Unbifurcated Rebellion!


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Down through history, there have been plenty of examples of non-pant garments for men including kilts, sarongs, caftans and so forth. Why did they go away? The answer is they didn't.

Today, there is a growing movement to revive the use of some of these garments in the West, not only as expressions of ethnic heritage but as comfortable, practical and stylish parts of the male wardrobe. Yup, we're talkin' men in skirts. The current popular umbrella term is M.U.G. (Men's Unbifurcated Garment). The old stand-bys like kilts are once again gaining acceptance and are being joined by newly invented garments so that the number of choices open to men is growing rapidly.

And why not? MUGs fell from popularity in Europe due to a number of factors. One being that pants were often better for those colder climates. Another being that trousers and the men's suit, once they evolved and were adopted by the ruling classes, became a stamp of membership in the club called "Civilization." Thus, by the 19th Century, we see natives of many non-western cultures being forced to wear pants and suits, garments totally not suited to their warm environments, just so they could fit in with their overlords' sense of propriety.

OK, that sounds like some fuzzy hippie reactionary thinking, but you get the point. It's a fact that MUGs today constitute something of a rebellion in our society. Most MUG wearers have to be considered non-conformists on a basic level. They wear skirts in a society not accustomed to seeing them on men and often that society will make assumptions about them as a result.

And you know what the worst assumption is, or at least what many think it is: sexual orientation. But let's spell it out: just because you choose to wear a MUG, it doesn't mean you're gay. Duh. It's obvious to any rational thinker, but that concern over pre-fab, surface-level sexual identity still nags at a lot of guys who would otherwise throw on a kilt.

And yet for the most part the opposite is the truth. While expanded gender roles are a factor in the new popularity of MUGs in America and Europe, this is only a small part of the movement. Practical considerations, improved health, comfort and yes, machismo, all play a role. For example, the Macabee skirt is marketed solely to hikers and river rafters while modern kilts like the Utilikilt are becoming icons of classic male no-nonsense individualism. I can tell you that some of the best compliments I have ever gotten from the ladies have been while wearing a MUG. As one gal I know puts it, "Confidence is sexy."

As for the guys, I get the occasional confused stare, but nobody says a word. And that's no different than if you wore some extreme tats or body piercings, ya know? Time to deprogram yourself. If there's one common factor I have found among dudes who wear MUGs, it's this: They are intelligent.

Meanwhile, the rebellion is gaining momentum. Currently, it's benefiting from the need of our culture to constantly seek something new and diverting. MUGs are appearing on Paris runways and being sported by celebrities at gala events. This assures them the official stamp of "cool" that many seem to need in order to feel comfortable as consumers and wearers. Youth rebellion is also lending a hand. Witness the fact that the youth-oriented fashion chain store Hot Topic now offers a "One Legged Pant" as part of their line-up. They wussed out by not calling it what it is, a skirt. But hey, it's still progress. Maybe MUGs will remain just a fashion novelty, but then again, this may be the thin edge of the wedge.

It's a bit dated now, but a poll appeared on AOL back in 2001:

Q: Should men include skirts in their wardrobe?

- Yes, everyone should wear whatever they want. 2193 55%
- No, men should wear pants or shorts. 1111 28%
- Only if they were very masculine-looking skirts. 646 16%

Total votes: 3950

Q: Men, would you ever wear a skirt?

- Sure. Women wear pants all the time. 886 31%
- Maybe I'd don a kilt in Scotland. 780 28%
- No chance. 693 25%
- I already do. 412 14%

Total votes: 2771

So, it may be that MUGs are here again for the duration. They aren't for everyone, but hell, they wouldn't be as much fun if they were.

Meanwhile, guys over in Scotland, Indonesia, India, Africa and many other parts of the globe are saying, "What took you so long?"

Up the rebels.