Pop Rocks: Dress Codes Are Worse Than Sagging Pants

Categories: Pop Rocks

Photo by Mike Powell
This was once a fashion trend too.
I went into business for myself years ago for a variety of reasons. But there are two items on my list of things I want out of a job that I have tried to maintain. First, I don't want to be penalized for being fast. If I can get my work done in half the time someone else can, I shouldn't have to sit around in an office all day just to fulfill some ridiculous time requirement. Secondly, I hate dress codes.

Since I was a kid, I thought they were dumb. Why was it necessary for me to wear a collar at school? What distraction exactly was I providing for other students if I sat in a t-shirt. I remember talking with the guidance counselor at my former high school a couple years after I graduated. That previous year, they instituted a hair policy that did not grandfather in guys who already had long hair. So, as an act of rebellion, a large number of them shaved their heads -- it felt like half the senior class was bald. Administrators were shocked -- being bald wasn't against the rules, but it was damn weird -- and my response was, "Well, what did you expect?"

And this is not to say there is a time and a place for everything. It's one thing to wear cutoffs to a formal wedding or show up at a business meeting in a t-shirt that says, "Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" But, I've long thought that dress codes were more about enforcing a doctrinal discipline on a particular group of people than appropriateness. Case in point laws regarding sagging pants like this one from Pikesville, Tennessee.

Look, I get that guys wearing their pants so low you can see their boxers is kinda stupid. I'm not one that particularly wants to see another dude's underwear, but you have to have it pretty good if your town of 1,600 people can spend time making laws about the scourge of sagging drawers.

To make matters worse, it is highlighting the "problem" with a giant yellow marker when, for all intents and purposes, this is a fad. Banning sagging pants would have been like banning bellbottoms in the '70s or shoulder pads in the '80s. Just as fashion trends have moved the waistline on women's pants up and down over the decades, my guess is the same will be true of men's pants, just as I imagine hipsters won't always default to skinny jeans.

And it's bad enough to deride the clothing and those who wear it, but to attach and actual fine to them seems ridiculous. I'd love to fine a people for bad breath or farting in elevators or writing a check in the express lane at the grocery store, but I'm not going to introduce a freaking law.

The problem is that this is not just about underwear and civic pride. It delves into personal taste and, more uncomfortably, exclusionary tactics designed to alienate those who are different. Some dress codes are nothing more than ways to keep undesirables at bay.

Recently, my wife and I were in Fort Worth for a few days. Around the corner from our hotel was a nightclub and posted near the door was a dress code that included things like no flat-billed caps, no tank tops or gold chains. And this wasn't a country bar. This was a douchey club. But, similar stories have emanated from bars along Washington Avenue here in Houston where dress codes target very specific demographics as a means of keeping them out.

When reading this though, I just kept thinking, "This is probably not your biggest problem, club owners." I've gone to many bars, clubs and live music venues over the years. I've seen some pretty disturbing crap and none of it had to do with clothing.

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Dennis D Shamblin
Dennis D Shamblin

Surviving Bigfoot and the Dixie Mafia is a terrific book, which you can read free online. True book soon to become a motion picture.


The saggy pants question goes far beyond the style issue. I don't find it very appealing to go into a store, especially where food is being sold, and seeing some guy's underwear while he's grabbing his pants and his junk. It becomes a sanitation issue at that point.


The baggy pants thing is an issue that goes beyond being a gross style. I don't particularly like going to Kroger's produce section and seeing some guy grabbing at his underwear and junk.


I concur with this essay, and I also agree about the stupidity of laws banning saggy pants. I will say, though, that as far as fads go, the saggy pants thing has held on for a really long time. I remember some of the kids in my rural high school sagging their pants below the waistline as far back as the late 1980's. The pants weren't real baggy back then; just regular jeans pulled down to show off the underpants. What's really amusing is watching these guys reach for something in their pockets. They have to bend almost all the way down to their feet to pull out their wallet.

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