Sagging (fashion)

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A man sagging baggy jeans

Sagging is a manner of wearing trousers that sag so that the top of the trousers or jeans is significantly below the waist, sometimes revealing much of the wearer's underpants.

Sagging is predominantly a male fashion. Women's wearing of low-rise jeans to reveal their G-string underwear (the "whale tail") is not generally described as sagging.[1] A person wearing sagging trousers is sometimes called a "sagger",[2] and in some countries this practice is known as "low-riding".[3][4]


The style was popularized by hip-hop musicians in the 1990s.[5][6]

It is often claimed the style originated from the United States prison system where belts are sometimes prohibited due to fear that they could be used as a makeshift weapon,[7] and there can be a lack of appropriately sized clothing. As a result, their pants would sag. [5][8]


Example of a boy sagging with exposed underwear

During the 2000s, many North American local governments, school systems, transit agencies, and even airlines passed laws and regulations against the practice of wearing sagging pants, although no state or federal laws have been enacted banning the practice.[9] US presidential candidate Barack Obama, speaking just before the 2008 US Presidential Election, appeared on MTV and said that laws banning the practice of wearing low-slung pants that expose one's underwear were "a waste of time ... Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I'm one of them."[10]

In June 2007, the Town Council of Delcambre, Louisiana, passed an indecent exposure ordinance, which prohibited intentionally wearing trousers in such a way as to show underwear.[11] In March 2008, the Hahira, Georgia City Council passed a controversial clothing ordinance, in the name of public safety, that bans citizens from wearing pants with top below the waist that reveal skin or undergarments. The council was split 2–2, but the tie was broken by the mayor.[12] Pagedale, Missouri is another to have passed this law in 2008.[13][14]

Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia stated, "In Atlanta, we see this as racial profiling ... It's going to target African-American male youths. There's a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed."[15] The interim police chief of Flint, Michigan ordered the arrest of saggers for disorderly conduct; however, as of August 2008, only warnings had been issued. The local chapter of the ACLU threatened legal action in response, saying that sagging did not violate the Flint disorderly conduct ordinance[16] and a Florida judge threw out a case brought under a similar rule, as being unconstitutional.[17]

Sagging clothing is a violation of some school dress codes,[3][18][19][20] and the prohibition has been supported in the court system.[21]

Two weeks after the "Pants on the Ground" video became popular due to American Idol (see below), a billboard campaign against the style of sagging pants was launched in the Dallas, Texas, area. The billboards feature Big Mama Joseph from the 1997 film Soul Food saying, "Pull 'Em Up!" and asks youngsters to "Keep it a secret!" The campaign is the brainchild of Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine R. Caraway, and uses advertising space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.[22] Another billboard campaign against sagging pants was launched in Brooklyn, New York by New York State Senator Eric Adams on March 28, 2010.[23] In May 2010, New York State Senate President Malcolm Smith used US$2,200 from his campaign fund to launch a similar campaign in Queens.[24]

At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Japanese snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo was barred from participating in the opening ceremonies due to dressing sloppily, including a loosened tie, shirt hanging out, and sagging pants.[25]

In the fall of 2010 at Westside Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee, the policy on handling sagging pants is for students to pull them up or get "Urkeled", a reference to the character Steve Urkel of the 1990s television show Family Matters. In this practice, teachers would pull their pants up and attach them there using zip ties. Students would also have their photo taken and posted on a board in the hallway, for all of their classmates to see. In an interview with WMC-TV, Principal Bobby White stated that the general idea is to fight pop culture with pop culture.[26] One teacher at the school claimed to have "Urkeled" up to 80 students per week, although after five weeks students got the message, and the number dropped to 18.[27]

On November 23, 2010, Albany, Georgia passed a city ordinance that banned the wearing of pants or skirts with top more than three inches below the top of the hips, and imposed a fine of $25 for the first offense, increasing to up to $250 for subsequent offenses. By September 2011, City Attorney Nathan Davis reported that 187 citations had been issued and fines of $3,916 collected.[28]

On December 8, 2010, the city of Opa-locka, Florida voted unanimously on a $250 fine or 10 hours of community service for individuals who did not pull their pants up.[29]

In Fort Worth, Texas, the local transportation authority implemented a policy in June 2011 that prohibited any passenger from boarding a bus while wearing sagging pants that exposes their underwear or buttocks. Signs were posted on buses saying, "Pull 'em up or find another ride", and one City Council member was looking for funds for a billboard campaign. The communications manager for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority said that on the first day the policy was enforced, 50 people were removed from buses for wearing improper pants. Some complained about the policy, but the overall response was positive.[30]

A state law went into effect in Florida for the 2011–2012 school year banning the practice of sagging while at school. Pupils found in violation receive a verbal warning for the first offense, followed by parental notification by the principal for the second offense, which will require the parent to bring a change of clothing to school. Students would then face in-school suspension for subsequent violations.[31]

University of New Mexico football player Deshon Marman was removed from a U.S. Airways flight bound for Albuquerque, New Mexico for wearing sagging pants.[32] A few months later, Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland to Burbank, California for the same reason.[32]

In April 2012, Alabama County Circuit Judge John Bush sentenced 20-year-old LaMarcus Ramsey to three days in jail for appearing in court with sagging blue jeans that exposed his underwear, telling him, "You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court."[33]

On June 12, 2013, the Town Council of Wildwood, New Jersey, located on the Jersey Shore, voted unanimously to ban sagging pants from the town's boardwalk.[34]

In Ocala, Florida, a law was passed against sagging jeans, violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail. Something similar was done in Wildwood, New Jersey.[35]

In September 2015, students at Hinds Community College in Mississippi protested college authorities for the right to sag their pants.[36][37] The protest was prompted by the arrest of a student for sagging in violation of the college's dress code.[36][37]

On July 5, 2016, an ordinance was passed in Timmonsville, South Carolina that punishes sagging pants. Offenders may face up to a $600 fine.[38]

Shreveport, Louisiana repealed its prohibition on sagging pants in June 2019.[39]

Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County, Florida, voted 4–1 to repeal their ban on 'saggy pants' in September, 2020.[40]

American rapper Travis Scott sagging his pants while performing in 2015

Music videos[edit]

Sagging has been ridiculed in music videos, first in the 1996 song "Back Pockets on the Floor" performed by the Green Brothers of Highland Park, Michigan.[41] Another song in 2007 by Dewayne Brown of Dallas, Texas, titled "Pull Your Pants Up", has a similar message.[42] On January 13, 2010, "General" Larry Platt performed "Pants on the Ground" during auditions for the ninth season of American Idol in Atlanta, Georgia and in October; rapper Hopsin released Sag My Pants.[43] In 2012, a nine-year-old rapper named Amor "Lilman" Arteaga wrote a song titled "Pull Ya Pants Up", and made a music video with an appearance by Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "In Pictures: Sagging Pants". BBC News. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  2. ^ Lung, Haha (2008). Mind Fist: The Asian Art of the Ninja Masters. Kensington Publishing Corp. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-8065-3062-8.
  3. ^ a b "Low-riding cool dudes told to hitch 'em high", Jun 30, 2000, Angela Gregory, NZ Herald
  4. ^ "Undie-exposed for the beach", Jan 1, 2002, Patrick Gower, NZ Herald
  5. ^ a b Koppel, Niko (30 August 2007). "Are Your Jeans Sagging? Go Directly to Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  6. ^ Skordas, Jennifer (15 October 1995). "Teens' Sagging Jeans Not Just for 'Gangstas'". The Salt Lake Tribune. p. B1.
  7. ^ Christian, Margena A. (7 May 2007). "The facts behind the saggin' pants craze". Jet. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2022. Archived via FindArticles.
  8. ^ Snopes Staff (15 October 2005). "Sag Harbored". Snopes.
  9. ^ Thomas, Robert Murray (2008). What schools ban and why. Westport, CT: [Praeger Publishers]. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-313-35298-0.
  10. ^ Haberman, Clyde (November 13, 2008). "Can Obama Help Kill Baggy Pants Look?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  11. ^ Siddique, Haroon (June 14, 2007). "US town bans saggy pants". The Guardian. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  12. ^ Fulton, Malynda (March 6, 2008). "Hahira passes clothing ordinance". Valdosta Daily Times. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  13. ^ "City of Pagedale, MO: (Reserved)". City of Pagedale, MO Code.
  14. ^ [bare URL]
  15. ^ "Crackdown! - Cities begin to belt wearers of saggy pants — but do laws violate rights?". Associated Press. September 17, 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2008.
  16. ^ Bennett, Jessica; Mary Chapman (18 August 2008). "Fashion Police: Flint Cracks Down on Sagging". Newsweek. Retrieved November 10, 2008.
  17. ^ "Judge rules saggy pants law unconstitutional/", 9/17/2008, NBC
  18. ^ Board Approves Dress Code Changes Archived 2008-10-27 at the Wayback Machine, Fresno Unified School District, 1993, retrieved 2008-11-23
  19. ^ Central Unified School District Dress Code Archived 2008-12-10 at the Wayback Machine, Central Unified School District, retrieved 2008-11-23
  20. ^ Anderson Union High School District Dress Code Guidelines[permanent dead link], Anderson Union High School district, 2008-08-20, retrieved 2008-11-23
  21. ^ Brunsma, David L. (2004). The school uniform movement and what it tells us about American education: a symbolic crusade. [Scarecrow Education]. pp. 60. ISBN 1-57886-125-X. sagging pants.
  22. ^ Heinz, Frank (January 26, 2010). "City Begins Battle Against Saggy Drawers". []. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  23. ^ Pearson, Jake (March 28, 2010). "Sen. Eric Adams fights 'crack' epidemic by launching ads urging youth to pull up saggy pants". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  24. ^ Schneiderman, R.M. (May 17, 2010). "Ad Campaign Asks Queens Bus Riders to Pull Up Their Pants". The Wall Street Journal. Metropolis (blog). Retrieved May 28, 2010.
  25. ^ "Japan rider apologises for hip-hop dress attire". AFP. February 12, 2010. Archived from the original on February 20, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  26. ^ Bruce, Becky (December 7, 2010). "Threat of 'Urkel' solves sagging pants problem". Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  27. ^ "Students get 'Urkeled' for baggy pants". [ABC2]. December 7, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  28. ^ "City Makes Thousands From Sagging Pants". WYFF-TV. September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "'Pull Your Pants Up,' City Officials Say". WPLG Local 10. December 8, 2010. Archived from the original on December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  30. ^ Forsyth, Jim (June 2, 2011). "Saggy pants mean no ride on one Texas bus system". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  31. ^ Valero, Marc (August 2, 2011). "Droopy drawers' law is mixed bag". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  32. ^ a b "Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong Kicked Off Plane for Saggy Pants". US Magazine. September 3, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  33. ^ "Alabama Judge Slaps Saggy Pants-Wearing Man With Jail Sentence". NewsOne. April 12, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
  34. ^ Marcius, Chelsia Rose; Stephen Rex Brown; Daniel Beekman (June 12, 2013). "'Crack-down' in NJ town bans saggy pants, too-short skirts, other fashion flubs". Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  35. ^ Demby, Gene. "Sagging Pants and the Long History of 'Dangerous' Street Fashion." 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
  36. ^ a b Logue, Josh. "Sagging Rights?". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  37. ^ a b Adams, Ross (10 September 2015). "Hinds Community College students rally over sagging pants". WAPT. WAPT16ABC. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  38. ^ Ian Cross July 5, 2016 "South Carolina town passes ordinance banning sagging pants"
  39. ^ Steinbuch, Yaron (2019-05-29). "Louisiana city re-evaluates 'saggy pants' law after man's death". New York Post. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  40. ^ "This Miami-Dade city had a ban on 'saggy pants.' The law will be repealed". Miami Herald. 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  41. ^ "'Pants on the Ground' similar to 'Back Pockets on the Floor?'". USA Today. January 26, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  42. ^ Goodwyn, Wade (October 24, 2007). "In Dallas, a Hip-Hop Plea: Pull Your Pants Up". NPR. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  43. ^ Jonsson, Patrik (January 16, 2010). "'Pants on the ground' goes viral: Top five Larry Platt covers". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 16, 2010.
  44. ^ Weichselbaum, Simone (September 17, 2012). "Flatbush rapper Amor Arteaga, 9, is creative force behind music video titled: 'Pull Ya Pants Up'". Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 18, 2013.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Sagging at Wikimedia Commons