It’s a trick the 24-year-old content creator learned from TikTok: use a dumpy “subway shirt” to conceal the actual outfit you plan to wear out. It will keep creeps from staring during the commute.
“It’s a way to protect my safety getting from point A to point B,” Wenrick said. “I don’t want to become a target, as weird as that sounds.”
New Yorkers love to shed their winter layers as soon as the first signs of spring hit the city. But for women who take advantage of sundress season, the much-anticipated warm weather can also bring unwanted attention.
Not that it should. There is little evidence that harassment or assault is motivated by what a victim wears, and clothing is never a justification for cat-calling. Still, anyone who does not want to risk it may utilize the subway shirt, which is also known colloquially as an “outfit dampener”.
Everyone has a subway shirt in their closet: a baggy, shapeless cover-up meant to divert eyeballs away from the body. As one creator wrote on the app: “It’s an oversized shirt we wear over cute outfits so strange men don’t bother you on the train.”
“Just know if you see me in a white button down, the real fit is underneath,” another woman commented.
“I wish I didn’t have to wear one and that it was safe to be able to wear what I want,” Wenrick said. “It feels like I’m going back to a middle school dress code as an adult – continuing to dress so that men leave me alone.”
Ajana Grove, who is 19, moved to New York from Nebraska. “I learned quickly that I can walk around and do what I want to as long as I’m covered up,” she said. “Every time I forget my subway shirt, I instantly regret it and think about turning around.”