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OPINION | MALE CALL: Gardening faux pas avoided with proper shirt, pants

by Lois Fenton | May 2, 2021 at 2:49 p.m.

Q Now that it is planting season, I will be spending a number of days in my front yard bending over doing gardening and yard work, and I'd like to not be providing too much of a "rear view." Are there any specific pants that stay up that you might suggest?

A On behalf of all passersby, thank you for your consideration in making your garden attractive ... particularly while you're in front of it. Your mother probably raised you to have clean undergarments "in case you go to the hospital" and this is an equally important occasion, in case my suggestions below fail.

Often, more important than the pants is the shirt. While you are probably in the habit of doing your gardening dressed in a T-shirt, this might be an excellent time to wear older dress shirts that are not in good enough shape to wear to work (or even on Zoom). They generally have longer tails (to tuck in and cover your "tail") and with rolled-up sleeves, they provide lightweight wear with sun protection. Interestingly, the new shirts designed to be worn untucked (which I generally hate) specifically have short tails so they look purposely designed to be worn out, and thus they provide too little coverage for bending over. A jacket or even a shirt-jacket that is tied around your waist can be a good back-up/cover-up.

As you suggested, there definitely is a problem that many pants don't stay in place when a man bends over.

You don't have to resign yourself to wearing rough denim or stiff twill pants with belts that you hope will suffice. Elasticized waists are particularly good for these scenarios and fleece sweats are not the only option. Online, I have found a lot of chinos made with stretch fabrics, and also an assortment of soft denim jeans with what is termed a "flex waist." And a few companies make elastic-waist knit pants as well. The stretch fabric helps you move freely. These pants look like "real pants"; no one will know they have the elastic in them, but they are often much more comfortable and go a long way toward solving this problem.

Check out such stores as Lands' End, L.L. Bean, Kohl's, Club Monaco, etc. for a variety of options. Even when you are not working in your garden, you might find these a welcome change from the recent steady diet of elastic-waist sweat pants.

All of the above being said, you would be well advised to find some version of a stool or garden planting furniture to work from and/or gardening knee pads that will somewhat protect both your knees and your pants. Even more important than reducing the shame of showing too much, reducing the strain on your back and knees can be truly life-enhancing. It is one of the most common pains of this time of year, and the groans you let out when straightening from bending over may be more embarrassing than what you were revealing. That said, even in that position, the clothing options above are no doubt a good consideration.

Please send your men's dress and grooming questions/comments to MALE CALL:

Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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