Posted in Fashion, Working with Elderly

Can You Tell a Man’s Age by the Height of his Trousers?

We love you, Harry-High-Pants!

My elderly neighbour, Ivy recently shared with me this gorgeous black&white of her hubby Robert wearing a dress-up costume his mother made for him when he was just a young lad.

Whilst not sure of the exact year, Ivy believes it to be sometime during the 1940’s “when The War was on and we had to make do with what we had”.

SEE HERE…….. (couldn’t you just DIE?)

You started it, Superman!

Adorable as it most definitely is, it’s hard not to miss the extremely elevated pair of buckled-up underpants that Superman, aka Robbie (aged 5), is sporting in the photo.

Gee, the poor kid had no chance!

It explains too, why the now 87-year old Rob clearly has no qualms with wearing his trousers as high as an elephant’s eye to this very day.  Undoubtedly, it’s what he grew up with, feels comfy in and it’s just how he (and Superman) were raised.

Which is fair enough when you consider the fashions of the time.  Their time.  Back in the day with all the big screen stars: Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck & co – all swanning about, gushing masculinity (well, most of the time) and looking suave as all heck in their tall tweeds. So naturally, the trend for the common man about town, was to do likewise and don a stylish pair of pleated high-waisted pants just like their dapper Hollywood idols.

And always with a robustly purposeful belt.

To be fair, I’m not sure if Rob’s always worn his trou so alarmingly aloft or whether, since morphing into ‘retiree’ status, it’s been more out of necessity due to the changes in his body-shape.

Regardless, I can’t help but smile when I catch sight of him over the back fence, digging away obliviously in the vege patch with his oversized corduroys yanked up nice and snug.  There’s just something endearing… a special ‘grandfather’ appeal, that brings on warm family memories and makes you almost feeeel the love.

You know?

Who wouldn’t wanna look this fashionably fab?

Indeed, the ageing process (and the heartless science that supports it) has a lot to answer for.

We tick merrily along minding our own business and before you know it, TING….you’ve arrived unwittingly at the mature, sensible-shoed stage of life.  Then, before you can say “pass the lamingtons please”… our once lithe and limber waistlines have become noticeably thickened.

Or in some cases, they’ve disappeared completely eeek!

Because fat is harder to budge like it was in the slinky, middle-aged career-building years when there was a lot of rushing about to be had.  Subsequently, with slowed-down metabolism from too much sitting about making shopping lists and tut-tutting about the youth of today, an elder’s torso can evolve into what’s considered ‘portly’ or become barrel-like instead.

Some older blokes (much like our Robert), take on this new physical development fairly positively, thank goodness.  They’re just relieved to be able to meld their newly created fatty layer into a nice protruding paunch.  Then, if they’re any good, they’ll find it enables them to wrench trousers up over this new formation like a natural built-in hitching post, if you will.

Alternatively, you’ll find other elderly gents may opt to ignore this ‘battle of the bulge’ by tightly clasping their belts in from underneath,  allowing one’s belly to flop leisurely out over the top of the belt-line yet still in the vicinity of where they think their waist should, by golly, still be.

Either way, win-win?

Hitch ’em up, Charlie!

Furthermore, while we are busy increasing in age and much worldly wisdom, our bodies start to progressively dwindle in muscle mass as well.  Crikey, can it get any worse?

Meaning the once sexy and toned definition we all once aspired to (and strived like ninnies our entire lives for), begins to diminish. Add to that a lessening bone density, then watch in awe as we then begin shrinking in height, thanks to our body basically collapsing into itself.

Yes, you heard…. COLLAPSING.

Throw in the nicely rounded butt that’s served a chap all his years, literally upping and disappearing almost overnight.  For goodness sake, it’s basically just a complete anatomical reversal of the changes that happened during puberty that turned us into adults in the first place!

But wait… THERE’S MORE!

Eventually, after a lifetime of all this standing about looking fabulous and ‘being a man’ (and when he’s finally admitted defeat and accepted this appalling entity of Retirement) a bloke’s spine now starts to buckle and bend until his body is baggy and saggy and then lo and behold, before he knows it…his bloody pant bottoms are now dragging on the ground.


All that being said, and maybe because it happens so gradually, the changes in an older man’s stature can often go unrecognised.  Which means most of my male clients are happy as Larry continuing blithely on wearing the same trousers they’ve had, like, for-EVER.

Amusing though, are some of the excuses I hear from these denying Larries:

“Well, Dollie, I’ve worn these slacks since that Armstrong lad walked on the moon and never had any bother with them”

“Top quality pants these, not like the cheap foreign rubbish you get in the shops now”

“These trousers have lasted me 36 years as a copper on the beat, so why would I go changing them now?”

Besides, the focus now as it is for many adults of advanced years, is less on how they look in their clothes, than on more pertinent issues such as the managing of increasingly frequent health issues, the price of bread or more essentially… what the weather is doing tomorrow.

Can you can really judge a man’s age
by how far up his britches sit?

No!  Of course you can’t actually determine a man’s age based solely on how up-lifted he prefers to position his trousers!

Ageist, much?

Why, to do so would be the beginnings of a slippery discriminatory slope found insulting by most older adults (the blokes in particular) and which nowadays, is considered quite unsavoury. However, for those of you playing along at home, it’s certainly easy to spot the more senior boys when they do yank ’em up so excessively.  Out and about in the community, bustling along with great purpose and leaving no room for doubt that the higher the pant – the more important their mission.

Be it a morning stroll to buy the newspaper or heading off with wheeled trolley in tow for a lap of the shops, or maybe another load of library books.  It doesn’t matter the quest, just as long as his dungarees are tugged up securely and with as much altitude as practicable.

So, if you’re one of these elderly dudes with The Incredible Shrinking Body who’s looking to correct the state of his seemingly enlarged trousers in a fashionable, yet dignified manner – it seems you have limited options:

  • Revive an old trend and use suspenders to hold up your pants (eliminates that poofy, puckered effect of a tightly clenched belt)
  • Admit defeat and consider wearing a sarong-type garment to emphasise your cultural side. Or maybe fly free n easy in a Scottish kilt for that ‘European-and-I-canny-care’ look?
  • Give the modern-day track pant a whirl (built in elastic totally eliminates the belt dilemma)
  • Face facts and get your pants altered by a tailor (or a wife if you still have one)
  • Stop being a tight-fisted bastard and splash out on some new slacks that fit you properly!

Or, if none of these appeal and you couldn’t care less about where your waistline might have run off to… then hoist those sails high, my good fellow, and continue blissfully wearing your trustworthy gabardines of yesteryear.

Who gives a toot what these young whipper-snappers say, as they swagger about with bum-cracks hanging out of their low-slung designer denims?!  You go right ahead and jack your nipple-cinching pantaloons up to your armpits if you fancy… right where they so magnificently belong.

All I know is, when I arrive at a new client’s home and I’m greeted at the door by yet another stereotypically-attired senior with his shirt tucked firmly into his slacks (or sometimes a pair of no-nonsense walk-shorts on warmer days) hoisted above and beyond, almost to chest height… for some reason it just makes me want to be even nicer.


Modern-day Superman 
Riding a lot lower (phew!)


Cheers, Dollie