Mark Bryan, an American robotics engineer currently living in Germany, believes clothes are the last thing that should be gendered.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 20, 2020. It has since been updated.
Somewhere along the course of human history, society decided that there are only two genders among humans and that each should be defined by a set of strict and distinct parameters. Any deviation from one's assigned gender tropes would be met with strong condemnation and ostracism, forcing generations of our kind to speak, walk, act and dress in accordance with these arbitrary rules forced on them from birth. Fortunately, recent years have seen more and more individuals questioning and dismantling the overwhelming number of gender stereotypes still thriving in our midst. Among them is Mark Bryan, an American robotics engineer currently living in Germany, who firmly believes clothes are the last thing that should be gendered.
Bryan, who describes himself as a "straight, happily married guy that loves Porsches, beautiful women, and incorporating high heels and skirts into my daily wardrobe," has been rocking skirts full-time for about three years now. While he doesn't think it's any different from wearing a pair of pants, the father-of-three's absolute irreverence for gender stereotypes and incredibly stylish outfit choices have gained him more than 127,000 followers on Instagram. Speaking to McGill Media about his "unconventional" style preferences and how it has affected his personal life, Bryan revealed that it was actually his wife who recommended skirts to him.
"I was already wearing high heels with pants, sometimes women's pants. My wife asked why I wouldn't wear a dress or a skirt, that I have nice legs to show," he said. "I choose skirts only, as dresses seemed too feminine, with the shoulders and necklines. So I adapted to my hybrid look! Men's clothes above the waist and women's clothes below."
Bryan revealed that the wide range of clothing options available to women was a key player in his decision to adopt this unique style. "Different skirt styles, more colors, and patterns! Plus in summer it's cooler, and with leggings or thermo-insulated hose relatively warm in winter," he said.
"You got to make sacrifices somewhere. Oh, and hose. I need the compression as I'm prone to clots in my legs," Bryan added. When asked if his fashion choices have had a positive impact on his family, he revealed: "I really can't say positive, but no negatives either as I am still the same husband and father."
As for how receptive others have been to his hybrid look, Bryan explained that, in his experience, "95% of people don't care what you wear as long as it has no effect on them. It's the 5% that catcall, whistle, yell rude remarks only because they feel threatened to some extent."
While some people still consider traditional gender tropes to be sacred, Bryan chooses to ignore any and all negative comments thrown his way. "It's not worth my time to explain myself. I find I am pretty thick-skinned when it comes to negative comments and focus on the positive comments, which come in much more often," he said.
Spilling some valuable style secrets, Bryan revealed that except for his suits, almost all his clothes and heels are either store-bought or purchased online. "I have a talented seamstress that converts my pants to skirts. Since I prefer pencil skirts there is just enough material to make the skirt. This way my suits match," he said.
When asked about his go-to outfit for when he wants to feel "spectacular," Bryan said: "A tough question, it depends on the season. Summer, I like to wear sleeveless polo shirts, heeled sandals, and a tight, just above knee-length skirt. Winter, a longer skirt and boots, with a lightweight pullover. Does feeling being dressed, spectacular every day, count?"
He stressed that wearing a skirt and pair of heels feels as natural and special to him as wearing a brand new men's suit and footwear. "But now, I can mix and match and almost have a new wardrobe every day," he added. "A sense of pride!"