The Ropers & Three’s Company

“The Ropers” television show was a spinoff from “Three’s Company” tv show back in the late 70’s. While “Three’s Company” was hilarious and a major success, “The Ropers” was not so much and lasted only 22 episodes, less than 2 full seasons. The series ended on a high note however, as the 22nd episode, titled “Mother’s Wake” from May of 1980 featured a recurring character named Debbie Hopper–played by Lois Hamilton (Areno)– in black spandex disco pants. And we got to see a good amount of Debbie in her shiny disco pants. The episode centers on a party so everyone is a bit dressed up. Lois Hamilton passed away in 1999 at the age of 56. But that episode is definitely worth watching if you can find it. I’ve looked all over the internet for it without success.

As far as I can remember, “Three’s Company” featured only 2 episodes where anyone was wearing disco pants. I was confident there were more but I can only remember these 2, and I’ve seen every episode multiple times. The first one is titled “The New Landlord” from September 1979 has an early scene where Larry is at the Regal Beagle and a blue disco pants clad woman walks in and he immediately goes after her. We get to see a close, full body shot of her amazing pants. However, she is wearing a similarly colored top and it is covering a good portion of the pants. But her pants are the epitome of how they should fit: skintight waist to knees and then looser but not bell-bottomed or flared from the knees down to the hems. See for yourself. Watch the video below right at the 4:35 mark.

The 2nd episode, titled “Oh, Nun” from January of 1982 featured a long final scene in a diner/bar with a woman in the background sitting at the bar. She was wearing black disco pants. Not really a great scene for disco pants lovers. Definitely not as good as the first episode I mentioned. Check it out below.

That’s all the disco pants I can remember from this series. A bit disappointing that there were only 2 episodes in 7 full seasons, considering that this show ran concurrent with the height of disco pants popularity. I do recall Chrissy wearing some shiny red pants a couple of times but I’m not convinced those were disco pants. If any of you remember any episodes of Three’s Company that had disco pants I would love to hear about it.

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Childhood Story

A funny story from my younger years…..

When I was a young kid I was pretty obsessed with disco pants whenever I saw them on tv. I remember at one point after having seen them, I decided i was going to try to make me a pair. Mind you, I had no idea what these pants were called or what they were made from. My sister called them ‘silk pants’ so that’s what I thought they were called. Anyway, I needed something shiny to make the pants from. And something colored. And something large enough that could be made into a pair of pants. Well, I decided on a garbage bag! Yes, I ‘borrowed’ a new, black garbage bag from the kitchen and now I was set to make me some skintight shiny pants. How was I going to put a button and zipper on these pants I had no idea. I would worry about that later. First I had to work on making sure the bag fit like a second skin around my legs.

Needless to say, that whole project did not go very far. I cut up the bag and tried using tape, but naive as I was at the time I didn’t realize that a plastic bag would stretch out and rip easily. I don’t even know what I ended up doing with that bag. Perhaps it’s somewhere in the garage in my boxes of ‘old’ stuff.

Of course I was bummed. I couldn’t ask anyone for help. I couldn’t even talk about my skintight shiny pants obsession with anyone. It was too weird for a kid and probably still too weird for an adult. But we have the internet now where we can talk about ANYTHING.  Not only is the internet good for that but it has also allowed me to build a collection of disco pants several decades after I tried mindlessly making my own.

Some people may say I have a spandex disco pants addiction. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. But even if I do I can sure think of worse things to be addicted to. At least this is an article of clothing–clothing being something we all need–and I can always sell them for whatever reason.

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Disco Pants on ‘The Rockford Files’

Today on television I was watching an episode of “The Rockford Files” when all of a sudden  a young blonde woman appeared wearing black spandex disco pants! Immediately I had to find out what year that episode was from and who the actress was. The episode was from 1979–the height of disco pants era–and the actress was Jillian Kesner, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 58. It was a very short segment that she appeared in with her disco pants and probably altogether less than 10 seconds worth of any solid footage of her pants. And unfortunately, she was playing the part of a hooker named Lily. Apparently it became more and more common over the years in the entertainment industry to portray “sex workers” wearing disco pants, which probably led to the end of the popularity and the ultimate demise of such a wonderful article of clothing. What a shame indeed. But thankfully, the music group Menudo continued to wear disco pants well into the mid 1980’s. Their clean-cut, good-boy image helped give an innocence and wholesomeness to disco pants and served to show that the pants were a still cool item and that boys/guys could wear them, too.

Speaking of Menudo, recently I found a video of them performing “Footloose” which features all of them wearing very shiny black disco pants.

What a thrill it must have been to perform under those bright lights wearing skintight disco pants! And not only that but to have the footage preserved for posterity. Imagine how great it must be for Ricky Martin, for example, to go back and watch all that footage of himself performing live in front of thousands of fans wearing shiny spandex disco pants! All those guys were so lucky.

In this video they are each wearing different color tops but all are wearing black disco pants along with black boots. The song Footloose is originally from 1984. Thus this video must be from 1984 or later which again is great because it shows they were still sporting disco pants into the mid-80s. That places the halcyon days of disco pants from 1978-1985, a good run but definitely at a point when I was too young to be able enjoy wearing them myself. So I make up for it now.

Recently I’ve been thinking how very glad I am that I actually wore disco pants in public. Not in the very open public but among people I know. The fact that I wore them so many times around these people means that to them I will always be that guy who wore ‘spandex pants’, as I am sure most if not all of them have no idea what these pants are actually called. Years from now they will actually say to me, “Remember how you used to wear those _______ pants?” (Fill in the blank with whatever they would call them). And I would say, “Yes,” and it would be great that they actually remembered and that I actually had the courage to wear them. As far as what they would call them–well, I’ve heard leather pants, yoga pants, tight pants, shiny pants, tights, flash pants & spandex. Some names were completely off. Others were pretty close. I definitely look forward to wearing them some more. It took a while to eliminate the novelty effect of wearing such an item and I don’t want to go through that again. But it is going on 3 months since I have worn these pants and I don’t wish to prolong this drought.

Finally, I am looking at the possibility of acquiring 2 additional pairs of vintage disco pants. A much needed white pair by one of my favorite brands and a red pair by another of my favorite brands. We’ll see how that goes.

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Disco Pants, Levi’s 510 & Topman

Well it’s been nearly 2 months since I’ve worn disco pants in public. It’s not that I’m losing interest. Not at all. In fact the last 2 days I have put on a few pairs just for fun and photos and they’re just as awesome and exciting to wear as ever! But it is quickly getting colder here and disco pants are not really great for that sort of weather. Most disco pants weigh in at just under a pound or so, while jeans usually weigh between 1.5 and just under 2 pounds. Plus, as thick as disco pants may be–compared to regular nylon/spandex tights or leggings–they are still thinner than denim jeans. So your legs instantly feel the chill when you step outside in the cold air. Disco pants are ideal for spring, fall and summer weather. Yes, even summer. Perhaps not scorching summer weather but if you’re going to be where the temperature is less than 90° it is perfectly fine. Of course, no matter what the weather is outside, if you are going to be in a place that is climate controlled you can always take the  pants with you and change into them indoors. That might feel a little odd though and perhaps more suited to some kind of a performance type deal, e.g. playing in an indoor concert, acting in play or making a movie.

I have been wearing my skinny jeans a lot more. Not my regular, slim-fitting ones that I usually wear when going out, but some of my much tighter Levi’s 510 that I used to wear only for certain occasions. The good news is that I’m getting so comfortable going out in them that it’s almost becoming second-nature. Almost. I still have a couple pairs of Cheap Monday’s that I have not been wearing out yet. I’m mostly wearing my 510’s because to me they are pretty much the perfect tight jeans. Their look and fit is as good as it gets. Not to mention the affordability of their price, especially if you don’t mind pre-owned pairs you can find at thrift stores or on ebay. I’ve bought some in both places for as little as $3! I actually prefer pre-owned jeans in some instances because some of them are broken in so perfectly and look so great. Not to mention that 2 of my all-time favourite pairs of Levi’s were pre-owned and absolutely amazing. Another reason I prefer some used ones is that since I rarely wash my own jeans they never really get that worn in, faded look. I hardly ever wear any pair of jeans more than twice a week and just for several hours at that. There really is no reason to wash after each wearing. Doing so only leads to premature color loss and weakening of the fibers. Even the CEO of Levi’s recently stated that jeans should not be washed after each wearing! Nudie Jeans is another make of high-end jeans that also recommends not washing denim for long periods of time.

I have tons of jeans so I don’t need to wear the same ones over and over again. In high school during my senior year I had probably 5 pairs of jeans that I could wear but only like 3 that I felt comfortable wearing. So I rotated those 3 pairs along with an occasional wearing of that pair of skintight Levi’s I had. Had I not cared so much what anyone thought, I would have worn those skintight Levi’s everyday to school. OK well, that might have shortened their life a bit so in actuality 2-3 times each week or every other day. That would certainly have led to a more exciting high school career!

Continuing on the Levi’s note, I have been rebuilding my collection of 510 super skinny jeans, now officially rebranded just ‘skinny’. I have added about 5 pairs–both new and pre-owned–since my last post. One of the new additions is a color/wash that I had 2 pairs of in the past but sold both. Happy to have that one back. Also added a pre-owned pair in “Sidewalk” which I took a chance on buying being a size 31. Usually 32 in Levi’s 510 is as small as I need to go for that ideal fit. But I ended up getting these so cheap and they fit very nice & super tight. So great deal. I look on ebay everyday for 510’s hoping to find more deals and some of those older washes that I foolishly sold some time ago.

Also added a pair of Topman’s Super Spray-On skinny jeans. An awesome light wash that as soon as I saw online I just had to get. Luckily found it on ebay. The size was a bit larger than I would ideally like but it’s a discontinued item so you get what you can. These are the most leggings-like jeans that I own. And they are very thin material.

That’s all I’ve been up to. Thinking of some holiday outfits that could incorporate disco pants for me to wear. We’ll see what happens.

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Disco Pants Origins?

Today I found something interesting at a thrift store. It was an old LP by a woman I never heard of. What caught my eye however was the fact that there were 3 images of her on the cover, each of which featured her wearing what appeared to be skintight, shiny, spandex pants. Before I try to describe any further here is the what the cover looks like: 792649 I was instantly intrigued by this cover. I knew that those are not disco pants that she is wearing. They couldn’t be. There were no back pockets. Plus those outfits look to be one-piece, though I’m not completely sure. This album was not from the late 70’s or early 80’s. This album had an early 60’s vibe to it. But there is no denying that she is wearing nylon/spandex. After getting home I did some research and found out the record is from 1959. That alone confirms that they are not disco pants but we can surely see that this is certainly an early origin of those wonderful pants I spend a lot of time writing about on this blog. It would be nearly 20 years before shiny nylon/spandex pants would become so popular that men and women could both be seen wearing them–at least in the celebrity world. A natural question that occurs for me is why did it take so long for these pants to become mainstream? What was it about 1978 that finally allowed such a fashion to come into being? Of course most will answer, “It was disco, stupid! That’s why they’re called disco pants.” And that could very well be an answer if not the answer. But everyone knows that these pants were not just worn in disco circles. They were lovingly adopted by disco-hating, big-name rockers and country music artists. Was it just the atmosphere of 1978 that allowed such tight, shiny pants to become popular? Maybe, but leather pants had been in style for music artists going back to the 50’s with Elvis, then the early Beatles and then the Doors and Steppenwolf through the late 60’s and early 70’s. And as I can attest, leather pants should only be worn as tight as possible but they are not very comfortable that way. Nylon/spandex pants would have been a far superior choice because you still get the shiny and skintight without the uncomfortable factor. In fact, one of the first times I wore my disco pants, a friend confused them for leather pants. Anyway, as I researched this Gretchen Wyler lp on the internet I came across another photo of her in tight, shiny, disco-pants-like attire: $_57 (4) Obviously that seems to be a similar outfit to the ones on the record cover. But it was from  an appearance on the Bob Crosby Show, according to the owner of the photo. Again, there is no denying that these pants are of the same material later used to make spandex disco pants. Their shine, their fit, their elasticity and the way they hang on the body completely confirm that this was an early version of disco pants, but probably reserved only for the world of dancers during this early period. This whole discussion has made me think of another place I saw pants that resembled disco pants but also from a time that would have been too early for them. Here is the image: 20311 That’s from the American Graffiti movie/album soundtrack. We know the movie is from 1973 and set to take place in 1962. And the pants she is wearing in this design surely look like disco pants but neither year would support that theory. And we all know that disco pants were very popular at roller skating rinks. She apparently is a roller-skating waitress wearing some sort of skintight shiny pants. I’ve never seen the movie so I do not know whether there is any such character that this drawing is based on. [if anyone out there does know, I’d love to hear about it]. But I can only deduce that these pants must be similar in nature to the ones Gretchen Wyler wore in her photos–probably at the time meant only for dancing, aerobics or other form of physical activity that demanded ease of movement. I don’t believe these pants were street-wear during the 50’s or 60’s for celebrities or for the less-than-celebrities.

This also brings me to the character of “Sandy” in the movie Grease. Grease was made in 1978 but set in ’58-’59. The part everyone most everyone remembers about the movie is the ending where Sandy makes a remarkable transformation from a conservatively dressed girl to a very sexy, provocatively dressed one. Everyone nowadays seems to think Sandy wore disco pants during that final scene. As I’ve written about this before, Olivia Newton-John, who portrayed Sandy, claimed she was sewn into the pants and that they were of a sharkskin material. I think we all realize that there is no need to be sewn into actual disco pants because they are a second skin by nature. So if what she says is right then it’s quite possible the film may have been made with time period correctness and those were not spandex disco pants. However, further research has informed me that pants were an actual pair from the 1950’s that had a broken zipper. So when she talked about being sewn into them she meant that she put the pants on and had the broken zipper area sewn shut. Thus everyone who thinks they were disco pants is wrong even though they do look remarkably similar. I would love to see those pants in person and just end this mystery once and for all.

So a very interesting find today at the thrift store. I discovered that shiny nylon/spandex pants go all the way back to the late 50’s.  And they very much resembled the disco pants that would come less than 20 years later. Hope you enjoyed this little trip through recent history with me.

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Fave Disco Pants & Levi’s 510

So some of my favorite disco pants are getting damaged just a little bit more each time I wear them. That’s not good! But they are over 30 years old so it’s a bit understandable. Still, some of these are perfect fitting with perfect levels of shine that I cannot imagine being without. For instance, my black Le Gambi’s that have the small label are my absolute favourite skintight pair. Their shine is amazing and they fit like a second skin–much tighter than Leif Garrett’s I must admit. And also my black Bojeagles. Not as tight as the aforementioned Le Gambi’s, which makes for an all-occasions fit. But still tight enough. This pair is the one I have worn for camping trips, playing in the band and church on Sunday. These 2 are my must-haves when it comes to disco pants. So do I continue to wear them or just keep them in their bags for occasional looking and touching? CONTINUE TO WEAR THEM! Certainly, but not as often considering I have 5 other black pairs I can wear as well.

Lately, I have been wearing my skinny jeans a lot more often. And I don’t mean in relation to my disco pants. The disco pants I continue to only wear for exclusive, non-everyday events. What I am saying though is that I have been wearing some of my very tight skinny jeans in the last few weeks. And to places I would not dare wear them before. It is cooler here now and as I do need to work on losing some upper body weight, summer was never a good time to wear them. One reason being the heat. Another reason being that wearing only a t-shirt with very tight skinny jeans always makes me feel fat. So now that I can wear a jacket with my super skinny jeans I feel a lot more confident being seen in them.

My favourite pair at the moment is a thrift store Levi’s 510 super skinny that I wrote about a while ago. I have gotten very comfortable wearing them and being seen in them. So much so in fact that I have decided I must wear them at the very least twice a week from now on. Can’t wait to wear them tomorrow! But I may face the same dilemma with them as I do those disco pants. Obviously age is not such an issue with them, but the previous owner did wear and wash them plenty. They have a very nice fade and wear lines but at the same time they feel a bit thinner and some potential stress areas where ripping may commence. You know, they don’t make Levi’s as tough as they used to. And it’s very hard to find 510’s at thrift stores in my preferred size of 32. I have found several 511’s that are great and I wear them, too. But 510’s are really the best.

Speaking of 510’s, I bought 3 additional pairs this weekend. I used to have this line of jeans in so many colors and washes but I sold most of them on ebay. Not that I regret selling most of them but there were certain ones I still wish I had today. Those include Chainlink, Chipped & Filtered Stretch. There was another one that had a name that I don’t remember, but I found it on ebay this weekend and bought it. That happens to be one of the 3 I ordered. The other 2 includes a nice, dark blue one from Urban Outfitters and a grey one directly from Levis.com. There is yet another I want to get from Tilly’s and plenty of interesting used ones on ebay.

I have a 510 in color/wash “Black Diamond” which I bought on ebay a while ago and have not yet worn. Perhaps they will get their chance this week. They are skintight but I’m sure will loosen up a bit after wearing them for several hours at a time.

I’ve also been looking at some other jeans besides Levi’s lately. There’s not much going on in terms of disco pants for sale so I must look at something, right? I came across some very interesting ones.  Including this one from Topman:

69B44HLST_4_large

Love those! But of course as is usually the case, whenever I come across something awesome like this it has been sold out and is no longer available anywhere. Not even on ebay. They look totally awesome with those white high top Converse! I will keep looking out for those. I have not been a tremendous fan of Topman’s spray on skinny jeans due to their too-low rise and thin denim, but these look perfect! And these are called super spray on skinny.

That’s all for now.

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Disco Pants in 1987

Take a look at this video:

That is Lola Falana in the black disco pants. And based on my research this clip is from the spring of 1987. Two things based on that info: first, 1987 is a rather late year for disco pants to still be seen; second, she was about 44 years old in this video which for me means that I have many great years ahead of me to wear disco pants!

I don’t know if her pants in that video are a carryover from the originals. Perhaps she had a collection of some from when they first came out. Or maybe those were ones being made at that time. Or maybe even a custom-made item. The only thing I noticed is that they seem to be a little tighter fitting at the ankles. Not like the modern version, but certainly narrower than the vintage ones I have and have seen others wear. She’s about 72 now. I wonder if she still wears them…

As I mentioned, this clip is from 1987. I was pretty confident that disco pants were all but dead after 1985. But I have also previously written about a “Married With Children” episode from 1988 which featured Peg Bundy wearing gold ones. Shiny spandex was still in fashion throughout the 80’s but in terms of disco pants, the popularity had waning. I think shiny spandex tights began replacing actual disco pants as a more accepted and contemporary style of clinging pants and also as a more casual form of clothing.

By the 1990’s, skintight disco pants had virtually disappeared, with the only shiny, tight legwear being found in lycra running tights. That is, until the wonderful shine of nylon/lycra had been converted to a matte format. It seems that all things shiny had lost their glimmer. Super bagginess had taken over as well and has made the decade of the 90’s one of the most forgettable in terms of fashion.

(Video courtesy of a fellow disco pants admirer and wearer.)

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