Commentary

INK IN THE BLOOD

Don’t be an Old Fogey, baggy look is in
Willis Webb
For someone 60 or older, there’s nothing like a pair of pants sliding down around your hips to teach a little tolerance, not to mention reminding you that every generation has its defining fashions.

Today, younger folks (and some older who want to be with it) like the relaxed look. Baggy is in. Baggy to today’s youngsters is just “loose,” “comfortable.”

In the 1950s, if a guy’s pants slipped an inch or so below his waist, he was labeled a “slob” at best, a “hoodlum” at worst or, teasingly, “old droopy drawers.”

If there was a gap between the shirttail and the top of his pants, then he might be dragged to the principal’s office for discipline that would guarantee the proper pants position.

Some f lexibility came with shirts. If shirts had “tails,” you know, the kind you’d find on something called a “dress shirt,” then it definitely was supposed to be tucked in your pants.

A “sports shirt” usually had a squared-off bottom hem and it was acceptable, although not cool, to be worn untucked.

Jeans were called “blue jeans” because the dark blue denim was the only look, no other colors and no faded look unless you were so poor you had to wear the jeans a couple of years until all the color was washed out.

The in-crowd wore Levis. A few wore Lee Riders and the “cowboys” wore Wranglers. But all jeans were “blue jeans.”

Initially, nice leather belts were the rule of the day unless you were in FFA/vo-ag, then a western belt was defining. At some point, in defiance of rules about keeping your pants cinched up to stay at the right spot on your waist, guys began to go beltless.

For a short time in the fifties, color came into guys’ fashion world. Instead of blue jeans and shirts of rather subtle (even plaids and checks) colors, pink (a former “sissy” color to boys) was in.

Every guy had a pink shirt. Some even had pink or navy blue suede belts and, instead of black or brown loafers, blue suede (laceup) shoes held forth for a year or so. Really dressed up guys had black slacks with pink stitching and that called for a black or pink suede belt.

Daring stylishness might require black slacks with “peg legs.” Such a fashion would have a normal fit in the waist but the pants would be “‘pegged” (tight) at the ankle, giving the legs an almost balloonlike look.

Really cool guys might have pink stitching down the outer seams of the legs. Guys who wore pegged pants usually listened to “jazz” instead of rock and roll like the Levi guys or “hillbilly” (countrywestern) like the Wrangler-clad FFA boys.

None of those demarcations were really solid.

On the cutting edge of fads in shirts was the “smart aleck” (according to older folks) act of turning up the part of your collar on the back of your neck. This required a well-starched-andironed (no perma-press then) collar that you could crease on each side of your neck so that the points laid down in the front (button down was even cooler).

Jeans were rolled up two turns at the ankle so that a minimum of two inches of sock (always white) showed between the bottom of the pants and the top of the loafers.

Hair was another matter. It could be combed back on each side to form “duck tails” in the back, if you were really cool.

Of course, the oily look was prominent. Some were daring with “burrs” (a buzz cut) or flat-tops.

All of this came to mind because I complained to Life Mate about my pants sliding down to my hips.

“Listen, dear Old Fogey,” she said through her most charming smile, “you need to buy ‘regular fit’ jeans. That’s what stores call the O.F. section.”

So, lest you want to be called an O.F., don’t make fun of today’s relaxed look. Chill. Go for the regular fit.

wwebb@wildblue.net


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2010-11-18 digital edition



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