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In Fashion, what is a Boyfriend Cut?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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Boyfriend cut refers to women’s clothing that are cut loose in the style of menswear. The look achieved when wearing a boyfriend cut sweater or jeans is as though you borrowed an item of clothing from your boyfriend’s closet. The roomier garments that your boyfriend might wear are often quite comfortable, resulting in the deliberate raiding of closets of boyfriends, brothers, husbands and dads. Since the look is popular, some women’s clothing is now boyfriend style, which must come as some relief to the many men out there whose clothes are regularly pillaged by fashion or comfort conscious females.

For centuries, gentleman have been taught to offer their own sweater or jacket to females who might feel chilled by nighttime excursions. This no doubt led to the discovery by many women that a nice roomy jacket or sweater can be a wonderfully comfortable thing. In the past century, women may have been a little reluctant to return a politely offered sweater. Wearing a boyfriend’s sweater, particularly a letter sweater was often a mark that two people were dating. So the idea of men’s clothing on women as particularly related to boyfriends, results in the term boyfriend cut.

Yet the boyfriend cut and menswear designed patterns for women were distinctly out of fashion for a time. Women’s suits in the early 1980s were frequently imitative of men’s suits. The boxy cut, shoulder pad filled jacket worn by female professionals in the 1980s was often called the “linebacker” style, because it did nothing to flatter a woman's shape. Gradually, by the late 1980s, trends in women’s professional wear shifted toward clothing that fit the female form and was tailored to accentuate curves.

Another trend in the 1980s were the very recognizable leggings, often worn with a big shirt. Naturally the cheapest and easiest way to find a big shirt was to take one from dad, brother or a boyfriend. There were also certainly boyfriend cut big shirts specifically manufactured for women. Yet it was often fun and easier to wear one from a male acquaintance.

Both boxy suit jackets and the big shirt and women’s legging styles began to decline in popularity. This didn’t mean women were any less inclined to steal the occasional item of clothing. For most daily wear, though, more fitted clothing was preferred.

In the 2000s, leggings have been reintroduced, and also low-waist jeans, more often seen in men’s clothing for the last few decades, are now often called boyfriend cut jeans. Big shirts are becoming popular again, with boyfriend cut sweaters or big shirts marketed specifically as boyfriend cut clothing. No doubt fashion trends will change in the future, but women will always have a use for large cut clothing, meaning, if they can’t find it in stores, men should guard their wardrobes with care.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon293537 — On Sep 26, 2012

All bifurcated garments are historically male or menswear garments. Yes, even including sleek, slender cuts of pants, tights or leggings. They are all boyfriend cut trousers.

Females are like the story of The emperor's new clothes. They pretend that they are not transvestites or cross-dressers and men pretend to not know that fact either.

We now pretend all the sexy, masculine clothes, especially pants, are and have always been feminine wear. What a bunch of sexist crap. We can't tell the truth about the female fetish to dress and act like males.

By NewsGuru — On Aug 31, 2010

shoeshopper- I love boyfriend jeans that are sold at Gap as well. I also love boyfriend jeans that are sold at American Eagle. However, people should be aware that American Eagle boyfriend cut jeans run pretty small. I suggest buying a size or two larger that you would normally buy.

The point of buying boyfriend jeans is that you will be very comfortable. Don't be afraid to buy boyfriend cut clothing that is a little larger that you would normally buy. If you are normally a small shirt size, buy a medium. If you are normally an 8 in jeans, consider buying a 10. The jeans will be more comfortable and loose.

By shoeshopper — On Aug 31, 2010

I love boyfriend cut jeans that are sold at Gap. They offer many different styles of boyfriend jeans and they are sold at very reasonable prices.

I have found that some boyfriend cut jeans that I have purchased from other stores have been way too baggy and had no shape to them. Gap boyfriend jeans are still roomy and comfortable, but they have more of a shape to them. They still look good on my body, but they are also extremely comfortable.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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