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Battle of the Baggy Pants

The fashion police have finally gone too far.

While towns from New Jersey to Louisiana have recently passed ordinances against the wearing of trousers that sag below the waist, exposing excessive skin or underwear, a Florida judge has declared his local ordinance unconstitutional as applied.  The case involved a 17-year-old arrested and held overnight after police spotted him riding his bicycle with 4-5 inches of his boxer shorts visible above the waistband of his pants. 

The style, which originated among men in prison who are issued ill-fitting clothing and no belts, was popularized by rap artists and the fans who emulate them.  Meaning that the baggy pants laws are targeted at a young, urban, male population.  Just take a look at the mug shots below, which include 8 of the 11 pants perps from Riviera Beach, Florida.  (Two of the others are juveniles, and a third was featured in a previous Smoking Gun post.) 

Notice any similarities?


Of course, this isn't the first time that a sartorial battle has stood in for larger social tensions involving race and class.  The WWII-era zoot suit riots in Los Angeles involved clashes between sailors and local urban youths, primarily Mexican-Americans but also African-Americans and others, who wore suits with extremely long jackets and baggy pants pegged at the ankle -- an extravagant statement in a time of fabric scarcity and rationing. 

A Riviera Beach public defender has indicated her office's intent to challenge the current sartorial restrictions.  So stay tuned for whatever boxer briefs are forthcoming.  (You were waiting for that, right?)