Hot Pants!

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how small men’s suits have become over the past few years? Whenever I watch the news (which is as rarely as possible), I notice those tiny suits, especially on the weathermen. They all seem to be wearing jackets that are tight in the shoulders, snug on the biceps and short in the sleeves, making the wearer look like he put on his junior high graduation suit by mistake but decided not to change because his mom said he looked just fine.

At first, I figured I was simply watching channels that didn’t pay their staff enough to buy decent fitting suits. Then I saw several other celebrities sporting that same too-tight too-short suit and it dawned on me that they were dressing that way on purpose.

I’m guessing designers are going for the two sizes too small look because they’re saving a lot of fabric when all those unused yards are added up. What I can’t understand is how any man willingly wears a suit that looks like it might be one of Pee Wee Herman’s castoffs.

Fashion is a funny thing. It is always interesting to look back at a decade and think, “We wore THAT?” when, while you’re wearing it, you’re mightily impressed with yourself for being in vogue. The eighties and nineties are excellent examples of such delusional thinking. Just check out a television show like “Miami Vice” or “Magnum, P.I.” if you don’t believe me. The pastel outfits Don Johnson sported made him look more like a Good Humor man instead of a hardened vice cop and those itsy-bitsy shorts Tom Selleck ran around in were plain embarrassing.

Leather was also popular in the eighties, another hard-to-comprehend trend, but it was big, even affecting my husband Mark, who has never been a slave to any fashion. For some reason, Mark got it in his head that he needed a pair of leather pants. I don’t know if this was the influence of the then new channel VHI or if all the leather pants displayed in the window of the Chess King clothing store at our local mall caught his eye. However the bug got in his ear, leather pants were what Mark wanted for this birthday.

We found the ideal pair for something like eighty dollars, which was a lot of money for pants, even leather ones, back in those days, but Mark had his heart set on them. On his birthday we decided to go out for dinner, and I suggested he wear his newest acquisition. Mark agreed and vanished into the bedroom to put them on.

When he hasn’t reappeared in ten minutes, I went to investigate. I found him wearing the leather pants, a polo shirt and a worried expression.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“These pants. I’m not sure if I like them.”

“Why not?”

“They seem…tight.”

“Stand up and let me see.” Mark stood up and he was right; they were tight. As in David Lee Roth tight.

“They didn’t look that tight in the store,” I said.

“They didn’t feel this tight in the store. I can’t wear these in public. Can we take them back?”

“No, we can’t. We had them hemmed, remember?”

“Well, I’m not wearing them.” Mark peeled off the leather pants and replaced them with comfortably worn and decently loose Levis. “That’s better. Now I can breathe.”

Those leather pants accompanied us on several moves since neither of us could bring ourselves to donate them and we didn’t know anyone we could give them to who would actually wear them and not laugh at us. Finally, after about twenty years, I suggested we try to sell them on eBay. Much to our surprise, those 1980s leather pants sparked a bidding war that netted us a lot more than our original eighty-dollar investment. They finally landed in California where the happy buyer wrote “Hot Pants!” on his review thus ending Mark’s sole foray into high fashion.

I have to think life is much simpler when you wear the same thing season in and season out, ignoring what’s in and what’s out and focusing instead on what fits and what doesn’t. That said, I’ll be very happy when the tight suit look is passe and weathermen go back to wearing suits that actually cover their wrists again and I can stop worrying about their blood circulation.

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