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Actor Brad Pitt returned to his 1999 Fight Club roots this week when he wore a skirt to the Bullet Train premiere in Berlin. Even though this isn't the first time the Oscar winner wore what is seen as womenswear, he is amongst a group of men in popular culture challenging the intersection between gender and clothing.
Back in 1999, Pitt was a Rolling Stone cover star, and after starring in Fight Club, a film that explores themes of masculinity, the handsome hunk wore several miniskirts, hoop earrings and gloves. His choice of wearing a skirt on the red carpet isn't a surprise to fans, but it's a statement that aligns with the fashion principles of Harry Styles, Jaden Smith and more.
Why Are Skirts So Controversial?
Clothing being seen as a tool for making a political statement isn't new to history. Most images of Civil Rights leaders and the overall movement include reverends, teachers and more wearing their Sunday best. It is rare to find images of Civil Rights activists in casual clothing such as denim. At the time, denim was seen as the workwear for the sharecropper. Due to its association with both poverty and the rural worker, James Brown never wore it and didn't allow his band to sport it.
However, understanding that denim was the workwear of the working class, Martin Luther King Jr. wore denim and a work shirt when he was arrested in Birmingham, Ala. Wearing workwear instead of a suit was a conscious decision to show his allyship with the rural Black southerner. The images that were taken of Dr. King prior to being arrested were highly publicized and continue to be analyzed in classrooms all over the country. His arrest in Alabama was not only King making a statement, but shortly after his arrest, he wrote A Letter From a Birmingham Jail.
With the current political climate surrounding both women and LGBTQ rights, there has been an increase in cis-men wearing what has been considered women's clothing. When Styles' December Vogue cover was released, the musician was met with both praise and backlash for wearing a dress. But it was clear to many fans that the former One Direction member was making it known that his identity isn't defined by what he wears.
For Kid Cudi, his decision to wear dresses and skirts was his way of not only paying homage to rock icon Kurt Cobain, who also wore dresses, but it's another form of self-expression. In an interview with GQ Virgil Abloh, who designed Cudi's dress for an SNL performance last year, told the publication, "For me, it represents personal empowerment despite any social norm, it vehemently represents confidence. It's Cudi knocking on your television screen saying, 'Hey! Be yourself.'"
As politicized as the male skirt has become, similar garments are still common amongst men in various cultures. But, in today's climate, it looks as though the skirt is becoming the norm for menswear, and ultimately, the clothing binary we have associated with it will become obsolete.
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