March 9, 2024

We’re Big Pants People Again

The NYT recently ran a piece about baggy pants coming into fashion again. The observances about the cyclical nature of fashion trends made me pause to reminisce a bit.

My dad drove me the four hours across mostly rural NC that it took to get to my college orientation back in 1994. He didn’t seem in a particularly good mood during the drives. On the way back, he shared an anecdote about a friend long ago who had been hit in the head by a glass bottle thrown from the side of a passing vehicle. He then observed that he didn’t see other incoming freshmen at the orientation dressed like me. I was wearing my standard uniform, informed by the skateboarding culture of the time — baggy jeans and an XL Dairy Queen t-shirt that hung off my wiry frame.1

My dad believed that a seemingly random act of senseless violence could happen to me simply because I looked different. Of course, he might have been right. People are frequently targeted for bullying based on whether they fit in or look normal.” What’s interesting here is the arbitrary nature of the cycle of fashion in determining what is right to wear at any given time.

Fast forward two years, and I’m no longer wearing baggy clothes, but tending to favor clothes that fit. I guess college had reformed me, at least somewhat. However, many other people were now wearing baggy clothes and I still stuck out in a crowd of up-to-date fashionistas. I had been ahead of my time and had certainly been derided by some of the same people who now recognized my sartorial choices as totally appropriate.

A few years ago, I would occasionally wear a mustache. Much ridicule ensued from certain people. People hinted that I looked like the star of an adult movie. One guy I talked to wanted to grow a mustache but said he couldn’t because I work with kids.” Now tons of guys are sporting mustaches and little is said. It’s amazing how something that is popularly agreed upon as creepy can become cool in just a few short years.

I guess I’m just reminded that, if you feel you are out of step and you are tempted to change your style because it isn’t mainstream, you sometimes just have to wait a bit.


  1. I did work at the DQ in high school, so I wasn’t a complete poser.↩︎

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