Quirky World: Crimes of fashion

  • Style
  • Friday, 08 Aug 2014

'Hey guys, check out the new convict look, which looks like the old convict look!' 'Ooh that's so retro...' At the Saginaw County Jail, the ubiquitous orange jumpsuit has been replaced by the black and white version.

More banning of sagging, criminal cross-dressing, and 'orange' – it's definitely not the new black.

Saggy pants get no love in Ocala

If you like wearing trousers below your waist – because you think it’s fashionable to be a walking billboard for the fake designer underwear you’re wearing – you might want to avoid going to Ocala, a city in central Florida, where "saggy pants" is the latest crime du jour.

On July 15, the Ocala city council agreed to pass a ban on the wearing of low-riding pants on city property, meaning its streets, sidewalks, parks, public pools, and municipal buildings – basically, anywhere outside the house. And just to wipe the smirk off the faces of saggy pants devotees who think the ban is silly, the council will punish offenders with six months jail and US$500 fine.

Is there another alternative? If you must, please walk the middle path between these two sad but lovable caricatures.

Like a true politician, Ocala councilwoman Mary Rich denies the city is playing fashion police. Rich, 73, who has pushed for the ban for six years, claims it was passed for the sake of public decency. It’s somewhat hard to argue with her reasoning: “You wouldn’t want your mother coming to an affair downtown at the square and having people with their pants down to their knees.” (Whose mother? Having an affair? At the square?)

With the ban, Ocala joins a growing league of communities who have thumbed their noses at saggy pants. In recent years, airlines have refused to board passengers with droopy pants and one judge in Alabama sentenced a 20-year-old to three days in jail because his pants choice was deemed in contempt of court.

As expected, reaction to the ban was swift and often irreverent in posts published on the Ocala Star-Banner website. Gena Pisani writes: “Who wears their pants up around their waist? I remember wearing hip huggers.” And from King Julian: “Plumbers will be outraged with these six-month jail sentences they get from walking into a McDonald’s to get lunch!”

Case of the criminal cross-dressing cabby

A word of warning to young hot-blooded men wandering home punch drunk after clubbing: please don’t climb into a stranger’s car, even if her wig and bra seem a bit unreal. More so if "she" is Nyerere Mitchell, of Clinton, Maryland, who pleaded guilty in early August of robbing "his" passengers of more US$200,000 while ‘in disguise’.

According to the US Attorney’s Office, the 50-year-old Mitchell wore a woman’s wig and padded bra as he drove a silver Range Rover SUV, picking up passengers near popular bar and nightclub areas in Washington D.C.

Apparently, Mitchell’s parade of victims were so far gone that Mitchell was able to convince them to stagger into his SUV and later instruct them they need to hand over their ATM cards and PIN codes so he could withdraw money for their cab fare.

If Mrs Doubtfire asked if you need a ride home, would you refuse? Especially if she's in a silver Range Rover? Come on, out with it!

Mitchell would then withdraw much more than the fare, of course, and keep the cards and codes, returning similar-looking ATM cards to new victims from his collection of deactivated ATM cards stolen from previous victims.

Victims would then wake up the next day and discover through their hazy recollections that they had indeed taken the most expensive cab ride of their lives. Mitchell’s stratagem proved to be a winning formula, deceiving and fleecing more than 60 people between April 2009 and Nov 2013.

While prosecutors claim that Mitchell, who was arrested last November, cross-dressed to make it easier to lure victims into his SUV, defence attorney Jason Kalafat claims otherwise, saying that cross-dressing is a lifestyle choice for Mitchell. After pleading guilty, Mitchell now faces up to 50 years in prison and pay US$228,036 in restitution.

Black and white are the new orange

If you’ve always thought there’s something moronic about the fashionspeak assertion of colours-that-are-not-black being the new black, then Sheriff William Federspiel is your new best friend.

Federspiel, who is sheriff of Saginaw County in Michigan, has decided that he doesn’t want to be part of the cultural zeitgeist by ordering a complete wardrobe makeover for the inmates of Saginaw County Jail, changing the colour of their regulation jumpsuits from orange to black-and-white stripes.

But before you jump to any conclusions that Federspiel is at the forefront of a retro fashion movement, his decision was prompted by a concern that the popular prison life series Orange Is the New Black, which he believes has led locals to make fashion choices inspired by the orange-tinted underworld.

'Hey guys, check out the new convict look, which looks like the old convict look!' 'Ooh that's so retro...' At the Saginaw County Jail, the ubiquitous orange jumpsuit has been replaced by the black and white version.

According to Federspiel, his orange alert spiked when he saw a juror wearing all-orange during a recent trial. “For me, it was an easy decision. It was a cost savings and it breaks away from that cultural coolness. It’s not cool to be an inmate of Saginaw County Jail,” says Federspiel, with that old-school confidence that Anna Wintour used to have before she put Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue.

The anti-hipster Federspiel, who has only seen snippets of the hit dark prison comedy aired on streaming service Netflix, adds that he hopes the stripes will help the public differentiate between an inmate and a fashionista.

And what do the 500 inmates at Saginaw County Jail think of their new threads? There were some complaints, says Federspiel, then adds: “I tell them that if they don’t like the clothes I give them, then don’t show up at my door.” Obviously, Federspiel never watched The Producers.

Sources: Reuters

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