SkirtCafe FAQ

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Contents

General

What is SkirtCafe about?

As mentioned at the top of the home page, SkirtCafe is a discussion group for men who like to wear kilts and/or skirts and for those (both men and women) who think that men's clothing options should be expanded to include skirts, kilts, sarongs, and other "unbifurcated" garments. Discussions may include other kinds of clothing not customarily thought of as men's clothing, such as legware or footware, but in the context of expanding people's conception of what men may wear.

What do you mean, "unbifurcated" garments?

By "unbifurcated", we mean clothes that don't have cloth between the legs.

Included are kilts, skirts, robes, sarongs, dashikis, and a host of other garments worn at various times and in various cultures.

What is a MUG?

MUG is an acronym for "men's unbifurcated garment."

I understand men wearing kilts, but how are men who wear skirts different from crossdressers? From transsexuals?

(Male-to-female) Crossdressers are men who want to feel like and look like women, and may or may not wear skirts and dresses for this purpose. Note that there are a fair number of crossdressers who do not wear skirts or dresses.

"Men in skirts" like to wear skirts, but do not want to give up being men or being seen as men, and don't see why they should have to choose between the two.

(Male-to-female) Transsexuals go even further than crossdressers: They want to feel like and look like women 24/7, and are often willing to undergo surgical modification of their bodies to look even more like women. Note that they are no more likely than non-trans women to wear skirts or dresses.

(This is not to ignore female-to-male crossdressers and transsexuals, but they don't seem to come up in discussions of men in skirts.)

Are crossdressers and transsexuals welcome at SkirtCafe?

SkirtCafe does not disapprove of crossdressing and transsexuality, but we think that someone who wants to talk about crossdressing or transsexuality will find that they will be much better off going to one of the many sites that deal with those topics.

For one thing, the issues that skirt- and kilt-wearing men face are quite different from what those two groups deal with.

For another, there is a concern that if SkirtCafe were to open itself up to discussions primarily of interest to crossdressers, the large number of crossdressers would soon drown out the kilt-wearing and skirt-wearing men.

That said, a cross-dresser or transsexual would be welcome to participate if he/she wanted to talk about topics relevant to men wearing skirts.

Please note that SkirtCafe has a policy of "gender honesty": people are asked not to use names and pronouns in their postings on SkirtCafe that imply they are a different gender than what they are in real life.

(This mainly refers to the practice -- common on cross-dressing fora -- of male-to-female cross-dressers going by women's names and using feminine pronouns for themselves and other crossdressers.)

Are men who want to wear kilts but not skirts welcome at SkirtCafe?

They most definitely are. There are men at SkirtCafe that do not wear skirts at all (unless you consider a kilt a kind of skirt.)

Some only wear traditional-style tartan kilts. Others also wear so-called non-traditional kilts, such as Utilikilts

There are also a large number of men who wear garments that could be considered either kilts or skirts, depending on your point of view. That is, they retain some of the elements of kilts, but may leave out others (for example, a denim "kilt" without pleats), and overall seek to retain the masculine appearance associated with a kilt.

The main thing that we ask of all participants at SkirtCafe is that they respect other people's clothing choices. Those who do not wish to wear MUGs that aren't kilts should respect those who do, and vice versa.

Are women welcome at SkirtCafe?

Women are most definitely welcome to participate, and there have generally always been a few women who post regularly. They are, unfortunately, a minority, and sometimes need sharp elbows to be heard over the "boy talk."

Kilts

How does SkirtCafe differ from Kilt-specific sites?

Those sites specifically focus on kilts (for men) and kilt-related topics.

SkirtCafe offers a place to discuss a wardrobe that includes not only kilts, but also sarongs, robes, and skirts.

Do I have to be Scottish to wear a kilt?

Absolutely not. After all, do you have to be Croatian to wear a necktie? (FYI, "Cravat" comes from the Croatian word for "Croatian.")

Do I have to be a member of a clan to wear the clan's tartan?

Do you have to be a Harvard student to wear a Harvard sweatshirt? Or a Yankees ballplayer to wear a Yankees cap?

Also, there are quite a few non-clan tartans: some U. S. states have their own tartans, and there are a fair number of generic tartans.

Also keep in mind that non-tartan kilts, such as tweed, are just as "traditional."

If someone is giving you a hard time, claiming you don't have the right to wear a particular tartan, you could point out that the whole idea is an anachronism. Back in the days of Highland clans, people wore whatever tartan they liked. The idea of "clan tartans" didn't start until the 19th century, long after the Highland clan system had been destroyed.

Why do men want to wear kilts?

Every kilt-wearing man has a different list, but here are some (some have been shamelessly plagiarized from the "Reasons to Wear a Utilikilt" page at Utilikilts.com):

  • Comfort:
    • No thick wad of cloth between the legs, rubbing at sensitive parts of the male anatomy.
    • Ventilation of same.
  • Ease of movement (no trouser legs getting in the way.)
  • Looks:
    • They show off the wearer's masculine legs.
    • Elegant non-conformist appearance.
  • Fun:
    • The associations with roguish masculinity: highland warriors, Rob Roy, Braveheart, etc.
    • Ye can't swirl the pleats on a pair of Dockers, can ye?
    • One word from the ladies: "access"

What are these "non-traditional" kilts about?

Non-traditional kilts are about making kilts a kind of clothing that any man can wear any time, anywhere.

Some are much like the traditional kilt, but a lot cheaper.

The "traditional" Scottish kilt that kiltmakers usually sell is hand-made out of 8 yards of heavy, expensive wool, costing something like $500, not counting all the other gear you are expected to buy, such as socks, sporran, jacket, knives, and maybe a claymore.

There are kilts that, to the casual eye, look the same, but cost one-tenth of the price. They aim to appeal to men who can't afford hand-made kilts, or who aren't sure they will like wearing a kilt enough to pay full price.

Others, such as Utilikilts, aim to compete with jeans and basketball shorts as casual wear. They are made out of the same fabrics as casual trousers: cotton twill or denim, sometimes nylon. They typically have pockets and are in plain "masculine" colors or camoflage prints. They are intended to be thrown in the washing machine, not sent to the dry cleaners, and usually have sewn-in pleats.

What do you all wear under your kilts?

There are a million humorous answers to this one, google "what's worn under the kilt" for as many as you like.

The serious answer is: whatever the kilt wearer wants to wear. "Nothing" is a possibility, but there are others. It depends upon the man, the occasion, the kilt, his health, etc. If you want to know what a particular man is wearing at a particular time, you have to ask.

However, most men would consider it an intrusive question unless they know you pretty well. Think about it: how would you feel if somebody you didn't know well (or maybe at all) asked you what you were wearing under your trousers?

I'd like to try wearing a kilt -- where can I get one?

If you want to buy one new, there are a number of on-line suppliers. <insert list of suppliers> A few warnings:

  1. Off-the-rack kilts have the same sizing issues as any other kind of clothing. If you order on-line, be sure you can return the kilt if it doesn't fit to your satisfaction.
  2. If you want to order a traditional, hand-made kilt, you have to get measured by someone who knows how to measure for kilts. This usually means visiting the kiltmaker in person. Most reputable kilt-makers don't sell kilts on-line for that reason.
  3. Unless you're sure you're going to like wearing a kilt, you may want to buy a cheap one. Stillwater Kilts, in particular, has a traditional-style kilt for around $30 which should satisfy all but the most particular kilt-wearer.


You can also buy a used kilt. Kiltmakers often have a few in stock, and there are usually some for sale on E-Bay. Be sure you can try it on and return it if it doesn't fit.

If you're pretty good with a sewing machine, you can try making your own kilt. There are books with instructions, and FolkWear has a pattern (which I've never tried.) Be warned that it's a lot of work.

Skirts

Why do you guys like to wear skirts, anyway?

There are at least as many answers as skirt-wearing men. Many of the reasons for wearing kilts apply here, also. I've lumped them together into a couple of categories:

  • Comfort (same as kilts)
  • Wanting to wear something "different" (Or: boredom with the usual men's fashions.)
  • Fun.
  • Liking the "look and feel."

Note that kilts are simply a particular type of skirt.

Compared to both trousers and kilts:

  • skirts are usually made of lighter fabrics, so they aren't as heavy and are a lot cooler.
  • Skirts, especially full skirts, move separately from your body, as if they had a mind of their own, and a lot of us find that enjoyable.
  • Skirts come in a wide variety of styles and lengths.

What kind of skirts are suitable/appropriate for men?

Pretty much any kind of skirt that fits you and that you feel comfortable in is appropriate. Usually, the main limitation is what you feel you can wear out and about without feeling embarrassed.

Men who are concerned about presenting a masculine appearance tend to go for denim skirts, especially in over-the-knee lengths.

However, this varies a lot. Among Contra-Dancers, for instance, men tend to favor many of the same styles of skirts that the women wear, especially brightly-colored or print skirts, in lightweight, gauzy fabrics, in all sorts of lengths. In counterculture circles, you'll see ankle-length tie-died skirts.

Where can I get skirts for men?

One place to look is women's clothing shops and departments. In summer, in particular, you'll see skirts. The biggest problem is that they may not fit you. Even if you can get them on, they may not be designed for your shape (women often have the same problem.)

Thrift (a.k.a. charity) shops are another place to try. The nice thing is that their skirts are usually pretty cheap, so if you decide it doesn't look as good on you as on the rack, you're not out a lot of money.

There are a few suppliers of skirts for men. SkirtCafe has some links to some companies that do this.

What do you wear under your skirt?

This is really the same as "what do you wear under your kilt?" See that section for answers to this FAQ.

Accessories for skirts and kilts

What legwear is appropriate for kilts? For skirts?

The traditional legwear with kilts is knee socks, often with garters with a bit of brightly-colored cloth ("flashes") hanging down.

This also works with skirts, too, especially knee-length skirts. However, you can also go bare-legged, with either short socks or no socks at all; this choice is popular where summers are hot!

Yet another possibility, popular with some men, is tights, either colored or sheer (sheer tights are called "pantyhose" in the US.) If it's cold and this isn't warm enough, you can wear knee socks over tights.

Underwear

First, note that discussion of underwear is against SkirtCafe policy. If you want to discuss your taste in undergarments, you will need to find another forum.

That said, men wear a wide variety of things under their skirt/kilt/etc., anything from shorts or trousers to nothing at all.

However, keep in mind, if you wear a skirt, kilt, sarong, or other "men's unbifurcated garment" (MUG), that the chances are much greater than with trousers that some mishap will occur which will show everyone around just what you are -- or aren't -- wearing under your MUG. I would suggest that whatever you wear (or don't wear), it should be something where, if such a mishap occurs, you won't feel so embarrassed that you can never go out in polite society again.

Also keep in mind that there are quite a few people out there who are kind of obsessed with what men have (or don't have) on under their kilts, as indicated by the large number of websites dedicated to photos of men in kilts who are inadvertently showing more than they intended to.

What is "going commando"?

This refers to wearing a kilt (sometimes a skirt) with nothing on underneath. The term comes from the rule in the British Army that soldiers wearing kilts should not wear underwear.

Note that this is only a rule in the British Army. If you're not in the British Army, the choice whether you wear something or nothing underneath is a matter of what you -- and the people around you -- are comfortable with.

Slips, Underkilts, and Petticoats

The terms "slip" and "petticoat" are often used almost interchangeably, but generally, a slip (or half-slip) is a piece of cloth made into a simple skirt intended to be worn under another skirt or a kilt, just as an undershirt is worn under a shirt, and for the same purpose: so that the slip will absorb any perspiration and body oils and the main skirt won't get stained or need to be washed as often. When worn under a kilt, it is sometimes called an "underkilt."

Slips are also worn for modesty -- to make it less likely that onlookers will see more than is intended. For instance, a kilt can get blown up by an errant wind, whereas a slip or underkilt is usually cut close enough to the body that it can't easily be blown up high enough to be embarrassing.

The term petticoat is generally used to refer a skirt intended to be worn under another skirt which is fuller than a slip. When most people think of petticoats, they think of square-dance or 50's style petticoats, which are intended to make a skirt stick out more and may also make it cooler. However, petticoats were traditionally designed to add insulation to a skirt and cut down on drafts by creating more layers that trap air. So one skirted option for staying warm in cold weather is to wear a long skirt with one or more long, less full petticoats underneath.

Discussion of slips and petticoats is not against SkirtCafe policy.

Social Issues -- For Skirt-Wearing Men

Will people look at me if I go out in public in a skirt?

Yes. People do look. Even if they don't say anything, most people will be quite aware that you're wearing a skirt.

If your goal in life is to be invisible, don't wear a skirt (This probably applies to women, too.)

There's a saying: it takes real balls to wear a skirt!

Will people give me a hard time if I go out in public in a skirt?

Seldom. For the most part, nobody will say anything at all.

People who don't know you, or only know you in a professional way (such as grocery store clerks) will usually not say anything at all.

In most cases, it's because they don't really care. As long as you're not a problem, and are civil to them, what's it to them?

Another reason is that they probably don't know what to say, and they've got enough to worry about without getting involved in your psychological motivations for doing something that doesn't affect them.

Even people who know you well may not say anything -- it will depend upon whether they feel they can talk about potentially awkward subjects with you.

Close family members (parents, spouse, children, etc.) are a different story, as they may feel that they will suffer from your non-conformity.

If you're married, or have a similarly close relationship with someone, it's a good idea to make sure they won't get upset before you go out where all her friends can see you.

What do I say if someone asks why I'm wearing a skirt?

The thing to keep in mind when anyone asks you is that there are two main reasons people will ask you this question:

  1. They are worried how your skirt-wearing will affect them
    1. People close to you will worry how it will affect your relationship with them and how other people will see them.
    2. People who aren't close to you will worry that your skirt-wearing is a sign that you're going to act weird in other ways.
  2. Simple curiosity.


You want your answer to be non-confrontational and to give the person you are talking to the impression that you are basically a normal guy with an isolated eccentricity. Sort of like bird-watching.

If you're dealing with strangers or acquantances, or even many friends, a simple answer that is appropriate to your relationship is best. They don't want to know all the details, anyway. Something like, "it's more comfortable" or "I felt like looking different" is usually enough. Depending on the skirt, you may be able to pretend that it's equivalent to a kilt.

If it's your SO or close family member, you may need to go into some detail and talk more about your motivations.

There's also a third reason why people will ask: they feel threatened. This is practically the only reason why someone will make negative remarks about your skirt. This doesn't happen as often as you might fear, but it's good to be prepared.

First, make sure they are being negative. Sometimes, what we think is hostility is just awkwardness. After all most people have no idea what to say to a man in a skirt. If they act overtly hostile, you should try to avoid them. Even more so if you think they might get violent. This has nothing to do with skirt-wearing and everything to do with common sense.

If they're just being insulting, the best response is to not let it bother you. After all, it's he (or she) that has the psychological problem, not you. Imagine if someone were taunting you with compliments: "hey, Mr. big muscles! Yoh, you there with the washboard abs!"

Questions that never go anywhere

These are questions that never seem to go anywhere, evidently because no one is happy with the answers, such as they are.

Why do women... / why don't women ... ?

Questions that start this way are always time-wasters and the threads they start often end up getting locked, for two reasons:

  1. Nearly all of the participants at SkirtCafe are male. Why would they know more than you about why non-male people do what they do? So the discussion turns into a political argument, generating lots of heat and little light.
    If you really want answers, try a site where the majority of participants are women, especially those dedicated to women's fashion or to women's issues (which usually means feminism.)
  2. Usually, those who post such questions and/or those who respond aren't really interested in the answer. They just want to complain that "Women" aren't doing what they would like them to do. This is not what SkirtCafe is for.

Actually, discussions about women are pretty much all off-topic for SkirtCafe, except for women's fashion, and even then, only as it relates to men's MUG-wearing.

Note that there are two fora at SkirtCafe for "off-topic" discussions -- that is, topics that don't relate to men wearing skirts/kilts/etc. They are: "Off Topic" and "Personal Stories."

Why aren't men allowed to wear skirts (or other MUGs)?

In the countries most of us live in, they are. There are few places where a man will get arrested for wearing a skirt. Most of us have gone on buses, airplanes, to Wal-Mart, to movies, etc., wearing skirts and nothing has happened to us.

Most of the time, it is only our own fears that prevent us from going out and about in a skirt or kilt.

The main exceptions are:

  1. Workplaces. Most employers have policies as to what is "acceptable" clothing, which does not include kilts for men, let alone skirts or sarongs.
  2. Places which have dress codes, such as fancy restaurants or events such as formal dinners. If they expect you to wear a jacket and tie, or something even more formal, they are likely to not let you in wearing a skirt or sarong. (Kilts will often be acceptable, though.)
  3. Law courts and the like. Judges generally have wide lattitude in deciding what sort of clothing counts as acceptable in their courtroom. If you're unlucky and the judge assumes that you are Showing Contempt For The Law just because you are wearing a skirt into a courtroom, you may not have much choice but to dress as he/she requires while you are in his/her courtroom.


Why don't more men wear kilts/skirts?

This is a problematic question, especially at SkirtCafe.

  1. If we want other people (esp. other men) to allow us the choice of skirts or kilts, we really need to give other men (and women) the freedom to wear trousers if they want to. This includes not complaining when they choose not to wear skirts, etc.
  2. If you want to know why men who don't wear skirts or kilts don't, a web site intended for men who do is not a good place to ask.


How can we promote kilts and/or skirts as an acceptable alternative to trousers (and shorts)?

This is essentially the question of how one can change popular tastes. If we could figure out how to do that, most of the fashion industry would be willing to give us a lot of money to tell them the secret....