News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

April 5, 2011

MS. TAKES: Fashion sense still makes no sense

TERRE HAUTE — I read somewhere that a movie critic explained John Wayne’s peculiar walk by saying that Wayne’s waist was larger than his hips, so he had to walk that way to keep his pants from falling down.

I don’t know if that’s true, of course, but I thought of it the other day when I saw a young man walking up Seventh Street with the same, odd, rolling walk as Wayne. True, the crotch of the young man’s pants were hovering somewhere just north of his knees and the hems of his pants were wiping up minor debris from the sidewalk. I don’t know whether he walked that way to keep his jeans in place, but he needed something to give them an assist.

Some months ago, my Best Friend and I were to meet a nephew at the Millennium Park in Chicago. As we waited on a park bench, a young couple strolled past. Like my sighting on Seventh Street, the young man was using one hand to hold hands with his girlfriend and the other to hold up his pants. A good thing! Clearly visible was his underwear — purple satin boxer shorts. Not only were his jeans headed south, they were on a slippery slope.

I’m certainly no one to make judgments on someone else’s fashion sense. After all, I grew up knitting my own bobby sox because the “store bought” ones didn’t have a sufficiently fashionable cuff. I also wore my cardigan sweaters buttoned up the back where the buttons I sat on scratched the finish off the seats of Mom’s dining room chairs.

My current style du jour seems rooted in antiquity and consists of what was hot when I was in high school. I have a lot of sweatshirts.

Still, as I browse through the endless spate of catalogs from our mailbox and check the prices of designer jeans, I long for the Levis of memory. They were cheap, they went anywhere and were discarded when we wore them through the knees. Then, the other day, I passed a shop window where the jeans on display were already out at the knees and cost more than some of the name brands in my catalogs.

And, wasn’t it just before last Christmas as we were getting into our car at the Mall when a couple came out carrying a bag from one of the shops. They retrieved a pair of scissors from the car and began slashing what was — obviously — a new pair of jeans.

What can I say? Who am I to say anything? It’s not my jeans, not my money and certainly not my choice.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to

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