Sagging (fashion)

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Two Detroit men sagging their pants in 2007 Sagging crop.jpg
Two Detroit men sagging their pants in 2007

Sagging is a manner of wearing trousers or jeans that sag so that the top of the trousers or jeans is significantly below the waist, sometimes revealing much of the underpants.


Sagging is predominantly a male fashion. Women's wearing of low-rise jeans to reveal their G-string underwear (the "whale tail") is not generally described as sagging. [1] A person wearing sagging trousers is sometimes called a "sagger", [2] and in some countries this practice is known as "low-riding". [3] [4]


The style was popularized by skaters and hip-hop artists in the 1990s. [5] [6] It later became a symbol of freedom and cultural awareness among some youths [7] or a symbol of their rejection of the values of mainstream society. [8]

It is often claimed the style originated from the United States prison system where belts are sometimes prohibited [9] and there can be a lack of appropriately sized clothing. [5] [10]


During the 2000s, many North American local governments, school systems, transit agencies, and even airlines passed laws and regulations against the practice of wearing sagging pants, although no state or federal laws have been enacted banning the practice. [11] US presidential candidate Barack Obama, speaking just before the 2008 US Presidential Election, appeared on MTV and said that laws banning the practice of wearing low-slung pants that expose one's underwear were "a waste of time ... Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I'm one of them." [12]

In June 2007 the Town Council of Delcambre, Louisiana, passed an indecent exposure ordinance, which prohibited intentionally wearing trousers in such a way as to show underwear. [13] In March 2008 the Hahira, Georgia City Council passed a controversial clothing ordinance, in the name of public safety, that bans citizens from wearing pants with top below the waist that reveal skin or undergarments. The council was split 2–2, but the tie was broken by the mayor. [14] Pagedale, Missouri is also another to have passed this law in 2008. [15] [16]

Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia stated, "In Atlanta, we see this as racial profiling ... It's going to target African-American male youths. There's a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed." [17] The interim police chief of Flint, Michigan ordered the arrest of saggers for disorderly conduct; however, as of August 2008, only warnings had been issued. The local chapter of the ACLU threatened legal action in response, saying that sagging did not violate the Flint disorderly conduct ordinance [18] and a Florida judge threw out a case brought under a similar rule, as being unconstitutional. [19]

Sagging clothing is a violation of some school dress codes, [3] [20] [21] [22] and the prohibition has been supported in the court system. [23]

Two weeks after the "Pants on the Ground" video became popular thanks to American Idol (see below), a billboard campaign against the style of sagging pants was launched in the Dallas, Texas, area. The billboards feature Big Mama Joseph from the 1997 film Soul Food saying, "Pull 'Em Up!" and asks youngsters to "Keep it a secret!" The campaign is the brainchild of Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine R. Caraway, and uses advertising space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor. [24] Another billboard campaign against sagging pants was launched in Brooklyn, New York by New York State Senator Eric Adams on March 28, 2010. [25] In May 2010 New York State Senate President Malcolm Smith used US$2,200 from his campaign fund to launch a similar campaign in Queens. [26]

At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Japanese snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo was barred from participating in the opening ceremonies due to dressing sloppily, including a loosened tie, shirt hanging out, and sagging pants. [27]

In the fall of 2010 at Westside Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee, the policy on handling sagging pants is for students to pull them up or get "Urkeled", a reference to the character Steve Urkel of the 1990s television show Family Matters . In this practice, teachers would pull their pants up and attach them there using zip ties. Students would also have their photo taken and posted on a board in the hallway, for all of their classmates to see. In an interview with WMC-TV, Principal Bobby White stated that the general idea is to fight pop culture with pop culture. [28] One teacher at the school claimed to have "Urkeled" up to 80 students per week, although after five weeks students got the message, and the number dropped to 18. [29]

On November 23, 2010, Albany, Georgia passed a city ordinance that banned the wearing of pants or skirts with top more than three inches below the top of the hips, and imposed a fine of $25 for the first offense, increasing to up to $250 for subsequent offenses. By September 2011, City Attorney Nathan Davis reported that 187 citations had been issued and fines of $3,916 collected. [30]

On December 8, 2010, the city of Opa-locka, Florida voted unanimously on a $250 fine or 10 hours of community service for individuals who did not pull their pants up. [31]

In Fort Worth, Texas, the local transportation authority implemented a policy in June 2011 that prohibited any passenger from boarding a bus while wearing sagging pants that exposes their underwear or buttocks. Signs were posted on buses saying, "Pull 'em up or find another ride", and one City Council member was looking for funds for a billboard campaign. The communications manager for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority said that on the first day the policy was enforced, 50 people were removed from buses for wearing improper pants. Some complained about the policy, but the overall response was positive. [7]

A state law went into effect in Florida for the 2011–2012 school year banning the practice of sagging while at school. Pupils found in violation receive a verbal warning for the first offense, followed by parental notification by the principal for the second offense, which will require the parent to bring a change of clothing to school. Students would then face in-school suspension for subsequent violations. [32]

University of New Mexico football player Deshon Marman was removed from a U.S. Airways flight bound for Albuquerque, New Mexico for wearing sagging pants. [33] A few months later Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland to Burbank, California for the same reason. [33]

In April 2012 Alabama County Circuit Judge John Bush sentenced 20-year-old LaMarcus Ramsey to three days in jail for appearing in court with sagging blue jeans that exposed his underwear, telling him, "You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court." [34]

On June 12, 2013, the Town Council of Wildwood, New Jersey, located on the Jersey Shore, voted unanimously to ban sagging pants from the town's boardwalk. [35]

In Ocala, Florida, a law was passed against sagging jeans, violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail. Something similar was done in Wildwood, New Jersey. [36]

On July 5, 2016 an ordinance was passed in Timmonsville, South Carolina that punishes sagging pants. Offenders may face up to a $600 fine. [37]

Shreveport, Louisiana repealed its prohibition on sagging pants in June 2019. [38]

Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County, Florida, voted 4-1 to repeal their ban on 'saggy pants' in September, 2020. There will be a final vote on the repeal but it is supported by 4 out of 5 commissioners. [39]

Music videos

American rapper Travis Scott sagging his pants while performing in 2015 Travis Scott sagging.jpg
American rapper Travis Scott sagging his pants while performing in 2015

Sagging has been ridiculed in music videos, first in the 1996 song "Back Pockets on the Floor" performed by the Green Brothers of Highland Park, Michigan. [40] Another song in 2007 by Dewayne Brown of Dallas, Texas, titled "Pull Your Pants Up", has a similar message. [41] On January 13, 2010, "General" Larry Platt performed "Pants on the Ground" during auditions for the ninth season of American Idol in Atlanta, Georgia. [42] In 2012 a 9-year-old rapper named Amor "Lilman" Arteaga wrote a song titled "Pull Ya Pants Up," and made a music video with an appearance by Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz. [43]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Jeans are a type of pants or trousers, typically made from denim or dungaree cloth. Often the term "jeans" refers to a particular style of trousers, called "blue jeans", which were invented by Jacob W. Davis in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1871 and patented by Jacob W. Davis and Levi Strauss on May 20, 1873. Prior to the Levi Strauss patented trousers, the term "blue jeans" had been long in use for various garments, constructed from blue-colored denim.

Shorts Garment for the lower body ending above the knee

Shorts are a garment worn over the pelvic area, circling the waist and splitting to cover the upper part of the legs, sometimes extending down to the knees but not covering the entire length of the leg. They are called "shorts" because they are a shortened version of trousers, which cover the entire leg, but not the foot. Shorts are typically worn in warm weather or in an environment where comfort and air flow are more important than the protection of the legs.

Dress code rules whether explicit or not setting out appropriate manner of dress for a place or event

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Leggings Several types of leg coverings

Leggings refer to several types of leg coverings. Modern usage from the 1960s has come to refer to elastic close-fitting garments worn over the legs typically by women, such as leg warmers or tights. Usage from the 18th century refers to men's wear, usually made of cloth or leather that is wrapped around the leg down to the ankle. In the 19th century, leggings usually referred to infants' leg clothing that were matched with a jacket, as well as leg-wrappings made of leather or wool and worn by soldiers and trappers. Leggings prominently returned to women's fashion in the 1960s, drawing from the form-fitting clothing of dancers. With the widespread adoption of the synthetic fibre Lycra and the rise in popularity of aerobics, leggings came to further prominence in the 1970s and '80s, and eventually made their way into streetwear. Leggings are a part of the late 2010s athleisure fashion trend of wearing activewear outside sporting activities and in casual settings, which became a contentious social norm in the United States.

Capri pants Calf-length trousers

Capri pants are pants that are longer than shorts but are not as long as trousers. Capri pants can be a generic term for any cropped slim pants, and also used as a specific term to refer to pants that end on the ankle bone.

Low-rise pants Style of pants

Low-rise pants, also known as "low-cut jeans", "lowriders" or "rap pants", are a type of pants that sit low on, or below, the hips, usually at least 8 centimetres (3 inches) lower than the navel. Low-rise pants have been available since the 1900s, in styles for both men and women, with popularity increasing in the 2000s.

Whale tail Y-shaped waistband of a thong or G-string when visible above the waistline of low-rise jeans, shorts, or a skirt that resembles a whales tail

Whale tail is the Y-shaped waistband of a thong or G-string when visible above the waistline of low-rise jeans, shorts, or a skirt that resembles a whale's tail. Popularized by a number of female celebrities including Christina Aguilera, Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, displaying whale tails became popular in the early 2000s, together with the rise of low-rise jeans and thong underwear; but waned within the decade.

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Slim-fit pants jeans or other trousers tailored to fit very close to the body, especially through the legs

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Pantsing, also known as depantsing, debagging, dacking, flagging, sharking and scanting, is the pulling down of a person's trousers and sometimes also underpants, usually against their wishes, and typically as a practical joke or a form of bullying, but in other instances as a sexual fetish. The most common method is to sneak up behind the intended victim, grab the trousers at the waist, and apply a quick downward tug before the victim is aware of the assailant's presence.

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Trousers or pants first appear in recorded history among nomadic steppe-people in Western Europe. Archaeological evidence suggests that men and women alike wore trousers in that cultural context. However, for much of modern history, the use of trousers has been restricted to men. In many regions, this norm was enforced not only by social custom but also by law. There are, however, many historical cases of women wearing trousers in defiance of these norms, for a variety of reasons, including comfort, freedom of movement, fashion, disguise, attempts to evade the gender pay gap, and attempts to establish an empowered public identity for women. Especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, the customs and laws restricting this manner of dress have relaxed dramatically, reflecting a growing acceptance and normalization of the practice.

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Undergarment clothes worn under other clothes

Undergarments or underwear are items of clothing worn beneath outer clothes, usually in direct contact with the skin, although they may comprise more than a single layer. They serve to keep outer garments from being soiled or damaged by bodily excretions, to lessen the friction of outerwear against the skin, to shape the body, and to provide concealment or support for parts of it. In cold weather, long underwear is sometimes worn to provide additional warmth. Special types of undergarments have religious significance. Some items of clothing are designed as undergarments, while others, such as T-shirts and certain types of shorts, are appropriate both as undergarments and as outer clothing. If made of suitable material or textile, some undergarments can serve as nightwear or swimsuits, and some are intended for sexual attraction or visual appeal.

Thong Garment generally worn as either underwear or as a swimsuit in some countries

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Low-rise (fashion) of garments for the lower body: having a waistline below the natural waist

Low-rise is a style of clothing designed to sit low on, or below, the hips. The style can also be called lowcut, hipster, or hip-hugger. and can apply to garments worn by males or females. The term can be applied to all garments that cover the wearer's crotch area, including trousers, jeans, shorts, skirts, panties, briefs, bikinis, pantyhose, and tights.

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High-rise (fashion) 20th century and 21st century fashion phenonemon

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