Pull Up Your Pants, Bro! British Man (Barely) Avoids Prosecution For Saggy Trousers

Moments like this, you think, good thing I live in “the land of the free” — a British man narrowly avoided getting an ASBO (anti-social behavior order) for wearing his pants so low you could see his ass. Pretty standard stuff (sorry to say) where I live; I saw a guy looking like this last week on the train.

From the Guardian’s comment page:

Ellis Drummond was last week spared an Asbo for “wearing trousers so low that the public are able to see his underwear” after a judge suggested it was contrary to his human rights. Here some of the Observer’s finest minds debate the implications for Britain’s sartorial standards.

Euan Ferguson

…an Asbo for stupidity.

Kevin McKenna

The wise ones also say that a man’s kingdom is his trousers. Where I grew up, some of us were so poor that wearing trousers that fitted one properly was a luxury. Therefore, I feel that to wear trousers in this way celebrates the poor working classes who often had no choice in the matter. I remember there was a lorry that came round each week full of discarded clothing from the Romanian middle classes. You were lucky if anything fitted. In Cameron’s New Britain, wearing your trousers halfway down your arse may be the only means of protest against the Bullingdon club influence on our life. Their use of braces to control the natural movement of trousers is redolent of Oxbridge privilege, a paradigm of social control. We must retain control of our trousers…


Remarkably restrained. I wondered how long before the money/class argument would be wrangled in. But that doesn’t hold, not unless you’re seeking to persuade us that the subtext of any gritty working-class mantra was, actually: “We were poor but we were stupid.” Euan Kev, I know you’re haunted by class: I remember you quoting some definition of a gentleman as “anyone who gets out of the bath to take a pee”. Brain-wise, think of this. The low-slung look derives from people in evil penitentiaries in America’s deep south who had their belts removed. They wanted nothing more than to, in random order, a) have a belt to keep their trousers up; b) live in a kinder place with a job, or benefits, and always chances; and c) not be in the electric chair the next morning. For someone with all of the good things above, to actually want, when there are so many good looks available – tweed, I say, always have; tweed and knitted ties – instead to dress as if he seriously wants to be a hot crying man in a dirtyard on the last day of his life? Actionably stupid. Criminally so. Asbo.

The whole idea of an Asbo is so fundamentally un-American — where you get to let it all hang out, whatever it is, most of the time. It’s always a little weird to those of us who grew up in more restrained, less individualism-obsessed societies.

The laws came in in 1998 and have been controversial since: they can be used against anyone over the age of 10 whose behavior is deemed offensive or damaging to larger society. (I blogged last year about a British couple whose sexual activity was so loud it won them an Asbo from their weary neighbors.)

I hate the baggy pants thing, but maybe that’s just my narrow, priggish point of view.

Seems we’ve got a million potential Asbos on this side of the pond: walking while staring into a phone or PDA, driving while texting, reallyloud cellphone conversations in enclosed (or not) spaces, people who leave gym equipment all gross and sweaty…

Does this “style” offend you as well?

Would you vote an Asbo for the uninvited sight of some guy’s ass?

13 thoughts on “Pull Up Your Pants, Bro! British Man (Barely) Avoids Prosecution For Saggy Trousers

  1. evyb

    I am thinking this issue is deeper than just a “pants citation” (?). To me it sounds like a guy who is probably a HUGE annoyance and walking liability to the public – the pants are probably the only tangible thing they could get this guy on.

    I have a few of these walking nuisances ( read: trials of woe) in my neighborhood. Their crime? Constant minor criminal behavior – for which they are never caught, juvenile pranks on the same people – mostly the elderly and very young in the community. Basically a boil on the butt of humanity. Is it a law breaking offense? At times, but mostly they flirt on the edge, like bullies do. If we had a Asbo here… they would definitely have a back log of citations.

    There is no class issue about it. There are people like this in each station of life. I can appreciate the reasoning behind the Asbo but it is a very difficult proposition. You can see where a well intentioned law could easily be taken too far. Do you really want to invite the government in to start setting a blanket, ‘national moral compass’ just for those irritating people who do not have one.

  2. inmyhumbleopinion

    I have yet to figure out why this “fashion” trend endures. It’s not the least bit flattering and it’s an impairment to normal walking. I see kids walking around the campus I attend holding their pants up because–God forbid–they should wear a belt or buy ones that actually fit. It looks like a pack of overgrown toddlers holding their respective crotches because they have to go to the bathroom!

    Silly and annoying.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    “It looks like a pack of overgrown toddlers holding their respective crotches because they have to go to the bathroom!”

    This is delicious.

    I often wonder how different the world looks to women who’ve had kids, boys or girls, but especially sons when they see adult men behaving idiotically. Maybe it de-toxes some situations to see them in this light.

    1. inmyhumbleopinion

      Caitlin, I found that motherhood was actually a brilliant lesson in management, and that dealing with petulant employees or clients was not a whole lot different than dealing with kids who push the limit.

      Plus, any mother will tell you that after having to clean up after all manner of bodily fluids puts things very much into perspective. I liken it a bit to an army nurse who’s seen everything. Nothing really phases me too much anymore. 😉

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    imho, I’ve heard this about moms/managers and frankly I envy you this wise(r) perspective. I think there’s a 3 yr old in everyone and sometimes closer to the surface than others.

    My mom had some serious medical issues I had to face even when I was 12 or 14, and an only child, so I grew up a lot faster than many kids. I watch people lighting their hair on fire in panic over….nothing….and laugh.

  5. Doesn’t bother me the saggy pants look. However, I do take the time to let those that are close to me know that you are judged on your appearance, That being said, no matter how respectful you are with voice and tone your clothes are telling me another thing.

    I also relate the story of the young man who was killed by a Police Officer because he was thought to be reaching for a gun while running away when in actuality he trying to pull his pants up.

  6. Caitlin Kelly

    Gregory, what’s the appeal of this look? s it considered really cool and attractive? Because?

    I’m not saying everyone should (sigh) wear Dockers and lace-up leather shoes, but other than looking tough and mean (which may be the entire point) why does flashing your boxers or briefs at me signal anything useful?

  7. Looking tough or mean? How does looking like you can’t buy clothes that fit make you look tough or mean? How does having to pull your pants up every half step make you look tough or mean? It makes you look juvenile and stupid, plain and simple. Pull up your pants, turn down your radio, and for flip’s sake, learn how to wear a hat properly. No one believes you’re “gangstah.” I’d wager the real tough guys would kick your ass for dressing like a moron.

  8. Caitlin Kelly

    SS, I wonder. I find the whole thing in(s)ane, but I’m not a guy and don’t live in the world or neighborhood where so many of these guys do dress like this. It’s clearly working for lots of guys, since it’s so damn popular.

    Personally, if I want to see your underwear, I’ll let you know. Not until.

  9. geekysarah

    This made me remember an event that took place at Walmart of all places…

    My fiance and I were picking up some baby clothes for our niece for Christmas (she’s 9 months old and a little red-headed angel imho). In our local Walmart, the baby clothes are right across the walkway from electronics. There were a flock of ‘gangstah’ kids patrolling the game section, loudly voicing their gaming exploits, and just generally being annoying. We were looking at games, me holding the baby clothes, just while we were there. He’s looking at the games, and he says in a rather loud voice to me,

    “Hey Sarah, do you know where the pants around the knees look comes from?” I shrugged.

    “Prison B*****s. Gotta have easy access to the back door.” All in a voice that I swear could have been heard several aisles around, and certainly heard by the punks the aisle over. As funny as it was at the time, it was *so* embarrassing lol. We high-tailed it out of there as quickly as possible needless to say. I never looked back at the punks, I’m sure they were shocked.

  10. Caitlin Kelly

    Darlin’, you were lucky to have escaped anything worse. I doubt anyone anywhere near NYC would dare say a word to someone dressed like this. I wouldn’t.

    1. geekysarah

      Goodness knows I was mortified. However, the area I live in is not so much gangstah as super-conservative all about gun rights. Being super-gangstah around here will get you weird looks. They even get weird looks from the goth and multi-piercing crowd. The bad thing about that story is that now whenever I see a young man dressed like that, that statement echoes through my head. Unlike him though, I would never say it out loud like that.

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