‘Wear a skirt, be your own hero’: four men on their first time wearing the garment | Australian fashion

A few years ago, when I was in the midst of moving into a new apartment, I cut my finger while slicing a tomato. It was so bad I thought I needed stitches and I didn’t have a first-aid kit easily accessible, so I called my youngest brother, who was working as a junior doctor at a nearby hospital. He came over with what he called the Rolls-Royce of Band-Aids, applied one carefully to my finger and asked me if I’d help him choose a skirt to wear to a party that night.

Helping him pick outfits is one of my favourite activities. At his request, I put on Dua Lipa (the party was in her honour) while he modelled the different options with a twirl and a hip pop. We picked one, decided on shoes and that he’d wear his shirt tucked in. As he went to leave I had to catch myself from asking if he was going to put trousers on for the bike ride to the party.

He is six years younger than me, but in that moment I was surprised at my own instinct for conservatism and grateful that in the years between us, gender norms have softened so much that he could leave the house in a skirt without thinking twice.

Of course, it helps that he’s handsome and that he was riding his bike across Melbourne’s inner north but the experience – from his expertise as a “grown up” medical professional to his assuredness in his own feminine-masculinity – left me full of pride at the person he is. And thankful that (in some ways) we live in an increasingly open-minded society. Here, four men describe their adventures in skirts.

‘I’ve learned to impress myself the most’

Louis Nuccitelli’s birthday outfit for his Louis’ House of Versailles themed party. ‘I felt hot,’ he says

Louis Nuccitelli’s experiments with skirts have come about in the last year. The designer and retail partnerships lead for Uber first wore a skirt when he dressed up as a Playboy bunny for a friend’s birthday in January.

More recently, he wore a red tartan miniskirt with a silver buckle clasp for his 30th birthday. The party theme was Louis’ House Of Versailles. “Picture the creative alchemy of a love child between Vivienne Westwood and Rick Owens as you enter,” he says.

Nuccitelli, who played at being a fashion designer when he was as young as eight, channelled the theme into his outfit with precise attention to detail. He styled the skirt with a structured white corset that sat just below his chest. He wore a heart-buckled belt around his waist and a bolero-style gold and black striped shirt with a ruffled collar. The look was finished with tall, bowed socks and a pair of black leather boots.

“I felt hot as fuck,” he says. “I went through some ghastly years of dressing to impress other people. In navigating this sphere, I’ve learned to impress myself the most with the way I dress.”

‘I used to skateboard in them’

The first time the director of Oigåll Projects, Andy Kelly, wore a skirt in public it was a kilt and he was a partner at a debutante ball. “It was for the New Caledonian Society,” he says. “How waspy is that?”

A few years later, at the age of 17, he started wearing “ugly chic” floral skirts he found at op-shops in Sydney’s Paddington. “I used to skateboard in them and think I was a revolution,” he says. He would team the knee-length, pleated or ruffled skirts with Harley-Davidson T-shirts or checked shirts and a fedora.

Andy Kelly thought he was a one-man revolution when skateboarding in a skirt in his late teens

Kelly, who is also the designer for Brud Studia and more than 180cm tall, doesn’t shy away from attention. “I think being a gay man, there is a lot of pressure to be hyper masculine,” he says. “But it was actually more subversive in that community to be a big guy who is quite masculine wearing garments like skirts.”

Over time, as his taste evolved, he started reaching for more expensive skirts by designers like Givenchy and Kenzo. “I haven’t grown out of it. I am in a very pleated Thom Browne preppy skirt era currently,” he says. “Wear a skirt, be your own hero.”

‘They relished dressing me’

Liam Sharma may have stained his sisters’ gowns with blood from stubbed toes as a kid, but he loved wearing them

“I grew up in a household that encouraged and loved all sides of us,” says Liam Sharma. “Wearing a dress only felt weird once I started registering constructs in my first years of school.”

Sharma, a writer who also works for a beauty brand, loved to wear his sisters’ hand-me-down pastel satin floor-length skirts. He’d style them with a matching handbag (also designed by his sister) and prance around in the outfit before bed.

“I was a wobbly kid and stubbed my toes too much,” he says. “I left dried blood on a lot of floor-length gowns … I thought it was a mark of love and my sisters thought it was disgusting. But they relished dressing me.”

For Sharma, wearing a skirt represents a kind of freedom. “No one placed too much emphasis on what I could or couldn’t wear. I was left alone to play in fabric and pull and pick pieces I thought I might love.”

‘After a glass of wine (or two) I was elated’

Hamish was going out to lunch with a friend for her birthday when he wore his first skirt. “It was a three-quarter-length black Yohji Yamamoto skirt made from soft canvas,” he says. “The silhouette was relaxed with some extra material, which created soft folds so it tapered.”

He found the confidence to wear it from some new friendships that had a playful, sisterly dynamic. “Because they didn’t know me well, I had an opportunity to emphasise different parts of my personality,” he says. “I could talk and act in ways that might have been unlike my usual conduct, so I felt like I could wear different things without the risk being balked at by my usual group of friends.

“[I was] a touch insecure when leaving the house but after a glass of wine (or two) I was elated.”

Hamish styled the skirt with a white lightweight long shirt over a singlet. “It was typically a shirt I wore to the beach, so it was soft from all the washes and the colour had faded into a shade of sun lotion,” he says. “The length of the shirt made it less obvious I was wearing a skirt, but they combined into a very comforting and summery flowing outfit.”

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