Keep your “boyfriend jeans” away from my four year old


I’ve noticed a trend in recent years, for stores like Gap and Old Navy to introduce baggier style jeans for women and call them “Boyfriend” jeans. You know, like you just slipped on a pair of your male lover’s pants and look how great they look on you? But let’s be clear, you don’t actually want to wear men’s pants. Since wearing men’s clothing might make people think you’re a lesbian (which you’re obviously not), let’s make sure everyone knows you are just trying your boyfriend’s jeans on.
Ugh.
I have much more to say about gendered clothing and the difficulties of finding clothes that don’t stick strictly to norms about gender, but I have a different issue to take on here.
Apparently boyfriend jeans are not just for adult women anymore. Gap now has “boyfriend” jeans for young girls, all the way down to age 4.

The must-have boyfriend jean with the comfy-cool style you’re little fashionista loves, made just for her. Add ballet flats and a soft T for a sweet look, you’ll both adore.

Not only do four year olds not need boyfriends, they don’t need weird labeling so they can wear baggy jeans, or whatever else Gap thinks these jeans need to labeled for.

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101 Comments

  1. sarah714
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Ditto.
    I feel like you could apply this to almost anything that has a brand name of some sort… why are they called “Apple Jacks” and not frosted corn-oat baked circles.” Things need a name for marketing and for ease, even. *shrug* Now, the fact that they’re dumb names is nothing new, and applies to every single brand out there, like the above comment about the “goddess” yoga pants.

  2. SarahMC
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    What does it say about you, then, that you are sweating the “sweating the small stuff?”

  3. Lucy Gillam
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Bingo. I’ve been buying boy jeans for my little girl since we started buying jeans. We buy girl jeans, too, but the boy jeans invariably fit better. The girl jeans are too big in the waist (and too low-rise) and ridiculously tight in the thigh. Toddlers have chubby thighs! Who in their right mind makes pants that wouldn’t even fit a grown woman and thinks they’ll fit a toddler? Isn’t one a little young to start suffering for fashion?

  4. Lucy Gillam
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    You would be astounded at how differently jeans for one-year-old girls and one-year-old boys are shaped, much less decorated and presented.

  5. Lucy Gillam
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    What, exactly, constitutes dressing like a girl? My little girl is currently wearing jeans and a hoodie. Since she’s a girl, I can only conclude that she is, in fact, dressing like a girl.

  6. marie123
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Yeah I would definitely be more offended by “play jeans” as opposed to “boyfriend jeans.” I’m not a toddler after all.

  7. llevinso
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see why “play” is a toddler’s word. You can play sports or play the piano. It’s not just for playing in the sandbox. And you know what? I’m a full blown adult and sometimes I like to just play as well.

  8. argolis
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I didn’t say that they did. But I don’t think Old Navy is trying to making flirtatiousness, sexiness or tight clothing in any way shameful. If they did, they would be discouraging women from buying their clothes.

  9. argolis
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Because who the fuck cares if some poor employee responsible for web content made a grammatical mistake? It has nothing to do with the issue that we are talking about. It’s stupid to grasp for straws like that when there are plenty of other real problems to critique.

  10. argolis
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh please. It was a simple mistake made by someone responsible for web content. That doesn’t mean that person or the company as a whole is somehow “illiterate.”
    This has nothing to do with literacy or how we educate our children, and it’s disingenuous of you to act like it is. You were being needlessly and unhelpfully nitpicky. That’s all.

  11. eleanargh
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Do you mean when preteen girls dressed like kids, as in wearing comfy clothing rather than sexy clothing? Hope so, rather than ‘dressed like girls, not boys’.

  12. Steven
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I did not know you had a four year old….

  13. Veronica
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Here’s how I see it: if the 2000s were all about bringing back the 80s, then the 2010s will bring back the 90s, right?
    The Jncos will be back! And we baggy-pant lovers will once again be appeased. Unless, of course, this boyfriend jean crap is the new version of the baggy pants 90s trend, now with more sexism… which is entirely possible.

  14. ooperbooper
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Miriam clarified further down on the thread that she does not have a four-year-old. That was just the title of the post.

  15. dormouse
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    To me, pants are the least logical piece of clothing to try to label this way. My boyfriend’s pants definitely don’t fit me. In fact, they are probably the only type of his clothing that I haven’t worn. Boxers, shirts, jackets would all make sense, but pants?
    Yes, I’m aware that I didn’t address the issues of gendering at all. I don’t feel I needed to add anything to what others have said.

  16. BeBe
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    My almost 5 year old girl and almost 4 year old boy wear the same jeans, all of which were handed down.
    Sometimes the girl wears the ones with the hammer loop. Sometimes the boy wears the ones with the daisy.
    Everyone’s happy.
    Hand-me-down jeans for the win. :)

  17. chechelle
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    where do you find women’s jeans that have a 28 inseam? i can rarely seem to find jeans short enough! i really want to learn how to make my own clothes b/c all the problems you listed with men’s clothes i also have with women’s clothes. sigh

  18. ooperbooper
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    “Ankle” length women’s jeans have a 28 inch inseam. Not all stores carry them but you can usually try the “regular” length on in the store to see how the waist/hips fit and then order the ankle length online. I have no idea why the call it ankle length though…

  19. ooperbooper
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    And learning how to sew (whether it’s to make your own clothes or do alterations) is something I encourage everyone who will sit still long enough to do. Most vocational schools offer some sort of sewing class. I would recommend that over a how to book because you get access to the sewing machines at the school and hands on instruction.

  20. Gopher
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    This also reminds me of how acceptable it is for a woman to lose her identity with a guy, ie, “I love it when she wears my t-shirt,” or ‘boyfriend jean’ that wouldnt be acceptable for a guy to do. Its like a sort of territorial marking. You dont see ‘girlfriend’ fit jeans, or a guy saying ‘I love wearing her big t-shirts, it has her scent all over it.’ Labeling clothes this way also makes it acceptable to make the guy the default norm for everything. If loose baggy styles are guy fit then tight clothes automatically become the female fit. This also makes it less likely that there will ever be a ‘girlfriend fit’ style for guys to wear because who wants to wear a tight fit? Anyways womens/girls jeans are typically made to accentualize points of features that guys find attractive. A person would think it ridiculous if a guy were to wear clothes that accentuated those features on him.

  21. cattrack2
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think its that complicated. I know the marketing geniuses at Gap aren’t trying to make it that complicated. I mean they could sell their jeans with a disclaimer saying that they are not legally liable in case anyone mistakenly thinks you’re flirting with them because you’re wearing the “Flirt” jeans…but, you know, they aren’t that bright. I think the idea is, you know, if you want to catch a guy’s attention a little more maybe try the Flirt line, if you want to cuddle up w/ a good book by the fireplace maybe try the “Boyfriend” jeans…or don’t…mix & match, I don’t think anything happens to you if you read a book while wearing the “Flirt” jeans, or flirt w/ a boy while wearing the “Boyfriend” jeans…& I’m pretty sure most guys wouldn’t mind either :-)

  22. Gopher
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I thought he meant ‘dressing like a girl’, ie, not a sex object. I (maybe ignorantly) assumed that because Comrade Kevin was on a feminist site that he didnt mean in pink dresses.

  23. Gopher
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Maybe if women werent infantalized on a common basis, then that could be the case, but I dont see it going that way. I hate that even womens products all happen to be in pink. They dont make every product for guys blue!

  24. Miriam/Heddy
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    “For a while I worked at Title 9 which is a great company that provides practical outdoor/fitness clothing to women of all shapes and sizes. But I still felt dumb selling customers “goddess” yoga pants.”
    Everytime I get a Title 9 catalogue, I end up tossing it in the recycling bin while rolling my eyes at the name. Title 9′s supposed to be about inclusion, and yet the company’s sizing seems to end at 16, which is far from “women of all shapes and sizes” (unless you believe anyone above a size 16 isn’t actually a woman).

  25. Gopher
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    “political correctness.”
    I swear thats a made up word invented by bigots, racists, misogynists and homophobes to get away with discrimination. For gawds sake, O’Reilly uses it! I mean, what is really ‘politically correct’ anyways. I’ve never heard anything that can be legitimately validated as politically correct and therefore dismissed.

  26. Gopher
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I want to bring back the revolutionary 70′s!!!21st century hasnt done squat!

  27. neener
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    The reverse definitely happens… my boyfriend loved and wore out a pair of my womens jeans. They were a looser style (Joe’s “Muse” jeans, for those who care) with but they fit him perfectly and accentuated his butt quite nicely. Another male friend of mine pretty much exclusively wears women’s pants. It’s probably not typical (and I doubt that ‘girlfriend fit’ will be a marketing strategy for men’s pants anytime soon) but it’s also not unheard of.

  28. neener
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    The reverse definitely happens… my boyfriend loved and wore out a pair of my womens jeans. They were a looser style (Joe’s “Muse” jeans, for those who care) with but they fit him perfectly and accentuated his butt quite nicely. Another male friend of mine pretty much exclusively wears women’s pants. It’s probably not typical (and I doubt that ‘girlfriend fit’ will be a marketing strategy for men’s pants anytime soon) but it does happen.

  29. neener
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    oops. sorry for the double post!

  30. SociologicalMe
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m a teacher. I care. Although I’ll concede that it’s not a central part of this particular conversation.

  31. ooperbooper
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Title 9 does borrow its name from Title IX because it carries mostly athletic gear. You obviously have strong feelings against the company that I’m not going to argue against except to say that they extensively “test” all the products they carry which I find really helpful. Title 9 does have its own line but for the most part it collects gear from other lines and reviews the fits extensively. Not to mention that they have a huge selection of sports bras and that they train their employees on how to fit sports bras specifically. We even learned how to fit men with gynecomastia.
    It’s own and operated almost exclusively by women who really honestly care about what they do. Agreed that it sucks that they don’t offer sizes above sixteen but that’s largely because the collections they “borrow” from (Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Prana, etc.) don’t either. I think that as far as clothing companies go, Title 9 is pretty feminist and pretty inclusive.

  32. Erika
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I think I’ve finally concluded that there’s not really a way to be perfectly feminist in purchasing clothing (if you buy it new, at least). So hopefully I don’t get jumped on for the following: As much as I REALLY dislike a lot about the store, American Apparel has unisex pants that are pretty great (overpriced, too, but that’s a bit beside the point, I think). It’s nice to be able to purchase a basic pair of pants without the ridiculously patronizing names — I’ve seen “Diva” and “Goddess” identified as pant fits in these comments, ugh — at the very least. I wish more stores had unisex options and categorized things by size/fit instead of gender since it can be hard to find the appropriate sizes if you simply shop in the “wrong” department (for ex., if you need 27s, they can be somewhat hard to find in pants designed specifically for men, but it’s a common women’s size).

  33. ooperbooper
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Confession: I steal American Apparel’s patterns. They make a wrap dress that fits me really well so I bought one overpriced one so that I could approximate a pattern and then made three more for myself. Most of their stuff is pretty simply made which I appreciate despite the sketchy ads/CEO.

  34. Erika
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    That’s not a bad idea! I sew, so I could probably do this without too much trouble. Knowing how to sew is such a handy skill.

  35. nickeyrobo
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    I think it’s a little simplistic to say that the fashion industry norms don’t work for most people because they are trying to fit an “ideal” body. That’s definitely part of the issue, but if you’ve ever tried to sew something that fits you really well, it’s HARD. That’s why it feels so magical when you find a piece of clothing that fits well! Because you somehow, miraculously, wandered upon a piece of clothing that just happened to be cut to fit your particular measurements. Everyone is different, so ready to wear clothing will never be able to fit most people in the ideal manner. Pants are especially difficult because there are so many measurements that go into them (waist, hips, inseam, etc). Fashion companies could probably try harder, but it would cost a lot more.
    That said, I agree that having “boyfriend” jeans for four-year-olds is really dumb.

  36. glasseyegirl
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    one advantage to wearing men’s pants though – women’s jeans are usually designed to fit so as to have no functional pockets. unless you want people to be able to read the denominations on the coins you have in there :-)

  37. robin.g
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I’m not a teacher, but I also care. It’s a stupid mistake and should have been proofread by someone. The content is given to the web dept by marketing. When I find a mistake on our company’s site I make sure it’s fixed. It makes them look dumb.

  38. rkel
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    May I ask if this is an American thing?
    Maybe my lack of jean shopping is to blame (I have owned a grand total of 5 pairs of jeans in my entire life… clothing shopping is my personal form of torture), but I have NEVER heard of Boyfriend jeans.
    Since everyone seems to be griping about jeans I’ll add my big baby whinge – modern male jean cuts expect a severe lack of arse.
    I love my weights. I also love my squats. Consequentially I have a bit of meat on my quads and arse, they don’t quite fit most ‘straight’ cut jeans.Why is this? Why is there no commonly available ‘athletic build’ cut?
    Are guys who stay in shape that uncommon? Most gents I know who build muscle and keep lean don’t exactly hide it, surely there must be business to be had in catering to that…

  39. Erika
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I have no idea if your body type is uncommon or not, but slim fitting (or skinny, really) jeans are in right now for everyone. Even dude-jeans are a lot narrower and fit closer to the leg in the last year or so, so you may be noticing some of that.
    And you think there’d be business in catering to a lot of different body types, right? You certainly aren’t alone in your frustration, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me why clothing companies would alienate so many potential customers on purpose by only selling them ill-fitting clothing. Fashion is so weird.

  40. qtiger
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    And they came in slim, regular, and husky!

  41. jellyleelips
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    They call it “ankle” length because they assume the average customer is taller than 5’7″, so a 28-inch inseam goes to the ankle. You know, as tall as a model. Which most women aren’t. Makes absolutely no sense. Even the “short” length is usually a 29-inch inseam, which is ridiculous. I have a 31-inch inseam, which is the typical “regular” length, which is freaking loony because I have decently long legs. I love fashion, but jeans piss me off so much.

  42. ffyona
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Absolutely! My boyfriend wore a pair of my skinny jeans to a fancy dress party and looked amazing in them – they tend to ride down and show off my arse crack but somehow they just fit him perfectly.
    I was jealous. I’ve found the only way i can get jeans that fit my figure (big tummy and hips, tiny arse and legs) is to go to Marks and Spencers (UK shop, good at classic clothing) and get good old-fashioned high-waisted flares.
    Basically I wear the jeans my mum wore in the seventies, my boyfriend wears the jeans I should be wearing in the noughties and everyone’s happy.

  43. ooperbooper
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Argh… so frustrating. Isn’t the “average” woman like 5’4″? So they’re basically assuming that we’re all leg and no torso. And pants are the hardest thing to alter. If I buy a regular length boot cut pants and then hem them so that they aren’t too long I end up cutting off everything that makes them boot cut. Anyway, thanks for answering that question…

  44. sushi
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Political correctness was a well intentioned concept in which people began adjusting their language so as not to offend anyone- Unfortuately, like most things it has gone too far, and has led to a situation where people are oversensitive and easily offended. Moreover, because *they* are offended, they expect a company to change the wording of its style names, even if the majority of people really don’t care.
    It will never be possible for a company to please everyone, that’s evident in this thread- some people think the name play jeans is fine, others find it demeaning and infantilising or whatever.
    The thing is, changing words or the way we speak does nothing to address the actual attitudes or sentiments.

  45. jellyleelips
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Seriously. While I appreciate the dramatic aesthetic of a very tall woman in a fashion show, there really needs to be some other standard on which to base ready-to-wear clothing. Someone should have realized by now that, especially for jeans, basing the style on someone with super long legs AND slim hips is really misguided.
    How is it that denim manufacturers make it virtually impossible to successfully alter their jeans on your own? My younger sister has longer legs than I do and when she gave me some of her old jeans and I hemmed them, they just looked totally out of proportion. And when I alter the waistband, for some reason that also looks like crap even though I’m pretty good at it. I mean, I love my curvy shape but the only jeans that fit well cost $150 so I can only afford them on super markdowns.
    My solution is leggings. People say crap like, “but leggings aren’t pants!” but I can actually feel good about the fit of them, and you can get cute ones for around $20 pretty much anywhere.

  46. Alex Catgirl
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    They do,but not all stores carry all size, and the given that women come in all kinds of dimensions, from a clothier’s stand point they have to raise the price per pair as they are not going to make their money on volume like they do with the guys, whose dimensions are limited to H-W. Which is why women’s slacks tend to be more expensive.

  47. Gopher
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    “Unfortuately, like most things it has gone too far”
    People say this, but yet they are always unable to provide an example.
    “even if the majority of people really don’t care.”
    Thats your defense? “Because majority of people dont care?” Thats hardly a rational point. It wasnt uncommon to use the ‘n’ word in the 50′s so just because people didnt care doesnt mean A) that it wasnt offensive or B) that it shouldnt be changed. Typically the people who arent hurt by the vernacular dont have to care, ie, the privileged, but yet it still tangibly is offensive and elaborates on a bigger social structure within a society. People are conditioned to accept racism, misogyny and homophobia (among many others) so just because people dont really care doesnt provide an adequate vantage point to dismiss the main argument.

  48. EductaedRants
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    “Boyfriend” style jeans are meant to evoke the image of stealing your boyfriend’s clothes — oversized and worn. I understand that mentality and it certainly is different than labeling them “baggy”. There are about a bazillion things that are offensive about this (societal pressures of having a boyfriend, pressuring sexual activity especially and what age it’s inappropriate, interpretations of what “Boyfriend Jeans” refers to, etc, etc, etc). I’m not excusing it, I’m just explaining the logic behind the marketing.
    Since Old Navy’s “Flirt”/”Diva”/”Sweatheart” jeans were brought up, I HAVE to say this. When they first came out, I swear my first thought was: “ok, diva=tight fit, flirt=tight fit low-rise, and sweatheart is a euphamism for ‘fat chick’ = or every single woman and girls going through puberty who aren’t straight up and down and don’t want/like to wear ultra low rise jeans so we have this cutesy name for their jeans and we’re not fooling anyone”. And immediately following that was “and wither way all 3 styles will be ill-fitting just like the hundreds of other ‘styles’ that make shopping for jeans an awful experience”.
    Gap started as a jeans-store that sold $10 Levis and now sells $100 crap. Old Navy is great for a cheap pair of jeans but unfortunately to get a great fit anywhere is too rich for my blood. It’s a shame really and with that said, my problem isn’t the gendered name of “Boyfriend Jeans” or even “Flirt”. What pisses me off is that there are so many cuts/styles of jeans they have to come up with new names for them – names that are not at all helpful, even confusing and offensive – yet no one can seem it get it right. I know way too many women who, for them, getting a new (and much needed) pair of jeans is a serious undertaking: trying on a million brands and cuts/styles in 4 different sizes sold in stores *dedicated* to just jeans and in the end it costs them obscene amounts of money and all of her patience, if not most of their self-esteem. If I could be a man, or even had the height to allow for a low crotch, shopping for jeans would actually happen.
    For the record – I own a pair of “Boyfriend Jeans” and they fit terribly! I couldn’t tell the difference between the “Davie”, “Flirt” or “Sweetheart” styles if my life depended on it and I think I own a pair of one of those as well (out of desperation i literally grabbed a pair on sale for under $10 and I’m not even sure what size they are anymore). I absolutely agree with the comment about wearing leggings and being done with it. It’s true!!! That’s what I do! The best pair of jeans (plural) I own are streeettccchhhyyy.

  49. sushi
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    You’re comparing Boyfriend Jeans to the N word?
    I’ll just let you think about that for a minute
    .
    .
    .
    Okay. Gosh, that was silly, wasn’t it?

  50. littlefox
    Posted October 2, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The name “boy shorts” always amuses me, because boys don’t wear them, or anything like them (boxer briefs are several inches longer than that, and higher cut, etc — not much actual resemblance to so-called “boy shorts”). At least the “boyfriend jeans” actually look like you borrowed them from a guy, even though they wouldn’t fit most guys due to the increased hip-to-waist ratio.
    I don’t see why they don’t just call boy shorts “shorts,” or “briefs,” or “short briefs,” or something. I guess “boy shorts” sounds sexier, because dressing in men’s clothes is soooo taboo ::eye-roll:: but it’s, again, very stupid, because boy shorts do not even look like a “masculine” item of clothing.

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