Parachute Pants - Definition of Clothing  Apparel Search

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Parachute pants (or Hammer pants after MC Hammer) are a style of pants or trousers characterised by the use of synthetic material and extremely baggy cuts. They are typically worn as men's wear, and are often brightly colored. Parachute pants gained media attention in US culture in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as part of an increased cultural awareness of break dancing.

Functional clothing

Early break dancers sometimes used heavy nylon to construct jumpsuits or trousers that would be able to endure contact with the dancing surface, or "break pad," while at the same time lessen friction with the ground, allowing fast and complex "downrock" routines without fear of friction burns or wear in clothing. Parachute pants were often somewhat baggy and narrow at the ankles (unlike bell bottoms or wide leg baggy jeans), in order to increase mobility for dance moves requiring flexibility. Due to the use of nylon in parachutes, and the large baggy appearance of the pants, the pants rapidly became known as parachute pants. Often early outfits were of a single color or slightly patchwork in nature, as they were sometimes made of found materials.

When manufactured and marketed as fashionable clothing, parachute pants were often constructed with lightweight synthetic fabrics, making this variety of pants more suitable for fashion than break-dancing.

Fashionable clothing

As fashion cut pants, parachute pants were popularized by hip-hop performers such as MC Hammer. From this point, they were often woven of loose, light fabric, with a low seat containing many folds, and sometimes printed with complex designs, ranging from neon patterns to prints resembling Middle Eastern pattern embroidery, contrasting the earlier monochromatic heavy jumpsuits and trousers. They were also sometimes seen with many zippers and pockets, although often the pockets existed only in order to apply another zipper or other superficial feature to the outfit, and the pocket(s) would not be large enough to be useable. Parachute pants were then used primarily in choreographed hip hop and rhythm and blues dancing, with the light, baggy fabric and folds visually enhancing the flowing rhythm of the dancers' moves, while allowing for greater comfort and mobility.

Decline in use

Infrequent in today's fashion, this garment has received little serious exposure since the early 1990s, and in 2005 parachute pants are sometimes mocked in popular culture as emblems of the early 1990s, much as flares (also known as "bell-bottoms") are associated with the 1970s.


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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (  11/1/04
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