fancy bottoms

Passed on to me through several Facebook pages, this vintage clothing ad from the site (providing pages from 70s catalogs; the catalog this one came from is not identified):


These are knit trousers — bell-bottoms in fact — with fancy bottoms, where bottom is intended to refer to

(1) ‘the lowest point or part’ of something (NOAD2), in this case, the lowest part of the trousers

Entertainingly, there are three other possible senses here: one given by NOAD2 —

(2) informal ‘buttocks’

— and two not: a sexual sense (opposed to top), denoting

(3) someone who takes the receptive role in anal intercourse (or, by extension, someone who takes the receptive or submissive role in other sexual acts)

and a sense from the clothing trade, denoting

(4) a garment worn on the lower half of the body (vs. a top, a garment worn on the top half of the body)

So fancy bottoms could refer to fancy asses / butts (a number of Facebook readers were enchanted with the idea); or to sexual bottoms who are fancy, in one or another sense of fancy; or to garments for wear on the lower half of the body that are fancy (say, by being made of cloth printed with a fancy pattern, or by having extra features of one sort or another.

There is some discussion of the sexual senses, in a gay context, in postings linked to from this blog on 6/3/13.  And of the clothing-trade sense in four postings on this blog:

7/11/11: “Active bottoms” (link), with both bottom and active in clothing-trade senses (active ‘for (vigorous) activities’, as in active wear vs. leisure wear)

1013/11: “More bottoms” (link), with Big and Tall Bottoms

3/29/13: “Colored bottoms” (link)

10/29/13: “More bottoms and tops” (link), with buy a bottom, get a top

These sightings are entertaining because of the potential ambiguity between the clothing-trade and the sexual senses. (Ok, itr’s cheap entertainment.)

There is yet a fifth sense that bottoms might have picked up, but apparently hasn’t — as a truncation of bell-bottoms, in which case fancy bottoms could refer to fancy bell-bottomed trousers (fancy all over, not just fancy at the bottom). Such garments certainly exist; here’s a striking number from a Burning Man:


But it seems that among the alternatives to bell-bottoms — flares,  boot-cut or boot-fit trousers, even the occasional truncation to bells — we do not find bottoms.

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