“Too many men are chasing validation of social acceptance from strangers and peers.”
Through Covid lockdowns, Brad Nelson found himself reminiscing about a past holiday almost 30 years ago in Greece. He remembered riding an old Vespa around the island of Kos, acutely aware he was getting sunburnt, and decided to do something about it.
“I pulled into a roadside store and the only thing they sold were sarongs.” A large piece of light fabric often wrapped around the waist and worn as a skirt. “I thought, why not? and bought one. When I returned to the resort, fellow holiday makers wouldn’t stop commenting on how good it looked. Girls were encouraging their boyfriends to wear one too.”
Brad loved the freedom of wearing a skirt and decided to visit his local op shop once lockdowns were over to find more.
“I went to a local op shop and started looking at skirts and picked out a couple I really liked. I went home, tried them on, and they looked awesome. So, I started wearing them out. The reaction was very positive.”
Brad’s skirt collection, thrifted from charity or op shops across Melbourne, grew. As he up-cycled traditionally women’s clothing, styling for them for the ‘everyday’ man on the street, he shared his fashion journey on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
“I’m not a fashionista and don’t claim to be. I think I just realised there’s more to life than myself and I try to work out a way of adding more value to others, and I found that in fashion.” Brad explains. Brad’s style is self-described as flexible, genderless yet masculine with an air of confidence. Brads style embraces centuries old traditions of men wearing skirts and he’s inspired by the history and legacy of the Roman Empire and the Egyptians. To more modern influences like Thom Browne, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gautier and Terry Singh.
“I’m not getting dressed to other people’s opinions and I don’t get dressed for the ‘stranger’. I tend to go into an op shop to see what I find and how I can wear a skirt in a masculine way, whether it’s got flowers on it or a variety of colours and shapes,” Brad says.
Through @Gettingdressedwithbrad, Brad aims to show the world that fashion knows no boundaries. Fashion should be about inclusivity of all people regardless of gender and cultural differences. It’s an opportunity to embrace one’s authentic self and a powerful tool for societal change. “As soon as you wear a skirt, I call that the ‘Cape of Confidence’. You’ve broken that peer pressure matrix.”
Advocating on his channels in support of men’s mental health, Brad challenges the social norms of what men should wear and act. “Too many men are chasing validation of social acceptance from strangers and peers, that can trigger many anxieties” Brad explains. “Once they make a small move, such as wearing a skirt, I’ve seen the change it makes to their confidence. Not only in clothing but other aspects of their lives.”
Brad remains steadfast in his mission to promote inclusivity and authentic self-expression when chatting to people from all backgrounds who approach him wanting to know more. “I’m always getting reactions from people – straight guys, real alpha males, tradie type of guys, the trans community and within the LGBTQIA+. There are a lot of people who come up to me asking: What is this all about? How do you do it? It’s all about confidence really and letting go of what their peer group says they should define themselves as.”
“This is a message of confidence, self-belief, empowering yourself and you know, wearing a skirt does that.”
You might find Brad rummaging in the racks of our St Kilda and Fitzroy op shops on the hunt for a new skirt to add to his ever-growing collection. “I like the one in Fitzroy, Brunswick Street. I’ve got some really cool skirts from there, I think that’s a great option. If you want to stand out and want to be proud of your styling, then take off to an op shop with a $30 budget and look through some skirts. Try things on, take some boots with you and see what you feel comfortable wearing.”
Stay up to date with our monthly newsletter, Heartbeat