” … it’s going to be very hard to follow what’s going to happen, particularly biologically. … All we can say is that, for sure, it will be different. We’re going down a different trouser leg of history.“
—Jan Zalasiewicz, geologist at the University of Leicester, England, talking about what life may be like in the Anrthopocene, the current geological time period in which human activity is having a global effect on the natural world
This cold, rainy Sunday morning, The Man in the Plaid Shirt and I were sitting about, as we often do, variously annoying and enlightening each other by sharing out bits from our reading. Good partner that he is, Mr. Plaid has been keeping a lookout for clothing, style, and fashion references in his own reading. His favorite topics tend to be scientific, so his findings really enrich my repertoire.
And that delicious quote you see in red above, which he read out from a New York Times science article, got us started on collecting expressions that reference clothing. We challenged ourselves to come up with as many as we could without resorting to a published collection or compendium of quotes.
Herewith our first baker’s dozen—along with a challenge to you, Dear Readers: Send us your favorite clothing expressions and we’ll feature them in future posts, along with your name, if you’d like. We’re especially interested in expressions tied to specific regions of this country (the U.S. of A., that is) or from non-U.S. of A. cultures, continents, or nations.
(Gosh, who knew had such a cultural mythology built up around pants?)
1. “Going down a different trouser leg.” Taking a totally new path. Seems Dr. Zalasiewicz coined this one; a brief Internet search turned up nothing.
2. “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” (sometimes continued with “Hanging on a telephone wire” or other expressions having to do with belts and noses—that last presumably courtesy of Pinocchio). You’ve been caught being careless with the truth.
3. “She’s got ants in her pants.” She’s restless, impatient, can’t settle down.
4. “Keep your pants on.” Settle down, Toots!
5. “He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like every other guy.” He’s (or she’s) no better than the rest of us; just plain ol’ chopped liver. (Yuck.)
6. “I wear the pants in this family.” I’m the boss, the Queen Bee, the Father Knows Best, the Big Kahuna.
7. “Ain’t that a kick in the pants!” Ain’t—uh, isn’t—that insulting!
8. “Eat my shorts.” A rude expression apparently from the film “The Breakfast Club” via Bart Simpson. Polite translation: “Kiss my derriere.” (Aren’t you glad Bart’s not your kid? Oh, Bart is your kid. Sorry. )
9. “She wears a lot of hats.” She takes on a lot of different roles and probably she’s really tired and losing track of her schedule even though it’s synced to her iPhone, iPad, and laptop.
10. “Keep it under your hat.” Don’t tell. (Not, as you history buffs might think, “Store your important papers in your chapeau, a la Abraham Lincoln.”)
11. “On Fortune’s cap we are not the very button.” Fortune is not exactly smiling on us; things are not great. The speaker is Guildenstern of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the hapless pair of messengers and sources of comic relief in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This expression could also fit in the “Shoe” category, since Hamlet goes on to ask, “Nor the soles of her shoe?” to which the guys reply “Neither, my lord,” meaning that although things could be better (Fortune could be arranging for us to win a lottery or two), they could also be worse (she could be giving us a bad case of shingles or making us work in the cubicle next to Dilbert or causing us to have a public wardrobe malfunction).
12. “You sure pulled a rabbit out of your hat!” You sure came up with a spectacular solution to a problem, especially at the last minute. Unless you’re a magician and then, of course, you’re expected to do it.
13. “That’s a feather in your cap!” Well, that’s quite an achievement, and no doubt it will give you a leg up in the future because people will see it and say, “Whoo, look at that feather! She must be really something; let’s give her the keys to the kingdom (or the really fast car), a giant loan with no collateral, the first whack at the piñata, the best seat in the house—or, what the hell, she’s so cool let’s just give ‘er the whole house.”
Categories: We're Talkin' Clothes Here