Loose, Baggy Pants Syndrome -- Origins?

How long has the “my pants are so loose and baggy that they are about to fall off” look been around? What is the origin of this peculiar fashion? I was talking about this with a friend the other night, and both of us thought it had been around for quite some time; we just could not figure out exactly how long ago (and, of course, why) it started! Any information would be appreciated!

IIRC the look comes from ill-fitting prison wear. What at first was the result of not having the right size became a fashion statement. Dunno how long it’s been around, all I know is everytime I’ve seen one of these guys for about the last 10 years or so I’ve wanted to de-pants them publicly.

When I was a teenager in the fifties, the badass hood look was to wear your Levis very, very low. Not baggy though. The other important part of the look was to turn your collar up. School dress codes oftern prohibited both.

I remember hoping this would go away quickly…when I was in high school. I graduated in 1994. If anything, the pants have gotten worse. I’m just thankful that my brother never cared enough about that sort of thing to wear them!

Why do they STILL wear them? Don’t most silly fashions come and go? I’ve been seeing baggy pants for at least twelve years now.

I don’t buy the “prison” explanation at all. I believe the “baggy clothes look” started in poor neighborhoods, where there wasn’t enough money to go around for all the kids in a household. As a result, when the oldest kids outgrew their clothes, the clothes went to the younger kids. Unfortunately, the younger kids often weren’t big enough for their older siblings’ clothes yet. But as there was no alternative short of buying them correct-fitting clothes, these kids were forced to wear clothes that were often too big for them.

“ill-fitting prison wear”? Interesting…Exactly how did that become a fashion statement? (I am not doubting you – I am just a bit perplexed !)

Keep in mind the return-prisoner mentality. Hard time is a badge of achievement and manliness.

Not always, as proven by the fact men have been wearing ties for several generations now…

Probably for the same reasons other “gangsta” fashions have also stuck around. A friend of mine told me (about 10 years ago) that the reason he wore loose-fitting clothes and low-riding pants was not for fashion, but because it obscured his actual physical build and height. That way, it would be more difficult for witnesses to clearly identify him.

Wearing hoods and sunglasses have similar qualities. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fact that the fashion has such “practical” applications is the main reason it has stuck around so long.

Look at the kid on the Dutch Boy Paint can. Those baggy pantaloons were all the rage a long time ago.

In the days of vaudeville shows, the funnymen were called “baggy pants comics,” for the clothes they wore onstage. The bagginess allowed for physical humor such as squirting seltzer into a hapless guy’s pants.

Baggy trousers have been fashionable, at times, for golfers.

If you look at a pic of a guy in a zoot suit, you’ll see the pants have enough room for a couple of guys in there. In those circles, at that time, the zoot suit was the pinnacle of cool.

The hip-hop culture didn’t pioneer baggy pants. They just dug them out of history’s rag bin.

Not really a true cite, but this site suggests prison garb (as The Sausage Creature speculated) as being a possible origin for the baggy pants look. It also suggests that the skateboard/snowboard subcultures contributed to popularizing the look.

I thought, to be specific, it wasn’t so much that the prison garb was ill-fitting, but more that prisoners aren’t allowed to have belts, so their pants tend to sag.
A lot of earlier youth fashion fads were similarly repugnant to adults. Long hair on guys, blue jeans, and many other fads were met with revulsion and distaste by older people, but the people who started these things didn’t stop wearing them when they turned 21, or even 30 or 40. As a consequence, these trends became the norm and hence completely acceptable. With the baggy pants look it’s different. I don’t see kids continuing to flaunt it as they enter full adulthood, so it’ll never evolve into a fashion statement that’s accepted by the mainstream. This means that the baggy look’ll never lose its power to inspire elders’ revulsion…and that, my friends, is the gold standard of youth fashion.

I dunno, I see alot of guys in their late 20s-30s wearing this crap still. It seems to be more ubiquitous around a certain, uh, set though. Most of the “mainstream” kids seem to outgrow it, but my brother in law still wears the low-slung cutoff Dickies, socks pulled up to his knees, and a baggy wifebeater. He seems to think it looks good. <pukey smiley>

I wear loose-fitting clothes (but not low-riding pants) to obscure my actual physical build, too! But I thought I just did it because I weigh a little more than I would like to.

I’ve heard the skateboard link before. Especially the early 90s look with the baggy pants that are shredded in the knee area.
Skateboarders/skaters wear baggy pants so they can hide the kneepads underneath. And of course that leads to shredded pants in the knee area.

Like this.

Zoot Suit Culture

The Zoot Suit Riots of 1943

The Zootsuit may be baggy, true, but the waist is situated above the natural waist - the current “baggy” style has the waistband below the natural waist, usually slung about the hips or ( :eek: ) lower.

Darn, those Zoot suits look cool. Are they due for a retro comeback?

That comeback already came back in the late 90s.

I believe Big Bad Voodoo Lou is hoping for it.