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View Full Version : Why did everyone roll up the bottoms of their jeans in the 50's?


Spectre of Pithecanthropus
06-18-2002, 01:48 PM
It seems that in the first decade or so after blue jeans became familiar casual wear, it seems that they were always bought three inches too long and rolled up at the bottoms. After about 1965, on the other hand, t seems like it was the fashion to buy them at the right length, or hem them yourself, rather than roll them up. If you did roll them up, others might think it looked square and hokey at worst, or at best that you were intentionally cultivating a retro look.

So why did they used to roll them up? Did they use to make Levi's only in a few different lengths?

justwannano
06-18-2002, 02:26 PM
Being born in 1946 I didn't buy many of my own jeans in the 50's.
I rolled them up because they were too long.
Lack of money made us much more practicle back then. Style be damned, there was nothing wrong with rolled up jeans. Also "gasp" hand me downs were quite common. Jeans were not thrown away because they were faded or had a hole in the knee.Mom just sewed on a patch.
Style was for the rich

Acsenray
06-18-2002, 02:50 PM
Multiple sizes for non-tailored clothing is a fairly recent development. I was talking to a purveyor of "cowboy" clothes who was telling me that in the 19th century, men's off-the-rack coats came in two sizes: big and bigger. If you weren't wealthy enough to hire a tailor, then you just made do with what was available, cinching belts and rolling up cuffs where necessary.

Celyn
06-18-2002, 03:11 PM
Short people who detest sewing still do!

:)

Belrix
06-18-2002, 04:45 PM
It's also probably simplistic to say that "everybody" rolled their cuffs any more than any everybody today wears their pants around they knees and has their underwear hanging out.

samclem
06-18-2002, 07:24 PM
I am a member of that generation.
Born in 1944.

Certainly not everybody rolled their jeans. I don't think I did. I was lower middle-class at the time.

My memory of the times is that "hoods" rolled their cuffs, and also rolled their cigarette packs in the sleeves of their t-shirts.

Cat Fight
06-18-2002, 09:06 PM
Aah, if memory serves me, these "hoods" or "greasers" could be found playing "chicken" or snapping at each other between fey dance segments.

justwannano
06-18-2002, 10:09 PM
Have you ever tried to keep a pack of cigarettes from being crushed while doing physical work?
I'm not sure when the pocket Tee shirt came into being but I don't remember them before the late 60s.

samclem
06-18-2002, 10:15 PM
Hey, Cat Fight. You were born [b]when?[b] I take it you were being sarcastic. I wasn't. Perhaps you merely forgot to insert a smiley.

By the way, your homepage link in your profile is a dead link. You might correct that.

Triskadecamus
06-18-2002, 10:36 PM
People were no less the slaves of fashion in the fifties than they were in the seventies, or they are today. Some folks turned their cuffs up because their pants were too long. Others did it to look "cool." James Dean did it, man, it had to be cool.

There for a while in the very early sixties, people tucked their pants into their boots, because it was cool. They got shit in their boots, too, if the went out into rough country, and learned not to do that. If you wore boots and jeans in the suburbs, it wasn't so bad, though. It's lots easier to be cool in the suburbs. Cowboy pants can be a lot tighter, if you don't have to get on horses, or do any work.

Tris
--------------------
"He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice." ~ Albert Einstein ~

ftg
06-19-2002, 11:24 AM
What I thought about it at the time: Slacks were supposed to have cuffs. Rolling up jeans gave them cuffs, make them look a bit more like slacks. (This was an era when wearing "tennis shoes" to school was embarrassing.)

By the '60s, anything that looked like the '50s was sneered at.

Slithy Tove
06-19-2002, 12:44 PM
I'll second justwannano: clothes were relatively more expensive back then (China still preferred to control Korea rather than the American garment market), so your mom took the long view when she bought clothes. Plus, when you rolled them up, you could show off the plaid flannel lining!

Your alternative was in the war surplus stores, since there was still tons of WWII stuff being dumped on the open market ("your mother wears combat boots!").

bordelond
06-19-2002, 02:40 PM
Seems there was a lot of that pants-rolling going on in the early- to mid-80s, too. It was a little different than it was in the 50s -- you pinched in the hem to make it fairly tight against your leg, THEN you rolled it up.

MachV
06-19-2002, 03:12 PM
Originally posted by bordelond
Seems there was a lot of that pants-rolling going on in the early- to mid-80s, too. It was a little different than it was in the 50s -- you pinched in the hem to make it fairly tight against your leg, THEN you rolled it up. Don't forget the way some of us rolled up our cuttoff jeans! Man, they looked great with a pair of Dexters & some argyle socks! :eek:

kniz
06-19-2002, 03:51 PM
Originally posted by samclem
I am a member of that generation.
Born in 1944.

Certainly not everybody rolled their jeans. I don't think I did. I was lower middle-class at the time.

My memory of the times is that "hoods" rolled their cuffs, and also rolled their cigarette packs in the sleeves of their t-shirts.

This may be regional, but everyone did where I grew up (Atlanta). I did and I was upper middle class, certainly not a "hood" and did not smoke. I graduated high school in 1957.

When the stores started carrying jeans in different lengths (about when I graduated) the first "in" thing was to turn up the bottom seam, which as mentioned above was like having cuffs. A few years before that the first light blue jeans came out, but the idea of intentionally fading jeans would have been thought to be silly.

Enright3
06-19-2002, 09:08 PM
Originally posted by Triskadecamus
There for a while in the very early sixties, people tucked their pants into their boots, because it was cool. They got shit in their boots, too, if the went out into rough country, and learned not to do that. If you wore boots and jeans in the suburbs, it wasn't so bad, though. It's lots easier to be cool in the suburbs. Cowboy pants can be a lot tighter, if you don't have to get on horses, or do any work.

Tris


I grew up on a farm in the 70's in rural Oklahoma. We would tuck our pants into our boots so we wouldn't get shit on our pants. Literally! Actually we would tuck the part of the pant leg that was on the inner part of your leg (this is more difficult to describe than I thought!), into our boot, and leave the part on the outer part of your legs hanging out. That way you didn't look goofy (or so we thought), but you didn't get cow shit on your pants either. Not a bad style considering we were going to beat a kid up in my school for wearing "disco pants"! Jeans and T shirts were the style of the day.

Ahh it feels good to post again. It's been a while, with the board being so slow and all!

E3

LouisB
06-20-2002, 02:49 AM
IIRC, "everyone" rolled their jeans in Dallas during the 1950s--I graduated high school in 1958.

ageless6
06-20-2002, 06:49 AM
bordelond:

Sorry, overlapping the extra material, then rolling it up was a 50's thing, at least in NE Ohio where I come from. If you did that, voila, you had "pegged" pants, and we did it for the pseudo-hood look. It was looked at askance by the upright citizens. We was baaad dudes!

EchoKitty
06-20-2002, 08:52 AM
My husband still rolls his up and uses the cuff as AN ASHTRAY! But he never leaves an unsightly mess behind!

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
06-21-2002, 07:53 AM
Originally posted by bordelond
Seems there was a lot of that pants-rolling going on in the early- to mid-80s, too. It was a little different than it was in the 50s -- you pinched in the hem to make it fairly tight against your leg, THEN you rolled it up.
I always thought that was a retro thing. Not that the people who did it were trying to be honest to God 50's style "hodads", but that punk music fans were trying evoke that 50's rock look. Come to think of it, the 80's is when straight leg jeans came back in style for men.

justwannano
06-21-2002, 12:52 PM
They were probably 100% cotton back then. Even if they were pre shrunk they would still shrink some more.

Shrinking doesn't all happen the first time they are dried.

The neighbor girls used to wet the jeans and wear them until they dried to get that perfect fit.;p

Padeye
06-21-2002, 03:52 PM
<- ties an onion to his belt, which was the style at the time.

Originally posted by Slithy Tove
Plus, when you rolled them up, you could show off the plaid flannel lining!

What the hell kind of jeans did you wear?

Speaker for the Dead
06-21-2002, 05:16 PM
They were in fact reversable pyjamas.

Slithy Tove
06-21-2002, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by Padeye
<- ties an onion to his belt, which was the style at the time.



What the hell kind of jeans did you wear?

Damn, they still make them!

http://dickiesonsale.com/jeans3.htm

When a man outgrows his youthful vanitiy and assumes the mantle of adulthood, the Dickie aisle beckons.