. It’s fun.”