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Women are wearing ‘subway shirts’ over outfits to deter ‘creepy’ men

‘Sad but necessary,’ one woman says of safety precaution

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Saturday 20 May 2023 12:44 BST
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Related: Putting the spotlight on women’s safety

Women are documenting the safety precautions they take when using public transportation, with some revealing that they wear extra large T-shirts, or “subway shirts,” to shield themselves from unwanted attention over their clothing choices.

As the weather has gotten warmer, the trend has recently become a topic of conversation on TikTok, where women have filmed themselves taking the subway while wearing the oversized shirts over their outfits.

“When you arrive at your destination and can take off your subway shirt,” Rae, who goes by the username @rae.hersey, captioned a video of herself on TikTok. In the clip, Rae filmed herself as she removed her coat in a cafe. The TikToker then removed the large white button-down shirt she was wearing to reveal the black top with cut-out details she was wearing underneath.

In the caption of the video, which has since been viewed more than 600,000 times, she wrote: “Just know if you see me in a white button down, the real fit is underneath.”

The video resonated with viewers, with many revealing they also rely on the precaution as a way of allowing them to wear what they want without having to worry about unwelcome stares.

“Fashion safety layer,” one person wrote in the comments, while another described the trend as “sad but necessary”.

“This is so sad but I totally understand,” someone else said.

Others revealed that they also use the trend when using ride-sharing platforms such as Uber or Lyft. “Yes, I have Uber and Lyft sweatpants,” one person revealed, while another said: “I have an Uber shirt I wear.”

Rae’s video is not the only one dedicated to the trend, as a woman named Fiona, who goes by the username @fionaylin on TikTok, also shared a video reminding women to bring their subway shirts.

“Now that it’s finally getting warmer in New York, this is your reminder to always wear a subway shirt/jacket over your cute outfit to protect yourself,” Fiona captioned a video showing the oversized blazer she was wearing over her dress. 

A woman named Mya, who goes by the username @hanselkai, also shared a “PSA” about subway shirts and the ways in which the clothes can be used to “stay safe from creeps”.

“PSA: Ladies, now that it’s hot out, don’t forget to bring your subway/commute overshirt. Stay hot, stay sexy, stay safe from creeps!” she captioned the video.

Grace, who goes by the username @ideal.grace on TikTok, also shared a video reminding women to wear oversized shirts on public transportation as the weather gets warmer.

“It’s 85F in NYC so ladies don’t forget to bring your subway shirt!” she wrote in a text caption on her video, which showed her standing on a subway platform in an oversized black button down. “Otherwise known as an outfit dampener, it’s an oversized shirt we wear over our cute outfits so strange men don’t bother you on the train.”

In the caption of her video, which has been viewed more than 2 million times, she wrote: “Stay safe out there.”

In the comments under the video, many viewers expressed their sadness that the trend exists, and that women have to take precautions to protect themselves. “Isn’t it sad we have to ‘dress down’ when we are travelling via bus or train? I 100 per cent agree with you,” one comment reads.

Others revealed that wearing a “subway shirt” doesn’t always prevent unwanted attention, with one viewer arguing that the trend “leans on the logic that it matters what you wear when in reality it doesn’t”.

In response to the point, Grace said: “No person should be harassed for anything they’re wearing. You’re right, it doesn’t matter what we wear, we will still get harassed.”

This is not the first time that women have shared the ways they keep themselves safe, as a woman named Mary recently revealed that she leaves her apartment lights off when she returns home after realising that, “if someone’s following you home, they’re going to know what apartment you’re in” if you turn the lights on immediately.

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