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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

As a general rule I do not look at men. At least I don't look at them in that way.

Like everyone else, I'm sure, I do look at almost everyone I see with a bit of curiosity. Sometimes it's 'cause they just look different. Sometimes it's a pretty woman. And before I get any tsk tsks for saying that, my beautiful wife knows that all men glance from time to time (and if they say they don't they're liars). So there!

One thing I've seen a lot of lately - and this is the second time I've had to write about it - is men wearing pants that don't fit. I can't tell you how many dudes I've seen lately wearing pants that were holding on for dear life, pants that you could almost hear screaming because their stitching was about to burst. The funny thing is the last time I wrote about this I was living in the upper Midwest, and I assumed it was because I was in a place where fashion trends sometimes arrived a year or two after they'd hit the coasts. Not so. I'm seeing the same thing here in Miami, supposedly a fashion Mecca.

Guys for many many years this was something we were able to tease our female friends and relatives about: squeezing themselves into trousers that were made for someone of a different size.

Now, we do it public. It disturbs me.

There are two exceptions: if you're a member of an '80s rock tribute band, you are permitted to wear tight pants of any fabric anytime you want. And if you ride bulls or angry horses in rodeos, you are permitted to wear tight denim jeans. I guess they help produce that whole bow-legged thing.

Anyway, fellas we have a responsibility to demonstrate that we're not fashion brain-dead. So there are a couple of simple rules you must follow:
  • If you don't work on stage or at the rodeo, no tight jeans or leather pants.
  • Even though they're popular these days, flat front slacks are not for all of us.
  • You may wear flat fronts if you're slim from the waist down. Don't try to squeeze into 'em just 'cause you saw a model in a magazine wearing them. We all know that models live on condiment packets lifted from fast food restaurants. One-a-day keeps the calories away.
  • If your thighs and gut are substantial, I hate to tell you, but you should probably be wearing pants with pleats.
  • Sure pleats are very daddish and very 1980s and early '90s, but they are there for a reason: to give thick folks room to breath in the leg/thigh area, and to avoid your pants bunching up down there and creating that swooshing sound when you walk. Besides, pleats aren't just a design touch. They also take attention away from the belly.

I'm not hatin'. I'm just exhorting my friends of all sizes and reminding myself to wear clothes that flatter our bodies.

And ladies the same rules apply to you and low-riders.

***Clarification*** You do not have to be thick in the thigh to wear pleated pants, guys. If you like the style wear them. Wear flats. Whatever. But if you are extra thick in the thigh then you probably should wear pleats.


  • My history instructor wears his jeans so tight it's distracting. I keep watching him pace back and forth as he lectures. I'm thinking to myself, "Does he have hips? Why are his pants so tight? Doesn't he know his pants are too tight? Doesn't that hurt?". It goes on like this for the entire two hours. He wears the same pair of tight black jeans every Tuesday. I am not productive in his class on Tuesdays.

    By Blogger Angie, at 1:38 PM  

  • A new fan here after reading what you posted on Matt's site. I will be back to read more.

    By Blogger Fairmaiden327, at 2:29 PM  

  • Alas, I am not in the "pleats" category.

    By Blogger Val Prieto, at 2:33 PM  

  • I was told by a tiny, tiny Frenchwoman (oh, there I go again) that she'd recommend pleats for smaller men (i'm average-sized) because it makes them look better. Than she laughed at me and I slowly backed away and made a break past Nordstrom's to Macy's.

    I can't tell ya. I think that's unmanly and undignified. And I've been punked before on my own fashion choices.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:58 PM  

  • Oh. And pants that are flat front and hitched up to your manboobs. This applies to older geezers (I can say that since I'm in the older demo)that I have to talk to regularly.

    By Anonymous Kim, at 7:46 PM  

  • i'm happy I haven't seen this yet...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:46 PM  

  • angie, when i first read your comment i almost spit out my drink. that's a horrible image. thanks for the nightmare.

    and fairmaiden327, thanks for the compliment. i checked out your site as well and will be reading regularly.

    and val, you stylish cat, you have cool points. so you can wear any trouser type you want, as long as they're not a$$less chaps or anythingg like that.

    claudia, be very happy.

    the bad style i've seen lately makes me think it's ok to break out those nylon parachute pants i saved from the middle school in the '80s in the hopes they might one day make a comeback. and if they do i'll break out the red pleather michael jackson jacket to keep the pants company.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:29 AM  

  • I hate to tell you but, yeah, the 80's are back!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:37 AM  

  • that's depressing.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:52 AM  

  • One day, maybe, we'll realise that Fashion is an illusion brought about by a greedy clothing industry. Then, maybe, we'll develope Style!

    & pigs will all wear flying jackets!

    BTW - James, got any pictures of you in those garments? & would they really look any worse than what you routinely see around Miami?

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 7:18 AM  

  • Ha! Fat chance, BK. There are a few pictures, but they're better hidden than buried treasure.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:42 AM  

  • Look at this way - at least they haven't brought back those so very attractive polyester pants that were popular in the '70's - even John Travolta didn't make them work(for those too young to know - this was from Saturday Night Fever...)

    By Anonymous dogncatmom, at 11:03 AM  

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