The menswear skirt continues on the path to 2021 fashion domination. On Monday night, Lil Nas X sat down for an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in a boxy ecru blazer with a red plaid skirt and combat boots, an ensemble from Virgil Abloh’s Fall 2021 Louis Vuitton collection. It was a strong look on its own, but also the latest sign that the skirt, or dress, is evolving into a standard garment in American menswear.
It would be a misstep to say that Lil Nas X, a style and music maverick who turned a moment of TikTok virality into worldwide fame, follows in anyone’s footsteps. Still, his casual kilt is the latest example of one of fashion’s few commanding trends, with style leaders like Harry Styles (in last December’s Vogue), Dan Levy (at the September 2020 Emmys), Jeremy O. Harris, and GQ’s June/July cover star A$AP Rocky all putting their own twist on it.
In part, this is thanks to the way menswear continues to embrace gender fluid fashion. But the skirt is also becoming something of a menswear staple, with designers increasingly peppering their lines with easy-to-wear, loose silhouettes like Nas’s—a shift we clocked earlier this year as “the sober, tasteful menswear skirt.” (One can see why Nas might have gravitated towards the more forgiving and modest skirt: on the show, he discussed the wardrobe malfunction he experienced during his recent Saturday Night Live performance, when the crotch of his pants split open as he poledanced to his hit “Call Me By Your Name.”)
Nas’s look is essentially grunge-casual—a menswear skirt perhaps explicitly designed for viewers to try at home. Personally, I thought of Alexander McQueen in his red family tartan and Mickey Mouse sweater—working the kilt as a cozy, if polished, basic.
Kid Cudi also turned to Abloh for his own gender fluid fashion look earlier this year, when he wore a chintz Off-White dress in April on SNL. Among the bevy of gender fluid designers who have emerged over the past five years, it is somewhat unexpected that Abloh is a primary voice in the movement, though his Fall 2021 Vuitton collection featured several skirts. And Abloh’s greatest skill is his uncanny grasp of the zeitgeist; he’s a designer who adores nuance and ambivalence, qualities that surely attract him to fashion’s new enchantment with fluid styles and shapes. “For me, it represents personal empowerment despite any social norm. It vehemently represents confidence,” Abloh told GQ in April, of Cudi’s look. “It’s Cudi knocking on your television screen saying, ‘Hey! Be yourself.’” Who will skirt up next? The world awaits.