Before leggings became a thing in mid-2000s, we were all pretty much dependent on the behaviour of the great Indian laadi. For the uninitiated, “laadi” is the colloquial term for a piece of thread that loops through the seam of one’s trousers (salwar) around the waist to hold them up. This is how it works – The two ends of the thread come through the seam on either sides and by tying them into a bunny rabbit ear knot (one full knot+one half knot), you can secure your pants around your waist and hope that the knot doesn’t come off and let your pants fall.
Now, I don’t know who designed this or when it was designed but the adoption across different pieces of clothing in India has been staggered. Till date, we champion the laadi in grandpa chaddis, saree petticoat and patiala/ salwar bottoms as if it were the greatest invention of mankind (ok, I am sure it was at one point, but we have better mechanisms now). It’s not like the laadi has not seen any design innovation.
Given that it is fairly easy for either ends of the laadi to retreat inside the seam, and the process to bring it out is quite tedious (more about that later), there have been interesting workarounds such as tying up the two ends of the laadi at the tip of the two ends such that they are never loose to go back inside. While it served the purpose, I must confess that I personally never found it comfortable to tie a knot with a pre-knotted laadi. I preferred to keep the two ends together with a safety pin, while not using the trousers and when I wanted to wear them, just leave it pinned to one end of the laadi.
If you have ever had either ends of your laadi go missing, you know it is a supremely painful process to find it. You have to pull out the entire laadi from the seam, pin one end of the laadi with a safety pin and then using this hard pin, you guide the laadi inside the seam from one end to the other. While this is fairly straightforward, it is time-consuming, especially when you are about to head out in a hurry and then, all of a suddenly (haha) you find your laadi missing. You’d first need to find a safety pin and then do this navigation with the pin, so I’d rather just secure the loose ends od my laadi with a pin to hedge against risks.
What amazes me is despite being such a primitive mechanism to hold pants/ petticoats up, it has survived so long and shows no signs of disappearing even the face of several new technologies (elastic bands, buttons, zips, etc.). I suppose the flexibility the laadi offers is incomparable to any other – it caters to several different sizes at once, if you loose one laadi, you can easily replace it with another on your own and it’s inexpensive. Personally, I could live in a world without the pyjama laadi, but can you?