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Baggy, saggy pants have defined fashion for an entire generation of young men, and horrified many of their parents and teachers. Youth Radio’s Brandon McFarland was a life-long sagger – until recently. He had a revelation and realized his grandmother was right: you can maintain your cool without wearing your pants at your knees.
I started wearing my pants far below the waistline back in eighth-grade, and I thought I’d definitely be a sagger forever. It always drove my mom crazy.
Mom: "You tried to sag some slacks once. For a church function. They were slacks! It’s like “you got some suit pants on!” You can’t sag suit pants. But yeah you tried."
C’mon Mom, you tried some ridiculous looks too. I know when my mom and dad were young, they wore things their parents didn’t approve of. Check out what my dad wore to the club back in the day.
Dad: "Some bell bottoms, silk shirt, big collar, and a scarf around my neck."
Brandon: "Did you have a fro back in the day?"
Just for the record, my dad has no more hair. I don’t want to wait till I go bald to look like an adult. Plus, a man needs to be able to walk. I had what alcoholics call a “moment of clarity” rushing through the Chicago Airport to catch a flight. “That’s it!” I said. I unbuckled my loosely tied belt, grabbed the east & west sides of my waistline, and yanked my jeans up to my belly button. I was a new man—born again. And now that I’ve seen the light, I’m on a crusade to get other guys to stop sagging, too. I ambushed my friend, Dru Harshaw, at work recently. He says he started sagging to revolt against his grandfather.
Dru: "And he was “Youngster, pull up your pants!” and he saying, “Oh I got a belt for you!” and I was like “Oh, okay. I see.” So I pulled up my pants, but when I hit the door, I, you know, got a little comfortable and carried on with my Saturday night."
Brandon: "And you know when your waistband is at your ankles, you’re dangerously close to sagging too low. It’s what I call 'Code Red.'"
Dru: "You get that breeze. That breeze? That killer breeze? Yeah, that area."
Brandon: "It’s when your shirt is not long enough to..."
Dru: "To cover the PC."
Not the plumbers crack! I challenged Dru to try it my way— and pull those pants up.
He has a different strut now. And he has a smile on his face now. He’s kind of enlightened.
Dru: "feels like the jeans fit me now. It feels like I’m a model."
Victory! Success! I feel like a missionary! But Dru was easy compared to our other co-worker, Elmer Clark, who’s been sagging since seventh-grade.
ELMER (on tape)
I’m not reforming, I’m not trying it, it’s not happening in the near future. When I get like 60 maybe. As much love as I got for Brandon—I ain’t gon’ be able to do it.
Brandon: "I respect Elmer’s dedication. But sagging is often associated with the streets, and I wonder, if he goes into a job interview with that look, how’s “the man” going to receive him? My partner Gerald Ward II pulled up his pants before his last business meeting."
Gerald: "I just thought they’d look at me as, 'Ohh that sagging little boy speaks well.'"
It’s all about looking 'presentable'...
Gerald: "It’s like code switching when you speak. I speak Oaklandese when I’m speaking to other folks that are from the town, and when I’m not I might switch into a more universal language or lexicon. Same thing with my pants. I might sag in certain areas and in the other areas I’ll pull them up so I can infiltrate the system".
That’s my man Gerald, dropping that knowledge. But I gotta be honest. For me, it’s all about comfort baby. That’s why I don’t bother going back and forth. My convert, Dru Harshaw, isn’t so sure.
Brandon: "Well, would you consider, you know, permanently keeping those britches up there, son?"
Dru: "That’s a deep question, brother. That’s a life outlook. I’d have to say that I change on a day to day basis. So my perspective may alter tomorrow. But as for these 24 hours, I will attend your ways, and pull up my pants."
And if he’s anything like me, once he covers his butt, he’ll never give it up.