Sunday, February 06, 2011

History of Men's Underwear - Part Two

Catch up: Read The History of Men's Underpants - Part One.


Now, where were we? Oh yes. The Middle Ages.Where the codpiece had to be invented to prevent one's tackle from drifting around in the breeze and men "started" to *cough* exaggerate--just a little--what they had...

Some people, and I know this is hard to believe, had some space left over in their codpieces, so they'd keep objects in there too. Handy! Or something-y.

Of course, they stopped exaggerating... It's not like they do it now...

As the trousers got gradually longer,the undergarments grew with them. They resembled the breeches in shape and size, although they were made with a softer material such as silk, cotton or linen. This was important if you were wearing scratchy wool next to the skin. You find, too that underwear was ditched by many in favour of the coattails of the long shirts. Men would pull the tails between their legs and wrap their family jewels in the shirt. I'm just glad I wasn't a washerwoman in the 18th century, that's all I can say.


With many thanks to Anteros - who has an informative post about Age of Sail underwear here.

What do you think spurred the invention of this contraption?

The bicycle, apparently. Men found that they needed a lot of support while riding it-- although you'd think they would have realised this with horses too...

It's sad that after 6000 years we come almost full circle and where we started with the loincloth, with the jockstrap we finish off with the loincloth.

It's always fascinating to write gay romance because of the wonders to be found under a man's overclothes. It's interesting that names are so difficult to pin down. Small clothes, underthings, underwear--all were considered too delicate to mention and a writer risks getting it wrong no matter what she chooses.

But here's to them all. To the braies, the strossers, the drawers, the jockstraps, the loincloths, the smallclothes, the boxer shorts, the codpiece, the hose. Here's to everything that wraps around that small difference between men and women--viva la difference!

Erastes
www.erastes.com
Erastes writes gay historicals, and her first book for Carina is "Muffled Drum" (set during the Austro Prussian War) and will be out in July 2011. It's full of soldiers, horses, angsty love drawers and many many buttons.








17 comments:

Barbara Longley said...

Love the codpieces. I was recently in the UK, and I toured an exhibit of royal armor. My favorite was King Henry VIII's, which was the only suit of armor to have a codpiece. He was extremely, er . . . boastful about his . . . ahem . . . assets. But then, he was a big guy all around.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Would love to see a baseball game played by men in codpieces, where they grip their crotches and root around looking for chewing tobacco, sunflower seeds, spitballs and the like!

Susanna Fraser said...

I have to say, AFAIC codpieces are tied with 1830's women's sleeves for Most Hilarious Fashion Trend Ever. (Though, I have to admit, the clothes I wore and thought beautiful as a teen in the 1980's are right up there.)

Erastes said...

Hi Barbara - thanks for popping in

I agree - he must have been an amazing and terrifying person to know. The Tudors drives me MAD because although I love JRM, Henry is still thin and gorgeous on wife number five, is it?

Erastes said...

Hi Taryn

Don't they already DO that? LOL

Kate R said...

What do you know! I thought you were KIDDING About the shirt wrapped around the family jewels.

Erastes said...

Hi Susanna - I have to say that, from the first day I saw Romeo and Juliet (Zepherelli's version) - and I was about eight - I wanted men to dress like that. Not with the exagerrated codpieces but with doublet and hose. Probably why I love classical ballet so much...

You just KNOW that if men started to wear codpieces now, they'd be more exaggerated than ever with diamonds and pointy bits like Madonna's bras.

Erastes said...

LOL - Kate - I wish I was - would I dare tell lies on a historical blog? I suppose if you were at sea and only had one pair of briefs and six shirts, it made sense.

Susanna Fraser said...

Doublet and hose don't do it for me, I have to admit. Among looks that do: Ancient Greek and Roman soldiers, kilts, and Regency attire, especially military and naval uniforms. Of course, much depends upon the hotness of the wearer.

Shelley Munro said...

Another informative post. I didn't realize they used their codpieces as manbags. LOL I'll have to save this for a story somehow...

Wendy Soliman said...

Manbags, I just love it! Great post.

Erastes said...

Well, Shelley and Wendy - they had to fill them up with SOMETHING! lol.

Patricia Preston said...

Manbags! Too funny! Codpieces and push-up bras have a lot in common.

Erastes said...

Hi Patricia!

I find it a little odd that this fashion hasn't reasserted itself. I know that some designers have tried, but I'd quite like it!

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