The Cycle of Life, In Pants

As regular readers may know, we recently enjoyed a weekend visit from my parents. When I say “we,” I don’t really mean Scott and me, since my folks really just came to Chicago to squeeze the grandchildren. Or in my father’s case, get a fat slice of Head Cheese** from the Polish Buffet up the street.

headcheeseSpending time with the very young and the very old allows one to reflect on the Cycle of Life. It also reminds one of the value of elastic-waist pants. Perhaps the time we spend in elastic-waist pants is really a metaphor for the Cycle of Life itself!

According to a recent study commissioned by Projectophile, experts have determined that the percentage of time spent in elastic waist pants is greatest in the beginning and end of life.  For women, there may also be a brief spike in elastic pants in their peak child-bearing years: bar chart elastic waist pants

Let’s look at a breakdown of the major phases of life, in Pants:

Baby:  Per American Association of Pediatrician recommendations, no pants at birth or for the first year of life.

One of my own babies, Giant and Pantless at birth.

One of my own babies, Giant and Pantless at birth.

Toddler: This is the time to introduce articulated pants, but with fully elastic waistband.

biscuit sleepiong

Her pants were so comfortable that this toddler immediately lost consciousness.

Preschooler:  Full elastic waist, or — for the more advanced preschooler — a discreet elastic panel in the back.

School-Age (K-8):  Majority of pants now feature a regular, stationary waist band.  But, don’t be fooled by appearances: The hidden, adjustable elastic waist is now in play. Great for ill-fitting hand-me-downs or when kids consume six juice boxes and three slices of cake at their friends’ birthday party.  These specimens were taken from the pants collection of my 4-year-old and 13-year-old, respectively.

IMG_2862High School:  No more elastic in the waistband, but plenty of spandex all over.

  Be sure to wear your pants either too tight or too loose, whichever is more likely to piss off your parents. This is usually based on your gender, but feel free to experiment.

College:  I don’t actually recall wearing pants during college. Or much else about that time. Since my pants would have come from either the thrift store or hand-me-downs from my recently deceased Grandpa, scroll down to “Sixties” or “Seventies.”

Twenties:  Woo-hoo! No elastic in sight. You’re trying really hard to look like a grown-up with a regular job. You may even visit the dry cleaners once or twice.


My inspiration for how real grown-up professionals must dress, give or take a few smell lines.

Thirties:  For me, this has been a monumental decade in the evolution of pants. My 30s started with lots of time being pregnant – which is a challenging situation for your waistline; a constant struggle to keep your pants up.  Here I’m pregnant, but also just finished a meal at the Chinese buffet, so we can’t be sure how much of that belly is baby or Chow Mein. Either way, elastic waist saved the day:

pregnantAfter baby comes  the “fit-but-frazzled stay-at-home mom” look. The primary wardrobe choice is yoga pants, which have no waistline at all.  You’re also getting more… um… comfortable in your marriage; you don’t feel the need to impress your husband anymore.

If you’re lucky — like me — you’ll also embrace the “Working From Home” lifestyle, which revolves around a pair of your husband’s sweatpants:
IMG_2339Forties: Well, hello there! Your proper waistline is back, but perhaps a bit higher than when we last saw it in your twenties.

Fifties:  I often fantasize about what life will be like in my fifties when the kids are grown. I imagine it will be an endless  blur of sleeping in on weekends, taking vacations on airplanes, and having lots and lots of extra money to spend on myself.  Perhaps I’ll invest all that extra cash in some hidden adjustable-waist pants, you know, for vacation.

Sixties: Those elastic-backed pants are starting to look pretty good right now.

Seventies:   According to every ad I’ve seen for Rascals, arthritis pills and adult diapers, the collective goal of retirement age is Keeping up with Your Grandchildren, which means having the necessary flexibility in the waistline.


Obviously a stock photo, because no one in my family would ever smile this much.

Eighties: Like your seventies, but more so.

Nineties: I’m not sure what’s happening here, but it just reminded me to practice my Kegels. incontinence clothing100 years +: Congratulations! You get to wear whatever the #*$% you want!

 ** Head cheese is not a cheese but a “ meat jelly” made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, and set in aspic. This is what we Americans might euphemistically call an “Old-world” delicacy.


5 thoughts on “The Cycle of Life, In Pants

  1. Also known as Brawn in the Old World, which is a slightly less, um, how shall I put this, waste-producty sort of name…. I’ve actually got a recipe for this delight, but it’s unfeasibly time consuming.


    • Have you ever made it? It seems like it would take days to make a concoction like head cheese from scratch. I wouldn’t know where to even find all the heads. While I would probably never eat the stuff, I do appreciate a food product that makes use of the scraps, and doesn’t try to hide what its made of.


      • No, far too labour-intensive. You have to buy a pig’s head from the butcher, get him to quarter it for you, brine it overnight, simmer in cooking liquid for 4 hours, pick the meat off it, put it in a terrine with various herbs and spices, pour over the cooking liquid, which will set to a jelly, and then chill for 12 hours. Not a recipe for the busy cook… But tasty.


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