Finding T-Shirt Unicorns

If you’ve ever tried on a women’s white basic tee in a high-street store, or any other shirt for that matter, chances are you’ve experienced the

“It’s so sheer, the lace from my bra looks like an embossment” - situation.

This is such a problem that there are articles telling you where to seek out those rare shirt unicorns (i.e. Here and here). Although I do appreciate the softness of worn-out tees, I don’t really want to be constantly flashing my bra pattern to the world, nor do I want to layer something underneath when it’s so hot outside I feel like I can spontaneously combust.

Now, imagine how great it would be if we could just enter a shop, find that unicorn, pay for it and leave? You’d think, “But wait, isn’t that how it normally is?” Not entirely. For more than a few seasons now, I’ve started browsing both the women’s and men’s section of my favourite high-street shops and every time, without fail, when I enter the men’s section of the shops, I get ~the look~ from the men shopping there. They stare and question my existence, their expressions saying, “Is she lost?”, “Is she looking for someone?”, “WHY YOU IN MY TERRITORY?”.

[To clarify, I identify as a cis-female with a pretty basic style (i.e. I’m not specifically trying to achieve “the tomboy” look or “the borrowed” look). I’m also average in height and petite in build.]

So why would I be looking for clothes in the men’s section? I have two very good reasons.

  1. Men’s t-shirts and shirts are often made with better materials, for the same or lower price. (ESPECIALLY white tees.)
  2. Sometimes specific prints or designs are only made available for men. (Looking at you, Uniqlo collaborations).

Point is, I want a white tee that’s not completely sheer, fits me and is within my low-budget. Bonus if it has an amazing limited edition print. Well, next time you go shopping, try on a men’s shirt. After getting past the awkward feeling of stares laser-beaming down your back, you’ll find that most of the time, men’s shirts are like the 4 ply super soft tp of the shirt’s world. The cotton is a lot tighter knit, yet somehow, still really soft to wear. If you can find a size that fits you, you have a winner.

Ok, how does all this relate to feminism?

No, we’re not going to fight the patriarchy, one shirt at a time

(although that would make a cool print tee).

And I’m not saying to raid your guy friend/boyfriend/dad’s closets and steal their shirts. Noted, I’m also consciously avoiding the topic of gendered clothing because there’s too much to say there, so let’s save that for another time.

Look: Feminism is about equality. And while having women’s shirts be a bit more opaque would be nice, lets get real ladies. The fashion industry ain’t gonna change overnight. This complaint isn’t one sided. I often hear men complain that their clothes lack selection in design and how unfair and biased shops are in terms of area distribution for men’s versus women’s departments.

What we can all do in the meantime is let go of our judgmental preconceived notions that women can’t shop in men’s section and men can’t shop in the women’s section, regardless of their gender identification.

It’s not about shirts you guys, it’s about having that freedom of choice. If we’ve accepted that gender is a non-binary social construct, why are we still limiting ourselves to the dichotomy in clothing stores? While I don’t even bat an eye when I do get ~the look~ anymore, I know a lot of women and men who still feel uncomfortable entering the unknown territory. But they shouldn’t have to. We should be able to pick up shirts or pants or whatever we’re interested in, try it on, pay and leave happily. Analogous to this, we should be able to look at an occupation that interests us, choose it and continue on that career path, without fear that we’ll be discredited and discriminated because it’s a job mainly done by men or by women.

So the next time you go shopping, I dare you, I doubly dare you to enter the scary unknown territory and try on a few pieces. You might finally find that t-shirt unicorn while breaking down some walls of gender inequality.

What are your opinions this topic? Tell us down below or connect with us at: @OnHold or @OnHoldUofT

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