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Why are their pants falling down?
December 22, 2009 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Why do so many kids wear their pants 1/2 way down their asses - if not totally off their asses? Is this a fashion thing I don't know about? Do they not know that their pants are falling down?
posted by GernBlandston to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (45 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Low-rise jeans have been on trend for awhile now. Some say that the ultra-low-rise pants look for young men originated in jails, where prisoners aren't allowed to wear belts, but it's just a fashion thing these days.
posted by xingcat at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2009


Why does any fashion trend exist? It's just part of the zeitgeist.
posted by jckll at 11:55 AM on December 22, 2009


Low rise jeans don't sit very securely on the hips and rather than rebel against low rise jeans, people decided to just go with it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2009


"There is some disagreement among the origin of baggy jeans. Some observers seem to think people in the Hip Hop community began to copy the pants that prisoners were issued while they were incarcerated and thus lend their attire to prison chic? Others are convinced that the baggy jean actually has some roots in the skate/snowboard industry."

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=280977
posted by royalsong at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about the whys and wherefores, but I did enjoy this feature about them by Bill Cunningham of The New York Times.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Google Answers has a pretty comprehensive look at this.

But the short answer is: Yes, it's a fashion thing. Yes, they know their pants are falling down. No, it's not any weirder than neckties.
posted by 256 at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


And, like all fashion trends, it's not aimed at the people who don't get it. Said kids could not give one metric rat's ass what you think about how they look. They are probably laughing at some aspect of your personal style that you think is awesome.

Oh, fashion, how you divide us from one another!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this a fashion thing I don't know about?

A fashion thing, other than the widespread fashion trend you just noticed? Nope.

In the nineties, you'd only see this sort of thing among the baggy-pants hiphop crowd. Nowadays, I think it's mostly a problem with trouser ergonomics: The "waist" of the jeans can't go any higher than the widest part of the hip--or lower--which renders a belt rather useless for keeping them up.

(I predict an upswing of suspenders and/or overalls in the not-too-distant future.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2009


President Barack Obama: "Brothers should pull up their pants."
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:18 PM on December 22, 2009


[A few comments removed. Question could have been asked a bit better, certainly, but it's pretty dang answerable, so please say constructive or take it elsewhere.]
posted by cortex at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2009


They've been working their way down for a while now. In 2003 the joke in an Achewood comic was predicated on the logical conclusion.
posted by justkevin at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised that this question is being asked in 2009, even the google answers question is from 2003.

Speaking from experience, it is funny as hell to see kids with their pants halfway down their butt running from a bus.

Are there any other fashion trends that require one to hold on or up ones garments constantly? I may not be stylish but I do enjoy the freedom of not having to hold my pants up by the crotch.

I'm not sure, but there's a lot of fashion trends that are uncomfortable: jeans so skinny you can't really bend your knee, jeans so skinny you have to struggle to get them on, shoes with smooth, hard soles that get no traction, corsets, piercings, etc.

This isn't any weirder than any of them.
posted by jedrek at 12:25 PM on December 22, 2009


Are there any other fashion trends that require one to hold on or up ones garments constantly? I may not be stylish but I do enjoy the freedom of not having to hold my pants up by the crotch.

Maybe not, but there are certainly other examples of physically obstructive fashion that don't seem to be going away any time soon.
posted by 256 at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


(I predict an upswing of suspenders and/or overalls in the not-too-distant future.)

I've been laughing at the low slung pants thing for something like ten years now, I don't see it changing any time soon.

So yes a fashion thing, very wide spread, common, and actually been going on for a long time. I'm surprised you're only noticing it now GernBlandston.
posted by shelleycat at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2009


Oh, let me put my link back in with less snark, because I think it's interesting.

Not only is this a widespread fashion trend, it's one that has drawn negative attention from lawmakers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2009


Don't forget the jeans with 6 inches or so of boxers sewn in above the waistband. That never made any sense to me...
posted by pupdog at 12:49 PM on December 22, 2009


This has been going on for at least 20 years, so yeah... I guess you missed it.

Originally, it was a "black thing," or moire accurately a "ghetto thing." It comes from the ubiquity of hand-me-downs, and therefore ill-fitting clothes, in American ghettos and passed into fashion because it became culture partially because, I've been told, because it makes it easier to hide a gun. Kinda like the pitbull of pants-fits.

I've seen plenty who actually wear them around their knees with very long shirts. I've seen the use of suspenders to facilitate this, but I don't know if the average gangster had suspenders under those huge shirts. I believe I'd get my ass kicked for asking something like that.

But, yeah, now I see mostly vacuous-looking suburbanites wearing pants like that.

These are the observations of a Texan who went to school in Stop Six, Fort Worth, where I was one of maybe 6 white kids. Parts of it are extremely rough. Like, squatter villages and cop-no-go zones.
posted by cmoj at 1:02 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do they not know that their pants are falling down?

They are very much aware that their pants are falling down. The fact that this raises your ire is part of the reason for doing it.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:18 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


It probably has something to do with where you are located. I can see how it's possible that you might not have noticed this until now.

I've seen low slung pants in Chicago since at least the late nineties. It's not just kids that wear their pants low. And, as pupdog mentioned, it has led to other trends, as well as pants now sized/designed to be worn low on the waist.

That's why I'm not sure if it can even be called "fashion" or a trend anymore. Once something has become mainstream it's usually abandoned by those who started it (which's why it's also curious that it's been probably 15 years that guys are wearing their pants this way). Beyond anything else, I think low slung pants get a lot of flak simply because it's someone's pants that look like they are about to fall off.

What I'm saying is, it seems to be something beyond mere "fashion".
posted by marimeko at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2009


I think it's mostly a problem with trouser ergonomics: The "waist" of the jeans can't go any higher than the widest part of the hip

I often hear this rational for fashion victims. My question is, wear are people who say such things shopping? Levis still makes the jeans they've been making for a century now, back when they were marketed as "waist-high" overalls; and the catalogs I'm receiving are full of waist-high trousers.

surprised that this question is being asked in 2009, even the google answers question is from 2003

...so I think the question should really be, Why are their pants still falling down? Why haven't the kids invented a new style yet?
posted by Rash at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2009


wear where
sigh
posted by Rash at 1:31 PM on December 22, 2009


The mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, posted this (here) on Twitter on Aug 3, 2009: "Someone please explain to me the physics! How can a guy wear his pants hanging more than halfway down his backside & not have them fall!"
posted by mark7570 at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2009


It probably has something to do with where you are located. I can see how it's possible that you might not have noticed this until now.

Huh, I was just going to pop in to say that I can't imagine where in the USA someone could live and miss 15-20 years worth of teenagers with their jeans hanging off their asses.

Is this a fashion thing I don't know about?

It's a fashion thing that you don't know about. If you don't have any reason to encounter people between the ages of 12 and 25, you might not have any reason to be aware of it, I guess.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2009


...so I think the question should really be, Why are their pants still falling down? Why haven't the kids invented a new style yet?

I've been thinking about this actually and it has changed, here in NZ at least. Now I see young guys wearing those tight skinny leg jeans with the waist band buckled around their upper thighs (and a saggy butt), whereas ten years ago they were really wide leg slouchy pants hanging down. This reflects the overall change in trends where pant legs have got much thinner and also possibly a change in demographic doing it. So the trend is evolving along with fashion in general, but the low hanging nature of it has remained fairly constant.

I don't know if it's the same everywhere. I do remember reading in the late ninties that New Zealanders wore their pants much wider than anywhere else and some companies were making special extra huge pairs just for us, but that may have been untrue and I'm not interested in fashion enough to really know.
posted by shelleycat at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2009


I read a 'Just So Story' that backs up cmoj's point about ghetto hand-me-downs and characterized the large size as a form of protective coloring. Assume the hand-me-downs are handed down from the wearer's big brother. The bigger the pants, the bigger the brother. You don't want to mess with somebody whose brother is that big.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 1:48 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are actually jeans with boxers sewn into the tops? I didn't know that! I've just always been befuddled as to how you walk with your pants hanging off like that.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:53 PM on December 22, 2009


cmoj said: Originally, it was a "black thing," or moire accurately a "ghetto thing." It comes from the ubiquity of hand-me-downs, and therefore ill-fitting clothes, in American ghettos and passed into fashion because it became culture partially because, I've been told, because it makes it easier to hide a gun. Kinda like the pitbull of pants-fits.

This is the first time I've seem someone accurately describe the roots of baggy pants - kudos! Very baggy jeans were common in the ghetto in late '70s Philadelphia -- when kids wore their father's or older brothers' pants -- but mostly disappeared on the East Coast with '80s rap fashion. They made a comeback in the late '80s when West Coast rap gangsta rap (and it's return to "ghetto" roots) starting eclipsing East Coast rap.

I had lots of white kids in the '90s swear to me that skate culture started the whole baggy pants thing. As a member of that culture in the early '80s, I can assure you that they didn't -- skaters in the early '90s just started adopting the "gansta" style.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2009


[Seriously, folks, cut it out with the off-my-lawn stuff.]
posted by cortex at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2009


Yes, it's a fashion thing you aren't aware about. My favorite part of this trend is that the baggy pants seem to be turning on their owners.
posted by Aquaman at 2:15 PM on December 22, 2009


Huh, I was just going to pop in to say that I can't imagine where in the USA someone could live and miss 15-20 years worth of teenagers with their jeans hanging off their asses.

I dunno. Way out in the suburbs is my guess. The OP seemed genuinely perplexed.
posted by marimeko at 2:16 PM on December 22, 2009


In the spirit of Sidhedevil's link, for about a year the bus I ride to and from work drove by a small billboard that was placed in a mostly-residential, less-desireable area of Dallas that had a picture of some sagging jeans and the slogan "That's not hip-hop, that's flip-flop!" Completely non-sensical, and still cracks me up to think about it.
posted by owtytrof at 2:18 PM on December 22, 2009


This is how it happened, and it shocks me that people would take the word some old fashion guy in the New York Times over those who were on the ground:

1992 gave us many gifts, including a hip hop trend based around jumping. By May of 1992 Kris Kross, a teenage rap group famous for their single Jump was a double platinum hit. Kris Kross were young, and part of the gimmick tied to their name was to switch things up, so one was called Mac Daddy and the other was called Daddy Mac. Another gimmick was for them to wear their clothes backwards (see also 11 seconds into the link above). A lot of kids in Junior High followed that trend, since their ages matched, was easy to copy, and seemed rebellious.

Now, I don't know if you've ever tried wearing your pants backwards, but you can't do it with tight fitting pants. They need to be baggy, and they need to hang low when you do it because the crotch of jeans rides higher than the ass, and nobody wants their crotch riding their ass when they're wearing jeans backwards. Believe you me.

So spring turns to summer and when fall arrives another jumping trend has emerged thanks to House of Pain's anthem Jump Around. Well shit, it's only been a few months and those baggy jeans you were wearing backwards in May are still good and can be worn frontwards. What's more, is than when you're on the high school dance floor jumping around, if you're really good at it you're pants will fall down to your knees, or almost 'cause your dick will catch them, leaving your ass sticking out. Did I mention boxers became a big trend right about the same time?

So of course the cool kid was the one who at the end of the song had jumped around so much that his boxers were sticking out, and all the 14 year old girls giggled 'cause the 14 year old boys were finally expressing themselves sexually, and you know then that their boners would hold up their pants just fine. And because they were getting a reaction out of it and cause the teachers didn't know to check for that sort of thing, people went ape shit on it. Once you figure out how to wear your pants below your ass with a baggy t-shirt and hold it up with the tension from your crotch, you've got a huge source of entertainment in any class at school.

And thus the trend of wearing pants below your ass was born.

no, seriously
posted by furtive at 2:24 PM on December 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


Don't forget the jeans with 6 inches or so of boxers sewn in above the waistband. That never made any sense to me...

That blows my mind, pupdog. First off, sellouts! Second off, do they wear boxers under there?

Add me to the list of noticing this at least as early as the mid to late nineties. And, yes, skaters have been wearing baggy pants/shorts for awhile -- you need to for maneuverability. However, I don't remember 80s skaters wearing pants that hung off their hips like these guys do and I do think it started as a black thing and others have co-opted it.

Also add me to the list of being flabbergasted that it's still going. I remember having a conversation maybe around 2001 about what fashions in the 90s will people be embarrassed by later and I won the round by suggesting baggy, ass hangin'-off jeans. So, wow, at least a solid decade or more of this terrible fashion trend. Amazing!

Loved that bit by Bill Cunningham. He's so adorable! I don't know wtf he's talking about with the stock market. I guess he just noticed these baggy jeans, too. Perhaps it just took longer to reach critical mass in New York with its varied fashions.
posted by amanda at 2:26 PM on December 22, 2009


Uh, wasn't it originally started in prison? Maybe I'm too old.............
posted by jara1953 at 2:54 PM on December 22, 2009


Uh, wasn't it originally started in prison?

That's a common folk-anthropological explanation for it. I've never seen any actual documentation of that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2009


1992 gave us many gifts

It was happening before 1992 though. I seem to remember an episode of The Cosby Show about it, even. google answers has a source from 1989

Kris Kross got it from somewhere, the question is when it passed into fashion. Could the fashion aspect go as far back as surfers' baggies? Sailor's pants? Pantaloons? What about parachute pants?

The more I think about it, I think people jsut wear baggy pants sometimes and for the last while, it's been culturally associated with hip-hop (also older than the hopping trend) culture, and has gone mainstream along with it. Someone noted that the hipsters' skinny jeans include baggy asses.

Snopes says prison origin. So do a couple other articles. Same principle as the hand-me-downs though, so I dunno.
posted by cmoj at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2009


I was doing the girly version of this in the mid-90's, super baggy pants ridin' low with little midriff baring tops. Oh and don't let me forget the matching bandanna that I would wrap my bun up in. Anyway the style has definitely evolved as the baggy jeans now have tapered legs. It was a style, it still is a style.
posted by mokeydraws at 5:47 PM on December 22, 2009


I am looking at said fashion statement right now. Often basketball shorts (spring/fall) or sweat kind of pants (winter) are worn underneath at least by your skinnier butts. Now Levi's is making a cut of jean that still hangs off the butt, but has a straighter leg. Nuanced cool.
posted by readery at 6:09 PM on December 22, 2009


The answer
posted by HuronBob at 7:15 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I call them 'hobble skirts for men.'
posted by eccnineten at 7:26 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


The idiocy has crossed the pacific. Plenty of teenage boys in Australia do it. Looks quite absurd.
posted by wilful at 7:49 PM on December 22, 2009


The boxers sewn into the jeans fortunately didn't last as long as the overall trend. I'm going to place them early 90's, about the same time as Hammer's 'Genie Pants' were all the rage. I ran into them the first time at Goody's, which in my earlier days (late 80's/early 90's) was where those of us middleclassers in the Southeast US went with our mothers to buy halfway 'trendy' school clothes and the like without Mom being too freaked out. The jeans had flannel or cotton patterned 'boxer tops'. I never wore them (I wasn't that hip/freaky, depending on who you asked), but the only kid I knew of to get pantsed while wearing them had tighty-whities under them.

About that same period around me schools started passing dress codes banning loose and baggy jeans, and several administrators I knew of kept cheap padlocks for the kids that came in with them. Pull the jeans up to the kid's waist, lock 2 beltloops together, and voila they stay up AND look so ridiculous poofed out at the hips you hope the kid never tries it again. I don't think it was all that effective.
posted by pupdog at 7:28 AM on December 23, 2009


Why do so many kids wear their pants 1/2 way down their asses - if not totally off their asses? Is this a fashion thing I don't know about? Do they not know that their pants are falling down?

GernBlandston, there may be a fundamental problem with your understanding of the meaning of the word "fashion". If "many kids" are wearing X, yes, it is a fashion thing.

However, it's only been a fashion thing for about 15 years or so, so don't worry too much about not knowing about it. It kinda sprang up on you, sudden-like.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:16 PM on December 23, 2009


From what I understand, this started when Michael Jordan wore oversized shorts so he could wear his lucky NC shorts underneath his Bulls shorts.
posted by kaizen at 7:51 AM on January 29, 2010


Oh as we used to sag our pants in high school and I graduated in 1991. This is at least 20 years old.
posted by kaizen at 7:52 AM on January 29, 2010


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