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.
Spending 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:
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.
Toddler: This is the time to introduce articulated pants, but with fully elastic waistband.
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.
High School: No more elastic in the waistband, but plenty of spandex all over.
PRO-TIP FOR TEENAGERS: 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.
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:
After 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:
Forties: 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.
Eighties: Like your seventies, but more so.
** 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.