Couples Trade Outfits, and Attitudes

couples-switch-outfits-switcheroo-project-hana-pesut-71__880Switch gender and watch normal become weird.

Hana Pesut photographed couples in their regular clothing, and again after switching outfits.

In the switch, women’s outfits become drab. Yet their posture straightens and strengthens. Some seem more in charge as they place their arms around their partner’s bodies. 

603281-switcherooMen show skin, and some pose sexily — or alternatively, submissively. They look both more expressive and more decorative, sometimes hanging on the arms of the women they love.


Yet now and again a woman looks even more confident than the man she’s mimicking. Does she feel more confident posed as him? Though in the photo above the guy becomes more confident as he moves into his sexual power? What do you think?



You can purchase a book containing these and many other photos here.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Flip Gender, Flip Ways of Seeing
Guys, Girls Swap Roles at a Bar
If Sports Were Covered Like Women’s Beach Volleyball

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 20, 2013, in feminism, gender, psychology, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. I found this post to be very interesting, even more so now that there is the same trend buzzing around the internet (where the female and male reverse roles and attire). It’s a trend on social media (tiktok) and includes a song (with a male and female verse), along with the pair that acts the part of the person singing (or rapping) the song. It’s hilarious to watch all the different types of couples, as they all put their own touch on their own individual performance. In reflecting upon what this blog entails, coupled with my knowledge of already having seen dozens of similar tiktok videos just like the pictures in this blog, I can agree with the roles of each participant changing, even their attitudes. This observation is most interesting to me because when the roles are reversed (where the male plays the female part and vice versa), the men portray their role as the dainty female and the females portray their role as the overly confident, and powerful male. In my opinion, the act goes beyond just playing a role of their counterparts and more so reflects how much these stereotypes are embedded within us. And their participation and willingness to display or enact their temporary roles, is a clear indication of what real roles, both men and women, play within society.

  2. This article made me smile and laugh when I saw how the couples looked after they switched outfits. After looking at them, however, I began to wonder if wearing certain types of clothes affects people’s perceptions of themselves, and the perceptions of those who look at them. I noticed in the second couplet of photos that the woman looked much shorter and less confident than the man after they switched clothes; before, they appeared about the same height, and the woman seemed more confident than the man. Maybe clothes (and specifically high heels) boost confidence in this case. Also, I agree that, when women wear men’s clothes, the clothes tend to look drabber on them; however, their posture tends to change, too, and they become less inclined to strike an attractive pose. Men, meanwhile, seem to like mimicking women when they dress like them, striking the same poses that their female partners might strike. This is an interesting duality to me, and it makes for a charming experiment.

  3. Having men and women trade clothes is a great experiment to show the importance of clothing for gender identification and more widely for its role in influencing behavior, mood, and attitude towards oneself and others. Clothing style provides a lot of information about a person, including their sense of style, personal values and priorities, what culture/subculture they belong to, their age, and their gender roles. I think that disregarding gender norms for clothing is a step in the right direction towards more a gender equal society. As the pictures from the Switcheroo book show, it is easier for women to accomplish that and wear traditionally male clothes because they derive a feeling of empowerment from taking on male attitudes. While the men in the pictures appear comfortable and even try to look sexy in women’s clothing, I would imagine that most men would look more awkward and uncomfortable and would find it less desirable to wear gender defying outfits.

  4. Crystal Jauregui

    These pictures are rather fascinating for articulating what society has imbedded in our heads. Men don’t fit well in the smaller tight clothes that women are influenced to wear but women can pull off the men’s clothes without being judged for looking comfortable. Men would be judged for not being “normal” maybe also considered gay for not being masculine. Taking these couples to swap their images and portray their partners is hilarious, but if I didn’t know that this is some type of experiment they would look like weirdos. Man and Woman bodies are proportioned differently so fitting into any type of clothing is easier for women then for men. Women can slip into her husband’s pajamas and sleep comfortably but man if a man wore his wife’s pajamas to bed, not only would he feel uncomfortable he would probably be feeling unsettled about the entire situation. It can be psychological disturbing for a man more than it would be for a woman to swap roles with the opposite sex. But on the other hand, women seen wearing men’s clothing wouldn’t get notice or be considered attractive by men. Men are visual and easily stimulated when they see women who are dressed in close-fitting outfits, women don’t get stimulated to see a man in close-fitted clothes in fact he would be considered feminine.

  5. Stephanie Tran

    Wow! This post is such a clear representation of gender and how we culturally perceive it. I really enjoyed looking at these photos, which were pretty entertaining not going to lie. It’s interesting to see the comparisons of what is considered a feminine and masculine pose as well as what is considered feminine or masculine clothing. I loved how you said, “Switch gender and watch normal become weird.” It isn’t too normal to see a straight man wear a dress or crop top. On the other hand, it looks a little more normal for a woman to wear a flannel, shorts, and sneakers. We are just so used to believing that certain clothes are exclusive to a certain gender. It’s amazing what an outfit can do. As they pose for a photo in their partner’s outfit, it seems so natural for them to change their pose to showcase an attitude that they believe is representative of the opposite gender. The men look less “macho” with a less stiff or straight pose, and the women seem to look more confident, as stated in your post. Do the women feel more confident posed as a man? Maybe for a brief moment. Otherwise, I think they may just feel a sense of masculinity but not necessarily confident in the way they look or could be treated by others.

  6. It is cool how clothing has the power to change the confidence in both genders. I think the women feels more confident in the men clothing because they way they are standing and their expressions. I remember how we talked in class that women in men clothing go unnoticed, but when men wear women’s clothing we suddenly notice it. I think people start noticing that more because men are supposed to seem “macho” and masculine. So, seeing a man in a dress is interesting to them. I personally found the pictures funny and interesting. I could see the major difference in composure between both man and women. I wonder what it would be like if all men and women just switched clothes for a day because that would make others realize how we we have the “standard” of women being feminine and males being masculine. I personally can not relate to the pictures because my boyfriend and I dress the same (hoodie, basic t-shirt, and jeans type of style.) It would be funny to see him in a dress though.

  7. That is actually a very interesting thing. I totally do feel a difference in my level of confidence depending on what I wear. And that is why I can see that it makes a big difference to change into female clothing as a men. But for many woman there are a lot of clothing items which are unisex. More so than for man. So there is not such a big difference for woman unless you make a direct comparison by changing like they did on the pictures. So it probably a bigger difference for guys to change into female cloths and therefore a female role. Since guys are expected to be masculine which doesn’t really go together with female cloths.

  8. Paige Montgomery

    These pictures to me are very striking in their ability to capture the power of gendered clothing. The women’s clothing looks sexy on the women, and the women look somewhat confident, yet when these women switch to their man’s garb, the assume a more confident pose (many of them). I think this is due to men’s clothing being designed a representation of power and personhood. The men’s clothing covers more of the body and do not highlight curves, this I feel would be empowering to a woman. The men on the other hand go from looking powerful to looking uncomfortable and almost seem to shrink in the sexy clothing of the women. I have tried wearing gender neutral clothing, wearing my brother’s old clothes throughout my life. I found it very empowering until I felt pressured to be sexy as a woman.

  9. I think that they tried too hard to pose the subjects in the exact same way to truly be able to say that the woman appear to stand taller when in the men’s clothing. If you look closely at both shots, you will see the photographer tried to get the exact stances with both subjects to be the same in both of the shots, their clothing is the same as well as hand placement and stances. I would say that the photographer took the first shot, and once the shot was the “one”, the subjects were shown that photo and placed in the same stance as their partner was in the first shot. I think this can show no real experiment, except that they are good at mimicking their partner and up for a fun challenge. It was great to see the men especially be put into the women’s clothing. I think shooting them separately in each others clothing without coaching would be a better experiment.

  10. I was so surprised how strange and funny it was for me to see all the men in women’s clothes, but not with the women dressed in men’s clothes.
    It totally evoked what we were talking about today in class about gender ranking. Most of the women seems more confident with their look compared to men. I can imagine all the men feeling so ashamed wearing all these feminine clothes when taking these photos. Looking at how people dress in public places, if a girl was wearing a boyish clothes, I would not even notice that because it’s so natural. But looking at a man wearing feminine clothes, I can clearly recognize that and think that he is gay, bi, transvestite, or something else.
    I was considering clothing as more of a “girl’s business” but actually it is the men, who has to try and show his manhood dressing up like a man.

  11. This is cool! The girls look more comfortable in most of the pictures though. Kinda reminds me of how I did switched out the headlights for my uncle’s car cuz he didn’t know how to do it and he, in return, colored my hair for me and everyone thought we were “backwards”.

  12. Just saw a great play here in San Diego that had a similar theme – “Venus in Fur” – it has other themes as well but the idea of a guy becoming submissive after having been authoritative is definitely there as the young lady who comes in to audition for his play transforms from an apparently dizzy-brained girl to a powerhouse of talent and personal depth. Maybe others have seen it since it’s this year’s ‘most produced play’.

  13. This kind of experiment would be interesting to try out on punks and skinheads. I used to be a punk and a lot of my friends were and still are skinheads or punks and they all pretty much dressed the same regardless of their gender. I don’t know if you know about the gender structures in these kinds of sub-cultures but my experiences show that what bands you like matter more than you preferred pronoun. Also I think that all of the people in the pictures seem to be pretty comfortable in their own bodies and that might have something to do with how they feel wearing the other persons clothes.

    • Interesting.

      Reminds me of the 1960s American generation gap, which was a reaction to the Vietnam War. Men and women both had long hair and they dressed alike in Jeans and T-shirts. The message: our generation is what it bonds us together, and it’s more important than gender.

      Not sure what part of the world you’re from, or what skinhead means to you, personally. I found this on wiki:

      A skinhead is a member of a subculture that originated among working class youths in London, England in the 1960s and then soon spread to other parts of the United Kingdom, and later to other countries around the world. Named for their close-cropped or shaven heads, the first skinheads were greatly influenced by West Indian (specifically Jamaican) rude boys and British mods, in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle. Originally, the skinhead subculture was primarily based on those elements, not politics or race but, since then, race and politics have become factors by which some skinheads align themselves. The political spectrum within the subculture now ranges from far right to far left, although many skinheads are apolitical or hold centrist/moderate views.

  14. I think I’m a pretty androgynous person and try to live my life however the way I want it even if it’s outside my expected gender role. Although I’m a young lady, I’ll wear a skirt or look pretty when I feel like it, but even if I’m dressed as a girly-girl I have no qualms about playing video games, acting tough or picking up a playboy if I see they’ve interviewed Stephen Colbert on the cover. My reasoning is simply because before my gender, I am my own person and my anatomy or chromosomes shouldn’t dictate whether it’s okay for me to like something or act a certain way not even if society considers it not ‘normal’.

    Obviously, not everyone can just brush aside societies norms off like that so I take great interest in examining things that follow these ‘norms’ and decide for myself whether it is actually like that or if it’s just something society has taught us to think. Even though I don’t feel any particular resistance to ‘dressing as a guy’ I find it interesting how it’s harder for a girl to cross dress since there isn’t really anything considered clothes only men can wear. Girls can wear pants, ties and even boxers now, but a guy in a dress with high heels and panties on is considered really abnormal! And that makes me wonder why society has progressed this way. It feels like an double standard and that guys should feel free to be able to wear clothes other than a shirt and slacks without having their masculinity threatened.

    On a side note, I’m really upset about how jeans for women have ridiculously small pockets that can only fit their hands, while guys can practically fit their whole arm, wallet and a small dog inside their shorts. I know women carry purses, but please tell me I’m not the only one who bothered by this inconvenience.

  15. Switching the clothing of different couples was an interesting thing to do. I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Was there something to be experimented? Anyways, to me, the girls don’t appear any more in charge than the guys. Their expressions seem more serious, but I assume that’s because they are trying to portray their significant other. I also didn’t see a picture that showed a girl’s arm wrapped around the guy, but maybe all the photographs taken by Hannah Pesut are not pictured here.

    It is definitely different to see a woman dress as a man and even more, a man dress as a woman, standing side by side. It is unusual to see a man showing his stomach, such as in the first picture or a man in a dress like the third and fourth pictures. The girl’s original outfit in the second picture that the guy dressed in and posed for a picture looks to me like some kind of cultural outfit, so it honestly doesn’t appear too weird to me. Even the fact that he’s wearing a skirt because some men wear “skirts” (kilts) in places like Sweden. I’m sure if these couples were to walk around together or go out to dinner somewhere or anywhere where they could be seen by the general public, they would get plenty of stares and quiet murmurs.

  16. Ok – I did an interesting experiment. After viewing all the photos I went back up and scrolled down on each just enough to cover their faces. If the men had shaved their bodies one would be hard pressed to guess the gender. Also, in our society it is perfectly acceptable for women to wear mens’ clothing — we all do it. In fact, if it fits my outfit I raid my husbands closet for his old ties. Great look! So for what it’s worth I’m still baffled why we haven’t adjusted to men cross dressing. Women do it regularly.

  17. Ha! Really interesting experiment. I guess the thing that stands out for me is that the men’s clothing is really designed for practicality, whereas the female stuff has a much more decorative focus.

    It’s funny the things you only really appreciate when something is taken out of it’s usual context 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!


  18. Several interesting points raised from the comments above. I agree with commentators who point out that the photographer has gone to great lengths to get the postures in the second photo matching the postures in the first. If the subjects had been allowed to pose how they felt, I suspect we would have seen a clearer reflection of how men and women behave differently in one anothers’ clothing. (And the swapped clothes don’t fit all that well, meaning that the clothes don’t look quite right in any case).

    But the most interesting point was the one above by Shelburbia, who says she would be more uncomfortable in the dress than any of the men. Why should this be?

    As a crossdresser, I find clothes are a powerful way to access an emotional repertoire which I feel, but cannot normally express. I can’t help pointing out that when a woman puts on trousers and a shirt to express “confidence”, this is generally considered meritorious, but when a man puts on a frock to express sensitivity, this is considered distasteful or freakish.

    How can we have reached a point where even women don’t especially want to wear women’s clothing??

    “That said, the self-expression that women’s clothing offers can be fun– and even look good if it’s done right”.

    • Yes a lot of women prefer masculine things. Maybe because of gender ranking. We tend to value masculine things over feminine things, and we all learn it on some level.

      And you are right that if the photographer had allowed everyone to pose however they naturally felt like posing, we would be able to see the effects of clothing better. But we still see the effects of gender because we see how the women typically appear more confident when they take on the pose of their partner. And that is something that might have been invisible otherwise.

      Also, I commented on your blog post on androgyny but can’t tell whether it got published. If you didn’t get the comment let me know and I will try again.

  19. “What I took from this is, if men dressed like women then the male body would be perceived the same way the female body is. When men are dressed in clothes that show their curves(yes men have curves), show their chest and legs it is easier to see their bodies as sexy the way women’s bodies are. This is done to women by showing some skin but covering up the rest, so our focus is on the body parts that are shown. When men are dressed that way, I notice their legs, arms, waist and what ever body part is being shown or concentrated on by the outfit instead of my eyes going straight to their face. When the women are dressed as the men, I focus on their face first instead of the rest of their body.”

    It is true women’s clothes show more of the body and accentuate body parts more so or more revealing. I think this is true especially for the legs and butt, which women’s clothes show off or accentuate more so. But it’s weird how you say women’s clothes show men’s bodies more. Yes that’s true for like the legs, but while some men’s clothes don’t show much, there are men’s clothes that feature or which a woman can see a man’s body parts or physique from the clothes or shown through the layers. For example, one of the pics has the man wearing a tank top, in his man clothes. Do men’s tank tops not show off their arms and shoulders and chests for that matter? Especially if the guy’s have muscles? Think of those under armor shirts too that are tight and a woman can see the man’s chest definition and muscles through shirts like that. There are also sweaters and shirts from top retailers like American eagle that are form fitting and a man with a good build, or v shape can show his muscles through or a woman can see his chest definiton and shoulder, arm broadness and definition from the form fitted shirts.

    • You are right that some men’s clothing shows off their bodies. But as you can see in these photos, more typically men’s bodies are much more covered than women’s.

    • Yes I agree and you’re only further making my point. Mostly all the examples you gave are of clothes men wear when working out or playing sports. As we know Men’s bodies are perceived as sexy when they are at the gym or playing sports. Now you know one of the reason why that is.

  20. Turns out I like the men’s clothes better on both genders. I think I would be more uncomfortable in the dress than any of those dudes.

    • I kind of feel that way myself. Maybe I like the simpler look and the confidence it tends to bring out.

      That said, the self-expression that the women’s clothing offers can be fun–-and even look good if it’s done right.

  21. What I took from this is, if men dressed like women then the male body would be perceived the same way the female body is. When men are dressed in clothes that show their curves(yes men have curves), show their chest and legs it is easier to see their bodies as sexy the way women’s bodies are. This is done to women by showing some skin but covering up the rest, so our focus is on the body parts that are shown. When men are dressed that way, I notice their legs, arms, waist and what ever body part is being shown or concentrated on by the outfit instead of my eyes going straight to their face. When the women are dressed as the men, I focus on their face first instead of the rest of their body.

  22. Very nice 🙂 thank you !!!

  23. oh I thought you mentioned how the men did. And the guy wearing that dress, I know the one you’re talking about. He looks more confident, because he is, but it’s just more expressed when he’s wearing the dress. Because he has the confidence to not feel bad and joke about it through the picture and be silly. So his confidence is more expressed or seems more so, because he’s posing outwardly more, because he knows he looks funny in the dress but can confidently play it up and mock himself with the female like pose.

  24. I don’t think the guys are more confident in the women’s clothes, but more expressive. The reason is because them wearing guys clothes is their usual attire of course, so they are going to pose an a regular, not too expressive manner. The men in women’s clothes is out of the norm, and if a man is confident, he can and will be confident in women’s clothes. The women’s clothes won’t make him less confident. He seems more confident, because he’s more expressive in his poser, because he realizes it’s funny and silly looking. Yet the guy’s are confident in their own skin to not let them wearing a dress, deter them as men. And guy’s see or can see humor in things,so basically they are, especially the guy at beach are confidently playing it up, or mocking themselves, in a confident manner and being expressive in a funny way, purposely posing like women, because they realize they look funny, but their confidence in themselves doesn’t cause it to bother them.

  25. Its funny to see how uncomfortable they all look. I’ve done this with my friends before. None of us have any shame when it comes to what we wear. All the guys are good sports about wearing girls clothes. What you wear shouldn’t affect your confidence, or make you feel insecure. But in our society everyone is perceived by what they wear. Everyone should feel comfortable enough with themselves to not have to worry about what they are wearing everyday. You have to rock what you’ve got, make it your personal style and own it.

  26. I love this – shows perfectly how gender roles are constantly being reinforced without our noticing, and this deserves a full-on academic study. I’m off to buy a tie.

  27. Not to be a nit-picker, but the photos shown appear to have been carefully posed so that the “traded” poses exactly mirror the “normal” pose – that is, if the woman was wearing a skirt and cocked her left hip to the side in the initial photo, her male partner was posed in that exact way in the 2nd photo wearing that skirt. So, I’m at a loss to understand the words about how the woman “looks even more confident than the man she’s mimicking” in his clothes. If the couples had been allowed to stand as they liked in the 2nd picture, I think we’d have a more clear idea of how they actually felt in the situation. As a 5’1″ female with a 6’4″ male, OUR photos would have been weird, as I would swim in his clothes and mine would barely cover him! Interesting project though.

    • Maybe it was just my perception. And maybe I perceived it that way because she looked so much more confident in his pose that she occurred to me as seeming even more confident-looking than him, at times.

  28. Interesting experiment. They all mostly look pretty uncomfortable in each other’s clothes. Except that beach guy is rocking that dress a little more than I expected.

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