Elephant in the Room: Skirts and the Male Bulge

Elephant in the Room: Skirts and the Male Bulge

Tags: Guides Style tips

One issue for a number of skirted males, is whether to obscure the appearance of a bulge. We'll explore different perspectives, along with a look at the textiles, prints, tailoring, and accessories that can help.

Plenty of males in the 60s and 70s had no issue with letting their bulge be known. Not just rock stars (but definitely, musicians).

Left: David Bowie with jean bulge; Middle: Tom Jones with jean bulge and gun and binoculars; Right: Freddie Mercury with shorts bulge on stage.

Male bulges are more or less accepted in ballet, bicycle racing, football, swimming, and figure skating. They're fairly normalized under jeans, although a denim fly can obscure things.

With female bodies, there’s a full spectrum of concern on the topic of ‘cameltoe’ in pants or tights—many don’t give it a single thought, and some act like it’s the worst thing to ever happen. Not to mention concern around VPL (visible panty line), or the market for nipple covers.

Back on the male side, some might think they should have a big bulge, if anything. Sadly, even progressive people still make jokes and insults about size, like it matters.

We all have different bodies. If someone with male anatomy wears constricting attire to hide the bulge, they lose one of the best features of skirts: open, airy, freedom. Quite the opposite of jeans: 

Jeans with bunched up fabric near the crotch. Why men wear skirts: reason #6. No wads of extra fabric near the crotch.
From @everybodyskirts on Instagram

So why would males ever want to hide their anatomy? We’re not female—why should we pretend to be? And we’re not Ken dolls.

Avoiding attention

Some people are obsessed with what’s going on ‘down there’, and if they see someone who doesn’t fit the “normal” sex they’re used to seeing in a skirt, their eyes might find themselves glancing (or worse, staring) at your junk. There’s also a growing awareness of trans people, which might amplify this obsession with genitalia.

Males who wear skirts might not enjoy this attention.


Secondly, some may want a minimalist look. Even male ballet dancers wear a ‘dance belt’ which is like a flexible jock strap that presents a “smooth and inexplicit contour to onlookers”.

This desire may come from the flush female look that society has taught us is “normal” in a skirt:

White woman in a tight brown skirt, with hand on hip.

Bodily discomfort and double standards

Though bulges are normal in swimming, speedos can be deemed ‘creepy’ in certain pockets of culture. Whether this is from a discomfort with bodies in general, trauma, or something else, ideas like this can weigh on a skirted male.

Males in many cultures typically don’t have the clothing freedom available to females, for example in showing curvature, flaunting their thighs, etc.


Around family or children, some may feel hyper aware of any appearance of their bulge and wear specific skirts, if at all. Like the speedo example, this can come from a cultural idea that certain body parts should be hidden as much as possible.

At work, males are less likely to wear skirts—especially those that accentuate the bulge. This could stem from fear of job loss, not being promoted, or excessive caution around indecency.

Other surroundings where males might avoid bulgy skirts are religious settings, public transportation, and conservative societies. Not wanting to add fire to recent anti-trans rhetoric is also totally fair.


Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in hiding or obscuring the bulge. Just like there’s no shame in avoiding spandex shorts for a grocery run.

How to hide the bulge

This isn’t an article about tucking. It’s about how to make the bulge less apparent by choosing certain skirts and accessories. Don’t worry—constricting attire is not necessary.

To understand what makes the bulge more or less apparent, we’ve grouped things into four areas:

Textile: 3 scales from 'Bulge' to 'No bulge': Clingy, stretchy to Rigid; Smooth, shiny to textured, matte; Thin, light to Thick, heavy

A thin, clingy skirt compared to rigid denim with a fly:

Thin pink skirt on left, thick denim pink skirt on right.

A stretchy, tight miniskirt compared to a thick, wool skirt:

Thin purple pattern skirt on left, thick red/black wool skirt on right


Print: 2 scales from 'Bulge' to 'No bulge': Bright to Dark; Solid colour to Irregular pattern

Bright vs. dark (shadows have more contrast with brighter colours):

Light pink denim skirt on left, black skirt with pattern on right

Solid colour vs. irregular pattern:

Light brown skirt on left, yellow/red/black striped pattern skirt on right


Tailoring: 3 scales from 'Bulge' to 'No bulge': Tight to Loose, flared; Single-layer to Multi-layer; Low rise to Belly draped

Fabric layering can take many forms, from pleats, folds, frills, and bunching, to flies, aprons, and snaps. Some skirts even create a partial/angled overlap, like this one.

Here are a couple basic examples of single to multi layer:

Front pocket:

Black skirt on left with white stripes, orange/green/black skirt on right with front pocket


Light thin pink skirt on left, multi-layer grey frilled skirt on right

Here's what low rise vs. belly draped might look like:

Black with white stripes skirt on left, loose belly high light blue skirt on right


Accessories: 3 scales from 'Bulge' to 'No bulge' - Short top to Long top; No undies to Flattening undies; No bag to Front hanging bag

Short top vs. long top:

Tight black studded mini skirt on left, same on right but with long yellow plaid shirt

You can try cotton slips, control top tights, or even a skort. Certain underwear will also have a flattening effect:

tight purple mini skirt on left, same on right but with flattening underwear which can be seen at legs slightly (black)

A simple front-hanging bag can do wonders:

light brown mini skirt on left, same on right but with leather bag covering groin area


Bulge scorecards

Which skirts naturally hide the bulge well?

A kilt happens to be among the best. It's made of sturdy wool with a tartan pattern, often darker in colour. The garment has multiple layers which then overlap at the front like a wrap. They drape down from the belly, and a 'sporran ' pouch traditionally hangs in front. 

A picture of a kilt with 10 scales from 'bulge' to 'no bulge', scoring high on most (except 'no undies to flattening undies')

The skater skirt often comes in solid colours, but the layered folds give it a bulge obscuring edge even when in white:

Male bodied person wearing white skater skirt, being ranked across various scales from 'Bulge' to 'No bulge'. Multi-layer is highest ranking towards 'No bulge'.

↳ More scorecards coming soon!

    Wearing skirts while male takes courage. Ultimately, we need to find the right balance between social and physical comfort.

    If you’re relatively new to skirts, start with the less bulgy options. Consider who you’ll be around when choosing your outfit, but keep in mind:

    • Far less people will care or stare than you might expect
    • Bulges look more obvious from the owner's view vs. someone else's

    Any concern you might have will fade with experience.

    As skirts become less exclusive to feminine fashion, skirted bulges will become normal. Innovation in tailoring is also making skirts more fit for the male body.

    Whether you choose to obscure the bulge or not, have fun exploring the options! And don’t overthink it ;)

    Tags: Guides Style tips

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    To bulge or not to bulge? That is the question, and everybody’s answer is different, as one would expect. This article pretty much covers all the angles, Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.


    For me it’s just about the look I’m going for. Most of the time I don’t care, but with some tight skirts I have, I want a smooth look. I’ve only once had someone mention that they could see my “boy bulge” while wear a sweater dress over a knee length skirt.

    Robert Minch

    Naturally occurring bulges are nothing to be ashamed of. On the other hand, we might not want to exaggerate them either, depending on how we want to be seen; for example, Ancient Greek statues have unnaturally small penises to highlight intellect over animal urges.

    While I like having structural details such as pockets on my skirts, to make them look more manly, I’m not particularly fond of front zippers. I think they draw unnecessary attention to the crotch, and so kilt-like flat fronts look much nicer. There’s no need to have a zipper at front centre in a skirt, as it won’t be useful for toilet business. Front zippers also exaggerate the bulge of the fabric itself that happens when you sit down.


    I have never worried about a bulge but most of my skirts are A cut style skirts and I almost never wear underwear, the comfort is the main reason for wearing skirts to begin with. I am very cautious as to how I sit so I don’t expose myself. If someone is going to stare and make an issue about it it won’t matter what we are wearing. And at that point it’s their problem not mine.


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