The Origins of Sagging Your Jeans…

by: Jennifer D. Carroll

As a young lady in her early thirties, I do remember a time when men in hip hop wore their jeans tight. Not tight, tight.  But tight enough that the ladies could see if he had a nice booty.

This was not a long-ago, mythical age. I’m talking the ’80s to about the early ’90s.  Back then it was pretty standard to see a man with (gasp!) pants that actually fit!

However, something happened around the late ’80s and early ’90s which marked a significant change in urban communities and the resulting fashion choices of urban youth around the country.

If I wasn’t in the rap game,

I’d probably have a key, knee deep in the crack game

because the streets is a short stop

either you’re slangin’ crack rock

or you’ve got a wicked jump shot…

Back in the Days, Notorious B.I.G.



Crack took  hold of  inner-city communities across the country, and young men were being sent to prison in record numbers; mainly stemming from drug-related charges.  In prison these young men were indoctrinated into a new way of dress which included unintentional sagging of their pants.  Prisoners wear their pants low because belts are not allowed.  Belts, (and shoe strings for that matter) are considered to be at-risk items as they can (and have) been used to strangle others or oneself, or used as a weapon in fights.

When the men were released from prison they kept the look, as a means to mark oneself as someone who had been locked up and therefore had street credibility.  The trend soon spread and made its way to hip hop.  Gone were the fitted jeans of the early ’80s…in came sagging jeans.

During the late ’80s, the group N.W.A. brought in the era of gangsta rap, a new hip hop genre that mirrored the thoughts and reality of urban inner cities.  To my knowledge and recollection, N.W.A. was the first popular hip hop group to sag their pants.  Eazy E. in particular could be found in jeans that were both loose fitting and sagging slightly to reveal an upper portion of his boxers. N.W.A. was one of the pioneers who helped shepherd this style into the mainstream of urbanwear.


Girl: “Eazy, why you wear your pants like that?

Eazy E: “I wear my pants like this – for easy access baby”

We Want EazyN.W.A.

That statement became one of Eazy E’s more controversial lines when seven years later he died from complications of A.I.D.S.  During the early ’90s HIV and AIDS carried the stigma of being a gay man’s disease. Rumors started swirling, alleging that Eazy E had contracted AIDS through homosexual contact with a man.  Adding to this theory was the popularly held notion that one of the ways that homosexuals make themselves known in prison is by sagging their pants slightly below the butt.

My pants sag cause I rap my ass off Strike a Nerve, Naughty by Nature


Given the slightly homophobic nature of hip hop, it has been interesting to watch this former jailhouse mating call, progress into a diehard hip hop fashion statement.  Over the past  couple of years, it has become de rigeur in rap shows to have someone throw off their shirt and bounce across the stage barechested, pants sagging all the way.

tupac5 ja-rulelil-wayne50-cent

Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a slight sag.  In fact, an ever so slight sag with a nice pair of jeans to me is a sexy, masculine look.

However, if you are trying to appeal to the fairer sex in a pair of jeans that hang down at the low point of your hip…um, not so much. Ladies, am I right?

40 thoughts on “The Origins of Sagging Your Jeans…”

  1. Back in High school in LA (circa ’86) we used to sag with our belts on,and we didn’t show our boxers either. We sagged with wife beaters over boxers for a clean look.

  2. "Let that be known. I'm a warrior"

    I believe him. His demeanor is revealing and convincing. I believe him.


  4. i personally used those hip hop jeans but not to the point that its over, i don't like the feeling of over reacting, over wearing cause they became improper.

  5. i am a girl and i don't really like sagging of the pants i don't think that you will be uneducated if you do but there is a aterotype if you do that your a thug and uneducated and i would not want to be in that categorie so i don't belive in saggin.and somebody told me this do you notice when we spell niggas you get saggin and study show most of the african cultural sags there tested sorry

  6. It's true, people who dot't know their history are bound to repeat it.The origin of sagging goes back to slavery, Black men were not allowed to have shirts to show off the scars from beatings an other abuses as a deterent to others who might commit the same offenses. also it was hard to run while holding up your pants. and also belts could be used as weapons to kill other slaves who were considered to be valuable farm equipment, or to commit suicide. It later became a way for prisoners to show that they belonged to someone else. Besides does anyone think people of success got where they are by looking like that? (pres. Obama) sure didn't!!!!

  7. in life everything will have so many different meanings. men with long hair for instance. hippie from the 70s or crossdresser buffalo bill, only dorks who live in the subburbs leave the biased comments, real killa thugs wear fitted jeans so the gun dont slip you can put the gun in the small of your back? ooh but does that mean you like hard things near your ass?people are so lame for real what buisness is it of any of yalls to question us? gay men always look at life threw a sexual nature.

  8. first of all i dont care if you want to dress a certain way…thats your perogative….its not a gay thing and its not an expression of stupidity….what i think it is is conformaty….like women men need to immpress other men..women need to impress other think that loud music commin from your cool car immpresses a woman ?? hell no men have huge speakers and big cool cars and certain cloths to say hey man im cool too..its the way its always been kinda like 2 peacock mails flashin their feathers at eachother..theyre sayin yeah im hot so what…just like woman with their purses and shoes and designer things… men dont care about that stuff so its obviously woman say yeah im hotter than you and crap like that….to be honest i think men and women need to stop tryin to impress the same sex as competition and try to impress the oppiosite sex instead…then maybe men wont blast their music and dress nicer and women would calm down with the shoppin and attitudes and the world would be grrrreeaaaatttttt!!!!!!

  9. Just posting a personal opinion about sagging pants — not really crazy about them no matter what their origin. A guy with pants so loose they have to hold them up with one hand — too silly to be considered cool but it does generate a nice chuckle. Boxers with the same patterns our Grandfather and Dads wear – check out the pictures above – not going there. On the other hand – a guy in a pair of jeans riding just above his hips, faded and naturally worn on the top and back of the thighs and fitting tight enough to where no underwear shows but not so tight you can see outlines (does he or doesn't he?) … whew, for most women that's just a mysterious gift begging to be unwrapped.

  10. Rule number one – If you want to sound intelligent, be heard, and get some respect from people, you really need to sound educated. Typing in all caps does not make you cool; it makes you look like a 13 year-old sending a text message. Also, to the ignorant writer that says, "Sagging is gay", you need a vocabulary lesson. Anal sex with another man is a gay behavior. Wearing your pants a certain way is not a gay behavior. I'm sure there are plenty of young people in this country that sag that are not gay. Some of them are so homophobic they might commit a hate crime against a gay person before they would let someone call them gay. Saying something is gay shows ignorance and immaturity. This work is gay. That sign is gay. I can't believe how gay your car is. You are not only using a word inappropriately, but also showing how uneducated you are by not having or using words that mean what you are trying to say. Perhaps I could call a piece of paper retarded. How can a piece of paper have a mental handicap? It cannot. Nor can a style of clothing have a gender preference.
    How you wear your clothes is a choice, but with any choice comes consequences. The typical stereotype with people that sag is that they fall into one or more of the following groups: uneducated, poor, lazy, rebellious, "thuggish", hip hop, pothead, skater. If you are okay with a person's first impression of you falling into one of those categories, then make that choice. Perhaps you say, "Hey, I don't care what that closed-minded $#*@! thinks about me… I wear my pants where I want." Okay. Fine. But don't complain to me and expect to be treated like everyone else when you so obviously want to make the statement that you are not willing to conform and look like everyone else. Why should you be treated as part of the crowd if you are not willing to look like a part of it? Would you treat someone wearing a shirt stating, "I hate (fill in your ethnic group) people" like you would everyone else? That was their clothing choice. Make yours, but be willing to face the consequences.

  11. You also do not care about your grammar… You don't care to use capital letters, periods, or proper spelling. Butt has two "t"s. Your "but" is a part of speech known as a conjunction. It is not a noun. A noun is a person, place, or thing. When you choose not to follow the precedents set forth by the language you are attempting to use, I don't feel like I should have to listen to what you have to say. Get an education if you want to be heard. Feel free to skate as much as you want, but don't try to weigh in on a conversation trying to make a point.

  12. you guys wish you could sag like me. im a straight G. if i hear one more peep outta you fools ima bust a cap in your face.

  13. I feel only god can judge and woman nor man can say what some one else should wear or how to act. Who said that you was important enough to comment on how society should dress. saggin is fashion, its urban its not gay its not what you lame people call hip hop orintated it's jus a way to wear your jeans.

  14. most people who sag are actually ignorant trend-followers with no ability to generate an original idea of their own. i work in urban schools. they say we "can't make" them learn, or pull up their pants, either. true, we can't. i read the reuters article. maybe for one designer it's political statement and expression of his feelings of being treated unfairly. for most of the people doing it it's because they are a bunch of lemmings. homophobic lemmings, too, so i don't think it's a gay thing, even if that was the origin. in fact most gay people i know take more pride in themselves or have self-respect, which in dress, language, education level, aspiring to any kind of future, getting a job, etc., the hip-hop wannabe clones who sag are very sorely lacking.

    dress how you like, just don't demand that i respect you when you so blatantly disrespect your own self.

  15. i was so interested in learning more about why older men sag, but after reading this i realize 1 thing. everybody who commented on this page should ask themselves: what did our heavenly father say about our outerwear? its actually stated in genesis, he commanded that his followers cover their private areas. back in ancient times when men still wore "dresses", way before jesus, he commanded them to wear their "dresses" down to thier ankles to cover their private parts. private parts, breast, reproductive organs, and buttocks. now, according to that, who do you represent, who do you follow…… your creator, or, the fad of world, of which this fad clearly is one not supported by the man above.

  16. your cousin are black do history ppl are ppl dont trip WHITE POWER grow up that why u cant show your face your a niggas and your family too…… God bless you

  17. All these comments sound good and well researched and all but i'm a tell you the truth of were sagging pants really originated from.Pants sagging really originated from drug dealers standing on the corner. you use to pull your pants down just a little so the top of your ass will be accessible for stashing your drugs.and everybody knew that your ass was the last place a police officer would search. for more info on true origins of stuff like this e-mail me at

  18. I am sorry if people are going to ban the slouching jeans, then we better just all wear jumpsuits because i have seen a lot more offensive things on people, Speedo's on fat hairy bald men, spandex outfits on BIG women that look like they are painted on, stick people that try to look sexy, etc. I may not be the best looking person in the world but I am certainly not going to wear unflatering close.. It may be freedom of expression but what about the freedom of not seeing any of them express themselves.

  19. I am a woman that prefers to see men wearing pants that fit right– not too tight, not too loose.Snug enough you can see the curve of a behind instead of baggy underwear that
    looks like you're carrying a load back there. A man's rearend is one of the sexiest things
    about him.
    Males wearing oversized baggy pants above their knees (or at their ankles)
    especially pants so baggy
    they have to hold them up with their hands, reminds me of a LITTLE BOY wearing his
    daddy's pants. I say "Pull your pants up, baby! I don't want to see your thang!"
    or better yet, grow up,get some pants your own size and quit trying to look like BIG DADDY.

  20. y'al have posted right but ask yourself this " is there anything wrong in keep my jeans normal??????????? must we keep mimicing what others need, why not try to be suigeneris in good way. Im Williamson Williams watchout for me in the future

  21. JohnnyD, while I agree with most of your post; I disagree, however, with you correction of the use of the word “gay”. If one looks at the etymology of the word, we see progression from happy to immoral to homosexual to stupid or weak. A persons pejorative use of the word to mean stupid or rubbish does not necessarily warrant a vocabulary lesson. While both uses of the word ( homosexual or stupid) exist, it would be difficult to reasonably argue that the elder use of homosexual has preference since it was itself adapted from an earlier use.

  22. After years of hearing where sagging pants got its origin, I guess it’s safe to say that most of it, if not all is untrue.
    First of all, in prison you either have to wear a jumpsuit or if your issued pants there is elastic in the waste so there wouldn’t be a need for a belt. Now, as far being issued pants that’s too big for you, it still doesn’t mean that they will sag that low. In prison there is a dress code. You cannot wear your pants below the waste. At least not in New York State. As far as the sagging being a way for homosexuals to notify others that their available is a crock of shit. I hate when people make up shit and it becomes the truth in the eyes of those that don’t know. First of all, homos in prison don’t wear baggy clothes. They wear shit that’s too tight so they can look more like a female. The whole premise is to stand apart from the rest of the male population.
    I believe the TRUE origins of sagging pants came from the late 70’s when BVD nylons where all the rave amoung prison inmates. Many prisoners came home wearing nylon tops and boxers with their pants sagging about an inch or two below the waistline, and when a brother took off his top to show off his build the slightly sagging pants made him look even more cool. This trend began to evolve and when top designers started making boxers, the sagging continued so that others could see the expensive and colorful underwear being worn. This went on for about a decade or so until rap artist began to add their own twist. A designer belt with a hugh buckle became part of the sagging trend, and within a short period of time the belt buckle pretty much faded away.
    Today’s trend went way beyond sagging an inch or two so that one may show off his designer underwear band.
    Now, to sum it all up. Sagging didn’t come from homos in prison. Today’s sagging originated in the streets by way of urban rap artist, and the trend has gone way beyond its true origins.
    It’s ridiculous!!!!

  23. I agree with most of the comments.   Jumpsuits or pants with elastic waistbands are mandatory in prison, so no way there would be sagging pants.   I also do not believe the rumors about it being homophobic.   Always blame the homosexuals when there is a problem that can’t be explained.    What about the idea, sagging pants usually occur with teenagers when their hormones staring acting up.   Come on, with boys, their package gets much harder and bigger, when there is lots of room for it to grow.   I know that sounds gross, but think about it.   Why do most teens wear boxers instead of briefs?

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