Every time I talk about fashion with someone, vintage clothes always come up. One of the questions I’m always asked is “Why do you wear such baggy pants?” People always assume that vintage trousers are baggy because they’re thinking of the zoot suit, which was popularized by cultural phenomena. This is simply not the case.
When people think “vintage,” they usually point fingers to the 1940’s. Girls often think pin-up dresses and polka-dot skirts and the guys think zoot-suit. The zoot suit wasn’t even worn expansively back in that time; it was worn by very few people. However, the zoot suit dug itself deep in popular culture. We have the Weasles from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to the countless gangster costumes at Party City. All of this adds up to the idea of the public’s mind that vintage menswear is baggy. It’s like assuming everyone in the 2010s wore Yeezy’s or had super cropped jeans. Subcultures do not define the population.
The Definition of Baggy
Baggy means “(of clothing) loose and hanging in folds.” It’s not just roomy, it’s exceedingly loose and hanging in folds. Do you know what “hanging in folds” means? It means BREAKS. No one looks good with breaks and some of the sharpest dressers in the 1920s-1940s did not have breaks in their pants. Here we have the star of Gangster Squad, Josh Brolin, wearing exceedingly baggy pants. Look at all of those creases. These creases happen because when the pant actually rests on the top of the shoe, it causes the excess fabric to fold inward, making it go all over the place. It’s terrible and sloppy.
The Pants are Simply Straight Leg
So if we decide that accurate vintage pants are not baggy, what are they? Vintage pants certainly are not skinny jeans, since they don’t hug the leg tightly; they are simply straight cut. Vintage pants have always been meant to be worn higher on the waist (belly button is natural waist) and are meant to drape down without any damn breaks. They make one continuous stream of fabric down to the top of your shoe. Honestly, vintage pants make your legs look longer and slimmer, which is good on almost anyone.
Menswear advertisements get the right tailoring. They show streamlined legs which is what pants are supposed to do!
If you look at all these pants, you’ll see that none of them are pooling at the ankle or are “hanging in folds”. Some men might go for a small break, but none have as big of a break as the public thinks. The end of the trouser basically “hovers” right at the shoe area. Not once does rest on top of the shoe upper. Here’s some examples from the 1930s and 40s.
Look at all these gents. Their pants might be a bit roomy but they go straight down the the leg. There’s no creasing, no pooling, and certainly no breaking.
1920’s Pants Were Skinny
Yes, there was a time before the 1960’s when men had “skinny pants”. Back then they were called “stove pipe legs”, since they were really slim. Honestly, these pants are my current aesthetic when wearing my modern clothes. They’ve got a nice wide cuff, are slim in the thigh, and taper to the ankle. If you’re not a fan of the straight fit, then these examples are the way to go. Just look at that tailoring! Straight sharp legs that end right at the ankle.
Vintage Influences Modern Style
That last picture looks pretty close to how fashion forward guys are wearing their pants. The skinny fad is over; a straight/slim pant is the way to go! A blend of 1920’s tapering and 1940’s straight lines are definitely the way to go when crafting your pant game. Check out some of my favourite examples:
All of these pants are perfectly tailored. They have straight lines, down the leg without pooling or hugging the leg. They all look comfortable, which is what is most important when wearing clothes of any kind!
So there you go. Don’t assume vintage clothes are baggy.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza
*Pictures are not owned by Street x Sprezza