To The Forlorn Parachute Pants

One girls open letter to the Harem Pants that could have been.


Written by Ella Ceron, edited by Leandra Medine

By all accounts, you were just sweatpants.

Silk color-blocked parachute pants with a paper bag waist and a drop crotch to make MC Hammer proud, with the kind of sheen usually reserved for 80s classic, satin nightmares, to be exact. You were also, in case you’ve forgotten, white and red, which I suppose could have veered into a lurid Santa Claus, Happy Birthday Murrica! sort of danger zone –  but which only read to me as infinite possibilities. It’s like you were just sitting there, waiting for me. For me! And I wanted you desperately.

But when I tried you on, my dreams of proprietorship died spectacularly. Your waist did nothing for my waist. The way your generous, buttery fabric pooled down to my knees was in direct contrast to the way it seemed to be held aloft by my butt like a tent and its pole, and yet all that concealment only seemed to make my already solid thighs even more prominent. Your leg tapered down too sharply toward my ankle, and that white racing stripe down your side created a violent winding road down my leg. Despite our comprehensive differences, though, I loved you. I wanted to have you. But I put you down. My body would have failed you.

We all have horror stories rooted in the unforgiving changing room that stem from our stupid rules about looking a certain way when shopping for bathing suits or crisp new jeans and avoiding, say, peplums if our hips can’t lie.

But – hello, earth to reader – the human body comes in all shapes and sizes. This is so platitudinal and obvious that it’s gross. It is also, however, the one truth we seem most hell-bent on disproving.

Whether we’re elongating or slimifying or Spanx-ing or Wonderbra-ing, we’re always expecting clothes to do something for us but maybe we should start thinking less about what the clothes – or more specifically in this case, the pants – can do for us, and more about what we can do for them.

How clothing makes us feel is a complex subject and the attached emotions run an extensive gamut. What concerns me, really, is that it seems like our emotions are tethered to the opinions of other people. I really did like those parachute pants. I could have made concessions in the arena of that which is pleasing-to-the-thigh but I knew I’d get the judgmental gaze, the confounded stare, and I wasn’t ready for that. People wouldn’t understand that I’d made the proactive decision to abandon what looks conventionally “good” in order to feel unilaterally good. Those pants were what I now call Do You! clothes–wherein my body is my body and no one else’s, thus rendering any external opinions certifiably moot.

So if you’re listening, stop-sign sweatpants, I’m sorry I let you pass into the realm of Clothing That Could Have Been. I hope your current owner treats you the way you’re supposed to be treated: like a vessel of self-expression. I shouldn’t have deemed myself unworthy of you based on such silly pretenses. If only on that day I had remembered the cardinal rule care of one Little Miss Sunshine: wear what you love, and fuck the rest.

Runway images via Vogue and from Balenciaga Pre-Fall 2012, Ralph Lauren S/S 2009, Alexander Wang S/S 2011, Givenchy S/S 2010, Balmain F/W 2009, Kaelen F/W 2012.

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  • Julie Meowmeows

    I guess you could always cut a hole in the bottom, turn it over and wear it like a shirt.

    • Leandra Medine

      That seems so Regina George chic.

      • Julie Meowmeows

        Ha ha, just shrug and rock it!

  • ashleymaciejewski

    Now all I can think of is MC Hammer dressed up like Santa Claus.

    Good read! A reason MR is who she is.

  • Mimi

    Yes yes yes….wear what you love. MC hammer pants and all. Love this post. Thank you.

  • Cass

    “People wouldn’t understand that I’d made the proactive decision to abandon what looks conventionally “good” in order to feel unilaterally good.” Amen, sister. Great post.

    • csh

      Word. My favorite part of this post. And the fact that it’s about hammer pants. I fucking love hammer pants. And I am 5’2″

  • liuccia

    i love the sweatshirt that is made of scuba material in the first pic. MSGM rocks.

  • You totally should have added that picture of you from years ago when I first started reading this blog. They were sequins or grey or something like that.

  • monkeyshines
  • Aubrey Green

    I am dying over image 2 and want all of it.

  • the coattail effect

    every time I wear these my sister says it’s too Kazaam chic…but I still love a good drop crotch

  • Love it! Wear what you love.

  • Paula McClelland

    As much as I am an ambassador for rockin fashion however you want (to qoute Regina) these are the fugliest pants Ive EVER seen… I think it’s a blessing you let them pass you by 😉

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  • CarolinaG

    I loved it!
    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

  • Iliyana Licheva

    don’t like the pants but the sweater is cool!

  • I really have to say no this time…

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    Image #1 looks like she’s got a really huge….uh…polterwang.. issue.

  • This is so thought-provoking, because so much of dressing is really a social enterprise. We’re not getting dressed in the dark only for ourselves, but often for how our outfit will be “read” by other people. Our style helps tell other people who we are– or who we want to be. I love the thought of dressing only for oneself, however, and it makes me wonder how we’d all dress differently if we did.

    Great essay! Thanks!!

  • Ai-Ch’ng GB

    Ahhhh…. Hammer pants! Let me count the ways in which I adore – and wear- thee.
    In wildly patterned silk and plain,
    You do just fine in sunshine or rain
    The same for blowsy, lightweight cotton
    You hang about my lowly (I’m five foot five) bottom.
    In supple cobalt leather, faded grey leopard, or blue denim – pale and light
    You’re often an affront to others’ sight.
    I never wear you with any sandal or shoe higher than an inch,
    As heels and dressy shoes makes my feet cruelly pinch.
    Worn with tops that are loose or fitted and slim,
    Wearing you is wonderful whether I’m more rounded or thin.
    Ahhh… Hammer pants- let me count the ways I love and live in thee-
    You’ll always be most comfortable for me.

  • Nadia Cohen

    Who thought these pants were a good idea? This look can only work for MC Hammer.

  • sarahh

    they are the birkenstock of trousers. darn ugly, really comfortable, so much so that ‘fashion’ had a go at it, but, hey, let it go quickly and maybe no one noticed, huh?

  • Lindsey via Vegas

    I confess I still own and wear these…nice and comfy on a bloated day. I will have to say I
    prefer the ones like in your second pic. I wear them with V. Westwood pirate boots. Yes, a
    little costume-y but it works; so do motorcycle boots. Thanks as always-

    Lindsey via Vegas

  • Pilisstyle
  • Beatriz Haro

    Wear what you love, and dress up for you and only you, fuck others opinions, they don’t have the guts to be different 😉
    Great post!!
    Love from Mexico