She must be a butch: Addressing the gender stereotypes surrounding female footballers’ fashion

By Jennifer Raymont

Published Jul 22, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

When it comes to football, I’m very much a novice. Every time the World Cup comes around I’m more than happy to pay a trip to the pub, sink a few pints, and try to converse with the lads. But let’s be real, I couldn’t care less about whether or not the players are offside. What I’m far more interested in is if Jack Grealish or Mason Mount’s kit is bang on-trend. But with the rise of blokecore and the FIFA Women’s World Cup commencing, it’s time to show some respect and love for the women in football bringing high fashion and hat tricks to the pitch.

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A post shared by Leah Williamson (@leahwilliamsonn)

When the England women’s football team brought home the trophy from the 2022 EURO (something that had not been accomplished by their male counterparts since 1966), tears of joy were inevitably shed. The Wembley Stadium crowd consisted of 90,000 people while over 17.5 viewers tuned in online—all eyes were on the girls, and they sure did deliver.

Following the game, the England team gained notoriety and were quickly scooped up by the designer fashion industry. Captain Leah Williamson slung up her football boots for a pair of Gucci stompers and was invited to her very first fashion show and made house ambassador. At age 26, Williamson is very much one to keep your style eye on.

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A post shared by Leah Williamson (@leahwilliamsonn)

Women’s professional football was banned until 1971—I know, it’s shocking—and this lag in representation has created undeniable and often unshakeable stereotypes towards female players. Throughout the UEFA Women’s EURO, Williamson was extremely proud to wear her rainbow armband but acknowledged that “in men’s football there is still a stereotypical footballer, and that stereotype isn’t gay” while speaking to GQ.

On the other hand, female players face the stereotype of being labelled as gay by inherently homophobic football hooligans, who also expect them to dress “butch.”

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A post shared by Leah Williamson (@leahwilliamsonn)

Retired football player turned sports commentator, Alex Scott, told Elle: “I feel like we’re finally at a stage now where people don’t put as many stereotypes on women in sport.” It’s about time. “You can love dressing up, you can love jewellery, and it’s about having the confidence to express that, show off your style and celebrate your uniqueness,” she added.

Both Scott and Williamson prove that you can dress well while also being up to getting down and dirty on the pitch. Williamson’s style relies on staples as she brings together tailored coordinates while Scott wore a silver, ruffled hem gown to the Grammys 2023.

Gender stereotypes have also impacted the women’s team’s football kits. In an interview with The Guardian, Daniel-Yaw Miller, senior editorial associate at Business of Fashion, explained that female players were obligated to wear the same cut kit as the men, resulting in an ill-fitting, baggy outfit which not only doesn’t reflect the individualism of the women’s team, but is also not the most flattering look for an international TV appearance.

With women’s football on the rise, more attention is finally being directed towards the girl’s kit and their comfort. Now, thanks to the increase in viewers and commercial partnerships, women’s kits are designed to fit their bodies—surprise, surprise, we have boobs.

Until recently, female players even had to deal with period anxiety as well as the stress that comes with competing professionally. Lioness Beth Mead confronted the team’s kit manufacturer, Nike, and said that “an all-white kit isn’t practical when it’s that time of the month.” Eventually, Nike and the Football Association had to allow darker coloured shorts so women were not worried about leakage.

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A post shared by Beth Mead MBE (@bethmead_)

As the girls become household names, they are simultaneously gaining popularity alongside the rise of blokecore. It is now apparently cool to dress like a football hooligan—as long as you don’t act like one, of course. This led to London’s own Grace Wales Bonner designing the Jamaican team’s kit as a way to pay tribute to her heritage. The now iconic silver Sambas that were part of the designer’s most recent Adidas drop even sold out in record time. Long story short, blokecore strikes again, in turn proving that fashion and football have well and truly collided.

Women’s football has come on leaps and bounds since we were finally given a seat at the metaphorical football table, alongside the likes of David Beckham and Lionel Messi. And even more importantly, it’s not going anywhere. So, with this in mind, and with the FIFA Women’s World Cup having kicked off yesterday, let’s get ready for the football girlies to kill it with their style as well as their fancy footwork.

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