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History of Skirts – Garment For Both Men and Women?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

History of Skirts This garment of women’s wear has a huge history measured in centuries. In different periods of time in various countries a skirt was first an item of clothing for men and only several centuries later it became the attribute of women’s wear. The history of the skirt is  amazing and attractive as any other story of the costume in the world of fashion.

This garment was introduced not so long ago, only several centuries ago. The clothing was not specified as for men and for women for thousand years. Ancient Roman and Greeks had to do without skirts preferring comfortable loose tunics, mantels and chitons.

The word «skirt» comes from the Turkish language «ubba» which stands for «long upper wear with long wide sleeves». However, this word specified not only the garment of the wardrobe which was fastened to the waist having no sleeves, and the word referred to long coats, either. The name and look of this garment undergone sea changes undergone since then in the fashion industry. In the Dark Ages the word «upa» was used to define a loincloth for women and the underwear for men. Peter I issued the decree in 1701 when the word «skirt» was ordered to define just the female garment, though the skirt was made for men and women in many countries. Since the ancient times men in hot countries used to wear short loincloths. Shenti and sindon used by the Egyptians and chitons of the Romans were the prototypes of modern skirts. Manly Vikings battling with enemies in severe climatic conditions borrowed the kilt from the Scots and had it shortened to the waistline.

Anaksirid trousers were the invention of the ancient Persians and the skirt became as wide to style as the full circle skirt. This item of wardrobe was for men also and then it was getting narrower and narrower proportioned as trousers. The history of skirts for men could be ended here, though men from time to time return to skirts in every century and in every country.

In the late 15th century the history of the skirt for ladies began in Western Europe. Just afterthe period of cruel inquisition for women the skirt resembled rather the Roman chiton pickedup at the neck and tied at the waistline. It was used a shirt for men while women wore thatas a blouse under or over the dress.

Some time later a curious lady had with the idea to cut it into two parts. Since then a skirt was made in various fascinating style, though always fastened to the waist. In the 16th century the skirt of huge width were styled which were worn one over another in layers. The structure was heavy enough that a woman felt difficult to move. A metal framework from bands was used then, when the structure was put on the floor, and then a lady just «entered» into it fastening it to the girdle.

The 17th century was more liberal and the clothing appeared more comfortable with the effect of wide thighs so trendy that time created by the mass of light skirts one over another. In winter time the number of skirts sometimes reached twelve. All these multi-layer skirts were decorated with pretentious embroidery, laced waves and fancy flounces decorate.

The dome-shaped skirt was returned in fashion in the 18th century. Wooden and metal frameworks were again used and also the whalebone was introduced. In the 19th century the crinoline, flax covers interlaced with the horsehair were introduced in the industry which was sooner replaced by the wire. Such light frameworks for dresses were afforded by all society layers though the weight of the dress itself could go to one hundred kg. So, a wedding dress with a long train could weigh to over a hundredweight. A bride was not able to walk by herself in such an ensemble and she was taken to the church in hands.

In the early 20th century closely-fitted fashionable skirts tightened at the ankles were trendy in Europe. It was rather difficult for women to walk wearing such a skirt. Almost all skirt models with every changes appeared thanks to music and theater. Such a model of a «lame» skirt was invented by Cecilia Sorel, the English actress, for her new role at the theater and just after the first night these skirts were custom by ladies to appear in streets like her.

Rock-n-roll added aerial and wide skirts in fashion which let legs and underwear of dancers open when dancing fast. The impetuous century showed its influence to the length of the hem of the skirt and they become shorten drastically. And the real revolution was made by mini skirts offered by Mary Quant, the creative and adventurous designer. The end of the 60s was typical with the image of the teen-woman on the stage and in real life. A new woman with a new look required a new attire.

Several fashion designers in the end of the first decade of the new millennium demonstrated new collections with skirts for men, so unusual for the wide public today due to tendency of men to have a masculine image. Yohji Yamamoto, Yves Saint-Laurent, Alexander McQueen introduced extravagant skirts in their collections intentionally. The world of today was overflow with the love to unisex style. Whether skirts for men will go into the public or stay just a designer offer – it takes times to see.

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Martinus   |2011-12-03 09:23:39
Very well written history and absolute correctly researched.
The skirt became common public a women's garment in the 17th century, beginning with the French Revolution in westernized societies. Men in other cultures kept skirted garments until today.
Mara  - Mini-skirts ... For men   |2012-02-06 08:38:33
This article has some gaps. The skirt was a male garment until today, but women took over (call it borrowed) it from men in their own style.
Mini skirts were common for men in western Europe until 17th century so that newspaper in central Europe (German) wrote complain that men's skirts already so short that people could see what's underneath. Mary quant introduced the miniskirt in the 1960's for women, and that was new after the skirt already was only knee length for women. Before there was a huge change for women's skirt length after WW I.
After WW II women took over pants, suits, shirts, ties, shorts, man's hats and caps.
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