It’s amazing how many things we think have always been with us but are actually recent additions.
And I’m not talking about high-tech, cyber-world whiz-bangs. I mean real old school, no-tech stuff. For example, belt loops.
Belt loops a recent invention? Well, it depends on your definition of “recent,” to be sure. But in terms of how long men have been wearing pants, belt loops are the new kid in town.
For example, Levis, the biggest-selling pants, first put belt loops on their pants in 1922, which makes them newer than X-ray machines.
This raises the inevitable question: If pants didn’t have belt loops, does that mean people didn’t wear belts? The answer is “yes.”
OK, strictly speaking they did have both belts and belt loops, but not on everyday wear. They were on military uniforms, but even then their purpose was mostly decorative.
And this raises another question: If men didn’t wear belts, how’d they keep their pants up? The answer is with two things — suspenders and a cinch. The suspenders did the heavy lifting, as it were, and the cinch added more je ne sais quoi than actual support.
And what, pray tell, was a cinch?
It was a fabric and buckle mini-belt on the back of the trousers, just below the belt line which could be tightened and thus take some slack out of the waist. There were still cinches on pants when I was a teen, but to us they denoted our dating status: You kept it buckled if you were going steady, you kept it unbuckled if you were a pathetic loser.
(Author’s note: During my whole public school career, my cinch was unbuckled.)
Once belts became popular, pants no longer came with suspender buttons, except on dress pants like tuxedos. And more’s the pity, says I, because no matter how you look at it, once the Golden Years loom on the horizon, belts are as useless as government inquiries. It’s due to PITS, which in turn is due to the too-common medical condition known as GADS.
To reiterate the obvious — as men age, their guts get bigger, their butts get smaller, and they come down with GADS (Geriatric Arse Droop Syndrome). This means their belt, which held their pants up when they were young, thin and all muscle (in reality it was their hips holding up their pants, not their belt), cannot do it anymore. This leads to PITS (Pathetic Incremental Trouser Slippage). Note the word “Incremental,” since that’s the real source of annoyance. It’s not that your drawers hit the deck at 32 feet per second and it’s all over. Uh-uh. Instead, they slip, slide and sneak down your dupa, so you’re constantly pulling them up … only for them to again begin their hellish descent. It’s an ongoing war in which you’re doomed to lose every battle.
Me, I decided to switch rather than fight. I said goodbye to belts, and hello to suspenders.
It only made sense. Belts are ubiquitous only due to the lobbying of the belt cartel. Somehow, they hyped that belts are the only way to keep yer pants up (even though they don’t for a lot of us, me being a prime example) and society bought into it. Not having a belt is a fashion faux pas, as egregious as not wearing a tie with a suit. And that’s an apt analogy, since ties don’t do anything practical either.
So I bought a pair of suspenders.
Now, while suspenders keep your pants up fine, they have one major drawback: If you don’t have buttons on your pants, you’ll need suspenders with clips. And those clips hold on with the ferocity of a megalodon … with predictable results: Like a megaladon, they’ll eventually chomp their way through your pants. But there’s a brand of suspenders who promise not to do that.
They’re called Holdups, an excellent pun, and they’re based on a brilliant theory. Instead of having the teeth of the standard suspenders, they have one small pin on one side of the clip that goes through the material and is anchored on the clip’s other side. So they make a tiny hole, but not a big one. And they don’t slip and thus don’t gnaw your drawers.
As I said, the theory is brilliant. Unfortunately, the reality isn’t. The suspenders held up my pants just fine … till one day shortly after I bought them. I was walking in town when I heard a sudden “Poing” and the part holding the right-side clip came apart and I had instant right-side slippage. With my Carhartts listing 45 degrees to starboard, I waddled to my car and went home. Then, being the resilient lad I am, I figured I’d call the company, tell ’em my prob, and they’d send me another clip assembly, no sweat.
It was another brilliant theory whose reality fell short of the mark. After a bunch of back and forth, the customer service person told me (in a rather snotty tone, I might add) that, yeah, they’d send me the part, but only this one time. After that, I was on my own, and I should tell the store where I bought the suspenders to start stocking replacement kits for the clip.
Start stocking replacement clip kits? A dim bulb lit up in an inner recess of my naive brain. Did this mean the clip assembly buggered up frequently? I didn’t know it then, but I soon found out.
I put the replacement clip on my suspenders and about 10 days later while again walking through town I again heard another telltale “Poing.” And as sure General Cho has chickens, the clip assembly again committed the suspender equivalent of seppuku, my trou listed 45 degrees (again to the starboard), and I again waddled to my car and went home.
That may have been another excellent pun on the word holdup, but I was not amused. Nor was I about to keep dealing with those goniffs. For all I cared, they could suspend themselves from their suspenders, and I’d buy another brand.
So I did the only thing I could: I bought a pair of suspenders with the megalodon choppers. I’ve accepted that down the road they’ll shred my pants. But that’s all right. First, the suspenders aren’t on my dress pants; they’re on my jeans. And given the state of my jeans, probably something else will get shredded before the clip devours the waistband. And second, even if the waistband blows out first, I can always repair it with the Adirondack Guy’s Go-To Instant Clothing Patch. It’s also TAG’s Instant Boot Repair, as well as TAG’s Instant Pants Hemmer, Wrist Brace and Lint Remover.
At least those are the names I call it.
You know it by another name — duct tape.