Fashion Exaptations

Nov. 2, 2008, 12:28 p.m. by Sam
do rag
I've been thinking a lot about fashion statements. Working in a high school, I see lots of interesting fashion choices made by my students. In the adult world, one typically aspires to dress in such a fashion that shows they are smart, neat, clean and financially well to do. In the teen world, one typically aspires to dress in such a fashion that shows either their uniqueness and individuality or, conversely, affiliation with a certain group, although one may argue that the kids who dress "differently" are actually still adhering to strict guidelines set forth by their clique. Working with lower-income kids, I've noticed that many things they wear are declarations of pride in one's poverty. These things originally had a functional use for older working members of certain groups and are worn in emulation of their older peers by teenagers. This is similar to the idea of exaptation in evolutionary biology in which some physical structure or biochemical process of a living organism serves a different function than for which it originally evolved (think whale's flipper). Here is a list of things I've noticed, none of which are particularly new, but still interesting: **· Sagging Pants** - In prison, your belt is taken away and unless your pants are close fitting, they will sag. This look was taken up by lower income kids and now adults, I suppose, to show they they've been to prison, but is now quite ubiquitous. **· Dickies** - These are worn by cholo boys and sometimes chola girls. Dickies are functional if you're a mechanic or something and need tough pants that are cheap enough to not worry about becoming stained with grease and oil. **· Janitoresque Shirts and Pants** - Similar in function to cholo boys' Dickies, I've seen these worn by chola girls at my school. Their moms and aunts and grandmas typically work as custodians and the girls emulate this look. **· Do Rags** - These are worn by black boys. When a wavy look was fashionable with black men, these would be worn in bed at night after the application of pomade to achieve said look. For some reason, younger black boys (and now men) wear them during the day as a fashion statement. **· Hair Nets** - Similar in function to the do rag, these are worn by cholo boys to hold down their slicked back hair. These would have been worn at home while getting ready to go out, but they've since made their way into every day wear. I find this to be one of the stupidest looking fashion statements my students make. **· Wranglers and Cowboy Boots** - These are worn by both redneck white kids and some Mexican boys. Obviously these serve a function when working on a ranch, but have no real function otherwise. I find this to be the best-looking fashion statement made by my students. **· ID Cards on Lanyard** - This one is pretty ridiculous. I noticed this one when I was in high school a lot too. Kids in inner city ghetto schools usually have to wear their student IDs on a lanyard in plain view to show that they are indeed a student at the school. Those kids try to hide them or forget them at home. At the high school I attended and now at the school in which I work, ID cards are worn by black and hispanic kids when they're not required at all. I suppose they've seen cousins or friends from much poorer schools wearing their IDs and want to emulate the look. At my school, their only real use is as a debit card in the cafeteria. I think the only thing I wear that isn't a product of exapted function is cowboy boots, which I only wear once every week or two. Everything else pretty much serves its function as I wear it. What other fashion exaptations can you think of?
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3 Comments

vince Says:

Nov. 10, 2008
i\'ve tried not to wear blue-jeans since 10th grade. I got into the whole pants thing, as to try to set myself apart from the two thousand other mexicans at my school. also pants = slacks. I don\'t like calling them slacks or khakis, those are words for retards.

Lindsay Cox Says:

Nov. 4, 2008
High Heels In Japan, high heels or platform-like shoes were once worn by men to distinguish the social hierarchy. Ancient Greece used high heels in theatrical productions to indicate each character\'s social status. In Rome, they were used to distinguish prostitutes; In China, they were used to prevent concubines from escaping.

lew Says:

Nov. 2, 2008
blue jeans are a good fashion exaptations. i believe it was an mine owner who started having pants for the miners made from denim so their pants wouldn\'t wear out so quickly. now many decades later blue jeans are haute fashion. i think it funny that there are now denim pants that are not at all durable. i also think it is funny to have burlap on anything that is not a potato sack.

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