At what point in our North American culture did we decide pants didn’t need to be practical?
I recently had the opportunity to watch three young people while I was waiting for a bus. They all wore different baseball caps with the brims turned up like a duckbills and the price tag still on. They also wore different styles of T-shirts, if you consider cut, ripped and rags a fashion statement. What fascinated me the most was they were wearing pants with the crotch at the knees.
To accomplish the crotch-to-knee fashion statement, the pants looked to be about four sizes too big. Since the waist had extra space, the young man wore three pairs of underwear to fill the gap. The undergarments were strategically placed to align each waist band further up his torso. Striped boxer, silks and briefs. This concept of wearing underwear as outwear is new to me. I was always told "Go puts some cloths on" if I tried watching Saturday morning cartoons in my underwear.
Every time the duckbilled, baggy pants, three briefs ragamuffin moved, his pants fell further down to his knees. This required him to use a hand to keep pulling them up. His would position his legs like outriders and walk like he soiled his drawers. At most, he could take two steps before he needed to pull his pants up. What didn’t make sense was his wardrobe included a wide belt, with unused holes.
I always assumed pants had practical value. On Sundays as a kid, I was required to wear a different pair of pants that made me itch. For the longest time I called pants that itched Sunday pants. Belts were optional except with itchy pants. No matter what pants I wore they always fit.
Some kids had extra layers of material at the knees. If the pants got ripped or torn, they had to be mended or you didn’t wear them again. If you did, you might suffer the wrath of a mother who was told her child was poorly dressed.
I asked my daughter about this sagging, crotch-to-knee style of pants. She called them gangsta pants and suggested it was developed in prisons. One size fits all garb and no belts became prison chic. It moved from the prisons to become fashion for rap and hip-hop artists to make them seem more real. There you have it folks: Not being able to take more than two steps gives you street cred.
I wondered what does a person wearing gangsta pants do, if they order a coffee and a doughnut at Tim’s? They can’t have takeout. They would never get out the door because their hands would be to full to pull up their pants. If they eat in, they would have to make two trips to the table — one to carry the coffee and another trip for the doughnut.
I’m no fashion critic but I thought pants were suppose to be practical.
Sean Conway is a River Park South-based writer. Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in The Lance area and would like to contribute to this column, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.