My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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girls in boy-wear

I loved the fact that the girls could do grunge and skater just like the boys – flannels, phat pants, etc. Many of the butchy girls i knew wore boxer briefs and bought all of their clothes from the boys’ shelves. I’ve been utterly fascinated by contemporary boys’ street wear, in particular the style that involves wearing big pants with no belt below your ass (where your ass shows your underwear) combined with a long baggy T. This outfit typically requires holding onto your pants so that they don’t fall down and yanking them up every few minutes. While i know many a-parent sees this and screams, “WHY?,” my reaction is, “Where are the butchy girls?” I have yet to see a girl sporting the same style. Hell, i see very few girls sporting any form of baggy pants these days. Has streetwear moved to being completely gender divided? It sure seems like it. 🙁

On that note, check out this Pink video about “stupid girls.” (tx Tom)

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31 comments to girls in boy-wear

  • I think that girls, riot grrrls, and even butch girls are still females and females have a sense of what is utterly absurd in fashion … no matter what the trend. I for one think that you can do baggy street-ware’ and have it ‘fit’ on your body. Baggy does not translate to ‘about to fall off your ass and show your uber cool CK Boxer briefs’. Here in Atlanta I see a lot of urban kids sporting the camo look -even camo baggy shorts, jams, clam-diggers…what ever it is that hits below your knee and above your ankle. My point is that females have a sense of fashionable and comfortable, and fall of pants are neither.

  • Wow Randy… a little sweeping on the sexist stereotypes, no? I’ve got two words that completely disproves your theory… Stiletto Heels (particularly as street/work attire).

    Actually, the reason I think that the baggy pants thing got popular in the first place is prison. That’s right, baggy pants with no belt because they won’t let you have one inside prison. Prison culture permeated Gang Culture which leaked out into Hip-Hop culture which joined other street-wear cultures.

    I think women’s prison culture is significantly different, which is why the trend is so slow to catch on with women.

  • Actually, I know a fair number of butches who *do* wear extremely baggy pants, or at least pants that sag far enough that they sit at or below the hips and leave the crotch hanging somewhere above the knees.

    One of the reasons you may not be noticing this is the very reason they’re doing it – lower-hanging, baggier pants conceal a feminine figure by de-emphasizing the waist, which in turn creates a straight line down from the shoulders, minimizing the appearance of breasts and hips. It also conceals what you may or may not have between your legs (which, as we all know, tight jeans show off in sometimes obscene detail). So combine that with short hair, a baseball cap, and an equally baggy shirt, and the chance that you’re going to be reading them as female decreases dramatically – thus making it seem as though there are no women sporting this style.

    (Incidentally, the reason I know this is because it’s not only popular andro/butch attire, it’s a really commonly-cited passing strategy for FTMs.)

  • Maudite – i’ve definitely noticed that FtMs and the most masculine are still wearing loose pants and baggy shirts (and binding) like they always have, but they haven’t picked up the streetwear version that involves moving the pants down further (to the point of having to hold them up) and having the super long shirts – it’s more a continuation of the skater aesthetic than moving towards the current urban-based streetwear.

    Also, one of the things about the varying punk, goth, grunge, rave and skater styles is that you could go butch and wear the boys’ clothes without trying to pass. Passing is a whole different level, but i have also noticed that i see very little queerness of any sort in today’s street cultures.

    [I’m also probably better at noticing trannies and bois than you think.]

  • “[I’m also probably better at noticing trannies and bois than you think.]”

    *grin* I stand corrected.

  • ...

    I really wish i was a girl… I dress up in my girlfriends skirts all the time. Atleast she is accepting, she likes to do my makeup. One day when i get the courage I am going out with her like that.

  • I think you’re missing the other end of the spectrum — boys who dress femme. There’s a lot of that now in the hardcore and emo scenes, which are like 90s goth now in terms of pervasiveness. Take a look at this pic, for example:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/images.php?imageid=32628

    Not a very extreme one, but you see the tight jeans (probably bought from the women’s rack in goodwill), femme belt (usually they’re white), the long hair and the coquettish pose. You get a lot of emo boys with black-dyed hair, wearing eyeliner and nail polish, and it isn’t much different from the goth thing 10 years ago.

    Not exactly what you were talking about, I know, but it goes to show that not all fashion is gender-divided right now.

  • I’ve seen many girls wearing baggy jeans on their asses. However, I think it’s become less common here in England because hardcore fashion (perjorative: fashioncore) has replaced grunge/metal as the style of choice for the outcast kids. Therefore, it’s all super-tight, worn-on-the-hips jeans these days.

    I don’t think one can really make assessments on this issue by looking at what butch girls and FTMs wear. My friends who identify as such seem to base their fashion more on their gender identity than any particular music scene or fashion trend. Most often, they wear boot-cut jeans and either sleeveless vests or checked shirts, which emulates popular, mainstream boy-fashion.

  • I’ve seen many girls wearing baggy jeans on their asses. However, I think it’s become less common here in England because hardcore fashion (perjorative: fashioncore) has replaced grunge/metal as the style of choice for the outcast kids. Therefore, it’s all super-tight, worn-on-the-hips jeans these days.

    I don’t think one can really make assessments on this issue by looking at what butch girls and FTMs wear. My friends who identify as such seem to base their fashion more on their gender identity than any particular music scene or fashion trend. Most often, they wear boot-cut jeans and either sleeveless vests or checked shirts, which emulates popular, mainstream boy-fashion.

  • CHIEF OKWUDILI

    i loev u i we lack to marrey u if u rand to me give ur number oki we fuck u

  • lindsey

    I’ve seen the baggy style go almost completely out of fashion where I live in upstate NY. I remember seeing a few girls wearing super baggy pants, they were mostly the goth girls though. Pretty much everyone I see now wears pants that, if baggy, aren’t where they have to pull them up every 5 minutes. The style now seems more like…baggy only to allow a bit of comfort but not to make it look like you could fit 5 midgets in one pants leg with you.

    Also a huge thing (I forgot to mention I’m a college student, so I’m talking mainly about campus kids) and I noticed this mentioned in the comments already, are boys dressing femme. The emo/indie/hardcore scene is HUGE right now, and there’s a lot of crossdressing, androgyny going on. The outfit for both boys and girls is pretty much the same, short spiky or asymmetrical hairstyles, glasses, piercings, tattoos of stars and sparrows, both genders wearing any color of studded belts, tight pants on both, messenger bags, etc etc.

  • nancy

    not quite the baggy gangsta look, but girls get some pretty awesome butch pants when they snowboard…

  • Sorry if JTony thinks I am stereotyping – I am just going of what I know, which is fairly vanilla. I see the word Baggy again and again in this comment string and I emphasize that baggy does not always equate to XXXXL and super oversize. I do like the concept that baggy hides the female shape and adds a layer of androgyny to the person. It is a very interesting theory that it is fashion, and function.

  • Mnemosyne

    Many of my friends wear baggy pants with tight shirts, male and female. Our outfits are usually black with sporadic rainbow accessories (necklaces, raver bracelets, belts, etc.) It’s just the ‘in’ thing for us right now, although suggest that to them and you get jumped – we all like to pretend we’re being true to our inner impulses. We’re the outcast group that if you actually got to know us you’d love us – although considering my group extends through about 1/5 of the school, we dont have much of a problem with idiot bastards, well, outcasting us.

    I love reading your veiws on youth culture, and considering I am part of that culture, it amuses me to read your work and end up thinking about how stupid some of the things us kids do (10th grader if you wondered).

    Many of my friends wear baggy pants with tight shirts, male and female. Our outfits are usually black with sporadic rainbow accessories (necklaces, raver bracelets, belts, etc.) It’s just the ‘in’ thing for us right now, although suggest that to them and you get jumped – we all like to pretend we’re being true to our inner impulses. We’re the outcast group that if you actually got to know us you’d love us – although considering my group extends through about 1/5 of the school, we dont have much of a problem with idiot bastards, well, outcasting us.

    I love reading your veiws on youth culture, and considering I am part of that culture, it amuses me to read your work and end up thinking about how stupid some of the things us kids do (10th grader if you wondered).

    Many of my friends wear baggy pants with tight shirts, male and female. Our outfits are usually black with sporadic rainbow accessories (necklaces, raver bracelets, belts, etc.) It’s just the ‘in’ thing for us right now, although suggest that to them and you get jumped – we all like to pretend we’re being true to our inner impulses. We’re the outcast group that if you actually got to know us you’d love us – although considering my group extends through about 1/5 of the school, we dont have much of a problem with idiot bastards, well, outcasting us.

    I love reading your veiws on youth culture, and considering I am part of that culture, it amuses me to read your work and end up thinking about how stupid some of the things us kids do (10th grader if you wondered).

    Many of my friends wear baggy pants with tight shirts, male and female. Our outfits are usually black with sporadic rainbow accessories (necklaces, raver bracelets, belts, etc.) It’s just the ‘in’ thing for us right now, although suggest that to them and you get jumped – we all like to pretend we’re being true to our inner impulses. We’re the outcast group that if you actually got to know us you’d love us – although considering my group extends through about 1/5 of the school, we dont have much of a problem with idiot bastards, well, outcasting us.

    I love reading your veiws on youth culture, and considering I am part of that culture, it amuses me to read your work and end up thinking about how stupid some of the things us kids do (10th grader if you wondered).

  • Mnemosyne

    sorry bout the like five times post above, dont know what happened o_O

  • Sarah Bluehouse

    Well you did see it… though it was the j-lo thong-sporting under low-rise jeans. That was the equivalent.

    “Saggy pants” are hip-hop inspired, and baggy pants on girls is a rave culture thing, and both versions of this sit on opposite sides of a racial/cultual divide. Hiphop culture has never appreciated the girl in baggy pants… it does not fill the culture’s motivations — So ne’r the twains shall meet. (or not until the style trickles down and bubbles up again (or a couple times) — (You have read/seen “streetstyle” yes?

    As for the use of streetstyle for genderqueers, I’d guess that since women get to wear pants now, the trans-identified folks need to seek new stereotypes (as well as the aformentioned practical applications) to play off of to assert a ‘contrary’ gender identity.

  • Courtney

    Hey, I have no idea how I ended up on this site, but I read what you said and I’d just like to say I’m a 16 year old girl from London and me and my friends “bust low” (wear our jeans in that way) all the time. It’s quite rare to find because it is true to say it’s mostly a guy thing but you’ll get some girls here and there who do it too. I’m not particularly butch I just do it because I like the way it looks, not to de-emphasize my feminine figure. I’m not particularly grunge or punk or anything like that either, I’m somewhere right in the middle of the spectrum. My guy friends have within the past year become really into the whole emo look and now they’re wearing MUCH tighter jeans and tops than I am. 🙂

  • Jonathan

    I’m a guy and like what some girl jeans do for my butt. It really shows it off. The stretch type that look like guy jeans but are off the girl jean rack. I just got a few pair at American Eagle. Any gals near Boston like the look?

  • Pat

    Im A Girl and my mom HATES my boy style/sporty clothes. I dont know what to do. I hate dresses and skirts and all GIRLY things. Like Pink EWW!!!
    Any1 Know How To Let My Mom know im not the only girl like that? All my friends that are girls dress in dresses and skirts and Tight Jeans!!! I Dont, so i need my mom to know there are other girls like me.

  • kaylz

    yeah more girls shud start wearin baggy pants!!! this is comin frm a gal who is not butchy, (well at least i think im not!lol!) 1, it looks hot and 2,…it looks hot!!!hehehe!! big luvs to all gals who wear baggy,show ur arse pants!! love kaylz the master of the baggy pants!xxx

  • Jonathan ~~Im A Girl and my mom HATES my boy style/sporty clothes. I dont know what to do. I hate dresses and skirts and all GIRLY things. Like Pink EWW!!!
    Any1 Know How To Let My Mom know im not the only girl like that? All my friends that are girls dress in dresses and skirts and Tight Jeans!!! I Dont, so i need my mom to know there are other girls like me.~~

    HEY GIRL!
    whats up? i know exactally how that is. when i see a dress or skirt i want to vomit! my mom keeps trying to make me wear more girly things because shes tired of hearing people saying \”is that a boy or a gir?\” but i tell her that it doesnt phase me anymore. she told me that while im under her roof i have to abide by her rules, so i compromised. i told her that if i get a job and earn my own money that i can buy whatever style of clothing i want. she agreed. at the moment i am sporting some super baggy camo zip offs and a baggy white shirt (with grafiti…sorry, i have bad spelling) along with a button up shirt over top that. also very soon i hope to get a midnight-blue fauxhawk 🙂 i cant wait. but maybe you should ask your mom if thats a good deal. maybe you can find a job, earn your own money and spend it on what YOU want to wear. e-mail me if ya want to talk more 🙂

    nemsivis@hotmail.com

  • Jessica

    Hey, i know some of you girls like to wear baggy pants and thats okay with me, but i like my pants tight. I am also in love with boys who wear tight pants and tight shirts. I have boys that borrow my clothes. Its cute and hot. It shows that they are true to themselves and dont care what people think. I love boys who wear makeup…not just eyeliner but eye shadow and lipstick. I like them to do their eyebrows and hair. It shows that they feel good about themselves and they take care of themselves. Everyone should give them a chance because they are the sweetest people you will ever meet. funny too.

  • Beth

    This world is silly. I’m a guy, and I’m so dying to wear girls clothes and make-up !! You girls get so much better stuff to wear. I love girls !! But, I’d love to go to work-school in a nice jean skirt with hose, tights, or leggins. I’d LOVE to be able to wear make-up and nail polish, and pierce my ears !! Grow my hair long, wear neat shoes, use my girl name !!

    Beth Beth2004gurl @ aol.com

  • sarah

    well…. im a girl of the uk and wear my husbands jeans all the time genrally teamed with a tight fitting vest. i do not fit in to the butch category i like make up and have very long hair i believe the reason that many girls dont wear them in the uk much any more is that there hard to get hold of ( especially ones that arnt baggy at the crotch and knee and then tighter rounder the ankles) the only baggys really aimed at girls are the rediculously wide flare types which dont look as good with doccers and pha trainers.

  • adzy

    tel me bout it a just ave 2 wear ma trainers nd luv footie

  • babylonjohn

    I heard that the baggypant look was originally adopted in us schools as hip because it advertised that you had a bigger brother (most poorer families pass down clothes) and therefore you shouldnt be messed with.

  • Anna

    I’ve seen around my area girls who wear pants so fucking TIGHT that they have absolutely no wrinkles (which are fun to look at if you have a constantly watching artistic eye), and it’s very easy to see their butts tilt when they move. Hideous. I don’t know how they find them comfortable. At all.

    I personally prefer looser pants, but not worn in a fashion that they slide down my ass. They gotta be loose and naturally wrinkly or they’re going back to the store. No buts. Not only do tight pants look bad, there’s also something about the way they feel that I just hate.

    I don’t see any other girl who likes to wear guy pants, however. Dx

  • Alexis

    well i think that the clothing world is all about tight clothes, the tight video booty hanggin blue jeans and exc. but i like to wear the baggy sweats with the fitted white tee or the baggy blue jeans either the boyshorts for girls showin a lil with the cute logo top and sum vans. im am no way a butch or anyting like that i just like to be confterble but cute. and its funny how boys want to wear pink and polos with the light blue jeans. I wish it was like the Aaliyaha day when the wear the baggy clothes with no problem cause now if you do that u gotta be gay or somthin. whats goin on. somebody needs to come out with a boyish clothing line 4 girls.

  • Dollcious

    I think it’s cool for girls to sag there jeans, and let the boxers show. I dig the aaliya style, it’s hot. Plus this is the in fashion for most young girls here in italy. The whole thing to me, represents freedom, like you dont have to really care about what you look like all the time. This look i’m feelin it, there’s no doubt about that. Me and my girls get low that way all the time.

  • Victoria Maud Waterfield

    I’m an epileptic 45-year-old youth living in
    St. Albans and think it’s unfair and unreasonable
    that girls are allowed to wear much more lovely
    clothes than youths.After all,during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth, men and boys-as
    well as women and girls, were legally allowed to wear clothes made of the finer fabrics, such as satin, silk and lace, even in the eighteenth
    century. But when Queen Victoria became Queen,
    that kind of freedom ended. Fine! But this is the twenty-first century!As Jack Harkness says in Torchwood,”The 21st Century is when it all changes,and you’ve got to be ready”.So why are we still stuck with a stagnant society that wants things to stay as they are,and not change? It’s just not right. I thought God created men and women as equals,with the right to sexual equality? Seems to me women are more equal than men. They can wear men’s clothes in public and not be told off,but if a guy attempts to wear her clothes in public, he is labelled a transvestite…or worse! So much for sexual equality.

  • Well… fashion is never gender divided.

    For example… Robin Hood.. He wore super tight pants.. Yeah.. And maybe it was the insiprator of metal fashion.

    Me myself usually find the proper tight pants from women’s rack..
    Dunno why.. But I think women pants suits me best.
    Baggy pants just doesn’t do the same.