Please pull up your pants

2 Dec

It’s finally moving away. The saggy, baggy trouser, embraced and sustained by the hip hop movement that has since flooded into the mainstream market.

In 1992, Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg) posed with low-slung jeans to reveal his Calvin Klein undies, sparking chatter about Wahlberg as the originator of the look. Though I’m really not exactly clear on how and why the baggy look would have moved from prison into regular society, urban culture suggests that this style may have begun in prisons, where inmates’ belts are removed so they cannot be used as weapons against others or self, thereby sagging the pants. Research also shows that when in prison, sagging is also a way to send sexual messages to other inmates, if you’re into that.

I’ve scoured the internet for research on this saggy fashion topic and found a very interesting message board discussing baggy pants and whether there ought to be laws against wearing them, amongst other things (on Dr. Phil’s site, of all places).  I was amazed at the range of opinions about something as simple as a pant style.

Some goodies:

  • Personally, I think they look AWFUL. There is nothing more idiotic than watching someone TRYING to walk with their @ss hanging out, and holding up their pants at the crotch with one hand!
  • Any of the young guys I knew who started sagging were sagging because they came from poor families where they wore the hand-me-downs of an older brother or cousin that didn’t always fit (regardless of the belt). So even if their pants were pulled up to their waist, they would still look over-sized and droopy.
  • The LOWER your pants, the LOWER your IQ!
  • I am a retired Police Officer… Whenever I had occasion to speak with a young man who was wearing baggy pants, I was very concerned for my and my partner’s safety….  We did not know if that person was caring [sic] a concealed weapon (firearm or anything else).  We would not allow that person to touch their pants, or go near their pockets…. My biggest concern is that the young person would be wrongly shot being seriously hurt or killed because of a silly fashion statement.

Clothing styles move into extremes before changing into something else.

So the saggy pants hold different meanings for different people (how do you feel about them?), but like all fashion trends throughout history, styles begin small and grow to ridiculous proportions before morphing into something else. It seems to go in roughly 20 year cycles, and here we go again.

I’m delighted to find that designers are going the opposite direction now by skinnying their bottom pieces, though curiously, the illusion of baggy remains by setting the back pockets down the back of the thigh, giving the illusion of a low waistband. (Will that unto itself go into orbit until the day men realize that they’re crouching down to their ankles to reach their wallets? Let’s hope not.)

Though the silhouette in 2010 may look different from what it was in 1992, old habits die hard: I’m seeing young guys in skinny pants pull down their waistbands and trouser seats to look more “street” I guess, or perhaps they’re into the “I just filled my pants” look. Whatever it is, skinny clothing suggests a close fit, so I suggest that you pull up your skinny pants so they fit the way they were cut to fit – they’ll feel better too.

Restricted movement

Y’all know a little about me by now and of course you realize that one of my concerns is practicality, as it is for many men, and I’ll tell you, that unless you’re in the smuggling trade, wearing saggy bottoms is NOT practical.

Case and point: One guy I remember from a few years ago was all decked out in hip hop clothing: cutting-edge super fancy high-cut Nikes, the extra long t-shirt, bling in his ears and around his neck, the baseball hat worn on a tilt, and really baggy pants that sat around his knees and slowed him to a waddling sidewalk shuffle. Every few feet  he stopped to clutch at the top his jeans to keep them from saying hi to his ankles.

I sincerely hoped that he wouldn’t have to suddenly run to get out of the way of something because he’d be flat on his face in no time. I also wondered why he bothered wearing pants at all, since only his calves were covered… why he didn’t just break out the leg warmers and be done with it? At least that way, he’d have freedom of movement.

I know that when my clothing doesn’t fit right or moves around while I’m walking, I get uneasy and fussy about it, so it makes me wonder how could a guy, despite being in the coolest clothing known to his social group but presumably distracted by the threat of an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, possibly operate with confidence? I wouldn’t think it feels good to wear something that’s half on and half off.

Where’s your butt?

I see a great divide when it comes to men’s and women’s clothing. Clothing designed for women seems to always be tight and revealing, leaving nothing to the imagination and essentially serving up our backsides on a plate, while men are wearing baggy, saggy, unflattering britches (shapeless khakis / double pleated trousers / baggy sweat pants), and somewhere in those fat folds of cotton twill is the guy’s ass – that we are not privy to.

Really readers, is this fair?

Style cycle

Every generation comes up with a new way to express itself to render it different from the last, and these sometimes outrageous ways of youth should never surprise us –  zoot suits for young men in the 40s, long hair and bell bottoms in the 60s, and acid-wash jeans and big hair in the 80s. (It’s been a hell of a ride, hasn’t it?)

The saggy trousers have been hugely embraced by Generation Y, but these kids are growing up now and they’re moving out of the XXX large clothing and into things simpler and less extravagant; garments that use less materials. A reflection on the fallout of the 2008 recession or is it the 20 year cycle change?

We’ll have to wait and see.

4 Responses to “Please pull up your pants”

  1. Emiliano Diego-Franceskides November 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    “Research also shows that when in prison, sagging is also a way to send sexual messages to other inmates, if you’re into that.”



  1. Black History Month: Dressing for the life you want | In the Key of He - February 28, 2013

    […] Further reading: Please pull up your pants. […]

  2. Black History Month | Dressing for The Life You Want | Image Granted - February 28, 2013

    […] Further reading: Please pull up your pants. […]

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