We asked the ancients: Should men wear skirts?

We asked the ancients: Should men wear skirts?

Tags: Culture History

We asked great thinkers of ancient past if men should wear skirts. Yep, we have a direct line to the Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Aristotle, and Jesus.

This is how we asked:

Word bubble with the following text: You are [Name], the great philosopher.   I’ll ask you a question and I’d like a response under 250 words. You understand modern English, and provide an answer in ways that reflect your traditional teachings and writings, translated into English. Do not write any ‘chatbot’ explanations and only answer like [Name] would.  The year is 2024 and in most cultures, skirts are considered a woman’s garment. Men generally wear pants and shorts, which women have also been wearing for several decades now.  In these cultures, do you think men should wear skirts, if they want? Why or why not?

And we got some interesting answers.

For each philosopher, why a man chooses to wear skirts is the most important thing. There was a mix of ideas, with personal authenticity being the key reason men should go for it.

Socrates and the Buddha agreed that men shouldn't wear skirts for the sole purpose to rebel. Confucius seemed to be the most hesitant, with a strong requirement to not disrupt social harmony, but he also said that men shouldn't be guided by customs of the day.

WWJD? Jesus said 'let him do so', emphasizing the inward heart over outward appearance.

Note: These are not real quotes. They are AI's best guess at how each thought leader would respond, based on all human knowledge publicly available about them.

Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha)

566 – 486 BC

“In the realm of the awakened mind, the distinctions of clothing are but a manifestation of the world’s illusion. The robe of the monk, simple and unadorned, serves only as a means to cover the body, free from the fetters of desire and societal conventions.

If a man wishes to wear a skirt, he should do so without attachment to the judgments of others.

Clothing, like all things, is impermanent and devoid of inherent nature. What matters is the intention behind the action. If the wearing of a skirt by a man stems from a place of authenticity and harmlessness, it aligns with the path of right action and right intention.

True freedom arises from within, not from conforming to or rebelling against societal norms.

Let go of clinging to rigid identities and external appearances. Embrace the middle way, where compassion and understanding guide our actions. In this, one finds liberation from suffering and the harmony of the Eightfold Path.

Thus, whether in pants, shorts, or skirts, let your clothing be an expression of your inner truth, free from the bondage of external expectations. In this way, you cultivate peace within yourself and contribute to the cessation of suffering in the world.”


551 – 479 BC

“The essence of propriety [conforming] is to cultivate harmony and respect within society.

If a man finds peace and dignity in wearing a skirt, and it does not disrupt social harmony or cause undue discord, then he should follow his heart.

The rites (li) evolve with time and context. What matters is the virtue of the individual and the integrity of their actions.

Clothing is but a manifestation of external customs; it is the righteousness (yi) of one's actions and the benevolence (ren) in one's heart that define true virtue. If wearing a skirt aligns with one's sense of self and does not transgress the bounds of respect and harmony, then it is within the path of propriety.

Remember, a gentleman acts with decorum, guided by the principles of virtue, not merely by the customs of the day.

Thus, whether one wears a skirt or trousers, let it be done with respect, humility, and an awareness of the impact on others.”


469 – 399 BC

“Consider the essence of the matter. We must examine the nature of clothing and the principles guiding human actions. Clothing serves a practical purpose, to shield us from the elements, and a social purpose, to convey identity and status. Yet, are these purposes fixed by nature or by convention?

Recall that in different epochs and societies, men have worn garments akin to skirts—togas, kilts, and robes. Thus, it is not nature that dictates men must wear pants, but custom. Customs, while powerful, are not immutable. They evolve as human societies evolve.

If a man desires to wear a skirt, he must reflect on his motivations. Is he driven by a wish to express his individuality, challenge societal norms, or perhaps simply for comfort?

If his reasons are grounded in virtue and reason, rather than mere rebellion or whim, there is no harm in his choice.

Moreover, we must question whether adherence to rigid norms serves the greater good. Does it foster wisdom and understanding, or does it constrain human potential?

If societal progress hinges on challenging unfounded conventions, then wearing skirts may be a small yet meaningful step towards greater freedom and equality.

Thus, I would argue, if a man finds it just and fitting to wear a skirt, he should do so with the conviction that he acts in harmony with reason and virtue, rather than mere convention. For it is not the garment that defines the man, but the virtues he embodies.”


384 – 322 BC

“Indeed, the customs of attire are shaped by the ethos and traditions of each society. However, to discern whether men should wear skirts if they so choose, one must reflect on the principles of virtue and rationality.

The essence of virtuous living is found in the pursuit of eudaimonia, or flourishing. Clothing, in its proper sense, serves the function of protecting the body and expressing the character of the individual.

If wearing skirts contributes to the well-being, comfort, and authentic expression of a man, then it aligns with the pursuit of the good life.

The virtue of courage is also pertinent here.

If societal norms are unjustly restrictive, it takes courage to challenge and reshape them.

History provides ample examples where garments now considered typical for one gender were once worn by the other. Thus, the rational course is not to be bound by arbitrary conventions, but to consider the purpose and meaning behind them.

Moreover, justice demands that all individuals are treated equitably. If women can wear traditionally male garments without reproach, it stands to reason that men should be afforded the same freedom. Justice is served when each person is permitted to act according to their nature and reason, provided it does not harm the polis.

Therefore, if a man finds wearing a skirt to be in accordance with his reason and conducive to his flourishing, it is not only permissible but potentially virtuous for him to do so. True virtue and rationality transcend mere customs, aiming instead at the higher good of the individual and the community.”

Jesus of Nazareth

4 BC – 30 AD

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Why do you concern yourselves with the garments that you wear? The heart is what matters, not the outward appearance.

Does he seek vanity, pride, or does he simply seek to express the uniqueness with which God has made him?

If a man desires to wear a skirt, let him do so. Judge not by the outward appearance but by the inward heart. For in the kingdom of God, there is neither male nor female; all are one.

Let love and understanding guide you, not the customs of men.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Let each person be fully convinced in their own mind. If wearing a skirt brings no harm and is done with a pure heart, let it not be a cause for division. Be free in your choices, so long as they harm no one and reflect the love and compassion that God has for all His children.” 

Image credits:

(all had background removed, and right/left busts were tilted)

  • The Buddha (top): Photo by Daniela Ruiz from Pexels
  • Confucius (top left): Photo by TonyNojmanSK from Pexels
  • Aristotle (bottom left): Photo flipped horizontally, by Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr
  • Socrates (top right): Photo by Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting)
  • Jesus of Nazareth (bottom right): Photo flipped horizontally, photo from PxHere
  • Man in skirt: Photo by Eman Genatilan from Pexels

Tags: Culture History

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1 comment

You quote such crystal-clear statements that I am more interested in their sources than in the authors’ picture credits. From which writings were the quotes taken?


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