Let me take you back to primary school Sex Ed. Girls and boys are different. It used to be the case that this was reflected by fashion. Busts, cleavages, slim waists and the feminine form were celebrated with nipped in dresses, low necklines and feminine silhouettes. So why are girls dressing like guys? Why, when we have beautiful womanly figures and hundreds of Topshop dresses to choose from, are we choosing to wear our boyfriends’ clothes which happily swamp our petite frames? Is this a statement of feminism? Or are we just too lazy to open our own wardrobes of girly dresses and instead just grab the plaid shirt and baggy jeans strewn on our bedroom floors?
Some say that women first started dressing like men when feminism was the talk of the town and power dressing with ginormous shoulder pads was seen as necessary in gaining recognition in the workplace. Wearing trousers was just the ticket, allowing for women previously stuck in lives of frothy hemmed dresses slaving over a washing machine, a la Betty Draper, to be liberated. While this may be the case for some women, let’s not forget that female liberation in the 1920s involved make-up and tiny flapper dresses…liberating, yet not a trouser suit or baggy T-shirt in sight! Now that us girls live in an age when we can go to university, earn as much as men, and drink like men, why would we still see the need to be liberated by dressing like men? Feminism, in most cases, is no longer a valid excuse for dressing like the opposite gender, so there must be other reasons.
On discussing this issue with friends, it is clear that majority of women don’t see their baggy T’s as a statement of equality but instead just have comfort as the main priority; queen of comfort Coco Chanel is to thank. Chanel is credited as being the crusader of the boyfriend look and the champion of masculine dressing. She wasn’t making a political statement, but was instead breaking free (quite literally) from the constraints of female fashion at the time. Yes that’s right, I’m talking bone-crunching, not-allowed-to-breathe corsets. Tweed jackets, jodhpur style trousers, lounge suits and shirts became (and still are) synonymous with her name; while this movement was controversial at first, women soon saw the light and hopped on the comfort bandwagon and headed to Paris to lap up the comfy stuff!
But why is this relevant today and why is it an excuse for slobby dressing in the twenty-first century? While fashion and society doesn’t make corsetry obligatory and doesn’t expect us to squeeze into whale-boned undies, it does still throw some comfort curveballs our way each season. Waist clinching belts round our structured peplum tops, skin tight leather disco shorts, toe-crippling platform heels (Lady Gaga, Louboutin and Posh Spice I’m placing the blame on you for this one). Are these modern equivalents of the corset the reason we are choosing to dress more Brad than Angelina and more William than Kate?
As a guess, I think the majority of girls’ choices for those slouchy jeans or baggy shirt are most likely to be the result of your bloated Crisis hangover doing the talking and erring on the side of comfort rather than high fashion. Forget feminist statements, boyfriend dressing encompasses not just ultimate comfort but style and Chanel-esque originality too. And if that isn’t a good enough reason to don the boyfriend sweats, then I don’t know what is!