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A couple of days ago, I read an article about Justin Bieber wearing women’s jeans. As a costumer, I just kind of shrugged it off, since costumers dress actors in whatever’s necessary to get the look a designer wants. But then my husband asked me about the difference between men’s and women’s pants, and I was reminded that a lot of people don’t know the history of clothing & how it’s constructed.
First of all, I can’t believe that Bieber admitted that he wears women’s jeans – he MUST know there are haters just waiting to eat him alive for comments like that! As expected, most opinions of this news are that it’s just wrong or that he’s got to be gay. I have my own theory, but first let’s look at some more clothing history.
Fashion has customarily been very gender-based – men wore pants & women wore skirts or dresses, which means trousers of all kinds were originally for men only.
Also, you may have noticed that men’s & women’s shirts button in opposite ways, with men’s shirts closing left over right & women’s closing right over left. Before the 20th century, men commonly dressed themselves, while women usually had assistance with their elaborate undergarments and multiple layers.
Clothing makers believed that it was easier to button a shirt on yourself when it closed left over right, but trying to button a shirt like this for someone else would be difficult because it would be reversed. So, by that logic, the direction of women’s buttons was changed to make it easier for those who were dressing them. (There is something to that logic – have you ever tried to wear a shirt that buttons for the opposite sex? It’s hard when it’s backwards!)
Fast forward to the 20th century with women’s rights accumulating in the unisex fashion of the 1980s. Most basic sweat suits (the ’80s version of the ’70s leisure suit) still look unisex regardless of the tags on the inside! Pants have always been – and still are – fastened as if they are only for men, with only the occasional women’s dress pant buttoning backwards (usually much to the annoyance of the lady wearing them).
I’m sure you’ve heard of modern women raiding the closets of the men in their lives. One day it may not be considered so weird when dudes borrow from a girl’s closet. Skinny jeans? Boyfriend sweaters? Wifebeater tanks? They’ve all traditionally been for one gender but have since appeared on the other’s racks at the mall. And lots of other famous guys (especially in the music world) have learned to view clothing by style and cut before they even glance at the tag. It’s all about the overall look.
So Mr. Bieber found something he likes in the girls’ department that just happens to work as a men’s clothing piece. Not surprising. My theory is that he likes the fit of women’s jeans better because he isn’t wearing them the way a girl would – therefore, they fit him differently.
For some reason, many young men still think they look cool when they wear their pants way too low & much too big – a style known as sagging. (It’s been at least 30 years! Why hasn’t this ridiculous prison trend died yet?!) Bieber seems to be conscious of wanting droopy pants without the side effect of them being too big in the waistband to stay up well. See, females have curvy hips, whereas males are generally straighter. So he probably likes the way women’s jeans are tighter in the waistband but cut bigger in the hips. This would give him the feeling of larger pants without worrying about losing them in front of an adoring fashion-conscious crowd.
How he wears his pants may look silly to some, but at least in his words he’s “comfortable”. So let’s not worry too much about which section of the clothing store he buys his pants. It’s just a tag on the inside!
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