What is it with boys and their boxers?

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A: Dear Madam Fashion Fairy,

I would like to know what’s going on with boys and their boxers. Is the recent trend of knee-high-waistbands a result of celebrity copycats, or because the manufacturers have come out with a new line of colorful undershorts that are just too unique to keep secret? Or have belts simply become larger in recent years and therefore unable to hoist the pants high? Dunno…been baffling me for awhiles

-Emily, 18

Q: Dear Emily—thank you for voicing my same concern for seriously sagging pants. (I am going to read into your tone a bit for the purpose of asserting my own anti-baggy pants agenda. Sorry.) Like you, I totally disapprove of such publicly visible boxers. Anything more than the elastic strip at the top of the boxers should not be flaunted outside of private zones (house, hotel room, etc.) Super-sagging pants/uncovered boxers are unbecoming, indecent, and, quite frankly, kind of gross. I am not interested in strangers’ derrieres.

Now that I have ranted, let me actually answer your question with a bit of a tangent: first off, know that consumers, not designers create trends. Believe it. Anything you see in H&M or Wet Seal or Delia’s, for example, is there because American society chose it, not the fashion industry per se. The mainstream fashion industry studies a wide variety of factors, from social mores to politics to consumer color preferences and more to cast educated guesses about what people will like and, more importantly, buy. High-end designers then take that information to put together a garment and hopefully sell the style to the most elite levels of society. If the garment is popular with the ultra-wealthy, then designers gradually make more in different price ranges until you find at least the essence of the same style even in really tacky discount stores.

 If people take something that already exists—like plain carpenter jeans and regular old boxers—and decide to wear it a new way, then designers will likely react by spotting the trend and bringing some novelty to it. If you’ve wondered why boxers come in all sorts of patterns and fabrics today, the answer is simple: the fashion industry certainly observed all of the young men pulling their pants down to their pelvises and exposing their undies. They found a way to cash in on that. Clever people, those fashion insiders.

Okay, okay, now I will finally REALLY answer your question. The baggy pants/exposed boxers trend apparently arose in prisons; male inmates interested in, ahem, sexual favors from their fellow jailbirds would pull their pants down a little as an invitation for “easy access.” (If that was too vague for your imagination, I implore you to sit down and think about it.) It eventually trickled outside of prison gates and into lower-class areas where many of the neighborhood’s men had served jail time. Soon enough, even guys completely removed from this socio-economic background (you know, upper-middle class white kids living in the suburbs) copied the style because, well, they thought it looked cool.

Oh, how I lament some people’s reading of the word “cool”!


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