New Jonden Disco Pants & Old Canvas Sneakers

I am eating cookies, but as someone who loves to wear spandex disco jeans I really shouldn’t be. But it is Christmastime and they’re Christmas cookies. Shoot, even if it weren’t Christmas and they weren’t Christmas cookies I’d still be eating them!

I got my second and third wearings for the month of December recently. I’m on my way to 50 wearings for the year! I broke the four streak wearing of my first black Bojeangles by wearing my black Jonden. This Jonden is a unique pair. It doesn’t look all that shiny compared to the Tight End ones I have and the newer Le’Gambi pairs I have, but when I get them on they do their share of shining. And looking good. And speaking of Jonden, I recently received a second pair of black Jonden disco pants. I noticed that this pair was quite different as soon as I pulled it out of its package. For one thing, it was shiny as heck—the kind of shiny that I have seen in other Jondens I have and in those Tight Ends. A very awesome silky shiny. I believe they’re 85% nylon & 15% lycra. So that was great. But that wasn’t the only unique thing about them. I quickly discovered that the button and zipper were reversed; that is, the button was on the left side and the zipper flap on the right side. I have never come across a pair of disco pants with these details in reverse. I started thinking perhaps this was a pair made exclusively for women. But then again, I haven’t seen any other women’s jeans or pants with the button on the left and the zipper flap on the right. So I didn’t know what else to think.

More importantly though, the pants didn’t fit me. They are extremely tight and while I was able to get them mostly fully up I didn’t even come close in being able to button them, much less zip them. A perfectly skintight and silky shiny pair of vintage disco pants and I can’t fit into them. Oh well. They’re not the first. I do have those two pairs of black Tight End disco jeans and I can’t fit into them either. And speaking of those, I have some theories about this most recent pair of Jondens I acquired.

First of all let me just say that I suspect this is a modded pair of disco pants. That is my gut feeling. Several things have led me to believe this. As I have already mentioned the button and zipper flap have been reversed. I can see where the button quite possibly was sewn before being moved. The zipper flap I cannot explain, but tailors can change that stuff around. Also, the pocket shape is different from the black Jondens I wore today. But their pocket design had evolved over time. (Note: I don’t know how long Jonden produced disco pants, only that the company was started in 1981 by Linda Leal).

The Jonden label is placed off-center on the back pocket. This is what surely convinced me the pants had some ‘hand-made’ aspects to them. But then I checked out my blue one and it also has an off-centered label. So who knows? I wish I could get some sort of time-line on when these pants were made and the year-by-year differences.

I still haven’t taken in the brown AA pants to get altered. I may do it this coming week. I’m still concerned they will still be too short for me and will probably only be wearable with some taller boots. And if I can only wear them with taller boots then what’s the point of having the legs widened if they’re going to be inside the boots? I’m not going to have them elongated though. The charcoal ones are long enough now for me and I’m still dying to wear them any day now. But the three seams on the inside legs are still a bit of a weird look to me.

Brown would be such a nice other color to get in the rotation this time of year. I said that about charcoal gray too but I haven’t worn them out either.

A while ago I wrote about some women’s canvas sneakers I bought. These are a very simple looking, more basic than basic, oxford type sneaker that were very popular in the 80s with teen girls and probably women alike. Although nowadays they are probably referred to as ‘granny shoes’ since the only people still wearing them are the older stalwarts who swear by them. I first noticed them back in 6th grade and they seemed very popular through 8th grade. Then they disappeared.

The brand I most remembered was Balloons. There were other brands of these shoes but I could never see the ones the other girls wore and it would’ve been weird to ask them. In 8th grade there was a girl who wore a brand new, bright white pair of them and I made sure to notice the brand name since she sat in front of me. Similar to disco pants, these shoes were something I never thought I would ever have, neither then nor later on. And while the ones I now have are very similar to those there are some minor detail differences. I do remember the ones from back in the day having a little brand name tag on the side of each shoe, similar to the tag Vans has on its Authentic & Era canvas sneakers. The new ones don’t have that. Not a big deal, but can you imagine a pair of Levi’s jeans without the little red tag in back?

Here’s a pic of these Balloons shoes. Actually it’s a pic of a brand new pair and an extremely well worn pair:


The new pair is how I remember the girl in 8th grade had, while the dirty, worn pair is how I remember the girls from 6th grade and 7th grade had. You can see that both have the little “Balloons” tag near the lacing eyelets.

I always felt these sneakers would look great with disco pants, especially the super skinny version that AA makes. I never saw anyone wear this combination. The girls from those days wore leggings with these shoes and slouch socks. And shiny skintight lycra pants were popular then too as I have often mentioned the ones Venture discount store sold for about $7.99. But at least in my school no girls wore those lycra pants either. I surely would have fallen in love with any girl who had, though!

When it comes to basic canvas sneakers such as these or Converse or Vans there are many people who don’t like them when they’re new and bright white. I tend to agree. I much prefer the look of the worn pair in the photo above minus the rips and the holes. The ones that first caught my eye in 6th grade was similar to the worn pair. In 7th grade a different girl had them and I was sure she got them from the girl the previous year! In 8th grade there were at least two other girls that had them besides the one with the bright white ones. One of those girls had a pair that was very light blue. They were mostly all dirty though. And I always wondered what the heck girls did to get their sneakers dirty. And these girls wore them down to the bone. The white soles had horizontal lines on them for traction and they would wear off completely to the point of exposing a black material underneath. This is how they would look:



The girls with the worn ones all had this similar wear pattern on theirs. I think this may have been the first thing I noticed about the sneakers. As we would always have to walk in single-file lines there was nothing to do but look at the people in front of you. And I guess one day in 6th grade I just caught sight of some black spots on those worn out soles of Angela’s shoes and was intrigued as to what they were. From that point on I took notice of her sneakers as a whole and became very interested in them. By the way, I make no apologies for this. That was around the time I developed a major interest in sneakers and eventually spent a lot of money on my way to becoming a sneakerhead/sneakerfreak, lol.

Anyway, at the end of my 6th grade school year I became very sad that I wouldn’t be able to check out Angela’s sneakers anymore. The good news is that sometime during 7th grade Michelle was now donning what I really thought were the ones Angela wore. So even though they weren’t they were just as good and I had another school year to see them. And then in 8th grade there was Loretta and Esperanza. But by 7th grade I had caught notice of the Reebok 4600 high tops that were super popular then and I just had to get a pair of those!

I have come across these shoes at thrift stores on several occasions. Of course none were large enough to fit me. Thankfully when I found out Shoe Show had them in up to women’s size 13 in both regular and wide, I knew I’d finally get to have a pair that finally fit.

But I am glad to say that my own pair of those canvas women’s sneakers is finally not so bright white anymore. Check them out:

DSC01102 (3)-001-20

Now see them side-by-side with a brand new pair:

DSC01132 (3)-20DSC01135 (3)-002-20

There you can see them being worn with white AA disco pants. I really think this is a match made in heaven. And for a sneaker that is so minimalist, so simple, so plain–they are actually quite comfortable, even for a heavier someone like me. Of course I had to add an extra insole to them. But they’re very flexible and not stiff. A great summer shoe.

I haven’t even worn them this whole year. After I developed an interest in New Balance 420 these went on the back burner and so I mainly wore the various NB’s and my white Converse. And to be honest, I’m still a little uncomfortable wearing women’s sneakers. I don’t think these are BLATANTLY women’s sneakers. Not like high heels or stuff like that. They do look a bit like dancing shoes. I do believe it is feasible getting away with wearing them as a guy. It’s probably safe to say that it’s easier wearing these shoes as a guy than wearing disco pants. The majority of people I have asked about these shoes say that it would be OK as worn by a guy. So once winter passes—which has not begun even—I will get them more in the rotation. Perhaps even with spandex disco jeans!

Well, hope you didn’t get too bored reading this post which was mainly about shoes. But shoes–and particularly sneakers–have always been very important to me. There is nothing that looks better with disco pants or any sort of tight jeans than the right sneakers. I have worn some pretty awful sneakers in my years during which I was really into. In retrospect I don’t know why I was because I see them as so ugly now. But there have been others that I have liked since I was a kid and still like to this day. Luckily I do have most of the ones I have always liked and some of the ones I have come to like recently.




About Spandex Disco Jeans

This blog is mostly about spandex disco pants from the 70s, 80s and now!
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15 Responses to New Jonden Disco Pants & Old Canvas Sneakers

  1. Dorian Gray says:

    I was wondering if you or any of your readers actually had a girl come to school in disco jeans?

    • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

      No I never saw any at my schools. Neither girls nor guys. Would have definitely been something I remember.
      One of the guys who commented here before said that he himself used to wear them to high school. And I spoke with a woman on ebay recently who said she used to wear hers in junior high.

    • Russ says:

      Nope. Never at any school that I ever attended. The only time I saw a woman wearing disco pants in public was during a vacation a few years ago. She was black, and she was wearing navy blue AA disco pants. She was quite attractive, on the skinny side, but built enough to fill out her wardrobe nicely. However my wife was with me so I couldn’t get a super long look and notice every detail about her. I could definitely get into trouble that way.

  2. Dorian Gray says:

    When I was in about the 10th grade, in the 80’s, there was a girl that rode my bus that wore the black ones to school all the time. I never really knew her, but, I did get to see her up close on the bus because it was crowded and sometimes she would sit near me. She was a very tall lanky girl, but she did fill them out nicely.

    • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

      Would have been great to start up a conversation with her about the pants. I’m sure she would have been quite happy to talk about them with someone. Did you only see her on the bus?

      • Dorian Gray says:

        I suppose I saw this girl enter the school on disco pants days, but then not really again, as she was older and would have been in different areas for classes. Also, it would have been hard to strike up a conversation about what she was wearing across the aisle and with a stranger. If I could time travel back to 1984, my strategy would be to start a conversation about anything but wardrobe, you know, the bus, the weather, sports, television and then, let the conversation flow naturally to other subjects!

      • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

        Absolutely! Who knows, she might have become a friend to this day!

  3. Mario says:

    I’ve been having some disco pants sightings on There was a episode of Barney Miller that had two women picked up for prostitution wearing blue and red disco pants in the police station. Then, Decades has been showing a “Family” marathon and there was this one episode with many people wearing disco pants including guys! “Family” aired between 1976 to 1980, right at the height of the disco pants era.

    • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

      Hey Mario,
      Yeah, I was watching a little bit of the Family marathon. Totally missed that episode though! I was hoping to see the one where Leif Garrett was on. Do you remember what time that episode was on or what the general topic of that one was?
      As far as Barney Miller, I’ve seen every episode of that show multiple times and I don’t remember any disco pants on there. It’s possible I missed it but being as hard-core as I am, I’m a bit skeptical.

  4. Mario says:

    Sorry, not Barney Miller, it was Streets Of San Francisco.

    • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

      Hi Mario,
      OK, I’ll have to look into that. ‘Streets’ ended in 1977 and there is strong evidence that disco pants didn’t come into being until the summer of ’78.

  5. Russ says:

    Speaking of disco pants on tv, the episode of Wonder Woman with Leif Garrett was on this past Saturday; “My Teenage Idol Is Missing.” Between him, and Lynda Carter in her blue spandex bodysuit that she wore while riding a motorcycle, it was a spandex wearers’ good time. Love classic tv.

    • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

      Hey Russ,
      That episode is definitely a spandex highlight. I’ve never seen it myself but I guess you could say I saw the essential clips. I just wonder how Leif felt wearing those pants at the age of 16. Wonder if it was something he totally embraced or had reservations about.

      • Russ says:

        Well he also wore them on CHiPs, as well as in concert, so I don’t think he had any problems with wearing them. He could always say that they were a part of his act. I just hope for myself that he really enjoyed wearing them, so as to validate males wearing SDJs; not that we really NEED that validation. But it is nice to have.

      • Spandex Disco Jeans says:

        Leif was considered by some to be the spandex king in the late 70s. But he was pretty much underage in all those appearances so I’m just wondering if he had any say in wearing them. Look at The Beatles. I don’t think it was their idea to wear those little suits and yet they were of age. But like you said, I would hope Leif enjoyed wearing them and the validation you mentioned that it provided. It seems that by 1981 though, he had given up wearing disco pants in favor of skintight jeans.

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