Our Favorite TV Tomboys and Their Underwear Style

TomboyX creates clothing and cultivates community for a tomboy spirit that lasts long into adulthood. In pop culture, characters who exuded this attitude and style were either very young or very straight: the feisty teenage protagonists of young adult novels, the nerdy straight girls who crushed on their glamorous and popular best friend’s boyfriends.

But it’s a brand new day, y’all: now television is chock-full of grown-up tomboys and other masculine-of-center folks who like girls, and we’ve matched them up with the under-apparel we think fits their character’s style best, so you can even dress like your favorite tomboy (on the inside).


Presented by TomboyX

Stef Foster, The Fosters


Stef is very practical, no-nonsense, and often old-fashioned — and she spends a lot of time in polyester police pants. There are very few kickass moms on TV, but Stef gets it done in and out of uniform. She handles the drunk drivers who smash into her kids, the black market identity thieves who try to exploit her kids, the drug dealers who try to hurt her kids, and then she comes home and handles her kids. But she’s a teddy bear too, especially with her wife, and we love her for that too.

Underwear Style:
The TomboyX “Bobbie” Boxer-Briefs in Navy are the most similar to the Under Armor style favored by a lot of cops — even if her pants tear or rip during a chase or fight, nobody will even notice what she’s got on underneath. Plus, they hold up with seams reinforced in all the right places.

Freda Gatz, Empire


Freda is tough as hell with talent for days, played by real-life lesbian rapper Bre-Z. We don’t get to see a lot of black masculine-of-center women on television and here she is: complicated, tough, grieving, doesn’t take shit from anybody.

Underwear Style:
Whether she’s out with her crew, in the recording studio or on stage, she sports the same look: sports bras, sleeveless hoodies or flannels, and pants she can move in. The Feeling Frisky Boxer-Briefs in black with white trim match everything, and the waistband looks real cute peeking out of those joggers.

Ali Pfefferman, Transparent


Would we want to be trapped in an elevator or go on a date with Ali? Probably not — like many of Maura Pfefferman’s offspring, Ali is pretty self-absorbed and unpredictable. But she brings a genderqueer tomboy character to the table in a way we haven’t seen since the short-lived Franky in Series Five of Skins. She tells a story we don’t hear very much, and it’s an intriguing one.

Underwear Style:
Ali’s style vacillates from “I found this on sale at Value World” to “Grandpa’s closet” to “I just wanna be warm” to “90s lesbian” to “Hampshire undergrad.” Underneath it all is something classic, reliable, and a little old-school — the TomboyX Good Carma Boxer-Briefs… in red, of course, because they remind her of long winter underwear.

Big Boo, Orange is the New Black

This “soft on the inside, hard on the outside,” thing is becoming a theme in this list, yeah? Big Boo’s story of growing up as a tomboy whose parents were perpetually furious about her sartorial choices was one so many of us related to, deeply. She may be a bit of an asshole as a grown-up, but that episode hit us right in the heart.

Underwear Style:
Big Boo is the kind of woman who waited her whole life for a line like TomboyX — and in the meantime, had been sporting Fruit of the Looms in 3-packs from the men’s department (which’s also where she picked up her Hanes tanks). Luckily, TomboyX offers its iconic underwear in sizes up to 4X, which gives Boo a lot of options, but I think she’d end up going with The Good Carma or the Feeling Frisky in Grey (pictured above).

Nyssa al Ghul, Arrow


“Active tomboy” can mean so many things: Derby girl, mountain biker, expert archer and thwarted heir to the throne of the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul is that last thing. Sometimes she’s a hero, sometimes she’s a villain. It doesn’t matter.

Underwear Style:
What both of those groups have in common is the need to seamlessly integrate their undies into their costumes. Enter the TomboyX Bobbie Boxer Briefs, black with a red racing stripe. Not only would it afford Nyssa the comfort and versatility she needs to kick asses; the sleek style and color scheme matches her black-on-red, leather-on-leather style perfectly.

Denise, Master of None

Screenshot 2015-11-08 14.03.10

Denise is a highlight of a show chock-full of highlights: she’s got that dry sarcasm down pat, delivers wisdom on the reg, and even gave Lil’ Funyons a shot. She’d top you like a champ, make you breakfast the next day and get along swimmingly with your little brother.

Underwear Style:
Denise dresses up like a hipster power lesbian and dresses down in a snapback and something carefully chosen but casual. She looks comfortable and crisp all the time. Let’s be real: Denise wouldn’t own just one style of underwear, she’d have something different for every occasion or mood: some Tomboy Shorts in Grey (above), Feeling Frisky Boxer-Briefs in Black and White, Bobbie in Red, and even some Iconic Briefs.

Audrey Jensen, Scream


Audrey is such an enigma! Is she just your average queer tomboy with a crush on her straight best friend? Or is she an accomplice to the murders of half a dozen of her classmates? Could she be both? Only time will tell!

Underwear Style:
Until then, Audrey’s style screams — ha! get it? — crunchy punk exterior with a sweet marshmallow center. That’s why the “Tomboy Short” briefs in teal are the ideal choice for her. They’re functional and adorable.

Sameen Shaw, Person of Interest

Shaw’s the kind of girl who protects the world without a badge or a uniform, and occasionally pulls a bullet out of her gut with her own hands. She doesn’t take orders from anyone (not even the omniscient Machine), works on her own schedule on her own terms, and even refuses to carry a phone. She can be a team player, but she doesn’t need a team to be a hero.

Underwear Style:
For the tomboy who lives life with zero regrets there’s the “Feeling Frisky” boxer brief (in red)! Simple, tough, kind of flirty: exactly what you’d expect to find in Sameen Shaw‘s dresser. Perfect for date night, stakeout night, undercover night, or risking-it-all-for-your-true-love night. When so much of your life is controlled by unseen forces, it’s nice to be able to step out in something that expresses your style perfectly.

Amy Raudenfeld, Faking It


Amy’s our favorite because well, she reminds us of ourselves a lot of the time. She can go full-femme when the event requires, but prefers slip-ons and jeans: your classic tomboy femme Sporty Spice who doesn’t particularly like sports. Her style attempts “I woke up like this” perfection even though nobody wakes up with hair and makeup that looks as good as Amy’s.

Underwear Style:
The princess of casual wear (even her pajama pants are cool, y’all) pairs rugged, laid-back classics with burnout tees, jackets, and geometric necklaces  — and underneath all that, you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find TomboyX Feeling Frisky Boxer Briefs (in Plum). Seriously, just imagine how cute those would look with her donut t-shirt!

Root, Person of Interest


Nyssa al Ghul isn’t the only tomboy assassin on our list! (Do we have a type?) Root’s kind of grown out of it, though. These days she’s more hacker-y and less murder-y, but she’s going to keep the planet safe no matter what it takes. Of course, that’s not the only thing that makes Root one of our favorite tomboys; it’s also that she fell in love with another tomboy on this very list. (Hey, Shaw. Hey, girl.)

Underwear Style:
When you never know what outfit your day will require, it’s best to stick with classic undies. TomboyX’s Iconic Briefs go with everything, which makes them a perfect choice for Root. Some days she’s hacking in her pajamas; some days she’s a leather clad field agent on the mean city streets; some days she’s just a girl standing in front of another girl asking her not to run into a steady stream of of bullets. Wherever Root is going, she needs to get there in a hurry. No frills, no fuss, and the full knowledge that comfortable can be sexy too.

Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Black

Poussey isn’t just our favorite tomboy, she’s our favorite, period. She’s not afraid to be vulnerable and real, just likes to cuddle, and refuses to let prison turn her hard. Plus she’s pretty easy on the eyes.

Underwear Style:
Poussey’s style is a little bit punk and she puts up a hard front — but underneath all that is a girl who believes that love conquers all, doesn’t shy from romance, and always keeps her look on point. The “Tomboy Short” briefs in black with red trim have just the right amount of edge, would fit under skinny jeans and are perfect for elicit scissoring sessions.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3182 articles for us.


    • See, I’m the opposite. I think Root goes for the sexy lace, and Shaw definitely wears the boy shorts, but in black, not red. Have we ever seen Shaw wear any other colour other than black, grey, or army green? I don’t think so.

      • You know how Booth is super straight-laced but wears like really colorful socks as an outlet for how tightly wrapped up he has to be at his job? (On Bones, I mean.) I think of Shaw like that!

        • Shaw is a little less wicked than Root, but her wickedness means that she’s gonna make me drop my jaw with her underwear.

          Ok, this is getting a little personal so I’m gonna walked out now…

        • But I think Shaw LIKES being tightly wound. It’s a necessity in her job, yes, but she’d be just as tightly wound in any other job. Shaw would be a tightly wound yoga instructor. She’s not the type to use clothing as an outlet for her personality. Her clothes are practical, that’s it.

      • I’m with you Allison, Shaw wants boy shorts. It’s all about the comfort and manoeuverability required for breaking into buildings and shooting people in the knees. Whereas Root would never let anything as silly as ease of use stop her from looking damn fabulous. She never knows when Shaw might need distracting with some lacy underwear.

        • OrangeCaitlin, yes I think that’s exactly right. I think it’s also partly from habit. Shaw was in the Marines, remember.

          Also, I’ve just read enough Shoot fanfic, and that’s how most writers seem to dress them (or undress them, as the case may be :p ).

      • YOU GUYS this whole time I have thought that Root & Shaw was the name of a tv show that I really needed to start watching any day now

        And meanwhile I watched the pilot of Person of Interest like a month ago and got bored b/c it seemed like it was gonna be all about the dudes


        Okay sorry back to your underpants debate

        • I just started watching PoI like three weeks ago. And you are right, for the first series it is pretty much all about dudes. I stuck out the whole first series knowing this, but honestly you’d do no harm to the storyline if you skip most of the first series.

        • You just need to have a little patience.

          Root only has guest appearances in the 1st season and was a recurring character in the 2nd season. Shaw was also a recurring character in the 2nd season.

          After they met, and I think everybody can agree with this, their chemistry was off the charts.

        • There are a lot of dudes BUT STICK IT OUT IT’S SO WORTH IT.

          If it helps, every time a woman comes on screen, imagine what kind of underwear she likes. In season one, you get a lot of Carter, and quite a bit of Zoe, and some Kara as well!

          Also, the fanfic for POI is incredible. Seriously. And there may be a lot of boring dudes, but the mythology is super interesting, and there are some good number-of-the-week’s in the first season, and it gets SO MUCH BETTER. Season one is a straight up procedural, but by season three, its a full on serialized drama.

  1. firstly, way to publish this on my saturday. totes earned that spontaneous affiliate link purchase. Secondly, tomboyx’s website is nearly as smooth as GC2B at getting me in and out as quick as possible, so bravo on that one.

  2. I love this so so so much! I really wish I could buy Tomboyx underwear, but for a Canadian, the shipping cost adds up to nearly the same price as the underwear itself, and I just can’t justify it :(

  3. Rises, I super loved this article! I know it was a sponsored post, but it gave me the opportunity to imagine so many of my tv crushes in their underwear, which is obviously a plus.

    Also, as a femme who has long been a fan of masculine-of-center underwear underneath her dresses (and is a faithful to the fruit of the loom 3 pack that you mentioned), I’m excited to see the new options out there! I always prefer to support queer owned whenever possible.

    • let me just say that when i was on a bus wearing a sunddress and sandals and the bus suddenly lurched, sending me flying into the air and crashing onto the steps between the back and front of the bus, i have never been more grateful that the only kind of underwear i wear is boys underwear (but sometimes thongs, if the pants require it) so that nothing else was revealed to the very packed bus of human beings.

      which is just to say solidarity on femme-of-center clothes / masculine-of-center underpants

    • @c-p I am also a femme who mostly wears dresses, and recently (from another Autostraddle post) I’ve been considering getting a pair or too of boxer briefs, because the thought of masculine underwear under something as super femme as a dress is really awesome. Yay for subverting gender norms! Do you know if wearing boxer briefs helps prevent thigh chafing?

  4. Well, this is timely. A month ago I decided to stop giving a shit about the underwear I “should” be wearing (as my mother conditioned me to do during my adolescence. All good intentions) and embraced the fruit of the loom 3 pack lifestyle. Now I’ll be throwing money I don’t have into this, through the affiliate program of course.
    Riese, another helpful article. I’ve lost count on how many have been timely and super helpful.

  5. Ahhhh I have been thinking about buying new, more MOC underwear for so long!! Also, do sponsored posts mean money for AS??? If so I am very excited about this development and you may advertise to me through your posts as much as you want! Hey corporations, give AS all the dollars!

  6. Best damn product placement I’ve seen all week, very relevant to my interests, 10/10 would read again.

    Also, what if I just wore the Bobbie Boxer ones around my house and pretended they were shorts? What then!?

  7. Are these comfortable? I usually wear mens underwear as they are super comfy, but wouldn’t mind some women’s cut stuff in the same styles…

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