It is quite evident as you walk around the streets of almost any city or town in America that the line between what was once considered the black style of dress and the white styles has become less and less evident. This is especially true with the younger kids in junior high and high school. The baggy pants and shirts with labels and bright colors that were once reserved for the inner city black and Latino kids, are now being worn by whites in wealthy suburban neighborhoods.
I lived in a wealthy upper middle class area outside of Nashville Tennessee for most of my life and over the past five to ten years the change in style of dress for suburban kids has become more and more evident. Main stream stores such as Dillard’s and Castner Knot’s started carrying the underground hip-hop clothes that were once only found in the larger cities. Even major labels such as Tommy Hillfigger started designing larger clothes with brighter colors. There jeans were available in relaxed fit and even baggy. Hip Hop had now become a large market for young teenagers and people in their early twenties. I went to a private school with a very strict dress code and even there you could tell that the new urban fashion was having an effect on the way some students dressed.
They would try to get baggier pants and would wear bright colored shirts with logos on the front. At ballgames they would wear baggy blue jeans and sweatshirts with “Polo” or “Nautica” emblems on the front. Whenever we had a casual day all the kids would go to the mall and you would see the baggy jeans and bright shirts on everyone. When the weather got colder kids at school started wearing the bomber ski jackets, so many people at my school had them that the school maid them illegal to wear. Also more and more guys started wearing the large hiking boots that were to bulky for their khaki pants, so they had to cut them at the bottom to fit around the boots.
I don’t know exactly how these trends came about but I remember it started when I was in seventh or eighth grade. At first it was the large “Starter” jackets with The Raiders or Miami Dolphins logos on them, and then it went to overalls and Adidas shoes and jackets. These were the things that white kids saw their favorite musicians or athletes wearing in videos and in movies. Rap music became the music choice of the suburban teenager as they looked for ways to rebel from their parents. And rappers tried to portray themselves as wealthy and powerful people with name brand clothing and expensive cars. But as always they added their own touch to fashion by adding the style of oversized clothing and bright colors.
As the years have gone by I have noticed that this style of dress is usually limited to high school and middle school kids. But even still I see many people in college including myself who still can’t help but to pull out the baggy pants every once in a while. I think that it is something that is part of our generation, just as tight jeans and slicked back hair were part of the fifties, and bell bottoms and tie-died shirts were the thing to wear in the sixties. Just as those things have come and gone so will the styles which we wear today.
All it will take is another hit song with a musician or a basketball player wearing some wild new assortment of clothing to change the whole way a generation dresses.