What does the garment we call a skirt in the western world represent on a deeper level? And how is it different from trousers?
A skirt has an infinite variation of expressions. In its simplest form it’s a rectangular piece of fabric that you wrap around the lower body. Length and width are the basic options of change (if we disregard fabrics, colors and patterns).
A skirt is a tube or cone shaped garment that hangs from the waist and covers (all, or part of) the legs.
We find them in mini, midi or maxi (or micro) length. They can be wide as well as narrow, though darts, pleats and frills can modify that shape.
Skirts (or garments that don’t separate the legs) have been (and still are) worn by both genders in many cultures. One of the most radical changes in the story of costume and fashion took place in the 14th century. Trousers became a sign of masculinity, while women were given skirts as well as corsets to shape their hips, waist and upper body. No one should ever need to hesitate about who was a man and who was a woman.
As is obvious on toilet doors, this division remains.
Fashion allows us to express our changing ideas about what femininity and masculinity is. The boundaries of gender are constantly redefined. During the last century western women have broken the tabu about wearing trousers. Nowadays we might even wear them more often than skirts.
But men are not as comfortable wearing skirts. Why is that? There are no anatomical or functional reasons why men should wear pants and women skirts. Can there be other reasons, like attitudes and cultural values? I think there are.
Skirts and trousers are two garments that shape our energy in two distinctly different ways…
A skirt covers the separation of the lower body into two distinct legs, while trousers accentuate that fact. While a skirt brings wholeness to separation, trousers show our duality.
Trousers might be more practical if you are very physically active. And if activity is what you value as most important, you should probably stick to pants. But when our body rests from physical activity, there is another kind of movement…
As we start to value poise and slow motion we might see a revival of the skirt, even among men.
The lower body that the skirt, like its sibling trousers, is made for has to do with instinct and roots. It deals with basic life force, sexuality and regeneration as well as movement and change.
So take a serious look at these parts of your life and decide how you want them to work… Should you surrender to flow and ease or bring out some action and fighting spirit?
Maybe Western culture needs more skirts…