Low-crotch trousers – dare you?
Men’s fashion is rarely revolutionary. Once we discover something we like, we tend to stick with it for a century or two: “I’ll have a jacket and, er, a pair of trousers, please. Oh, and while I’m here, I’ll take a couple of white shirts. Thanks.”
More recently, however, some men have become a tad more adventurous: jackets have got a little shorter, trousers don’t quite reach the shoe, bow ties have sprung up under chins, and a pinch of pattern has even appeared on rediscovered double-breasted suits.
Some cultural commentators claim this new dandyism is the influence of the highly stylised TV show Mad Men; others claim it’s just down to mad men. It was Thom Browne who started sending out shrunken clothes with unfamiliar proportions, but this autumn it’s gone a step further with the controversial return of the drop-crotch trouser, aka the harem pant. A number of designers, from Vivienne Westwood (above, £330; 020-7478 2060) and Yves Saint Laurent (£595; selfridges.com) to Self at Topman (£55; topman.com) and asos (£36; asos.com), are currently stocking them.
This look has come about for two reasons. It was partly a reaction to having been forced into slim-fitting “budgie-smuggling” drainpipes for too long – as good as these can look on a young, fit guy, we’ve yet to see the influence they’ve had on the reproductive skills of a generation of men – and partly because we have started to ask, “What else have you got?”. We’ve seen the Grazia-championed looks our wives and girlfriends have swinging in and out of their wardrobes, and thought that perhaps we’d have a slice of the action, too.
Well, much to the consternation of some of my colleagues, I decided to invest in a pair of drop-crotch trousers. After all, they looked comfortable, I fancied a change, and I wanted to see if they could be worn in a “sensible” fashion. I bought a smart black wool pair from Givenchy, unostentatious in design, and teamed them with a plain white shirt and grey silk tie. Basically, I was dressed as normal, but with a lot more fabric between my legs – not so outrageous, surely? It wasn’t as if I’d woken up and decided to be Ziggy Stardust for the day.
It wasn’t long before the caustic comments began. First, came the predictable humming by Esquire’s art director of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This (Hammer having been a big advocate of the harem pant back in the Eighties); then the second glances; third, was the reaction from Twitter: some pleaded with me not to do it, while others said it would look like I had a full nappy (infantile, but funny).
So, if I’m honest, the baggy look got a gladiatorial thumbs down from my peers. The office-dwelling Western world, it seems, is not yet ready for a low-slung trouser. Or perhaps it’s just a subconscious fear that mine might be bigger than theirs.