Fashion Police at the Library – No Ifs, Ands or Butts . . .
Melissa Davidson – Staunton, Virginia asks:
How are you handling the saggy pants trend? I’m talking about when the waist of the pants is clearly below the bum and heading towards the knees.
To which the Publib Chorus responds:
1920s woman daring to wear pants!
Wendy Wright – Denman Island, BC CANADA ~ Ridiculous though the style is, my crystal ball offers some predictions for five years from now if we try to control teens’ ever-changing fashion trends. In 2017…
- ~ No-one will be wearing sagging pants.
- ~ Today’s teens will be voting, taxpaying adults.
- ~ Those adults will not be using or supporting a library where they once felt unwelcome or talked down to.
Melissa does not specify teens in her query, yet most of us assume we are discussing this age group. For a bit of perspective, we might ask ourselves whether we would follow through on an adult infringement of a rule governing dress. For example, if we are comfortable suggesting to an adult patron that her shirt emblazoned with expletives is inappropriate in the library, but would then tactfully ignore a 30-year-old’s colourful boxers, then our library’s policy should reflect that practice, for all patrons. It is easy to fall into the trap of creating double standards for adults and teens, who have a nose for hypocrisy.
Jacobean Embroidery Leaf
Nann Blaine Hilyard ~ In our community there are adults who wear saggy baggy pants. Not as saggy as the teens but plenty baggy. The current fashion is that the back pockets (which fall on the thigh rather than the butt) have lots of embroidery. The juxtaposition is that men with saggy baggies accompany women in leggings (and jeggings, which are stretch denim leggings). Often the women are plump. (Where are Stacy and Clinton (What Not to Wear) when we need them?)
Angela Morse ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMwhl4IrPNc Pants on the ground….
Chris Rippel – Great Bend, Kansas ~ Make sure actions against sagging pants don’t expose your own fannies. *Library Law: Constitutional and Unconstitutional Patron Appearance and Behavior Policies: A Review* By James W. Fessler and E. Kenneth Friker, Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd. February 27, 2008 http://www.nsls.info/articles/detail.aspx?articleID=186
Lisa Richland – Greenport, NY ~ Melissa- Are you talking about patrons or staff? Because I ignore the patrons’ dress habits, and tell staff when their dress is inappropriate. In the case of staff, those low hanging trousers are in addition an impediment to mobility. And if it is just the aesthetics of the style, I avert my eyes.
Dusty Gres – Vidalia, GA ~ Depends on what else is showing, actually, but here is a true story in the daily life: One of my Branch Clerks is a retired (25 years) Army Master Sergeant. I recently overheard this transaction:
- Clerk to teenage patron: There you go. I think you will really like this book. Have a nice day, and son, pull up your pants.
- Patron: pulled up his pants
Janet Lerner ~ We’ve posted an excerpt from Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s speech http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/8/mayor-talks-tough-to-black-teens-after-flash-mobs in the Young Adult section of our library, as follows:
“Pull your pants up and buy a belt ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.’ If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” “‘They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy,’ the mayor said.”
Nehru in his jacket
Steve Benson ~ I think it’s a goofy fashion but any goofier than bell bottoms or nehru jackets? The boys aren’t exposing their back ends because they seem to always have very nice underwear to go with the saggy pants. My response is to ignore it.. . . But why do you hope they listen? Doesn’t every generation challenge the tastes of their elders? My flag and bra burning, tie-dye and bell bottom wearing, free loving, status quo disdaining contemporaries mostly grew up to be conservative republicans. Wait out this current young generation, ignore where the waistline of their pants falls to, and eventually they will age into us. What is really worth paying attention to are the thoughts rattling around in their minds.
Andrea Philo – Norristown, PA ~ Our security put up signs: Hoods Down, Pants Up. They monitor compliance.
Chris Truex ~ What’s with these kids, with their hula hoops and hippity-hop music!? Get a haircut! I don’t understand why some 13 year old girl can walk around in spandex with “Juicy” across the backside, and there are no policies for that, but seeing 2 inches of some kid’s boxer shorts causes a riot. Why in the world does anyone care about kids sagging? I’m sure constantly hassling them about style will do wonders in terms of outreach.
Shahin Shoar ~ Let them be! What I find not so pleasant is seeing half of someone’s back end hanging out when sitting on a chair or bending down to look at lower shelves;but hey that’s life, not everything is pleasant to my eyes!
Manya Shorr ~ Shouldn’t the issue be behavior and not dress? We really shouldn’t let our personal tastes get in the way of good public service.
Joseph N. Anderson – Logan, Utah ~ I’m surprised that this trend is back again. In the late 90s, I was one of those kids who probably disturbed the library staff with some of my fashion choices including sagging pants. Thankfully, the staff never turned it into a bad library experience for me.
Kevin Okelly – Somerville, MA ~ Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage.
Ann Hall ~ It should be behavior and not dress.
ConnieJo Ozinga ~ Kevin O’Kelly posted: Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage. I don’t think you need sagging pants for this. We have just finished an interior renovation/construction project and I saw way too much posterior cleavage from those crews.
Jo Choto – Frederick, MD ~ If obscenity laws aren’t contravened, I don’t see that it matters if young men want to waddle around like penguins. Essentially, their butts are covered by something, whether it’s several sets of shorts or long shirts, so no harm, no foul. I am more troubled by pre-teen/tween girls who are barely covered at all, though this isn’t such a big problem in the winter!
Darryl Eschete ~ If a kid’s pants are an obvious hindrance to his safe and proper movement, we will ask the kid to pull them up lest they trip and fall on the stairs. I personally have also asked kids who drag their feet (and untied shoes) to tie their shoes and walk correctly, as their shuffling steps make a lot of noise. Dress and behavior are related and can have this sort of complicated interplay. Pardon me. I meant “…lest *HE* trip and fall on the stairs.”
Kathleen Stipek ~ I think that it is a very bad idea to pass laws about the droopy drawers look. Some young men are very concerned about the aesthetic of the look. I have seen some wearing multiple layers of skivvies that are as carefully color-matched as a Heian lady’s sleeves dangling outside her screens. I have also seen some that suggest to me that laundry soap is not part of a particular young man’s knowledge base.
If we truly want to lose this look, the law side is a bad one as are injunctions from elders which merely turn droopy drawers into a rebellion and perhaps even a matter of principle. What we need will cost some money, but it will be brutally effective. Young women whom these young men would love to impress need to be recruited and tested for loud, high-pitched, giggles. Little groups of 2 or 3 should be posted strategically in any given area, and whenever they see some droopy drawers, they point, giggle, and shriek with laughter. The young men may begin wearing their pants up around their armpits, but that’s a risk we have to take. The young women will have to be paid something for each session, but the price and the shrieks will be worth it. Cruel, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Julie Andrews ~ I’m not at all bothered by people with hoodies up. Half the population is walking around like that! It’s cold!!! Even if it’s not as cold indoors, it’s just easier to leave it up.Take it off and you have messy hair. Surely hood-head is a fashion faux pas too?
Tina Shelton – Carrollton, TX ~ I just have to comment because I saw a young man WAS wearing a belt on his saggy, baggy britches! The shorts that show are the top pair over a bottom pair of underwear. My question is why bother? I have to be careful because every time I see this type of outfit, I just want to smirk loudly.
Chris Ely ~ Why bother? It’s fashion. Though back when I was working at a place where part of my job was dealing with juvenile offenders. I was told by juvie officials that it began due to a prison having the bright idea to issue pants to prisoners that were too big, to reduce the number of fights and other incidents by keeping one hand occupied keeping their pants up. The thinking was the last thing most people would want to do in prison is drop trou.
Apparently it backfired and became an “I’ve done time” status symbol for former prisoners, then it bled over into just being cool. Not sure how accurate that story was, but it was nearly 20 years ago and the style is still out there. Each time I see it, I wonder how true that story was and what the teens and young adults who wear their pants halfway down to their knees would think if they knew the supposed story behind the fashion.
Sarah Jesudason ~ This is the second reference to saggy pants being a “prison cred” thing I’ve seen today. But my mental image of what prisoners wear is jumpsuits, not jeans and shirts. Alrighty, who on PubLib has done time and wants to comment on their attire in the Big House?
Carolyn Rawles-Heiser – Corvallis, OR ~ Regarding prison attire–when I went on a tour of the Nevada State Prison a few years ago as part of a state commission, we were told not to wear denim because the prisoners wore denim jeans and blue workshirts, and if there were a riot or disturbance, the guards would be able to pick the visitors out more easily (and not shoot us, I suppose).
Ancient Cowboy (Templar) Belt
Kathleen Stipek ~ I have seen young men sporting the droopy drawers look who accessorize with belts. In a few cases, I have seen enormous cowboy-style buckles on those belts which seem to be pressing on what is, in most gentlemen, a very sensitive spot. I guess it is a willingness to suffer for fashion akin to a woman’s wearing 4-inch stilettos. As someone who prefers to sacrifice style for comfort, I don’t get it, but then I don’t have to. The entertainment value is enormous, and in these troubled times, a good giggle never hurt anybody.
Steve Benson ~ Sagging pants was a big issue for a recent Dallas, Texas mayor. The link is to an article about it and includes picture of a billboard and a rap song from his campaign against sagging pants. http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=15534306
Jesse Ephraim ~ It doesn’t bother me at all, as long as they are wearing underwear. It’s not my job to police fashion trends.
Brenda McKinley – Newtown, CT ~ I keep waiting for someone to request: Enough already, can we please drop the saggy pants? On the other hand…I guess that’s the fear that started this whole thing.
Bessie Makris – Fort Wayne, IN ~ I think that librarians should also start wearing sagging pants. Co-opt the style and teens will finally drop it. <g>
Emily Weak ~ I would imagine that whoever worries about injury liability at your library could get a “patrons need to wear shoes” policy put in place, regardless of health code policy.
Thou Shalt Not Sag
Susan Pieper – Paulding, Ohio ~ This “sagging pants” thread makes me think of a joke our Pastor told at church this week.
A sixteen year old son wanted to borrow the family car. Father said, “Son, when you bring up your grades to a B average, and study your Bible more, and cut your hair, then we will talk about you using the car.” So, the son brought up his grades to a B average and started reading the Bible more. He went to his Dad and said,” Dad, I’ve been reading the Bible more and Samson had long hair, Noah and Moses had long hair, and there is reason to believe that Jesus had long hair.” To which the Dad replied, “Yes son, and to get around, they all walked.”
Jo Choto ~ Judging by the overwhelming response to sagging pants, may I suggest the following topics for another free for all:
- Patrons that leave a cigarette-stink on library items;
- Patrons who ask for your help, then get on their cell phone but expect
that somehow you continue to assist them;
- Patrons who stand in a line six or eight deep for some time, but wait
until they reach the desk before spending 10 minutes looking for their
- Patrons who fail to follow instructions for self check out and then
complain that the machine doesn’t work.
Steve Benson ~ And furthermore . . . Men in green or red plaid golf slacks should be banned from public view as should older gentlemen who pull their slacks halfway up to their chin.
Robert Balliot – Bristol, RI ~ First they came for the sagging pants, and I did not speak out because my pants did not sag . . .
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