• Maya Chavez

Words Preserve Misogynistic Ideals

“Basic” is often used to describe a simple outfit—maybe baggy jeans, a top layered with a solid color zip up, or sweats and a tank. Though the word is one casually used by teen girls and towards teen girls, it may be perpetuating the shaming of self-expression and strengthening a fashion-based social hierarchy.

Outfit number three consists of a white crew neck tank top, often used for a multitude of layering purposes, a cropped brown zip up, light-wash baggy jeans, and the reappearing air force 1 sneakers.

As described by junior Melody Cai, the word basic, specifically in the fashion sense, was originally used to “categorize a type of style where it wasn’t really negative or positive.” It originally referred to pieces in your closet called basics, which are solid colored crew neck tops or tank tops that can be worn in different variations with various outfits. Cai explains, “It was like ‘oh yeah you’re wearing basics’ because it's like plain solid color clothing.” However, as the items became more popular, it has evolved into a broader style of clothing.

This outfit features leggings, a navy blue hoodie, bunched up crew socks, and a pair of the ever-popular Nike air force 1s.

Basic has become a critical word in the fashion world; sophomore Chloe Yi explains, “A lot of people use it just to show you the different ranks of how people perceive your worth [based] on the style that you wear.” Often, “basic” outfits are considered simple outfits that have not had a lot of thought or effort put into them. Many people see extravagant statement outfits as the superior look. In Yi’s words: “[Basic means] the minimum amount of effort that you’re putting in.” A basic style can also be categorized as simplistic, or it can imply slavishly following fashion trends or sporting cliché outfits. Although basic does not seem like a hurtful word, fashion is rooted in self-expression. Your personal style can represent your identity and subtly suggest what kind of things you like. In addition, one can spend a long time piecing together an outfit because it is something one enjoys. Wearing clothes that make you feel confident in yourself and reflect part of your personality can leave you vulnerable to others who are able to judge your outfit. Despite spending all this time meticulously planning your outfit and feeling excited to present it to others, your creation can be casually called basic. Yi says, “If someone calls you basic they’re just telling you that your outfit doesn’t look good; that's not nice to hear.”

The word is a concrete example of how society encourages women to put down other women based on insignificant details—specifically details that have no impact on anyone except the person sporting the outfit they chose. Cai explains, “It’s just used to put women down for liking things or having certain interests [...] I don’t think it's really anyone’s business how other people dress. If you want to show up in lululemon and a Brandy [Melville] tank top, that’s your prerogative, that's your choice, that’s what you want to wear and I don’t really think you should be shamed for that.” Just because many people identify as liking a certain type of clothing does not make it a bad thing. Just because someone wears a popular and simple top as opposed to an extravagant blouse does not mean that they do not have an individualized fashion sense.

This commonly worn type of outfit features a pair of mid-high rise mom jeans, a cropped white cardigan and a pair of grey new balance tennis shoes.


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