Known popularly as “sagging,” the trend originated in the U.S. prison system, where inmates are not allowed to wear belts. It was popularized by hip-hop artists and embraced by youths.
The issue has cropped up — or rather, drooped down — in towns across the country. Authorities in suburbs of New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Jacksonville, Fla., are among those who have passed laws banning overly droopy pants.
The proposed Wildwood law would set fines of $25 to $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses. Having to do 40 hours of community service is also a possibility.
Bathing suits are already prohibited for both sexes on the boardwalk, unless covered up by other clothing.
Ruthann Robson, a City University of New York law professor and author of the upcoming book “Dressing Constitutionally,” said the Wildwood law appears to be unconstitutional.
“Courts have struck down attempts to ban saggy pants if what is exposed is underwear rather than ‘private parts,'” she said. “As for municipalities requiring men to wear shirts, at least one federal appellate court has said that is ‘irrational.'”
Troiano said the city’s lawyers are confident it can withstand a court challenge.
He promised police won’t be out with measuring tapes, relying instead on common sense when evaluating a person’s attire.
“They say it’s a fashion statement and this is America and they have the right to dress how they want,” Troiano said of those who wear their pants low. “Well, I have the right to decency,” he said. “My right is not to have to look at your (rear end) if I don’t want to. I find that offensive. Go somewhere else and do it, and for every one person I lose, I’ll gain 10 more who will be glad.”