How a president orders pants

Even President Johnson had something to say about pants fitting. [Again I ask, did clothing used to fit better (pt.2)?] LBJ thought there was room for improvement.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed pants, so he called the Haggar clothing company and asked for some. The call was recorded (like all White House calls at the time), and has since become the stuff of legend. Johnson’s anatomically specific directions to Mr. Haggar are some of the most intimate words we’ve ever heard from the mouth of a President.

Hilarious, click through for the audio. Thanks to David who sent this in.

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  1. Christine says:

    Hi! I will preface this that I do not have expertise in this area and so this is my opinion only… When you go to the CDC website and watch the data video of how Americans have become more and more overweight over the last 30 years, it makes me wonder whether part of the problem about fit in clothing is because our bodies have become more difficult to fit. Since we all put fat on in different ways, making standard measurements/commerical clothing patterns for a given height/weight of person becomes more and more difficult, right? The other factor I would guess at would be that I’ve heard that clothes used to have wider seam allowances (as requested by President Johnson in the phone call) to allow for alterations if the owner gained weight or changed shape over the course of owning the garment…perhaps this is because clothes used to be more expensive and were expected to last longer? Did people used to be more willing to make alterations in their clothes? Okay, well I see from looking through previous posts that I’m not saying anything new! I guess the summary of the above is, interesting post, interesting blog, thanks for this food for thought!

  2. Kevin Bishop says:

    In addition to the “pants” audio tape, President Johnson has some other classic audio recordings. Some of the conversations have good comedic value. Other conversations are so disturbing that it affects your ability to sleep at night. History is what history is. If someone wants to do their own research, the information is available.

    I do have two fashion-related thoughts while listening to the “pants” recording. 1) I also wish that pants were designed with pockets that don’t eject your car keys, coins, and pocket knife. 2) I have no idea how a tailor can design custom pants for the President without a fitting or any real measurements at all. It is possible that there were measurements taken earlier, and the reordering of pants was based on that information.

  3. Theresa in Tucson says:

    Great clip. LBJ was pure Texas.

    Kevin, there is a way to do a pocket that will retain keys, coins etc. It’s in Coffin’s “Pants” book. It’s a certain way to stitch a sac into the pocket that discourages the contents from migrating out. You won’t find that in RTW but men (and the habit is acquired in boyhood and don’t ask me how I know) have been putting things in their pockets since pockets were invented. Tailors have traditionally been men so they solved this long ago, we just lost the knowledge.

  4. Liz Pf says:

    Theresa, it isn’t just men who use pockets.

    I dislike carrying a purse, especially on short errands or walking trips (such as the 1.5 mile round trip to my son’s school). I put my essentials in my pants pockets: small wallet, iTouch and pen in the right, keys, cell phone and knife in the other.

    As you may expect, I rarely find pants with adequate pockets. Most women’s pants either have no pockets or very small pocket bags. I’ve found a couple of brands that have good sized pockets, fortunately they fit me reasonably well.

    And for the excuse that pockets make one look fat, or “ruin the line” of the pants … I wear clothing for function first, and if it is also flattering, well that’s nice.

  5. Marie-Christine says:

    OK, clearly I can’t try to listen to that one at work :-)..
    But about stuff falling out of pockets, I wrote up stuff about methods to prevent that long time ago pay close attention to the 1cm extra seam in the very bottom photo – I forgot it once and kept getting really annoyed at the change falling out..

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