The Popular Fashion Trend: Lampshading
Brandon Olavarria, Anna Moody, and Brock Bowen
Although many people do not know what the term lampshading entails, the fashion trend and style has become extremely popular within the past few years. Lampshading is a clothing style used to describe people, typically women, wearing an oversized t-shirt and athletic shorts, as seen in figure 1. The shorts are completely covered by the large shirt, which creates a lampshade figure. This style is seen among girls that typically wear a size large or extra-large shirt, which is several sizes larger than their frame. Since the shirts are large and are not on tight fitting on the body, a “lampshade” silhouette is portrayed. The athletic shorts, known as “norts,” are typically Nike shorts that cannot be seen due to the t-shirt covering this area of the body. Nike shorts are easy to move around in and are extremely comfortable for most everyday activities. This fashion trend continues to grow in popularity.
This style is common among female college students, especially among sorority women. Along with sorority girls, non-affiliated members of a sorority can also be seen lampshading. Borislow states, “Twas the stereotypical sorority girl outfit: norts underneath an oversized T-shirt. Nike sneaker, too.” At Louisiana State University in particular, greek life is massive, and the lampshading is prevalent in these sororities. Davis states in an article, “Senior Zeta Tau Alpha member Hannah Grace said she has been dressing in oversized shirts, shorts and Chacos since her freshman year of college. Grace believes this style evolution has just as much to do greek life member’s involvement on campus as it does level of comfort.” This sorority member mentioned in the article claims that due to greek life and being a member of a sorority, lampshading has become an everyday fashion for her. When a girl affiliates with a sorority, she is given many oversized shirts. One member in our group who is a part of sorority greek life claims she received over fifty shirts during big and little week. This week is a time where a new member in a sorority is assigned an older member to look up to and have as a “sister.” The “sister,” known as the big, will give the new member, known as the little, t-shirts and other gift items to welcome her into the organization. The shirts the group member received were all sizes large or extra-large, as most greek life shirts are at LSU. She stated that this allowed her to fit in, and it made lampshading almost impossible because much of her wardrobe consisted of large t-shirts. Big and little week is an exciting time for the new members of the sororities as many of them look forward to getting a big and receiving gifts that they can wear around campus. Since sorority members acquire a variety of shirts, it is almost impossible not to lampshade.
Along with large t-shirts and athletic shorts, women tend to wear either athletic style shoes, as shown in figure 3, or sandals. Most of the athletic shoes worn with this style usually contain very bright colors. The brands of these shoes constantly ranges from Adidas, Nike, and Asics, which are brands mainly used for working out. In this case, these shoes are worn for comfort. Sandals are also common shoes worn when lampshading. A popular sandal worn by women on LSU’s campus are known as jandals. These “Jesus sandals” have come back into style over the years because they are not only extremely cheap but also comfortable. These shoes, shown in figure 4, can be purchased on Amazon for as little as seven dollars. Another type of sandal that can be seen around LSU’s campus are chacos. These shoes have Z-straps across the foot and are intended for hiking but people wear them on a daily basis. They are supportive sandals that come in a variety of styles, colors, and patterns. Any of these shoes mentioned can be seen on anyone that lampshade
The history of lampshading is quite interesting as the trend started with celebrities. This style was first reported in the fashion world in 2015 when the “Kardashian-Jenner clan in its evolved form of over the knee boots and shirt dresses. Since then, the trend has surged” (Moniuszko). In figure 5, Kim Kardashian is wearing an oversized sweater with thigh high boots. This style was a shock in the fashion world because it was known as the “no pants” style. It was made fun in the fashion industry but now, many companies create oversized tops that people will buy to create the lampshade style. After many articles about the Kardashians were released, many other celebrities started to follow the trend, making it even more popular. Other celebrities, such as Ariana Grande, started to lampshade with oversized sweatshirts, button down tops, and dressy tops. Ariana Grande tends to wear a large sweatshirt with over the knee boots and colorful closed toe shoes. Celebrities still wear this style but not for the same reasons college students tend to. Lampshading for celebrities is quite different than lampshading at LSU because it is more casual with oversized t-shirts and athletic shorts. Although the styles are different, both offer extreme comfort, which is a main factor to why this style is so popular.
There are many reasons to why students wear this fashion style. Some claim that it is for comfort while others claim that it is cost efficient because the outfits are interchangeable. Other reasons include the versatility of this style, the convenience, self-consciousness, and to keep people guessing. All girls that lampshade tend to choose to wear this style for one of these reasons.
Lampshading is cost efficient because buying new clothing, epically female clothes, can be extremely expensive. Thus, lampshading is a cheap alternative to buying other clothes. Wearing big, old t-shirts and athletic shorts is cost efficient because both items are something all female college students have in their wardrobe. The affiliated sorority member in our group also added that big and little week allowed her oversized t-shirt collection in her wardrobe to expand greatly. She did not have to buy many of her greek life t-shirts because they were gifts. This allowed her to wear this style without spending money. Since most girls already have these items in their closet, lampshading is not only convenient but also cost efficient.
Another reason people lampshade is because it is convenient to fit their lazy lifestyles. This style does not take much time to put together and most girls throw on any oversized t-shirt that is clean before a long day of class. Since this style is comfortable and loose fitting, many girls that wear this style will sleep it in to save time when getting ready in the morning. This style has replaced pajamas for many girls. By sleeping in these clothes, girls can roll out of bed and not worry about choosing an outfit for the day, which saves time. This style is also convenient for girls who have long days and tend to walk a lot around a college campus because it is comfortable. Girls can be seen wearing this style in many different settings. Mallory states, “Wear them to sleep, wear them to class, wear them to parties (maybe not), and no matter what, you will be comfortable, that’s guaranteed.” The convenience of this style is extremely appealing to college sorority girls.
A benefit of lampshading is that the outfits are interchangeable. Since the shorts cannot be seen, they do not necessarily have to coordinate with the shirt. This style is effortless and is convenient for a busy college student. The versatility of this style makes it so popular among college students. Also, the shoes and socks typically do not match the shirt, so picking them out is effortless. This mix and match style is easy to put together since the options are endless.
This effortless style is also extremely comfortable. The t-shirts are typically Comfort Colors brand, which is a brand that is seen throughout SEC schools. Abide writes about this trend, “female sorority members wear oversized t-shirts as a “uniform” to their classes.” These shirts are This style is extremely practical because wearing athletic shorts, a t-shirt, and comfortable shoes is ideal for a long class day. Mallory states, “I would go to all social events in my comfort colors if I had the option, but sadly, that’s not always socially acceptable.” Many girls wish they could wear this style for every occasion, even dressy ones because of the comfort it provides. At LSU, students tend to walk far to get to their different classes. Along with a lot of walking, the weather in Louisiana is usually hot. In warm weather, people tend to wear comfortable clothing that is loose instead of tight clothing that sticks to the body. The hot weather contributes to why many college students wear this fashion style at LSU. When the weather cools down, lampshading is still extremely useful and popular. Whether it’s cold outside or just cold in a classroom, many girls tend to sit with their large shirts over their tucked knees. Since the shirts are so big, it is easy to put around your knees and even hide your arms inside, providing even more warmth. According to one of our group members, this is especially nice when you forget a jacket because LSU tends to keep their classrooms cool.
Another reason girls admit to lampshading is that this style allows their peers to guess if they are wearing shorts. Although this sound strange, many people joke about whether girls who lampshade wear any clothing under their oversized t-shirt. McNulty, a college student, writes, “Some people maybe wondering: Are you wearing any shorts? Are you wearing the same shorts that you have been for the past three days? Are those shorts hot pink and from the 6th grade? The world may never know.” This college student, like many others, jokingly explains that by lampshading, people are curious on if that person is wearing pants and if so, what do they look like. However, this may not be the reason all girls lampshade, but it does happen when wearing this style.
Since the t-shirts are oversized, women are also able to hide their figures. Self-consciousness is another reason some women wear this style. Mallory states, “Sometimes you just want to keep your body to yourself and big t- shirts are definitely the way to do it.” Many females wear these oversized shirts to protect themselves from others seeing their bodies that they might not want others to see, hiding their insecurities. Also, Cohn states, “Their motives for revealing and concealing their bodies with themselves as the focus. They discussed being comfortable” (5).
By wearing an oversized shirt, you cannot see the actual shape because a lampshade figure, like mentioned above, is created. Since the shirts are oversized and do not fit tight around the armpit area, no sweat stains can be seen. Many girls are self-consciousness about their peers seeing sweat stains so lampshading allows them to hide their sweat. Although not all people who lampshade are self-conscious, it is a reason to why many girls wear this style.
The rising fashion trend of lampshading can typically be seen on any girl college student, especially those affiliated within the greek life system. This shocking style, that started with the Kardashians, transitioned into oversized t-shirts and nike shorts (see fig. 4.). The t-shirts are larger than the girls frame so that others cannot see the shorts underneath it. By wearing these large t-shirts, a lampshade silhouette is created because it seems that there is no shape to the body. There are many reasons as to why people lampshade but comfort and convenience are two main reasons. This style takes little to no time to assemble and is extremely comfortable to wear through a long day. Lampshading will most likely continue to be a popular fashion style, as many females wear it on a daily basis.
Abide, Abigail. “Big T-shirts and Running Shorts: A Female Uniform and Southern Womanhood on the Ole Miss Campus.” Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, 9 May 2014, thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/128/. Accessed 19 Nov 2018.
Borislow, Jared. “Norts Under An Oversized T-Shirt Outfit is the Ugliest Outfit A Girl Can Wear.” Total Frat Move, 27 Jan 2016, totalfratmove.com/norts-under-an-oversized-t-shirt-is-the-ugliest-outfit-a-girl-can-wear/. Accessed 21 Nov 2018.
Cohn, Caitlyn. “Revealing and Concealing: A Qualitative Study of Young Women’s Views of Dress Choices.” citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.831.2462&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Jan 2012, The Graduate School Of The Un Accessed 19 Nov 2018.
Davis, Betsy. “Sorority, Fraternity Style Trend Brings Comfort to Campus.” The Arkansas Traveler, 19 Sept. 2018, uatrav.com/the_companion/article_f2059554-9d97-11e7-8fbe-6f987ce26da8.html. Accessed 19 Nov 2018.
Mallory, Mollie. “Why Sorority Girls Wear XL T-Shirts.” The Odyssey, 20 April 2015, theodysseyonline.com/why-sorority-girls-wear-xl-t-shirts. Accessed 19 Nov 2108.
McNulty, Madison. “8 Reasons Why Lampshading Is totally Acceptable.” The Odyssey, 17 July 2017, theodysseyonline.com/8-reasons-why-lampshading-is-acceptable. Accessed 22 Nov 2018.
Moniuszko, Sara M. “Lampshading lives on with the ‘no pants’ trend – The leggy styles, explained.” USA Today, 27 Sept. 2017, usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2017/09/27/what-lampshading-leggy-fashion-trend-explained/703844001/. Accessed 20 Nov. 2019.
Figure 1.Total Frat Move. Photograph of The Average Lampshading Outfit. Digital Image. Totalfratmove.com. 27 Jan. 2016. Accessed 20 Nov. 2018.
Figure 2. Hin, Ali. Photograph of Sorority Girls Lampshading. Digital Image. Totalsororitymove.com. 26 Sept. 2016. Accessed 20 Nov. 2018
Figure 3. Asics. Photograph of Womens Athletic Shoes. Digital image. 20 Nov. 2018.
Figure 4. Papayasun. Photograph of Jesus Sandals. Digital Image. Papayasun.com 20 Accessed Nov. 2018
Figure 5. Moniuszko, Sara M. Photograph of Kim Kardashian Lampshading. Digital Image. Usatoday.com. 27 Sept. 2017.