Girl Gangs: How Taylor Swift Made It Cool To Be Nice

Girl Gangs: How Taylor Swift Made It Cool To Be Nice

Our fashion features editor on why you should always have more than one best friend

When I was 11 I wrote a note to a girl in my class called Jeannie. It said, ‘Will you be my best friend, and can I sit next to you on the school trip next week?’ Jeannie’s cool reply was, ‘No! You, Annabel and Victoria are ALL my best friends. But yes, you can sit next to me.’ It turns out that Jeannie was not only very wise for her years, but also well ahead of her time. Because what Jeannie had created, through her desire to be nice to everyone and have lots of pals, was a modern gal gang. Jeannie was like a very small, very Scottish Taylor Swift.

Groups of girl pals are in no way a new phenomenon, of course. But, spearheaded by Swift and her ever-expanding Super Clan, gal gangs are now a force to be reckoned with in the world of celebrity. More than ever, women in the public eye are judged by their friends and how they interact with them. If you ask me, that’s no bad thing; it encourages us all to be nice.

The key to a successful gal gang is that all of its members seem like lovely girls. Taylor Swift is a case in point; her eagerness to be friends with everyone, from Gigi Hadid to a random fan at one of her gigs, seems 100 per cent authentic, and the whole world loves her for it. Modern gal gangs spend most of their time supporting, showering affection over and generally bigging up the other members of the group as they go about their business doing cool stuff together. There is no jealousy, no bitchiness; they’re just a bunch of mates having fun. Going public with your love for your besties (note: plural) is now so fashionable that we’ve become a bit suspicious of girls who aren’t in a gal gang.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that anyone really chooses their friends with the gal gang and how it’s perceived in mind – most of us form friendships for life at school, uni or at work and, ultimately, in private – but the celeb gal gang celebrates sisterhood, and when I look at my own friendship group, we have quite a bit in common with Taylor and co. Jeannie may have moved back to Scotland when we were 13, but if there’s one thing she taught me, other than how to make ‘cheesie beanos’ (cooking: a classic gal gang activity right there), it was the value of having more than one best mate; something Taylor clearly understands too.


1. Choose your leader 

Whether it’s the most powerful one (Taylor), the most stylish one (Alexa) or the most dysfunctional one (Carrie Bradshaw), all groups must have someone spearheading the movement. The leader will then set the tone for the rest of the group. It’s no coincidence that Taylor surrounds herself with goodie-goodies; if you don’t get with Taylor’s vibe, you ain’t in the gang.

2. Get the maths right

A gal gang must consist of at least three. Two is just a best friendship – much as we love Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox, they’re no gal gang without Lisa Kudrow in tow. A twosome can also come across as a clique, and that goes against everything the gal gang stands for. We’d stop at five or six in your group, though; Taylor is kind of overdoing it now (at last count, 30 plus).

3. Consider dynamics

Use the Spice Girls/Sex And The City format to avoid clashing personalities, skills and sartorial styles. While shared interests are definitely good (see point 1), no one wants to be The Corrs of gal gangs (really, which one was which? We still have no idea).

4. Do fun stuff together...

…And tell everyone about it. Whether it’s baking cupcakes (Taylor and Karlie Kloss), going on holiday together (Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof) or just going for an old-fashioned pint (Caitlin Moran, Lauren Laverne and Sali Hughes), doing fun stuff together is what mates are meant to do. It is acceptable for the gal gang to branch off into pairs to do this. Remember, it’s so much more endearing (and less weird) to post pictures of you doing fun stuff together than it is to post duck-faced selfies of you alone in a bikini in your bedroom...

5. Don’t overdo the ‘boyfriend’ stuff

Talking about/instagramming/tweeting about your boyfriend should be kept to a minimum.  Boyfriends are very much on the periphery of the gal gang and aren’t really relevant to it. Sometimes it’s not even apparent that a member even has a partner, despite them having been a couple for years. Which leads us on to the next point…

6. Have an honorary boy/pet in the group

The boy must under no circumstances be in a relationship with one of the gals, though it is acceptable for him to be in (unrequited) love with the leader. See Ed Sheeran and Nick Grimshaw, both honorary members of gal gangs (The Swifties and The Chungettes, respectively). Alternatively, persuade one of the girls to get a French bulldog or an interesting-looking cat.

7. Never, EVER, diss another girl

Remember, it’s all about supporting your mates. As Taylor once said, quoting American politician Madeleine Albright, ‘There’s
a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’

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