Lore has it that you can spot a masculine gay man by the print on his pants. Are they gray, plaid, cropped at the ankle and so tight everything is on display? Congratulations, you’ve likely found yourself the gay version of a finance bro.
Charles Reynolds, a 25-year-old gay man from New York who goes by the online alias Lindsay Lohan’s Sober Coach, brought to light this phenomenon last week. He tweeted a photo of Topman cropped trousers (available through Nordstrom, of course) and captioned the post, “These pants are so darksided,” meaning chaotically evil. “Why does every wannabe style gay own them…”
Seeing the tweet sent me on a spiral. I yelped. I started to sweat. “What the actual fuck,” I said. Because I, a wannabe style gay, own these dreaded pants.
The Gay Plaid
What makes these pants out of fashion? “It’s a very generic Instagay pant type,” Reynolds tells me.
He’s talking about the type of guy who, in a pre-quarantine world, hit the club wearing a turtleneck tucked into these too-tight pants and cinched with a gold Double G Gucci or Boucle H Hermes belt. He always had loose gum and a cracked iPhone 11 bulging from his pockets. You can find him in the corner of the club, yelling at the DJ to play more Taylor Swift.
These skinny trousers are synonymous with men’s retailers Topman and Zara. “It’s kind of like that striped Zara shirt everyone had like three years ago,” Reynolds says.
Gray Plaid Was Once Cool, I Promise
It wasn’t always this way. Just as blue gingham shirts were J.Crew chic a decade ago, the tight gray floodwater pants used to be trendy. In 2017, gray glen plaid — woolen fabric with woven twill designs of small or large checks — hit every hot runway, red carpet and editorial shoot.
W Magazine labeled plaid the “must-have print,” while the 1975 frontman Matty Healy modeled a series of glen-plaid slacks in a photoshoot for the Times U.K. Stylish celebs Harry Styles, John Legend and Armie Hammer all became known for wearing plaid suits on the red carpet.
Time to Loosen Up Your Pants
It’s not just the gray plaid that recalls a staid style. It’s really the tightness in which workout bros — both gay and straight — wear these slacks as pseudo-skinny jeans to showcase their plump asses and muscular thighs. “Maybe it’s a bottom thing,” Reynolds says.
What really matters, though, is that I now need a new pair of go-to dressy pants before quarantine ends. Reynolds tells me to opt for some looser-fit pants from Uniqlo, Levi’s or something vintage off Depop. No matter what slacks gays pivot to next, please, I beg you, no skinny jeans. Quarantine killed the tight pant for good.