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Don’t You Hate Pants? October 10, 2006

Posted by KG in Etc..

My grandfathers both enjoyed strolling around their respective houses clad in an undershirt and a plaid cloth around their waists, smoking bidis and generally being salty, irritating, or a combination of the two.  I now realize why.  The salty, irritating aspect was probably from the fact that they were well into being retired when I knew them and annoyed by their young, nattering, overly American grandson.  Their sartorial choices were because they were determined, above else, to be comfortable.  Now I get it — because over the last few days, I’ve discovered the wonder that is the lungi.

I suspect that the women of the Western world have been holding out on us men.  In constant humidity and high temperatures, wearing a cotton skirt is (like Dadu knew) your most comfortable option.  And why, praytell, do women get to hog all the comfort?  With all due respect to the Scots, a generous round of applause for South Asia, the lungi wearing segment of the world, for taking the concept of a skirt and making it menswear.  Here, it’s not just for fashion-forward types: tying a piece of cloth around one’s waist and going to market is practically de rigeur.  

Sadly, the “lungi as office wear” barrier has yet to be breached by we Westerners.  Any valiant FSOs in South Asia willing to try — or, for that matter, any South Asians back in the States?  I’m afraid I’m just not brave enough for that.  And I’ve never, ever been able to walk wearing a dhuti.  Having my pants fall down during a visa interview?  Not something I think I would enjoy.

(this entry is worthless without pics.)

UPDATE FOR MC: The lungi is only marginally skirt like.  It definitely doesn’t have the “dude wearing women’s clothes” vibe that kilts have.  In fact, I’d argue that it looks pretty masculine.  Then again I’m surrounded by men wearing them.



1. shem kerr - October 10, 2006

I wear a frock. It’s actually an agricultural worker’s smock without the smocking. I also tend to wear leggings or jeans to protect my legs while working; but depending on the weather, and the circumstance, I may just wear the frock only – it’s a garment with a bit of cultural flexability. It’s still not country club.

2. Sister - October 10, 2006

Please please PLEASE wear a lungi to work. I would pay money to see that. And do you know how to put on a dhoti? I still can’t wrap a sari around myself to resemble anything but a fancy bath towel/toga-type thing. At least not without Ma doing it for me. An embarassment to South Asian girls everywhere, I am.

3. MC - October 10, 2006

Hm, I’m not sure how I feel about the mental picture of you wearing a skirt-like garment. Not that I would ever begrudge you some added comfort, but still. Maybe if it was less of a loose wrap and more of a tailored one… Face it, though, we girls simply look better in most skirts.

4. fsowalla - October 10, 2006

I’d try it if I could get a pro to show me how to wear either a lungi or a dhoti (Wikipedia’s links weren’t very reassuring) with the assuarnce that a beer belly wouldn’t be a problem. It was somewhat of a fashion trend in S. Beach some years ago to wear sarongs. Maybe it has to b erepackaged — lungi with martini, or lungi golfwear…

5. Mahmud - October 12, 2006

Absolutely. Lungis are the ideal clothing in this October’s weather in Dhaka. Like you I just arrived for a stint here. Unlike you, I came of age here. I’ve always carried a lungi around even in the U.S. but never had the courage to do anything beyond using it as sleepwear. One of my brothers once wore one in Harvard Square, but I suspect he may have made a wager with someone. When I was packing to come here, I did pack one of my lungis and it’s been perfect, though I’m still sleeping in it. Once I have my own place, it will be worn more regularly. As for South Asians in the States wearing lungis, some men in my neighborhood in Detroit/Hamtramck — most from Sylhet — routinely wore lungis in the streets. I suppose it might not be such a strange sight in other concentrations of the Bangladeshi diaspora. I wasn’t sure it was necessarily ideal in midwestern winters.

6. Phil - October 13, 2006

I prefer to wear my longi when driving my Canyonero, because I do, indeed, hate pants.

I thought about strapping on a longi while in Burma, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. White guys always look stupid trying to wear traditional dress. Okay, I always look stupid.

7. Consul-At-Arms - October 14, 2006

With all due respect to longi, the kilt is a men’s garment which has been encroached upon by women.

Not that they don’t look charming as all Hell in them.

8. Prince Roy - October 16, 2006

Back in my day, it was not unknown for members of the most ancient and exalted troupe of Knights and Dames Lungi (Madras Lodge) to wear lungis to work on Fridays. I cannot say if present-day members of the lodge are carrying on this tradition.

9. Rod - September 19, 2007

I just got a lungi today from a friend of mine who has been home to visit his parents in India.
It’s lovely but I have no idea how to wear it! I haven’t even found reasonable instructions on the internet.

Since I am Scottish (and still live here) I can say that I’ve seen FAR more men in kilts than I have seen women in them.
In fact, I’ve seen more men in tartan troos than I’ve seen women in kilts – it’s always men! (and since our national dress also involves having knives in your socks, it’s not surprising that everyone thinks the Scots are all psychos!!!!)

10. Sammy Sullivan - June 30, 2009

Kewl site man…

keep up the good work man…….

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