What Does Being a Tough Girl Mean Today?

Tough Women: Biker BootsDo you remember when tough women used to wear biker boots, and it made them look different from the other ones? It was about 5 years ago, before the rock look started to be trendy. Studs, boots, black colour were a prerogative of a certain type of woman, a subculture, a certain-kind-of-music listeners and so on.

I mean, now if you dress with a studded clutch and ripped off jeans you probably listen to Icona Pop and study law. (not that there’s something wrong with listening to Icona Pop and studying law, but you get the point!).

This issue raised as soon as gothic and black started to be trendy: we were all happy at the beginning cause it was easier to find clothes and accessories, but then it all went downhill. Quality started to be  obviously crappy, people who formerly dressed only in pink+blue suddenly turned to steel+boots, high street was literally flooded with fake bands t-shirts.

How many people do you see everyday wearing a Ramones t-shirt, a Joy Division Unknown Pleasures radio waves image without even knowing where it comes from or that it is even an album cover (blatant example). And the list goes on. This topic has been discussed so many times that I don’t even know why I am rambling about it. Oh no wait, I know.

My point is that I thought this whole trend was over, that Mayans and Aztecs finally took over the high street, that flowers were back and neon colours put an end to the studs mania. Until I was flipping through the pages of a random fashion magazine today and stumbled upon the Valentino Rockstud which is the supreme evil in terms of subcultures VS fashion.

I’d like to take a quick glance to some tough women of the past, and some of our contemporaries. 

siouxsie-look-dark-gothic madonna-80s
 Siouxsie Sioux and Patti Smithpatti-smith-look-boots Madonna and Blondieblondie-debbie-harry-use-condoms-punk-80s

Need I say more? Madonna legitimized the use of sacred images in the mainstream medias; singer-songwriter, poet, artist and punk-rock legend Patti Smith; Blondie and Siouxsie, I mean, they all made music history and they all had strong opinions and weren’t afraid of speaking out.

If we don’t talk strictly about rock/punk look, we can say that Coco Chanel was one of these tough women as well: she basically started wearing mens clothes and started the whole costume jewelry thing. She changed fashion forever. And that was clear from her look. If you want me to go crazy feminist, think Frida Kahlo with all her extravagances, Simone de Beauvoir with her ties and turbans, Tank Girl (oh sorry this is not a real person XD). If you can think of more, please leave a comment below , we’d love to think about more tough women!

But what does a strong look mean now? I’ll tell you: nothing, it means nothing.

I definitely feel the lack of meaning and the excess of image, everywhere and in any case. Below you have some clear examples of what I mean.

taylor-momsen-rock-chick-pretty-reckless agyness-dean-punk-icon-model

Taylor Momsen and the Pretty Reckless for Gods sake? Agyness Dean? Other random socialité and heiresses? I mean, today the only way to scream your opinion with what you’re wearing, is not wearing it.

What do you think about this issue?  How can fashion carry any message anymore? Am I just disenchanted?

Boots image from www


About the Author


Hey, it's Elisa, founder of styleonvega.com. I'm a social media strategist & consultant by day and blogger by night (honing my multitasking skills since 2006 ;). I'm an atypical Italian, freedom lifestyle advocate and modern spirituality enthusiast. Feel like we could get along? Join me just above this box or get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Follow Elisa:

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required


You are so right, today it means nothing and this is annoying. Meantime I have developed a kind of languidness about that and I am looking kind of laid-back at it. It has always been like that: fashion is inspired by subculture (the ny exhibition „chaos to couture“ for example describes this very well I think). Fashion should be fun in the first place for me – and when it comes to messages – I don’t let people who don’t get the message take this fun from me. I know what I am – and they probably know what they aren’t. So I am wearing it all (boots and stuff) in a natural kind of way, like my second skin and not like a costume. The diffrence is the attitude. At least this is something they can’t buy 😉


I don’t think they know what they aren’t, or they wouldn’t wear symbols or styles that mean a particular thing! That’s my thought, maybe people just don’t give a fuck about it and they’re good like this! I’m like, i don’t even wear a band t-shirt if I don’t know 70% of their discography if you know what I mean! But you’re definitely right, attitude is everything and Ishould stop complaining like a posh XD


Nothing means a thing today. Subcultures are not “sub” anymore.
Internet ate all of the past aesthetics and made them available to everyone, then chew it all together and randomly spat it out. As a result we have way more trends than 10 years ago in my opinion. I mean, sometimes i look at girls in the street and i find myself knowing exactly what “incredibly rare hard to find and never saw before” clothes she’s wearing and where she bought them.

Single items are not “statement” pieces anymore, if by that we mean that they used to carry a strong and clear message. The only thing that still has a meaning is how we decide to put those things together but it’s really hard to find someone that is able to mix and match pieces in a truly personal way considering – as i said before – that anything has been seen online.

It’s like the damn mohawk. I rarely see it on alternative people anymore after every soccer player started having one.
Same for tattoos, i see more bows and infinite signs than skulls and daggers. Not to mention the fact every cheap Zara piece has studs and leather accents.
On a hand i love how easy is to find things that i like, on the other i’m not thrilled anymore when i find them and i often consider to avoid buying them because it could make me look too mainstream.

Complicated =P
And sorry for my english, it’s not my mother language.


I agree and yet I cannot wear something that doesn’t mean something to me. I couldn’t wear a band shirt of a band I don’t know or like just because the design is awesome. I just can’t. I’m stubborn like that. 😛
I hope there are more people who still dress with their heart and mind.

Rachel Dahl

I actually confronted one mega fashion blogger if she knew the origin of the image on her shirt. It was from Unknown Pleasures, but the company who made her shirt made it look slightly different by having it be divided in quarters to form a cross. Before I commented on the image, not one person mentioned Joy Division, but apparently she says she listens to them (but after I said what band the image came from). Whenever I see something that sort of bothers me online, I just tell them, with full disclose of my name and URL, a piece of my mind. The people who used to do that on my blog NEVER left their identities. Cowards and hypocrites.

Oh yeah being tough and whatnot with style right now is a JOKE. Grunge is back, and it’s all just a trendy thing.


I feel a little disenchanted as well, especially since I’m a goth at heart. I didn’t use to be as sensitive about images and symbols but then seeing people wear nerdy shirts they don’t understand or wear skulls just because they’re cool is annoying. And you’re right, I love having certain items more readily available (like the asymmetrical sheer skirt I bought this morning) but then you wonder if it still stands for what it use to.

However, I won’t stop wearing what I like just because it’s “mainstream”. In a few more years, fashion will cycle again and people won’t think were edgy anymore – just freaks again lol.


Woah, I don’t know where to start. First of all I’d like to say that even if I don’t like people wearing iconic images that they don’t know, we can’t always blame them. So maybe those people like the radio waves but have never had the chance to listen to Joy Division. So that blogger should have just admitted that she simply didn’t know the band, it would have been more honest. Who I blame are the brands, the high street shops and so on that take advantage of iconic images , symbols and people. They literally steal from everywhere, but isn’t that what fashion does and has always done in the end? It’s a tricky tricky situation!
I know that I sound snobbish when I start such topics, like when I frown at people dressed like Beyonce that jump to The Cure in a goth club. People should be entitled to have fun and do whatever the fuck they want, and we shouldn’t be annoyed. It’s just that sometimes I am haha! And I can’t help it! Well…
I also think that it would never be the same again, cause once something is legitimized by fashion there’s no going back! We will never look at “tough” looks the same again. Sad sad truth!


I see this was written over a year ago but I stumbled upon it today. Okay listen, people will wear what makes them feel good or what makes them feel a part of something or they will wear something to stand out or wear something and not even sure why they are wearing it, but what the heck it looks good. Fashion is like a toy. You play around with it, put it aside when you tire of it and then pick it back up when you feel like playing with it again. You might get rid of the toy and get a new toy. No one person or ‘subculture’ as the rights or owns fashion. My fashion sense is eclectic, based on my mood and what I feel like. No one can tell me I should or shouldn’t wear something based on what music I listen to or don’t listen to. Maybe one day I wear all black and feel like listening to folk music. Maybe one day I am wearing a baby doll dress and boots and feel like listening to heavy metal. Maybe one day I am lounging around in my sweat pants and feel like listening to classical.
Who gives a rats ass? People who identify and label themselves get stuck. Freedom to rock whatever clothing and music you feel like is the only culture I wish to belong to.


    Of course, SeaSky. Everyone has the right to wear whatever the hell they want. What I pointed at in my article is the fact that certain looks once meant something that they don’t anymore. The article is about the mainstream fashion world constantly taking style born in subcultures and turning them into something else. This can’t be denied, as it is what happens all the time.
    Now, this can be seen from different points of view, but it certainly makes me sad when people wear symbols or graphics they don’t know the meaning of. It looks like a lack of passion and culture to me.
    That said, of course you have the right to have an eclectic style, that’s what I do as well. But I can’t help but thinking that knowing where what you wear comes from is a good starting point for any style.

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required