Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Baggy Pants And Other Trends

I admit, the last decade of men's fashion has been a good one. And by fashion, I mean the popular trends and styles. The slim-fitting clothing, the rise of suits, cardigans, "trad" and prep styles have been consistent with my personal sense of style.

I have had no major objections to fashion, then, for the last while.

But fashion, being a fickle thing, will change, and I'd like to take a moment to lament the inevitable end to the embrace of clothes that fit and flatter.

I think the return of baggy pants is the best example of why fashion is so harmful to dressing well. The goal of dressing should be to flatter one's natural form. There are certain ways to do this that are universal, same from person to person. Pants, for example, that are too long look bad on every man, regardless of his appearance and form. Likewise, pants that are baggy look bad on everyone -- there is not a single person they flatter.

There is no reason to wear baggy pants other than conforming to a current trend. This is, of course, what happened for a while before the slim-cut look became popular. Designers are returning to this look for no good reason other than a vague need people have for change every once in a while. And designers, of course, need to change the fashion so they can sell more clothes -- why would people continue buying slim fitting suits once they had a certain amount if they were always in fashion?

Call it conservative, but I think it's common sense to say that change for change's sake is a bad thing. Change is especially bad when it's a change for the worse.

It may seem that the decline of well-fitting pants that look objectively good (in that their cut flatters the wearer) and the rise of their baggy counterparts (which do nothing but detract from the male form) is unimportant. It is, in itself, not imporant, but I think it tells us something about the restless and flitting nature of people. It is this nature -- the need for change when change isn't warranted -- that is really the force behind fashion, not any actual progress in men's wear. In order to keep up with it, one must be constantly buying new items and watching everyone else to see what they should wear.

Style, however, is not about everyone else. It is rather an individualistic pursuit, the art of covering one's natural form in such a way that actually flatters it. In this sense, fashion renders dress useless as a means of self-expression and certainly cannot be considered an art. It is conformity in the name of change without justification.

And that's why I'll always bear hostility for baggy pants.


  1. Those are all excellent reasons for disliking baggy pants. I have another.

    As I understand it, the baggy pants trend started in jail. When people are held in jails, they are (were?) deprived of their belts and shoelaces. The lack of a belt makes the pants fall down, and led to the "pants not covering the rear end" look that goes along with (some) baggy pants styles. Rappers and other "musicians" adopted the jailhouse look of baggy pants, which then spread out to the society at large.

    So, one reason I don't like baggy pants is that the look started with criminals, and, to my mind, baggy pants glorify and legitimize criminals and criminality.

  2. Horatio--

    That's an excellent point. Perhaps orange tracksuits will be the next big thing?