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Front Page » April 9, 2002 » Opinion » Plumbers and Fashion Designers
Published 4,577 days ago

Plumbers and Fashion Designers


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By JAMES L. DAVIS

While shopping for clothes a few weeks ago I found myself wondering just when did plumbers become fashion designers?

For a number of years I have noticed that young people's clothes don't fit. I first made that observation when it seemed that everywhere I looked young men were losing their pants. Every kid I saw seemed to be wearing pants about four sizes too big and the poor kids were constantly having to stop what they were doing to hike them back up or they had to learn to walk bowlegged to keep their pants from dropping down to their ankles. If they happened to have their hands full or needed to run, well they had better not be shy and I hoped they had listened to their mother and at least had on clean underwear.

Completely lacking in any sense of fashion myself, I assumed that all these kids were just wearing hand-me-downs, which I completely understood. When I was a kid I worried less about my own diet and more about my big brothers. Because whatever he was wearing I knew would be hanging in my closet the next season. If he ate too little, then I was going to have to hold my breath to keep from popping buttons. If he ate too much, then I was going to need a good belt (and clean underwear).

But then I discovered that not only were these young people not wearing hand-me-downs, but that their parents had paid huge sums of money to buy jeans that were large enough for several normal size teenagers to wear at the same time. I didn't quite understand the fashion statement being made, but shrugged it off because as a teenager I remember wearing some things that I'm sure had my parent's generation scratching their head.

Once I grew old enough to get a job and start buying my own clothing I spent roughly three-quarters of my paycheck on bell-bottom jeans. They fit in the waist just fine, but there was enough legging to make a normal pair of jeans for four or five other kids. I wasn't content to have jeans that were just bell-bottoms either, on my jeans the bells started just below the waist. On more than one occasion while getting dressed in the morning I put both legs down one of the legs of my jeans and wouldn't notice my mistake until I looked in the mirror.

Remembering that, I decided not to say too much about kids wearing pants that wouldn't stay up. At least they were getting a whole lot of material for their money, even if it was material they didn't need.

Girls seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to fashion statements. While boys clothing suffers from too much material, girls clothing suffers from too little. I noticed this because my daughter is slowly reaching the age where she won't let me pick out her clothing, she wants to have some say in what she wears. The problem with boys pants is that there's too much material for them to keep their pants around their waist; the problem with girls pants is that they don't even have a waist. Designers of girls pants have apparently at some point in time had a service call from their local plumber. While watching their plumber go about his work they have apparently noticed the effect a plumber's tool belt and gravity have on the plumber's pants. Realizing that they probably won't convince young women to wear a tool belt as a fashion accessory, they have decided to start creating pants that hug the hip bones instead of the waist. Throw in a shirt that ends at the rib cage and if a young woman should need to stretch or bend over than they, like their male counterparts, had better not be shy and should have on clean underwear.

Not that I'm old fashioned or anything. If you want to show off some skin and you have skin worth showing off, then feel free. Unless you're my daughter, then I'm old fashioned.

Fortunately, while my daughter wants to pick out her own clothing she has not yet reached the point where she cares a lick what her friends are wearing or what they might say about her choice in clothing. She wants regular jeans that go to the waist and T-shirts that likewise go to the waist, for which I am grateful. When shopping for shorts for her she informed me that she wanted to wear boys shorts. After looking at the girls shorts and discovering that the shorts began approximately one inch below the zipper I didn't argue with her at all.

But here too the difference between girls shorts and boys shorts was extreme. While girls shorts were, well short, the boys shorts were what we called floods when I was a kid. They weren't shorts at all, just pants that weren't long enough. My son refuses to even consider wearing shorts if they don't go down past the knee. Which is fine I guess, but after putting on tube socks there is only one to two inches of leg showing, which begs the question, why wear shorts at all?

Which all just made me realize that I have settled into my role as a parent: I am completely out of touch and have absolutely no fashion sense...for which I am grateful.

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April 9, 2002
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