This article originally appeared on VICE Sports U.S.
Here is how I imagine the people responsible for making sports gear for women envision their target customer: a tiny creature attracted to sparkling points of light, especially those that have been affixed to cotton by hot glue. This creature wears exclusively capped sleeves, so that her arms—featureless, sticklike things ending in bejeweled key chains—do not dislocate from a gaunt body that is 80 percent legs. She has a small head with a cowboy hat permanently balanced atop it. She is not terribly discerning.
Yet the No. 1 sports clothing item that I, a woman who like all other women is not shaped like the hellish imaginary sprite described above, want to purchase is a regular T-shirt. That's it. No faux distressing, nothing to suggest the shirt is some kind of residual flirty flotsam from the wreck of a galleon carrying a boon of bedazzlers, and also no god damn capped sleeves, you can't roll those things. Just a T-shirt, made of T-shirt material, that fits like a T-shirt.
Somehow, though, this is the tallest order imaginable when it comes to sports merchandise if you're a woman. From the licensed team shops to the bootleggers slinging gear outside the stadium, no one can do this. There is more sports-related merchandise for women than ever before—some of it clothing, some of it the deconstructed idea of clothing. All of it is bad.
It's not just the trusty old ethos of "shrink it and pink it" dominating the designated women's section of the team shop anymore, either. Here's a roundup of what I'd like to call the absolute worst I could find. But as sure as the sun will rise on officially sanctioned sequined sunglasses with no UV protection that will do irreparable damage to your eyes, there will be more, and worse, mistakes made.
This looks like something you'd buy after spending hours of your afternoon paying vague attention to the drone of a TV voiceover explain what's happening to a group of men who've been rounded up from all corners of the country to toil away the prime of their lives. At the mention of a nickname you don't recognize, you look up to find this isn't Sunday football but a documentary on Alcatraz. Anyway, this shirt might as well say "PROPERTY OF PENAL SYSTEM," or better yet "PATRIARCHY."
First, thank you, because I am always looking out for a more challenging shirt to put on. Second, when you title your product "Womens" it does really seem like you are all about complete solidarity. Like, who cares about the constructs of gender, punctuation, grammar—throw it all out the window and let's just be here now for one another, alls of us at all times womens and mens as allieses. Third, what are the care instructions for this Rubik's Cube of a garment?
New York Giants Touch by Alyssa Milano Women's Project Runway All Star Long Sleeve Dolman T-shirt for $49.99
Knowing that a garment had a make-it-work moment when an overworked, underpaid, quite possibly underage garment worker fell asleep at the shears and sliced a hole in the arm empowers me to go on in this biggst make-it-work moment of all: life.
It's cool to express my fandom in a professional way at my place of work, where I am getting paid less than my male colleague who has, probably, never been asked to "name the entire secondary coaching staff including physiotherapists of the 2003 Roanoke Dazzle WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP" on the elevator. So suck on it, Jeff, and hustle your ass into this Keynote presentation, which I am running while wearing this blazer.
Just when you thought there wasn't any body part left that could get sexier, the male gaze blinks its way out of Plato's cave and on to your armpit.
Ah yes, adorn yourself in the ancient Celtic-Indian-Native-Nu-Tribal tradition of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—or any team of your choosing!—come game day. The next day, when this assuredly toxic glue won't wash off and you need to pay someone to pumice off the top three layers of your skin, you'll be positively glowing
The reason it takes so long for women to go to the bathroom at sporting events is because we all have to unlace our purses and trade club packs of tampons and dump the full barrels of Gatorade we keep in there on each other when we're on our periods and bloated.
The image used to showcase this item—an abstract wheel, not attached to a vehicle, floating in white space—captures the multitudes of the female driver. At least that's what Ross in design at Fremont Die Consumer Products, Inc. down in Williamsburg, Virginia, told his boss. He continued, plaintively, "I just can't picture it. Should we take this off the women's section of our Amazon store?" His boss didn't answer, as he had gotten the steering wheel covers stuck on both his forearms and his hands were turning blue.
Literally the definition of shrink it and pink it, so thank you kindly to Reebok, the official licenser of this high-performance athletic product.
I believe this is the missing shoulder-arm slice of fabric from Alyssa Milano's DIY shirt showcased earlier. In case you weren't sure where to put it, it says right there on the side.
This is the most casual shirt I could find and I'm still not sure if it's a shirt or a dress or meant for one of those inflatable torso-only things you see waving around at car dealerships. It's anyone's long, long guess.
Sexy ornament for bad girls and/or a regular shoe in the minds of the men who dream up sports merch. Versatility is key.
It is unclear how this one dress is four dresses. How, for instance, does it work? Velcro? Sheer will? As the name states, you must be a fanatic for money, making or lording over it, in order to unlock the dress's secrets. At first glance it seems subdued and demure, but a close-up provided by fanatics.com will prove it to be anything but:
Lizard skin and jewels. Available in four markets only: Miami, Phoenix, Charlotte, Dallas. It's for witches, I think.
As if human hair weren't flammable enough already! Clip this accoutrement into your locks for a look that says, "Watch out!" and then continues in more pressing detail with, "Don't even risk a glance at me while wearing sunglasses in case a ray of light deflects off your lens and catches one of my funky strands and sets this whole place up in a chemical fire. For God's sake, be careful."
Alyssa Milano designed these and they are part of something called the 'Touch' series which I take it is shorthand for 'The Gold Bullions On My Butt Got Heisted' and the plot of the upcoming Ocean's Fourteen.
If I wanted a rabid-looking wolf near my crotch, I would do what any hot-blooded human being would do: close my eyes and imagine being at the receiving end of this backward glance from Tom Thibodeau during his mullet-enhanced inaugural coaching season. Don't condescend to my desires with this (100 percent actual) horseshit copy: "Get in the game this season with this Minnesota Timberwolves Bliss thong! Give a subtle shout out to your Minnesota Timberwolves anywhere and anytime when you wear this adorable thong!"
Strap your pregnant ass in, 'cause the person who invented this shirt loved the Bard hard and wants everyone to know it. What better billboard for their wares than pregnant women everywhere. Just source some era-appropriate yarn or whatever to loosely lace and dangle across a bosom, and your rose by any other name will assuredly be modeled by Alyssa Milano herself
The French may have invented love but some genius who has only been close to women on the subway at rush hour came up with this number and slapped an iron-on NFL logo patch where lace meets highly flammable poly-blend. As an added bonus, the structured cups are so strong you could pour your Frappachino in there if you wanna go hands-free. The guy who made tis thinks you can wear it anywhere, is why.
I ♥ BJs T-Shirts, Tank Tops, Keychains, License Plates, Baby Gates—Anything With A Surface Large Enough to Fit Variations on the Same Sexual Innuendo, for $30 and all your dignity
These items are very popular in Toronto, where I live. It is a place in which we are reminded at every juncture that we are indeed, right now, living in a world-class city, second to none.
"You'll see here that we've kept with the traditional lines of the classic UGG boot, with an understated flourish around the hee—"
"Don't you fucking get it?" the head of marketing hisses, grabbing the young male designer by the collar and lifting him out of his chair. "FLARE, I said, that's what these things want. BLING. You ever seen one in the full light? No? That's because they're scuttling around in the dark, looking for anything shiny, anything that catches the light, they're drawn to that. They'll kill for it, you lummox—knock you out and pull out all your teeth for some earrings if you flash 'em a smile after midnight. So fucking fix it, call it something rich while you're at it. And after that, I've got a genius new jewelry idea."
Why not make explicit what the guy who alays sits behind you at the game imagines you already want—you and also his girlfriend, and the lady at concessions trying to do her job, and the woman doing security asking to see his ticket. They put it on a shirt, but he pictures it tattooed on your face. He wants to talk to you about Edwin Encarnacion. He's already doing it.
Marriage is a product of the patriarchy that shares its manufacturing warehouse with these things.
Another fine example of ingenious male engineering when it comes to women's fet. What do they need for a night on the town? A transformative escape from the drudgery of their day jobs, made of only the thinnest off-cuts of leather, with no lumbar support to speak of. A statement shoe that will assuredly melt on contact with the slightest trace of wetness. A one-size-fits-most monstrosity adorned with precious plastic beads and an adjustable elastic band that will cut off the circulation until it snaps within the first twenty minutes of wear. Why? Because the night.
It was twenty years ago today
The industrial sport complex learned women would pay more money than men for slightly trumped up versions of poorly tailored gender-specific clothing
They've been going out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile from those reaping profits of 80 percent over manufacturing cost
So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years
The polyester shit they think you'll buy when all you want is a regular t-shirt
I couldn't rightly tell you who was the first of my female ancestors to get her Women's Traditional Nightshirt, the one I, like every other woman I know, was lucky enough to inherit through a line of women that stretches back centuries. The origins of the Women's Traditional Nightshirt(s) is a close-kept secret of matriarchal lineage. But I can speculate that it must have been a soothing balm of fresh hell tearing those tags off for the first time. This belongs in a museum.
Honestly, I am wearing this right now.
Please tell Katie about your Women's Traditional Nightshirt. She's on Twitter @wtevs.