Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Harem: The Forbidden Pant

So, I know all of my posts lately have been random rants about fashion and guerilla-style train crazies (and, really, those rants are the very essence of this blog) but it's hard to focus on anything else when I am constantly bombarded with emails like this one:

You'll have to enlarge it, but here's what it says: "Dear Una, how about some turn-of-the-century see-through bloomers to smarten up your summer style?" LOL. JK, it says "Meet this year's runway darling, the harem." (Which is just a fashion translation of the first sentence, btw.)

(I am banging my head against my desk right now, back in a moment.)

Ok: Harem pants. You know, I'm not mad. Because I see what you're doing, fashion. You think we won't notice that harem pants are just the next step in the romper/jumpsuit evolution, worn by people smart enough not to wear a garment that defies urination and yet who would like to look like asshats anyway.

Let's review:

What are harem pants?
Harem pants are a blight on humanity full style pant (Ed note: droopy drawer-style pant, also known as the "drop-crotch" [really]) from the Middle East that are gathered at both the waist and ankle with ballooning legs. In the late 1980's the rapper MC Hammer introduced a modified version of the harem pant called Parachute pants.

So, to recap, harem pants create the illusion of giant legs and a knee-height crotch, and have MC Hammer's seal of approval.

Who wears harem pants?
To wit:



Female college athletes circa 1908

Also, if this picture is any indication, men suffering from elephantitis of the testes.

Aren't harem pants just expensive bloomers?
Great question! Let's investigate:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Granted, Exhibit B features a crotch hole for 19th-century bathroom needs, but barring that things are looking pretty similar.

Have you, Una, ever owned harem pants?
Well, gentle reader, it depends on the definition. For Christmas in the early 1990s, my mother gifted me with a fleece onesie pajama that we called, affectionately "The Sack." (image, I kid you not, from the Plow & Hearth catalogue)

From the waist down, it featured ballooning legs and tapered elastic ankles that restricted my movement so that I had to pivot from side to side in order to walk. The crotch was so low to the ground that I could have birthed a child in that thing without anyone knowing. The only difference I can see between The Sack and a harem pant is that I would wear The Sack in public.

Before I rest my case, consider that the word "harem" comes from the Arabic word Ḽaram, which means 'forbidden place.' Consider yourselves warned.


  1. Despite your lengthy and passionate denunciation of the harem pant, I sort of like them. They were popular in Barcelona circa 2001 and I fully expected to come back to NYC and see them (and hear Gorillaz) all over the place. That didn't happen. Stupid US. I never bought a pair but in 50C weather, they looked like heaven. The pairs you were sent, though, look stupid b/c they cinch at the calf instead of the ankle.

  2. what about these? god they look so comfy and light...

  3. Sorry, V, I'm not convinced. Hot pink and capri cut? Not on these legs.

  4. i totally agree.
    who would want their legs to look like huge deformed potatoes? buy some skinny jeans and get over yourself - high fashion shouldn't equal highly deformed.

  5. Anonymous3:52 PM

    I love harem pants..... because they're so stupid they instantly go on clearance so I buy them for $9... one cut seam and a quick sew job and you have a very personalized skirt. thank you urban outfitters for making hideous harem pants with awesome fabric. =)


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