Is That a Codpiece in your Pants, or Are you Just Happy to See Me?

By: Rachel Dean

Surprisingly, leather underwear didn’t start with porn Rachel1stars or people that wanted to hear their nether regions squeak. Actually, leather underwear began almost 7,000 years ago when man used it to cover himself. These loincloths were used until the Middle Ages rolled around when “braies” took their place. Braies were like loose-fitting pants made from linen that ran all the way down to the mid-calf. Unfortunately, they required a lot of unnecessary effort like tying them at the waist and shins. Bathroom trips could never be spontaneous until the “codpiece” was invented. The codpiece used buttons, snaps, and ties and was used to allow men to urinate without having to spend 30 minutes disrobing.  Wetting yourself after one too many drinks would hopefully come to an end.

Rachel2As clothing became short, decorating your crotch became a priority. Padding your codpiece wasn’t just a sign that your insecurity lied directly between your thighs, but it was also very stylish after Henry VIII started the trend.  The Victorian Era until the 1930s was all about knee-length flannel “drawers” with matching undershirts. Cute. In the 1930s there finally came a bit more diversity in men’s underwear; the introduction of boxers and briefs. Jacob Golomb, founder of Everlast boxing equipment, began the movement of developing underwear similar to men’s boxing shorts – hence the term, “boxers.” Obviously he replaced giant leather belts with an elastic band on account of…well, it’s just not practical. Since we’re on the topic of practical, some men didn’t find the support they needed from boxers, however. Who can blame them? It’s a hard transition from skin-tight flannels to your junk flailing all over the place.

As luck would have it, designer Arthur Kneibler received a postcard from France with aRachel3 man on the cover in a bikini style swimsuit.  Kneibler knew this would give the kind of support, ease, and practicality most men were in search for. The term “tighty-whities” came after they were originally dubbed “jockey shorts.”

On January 19, 1935 Kneibler’s store, Coopers, took the jockey shorts to the department store Marshall Fields in Chicago to see if the product would sell.   On the first day, all 600 pairs of jockey shorts sold out and they sold 30,000 more within the first three months.  By 1971, Coopers changed the name of their company to “Jockey” due to the overwhelming success and popularity.

Moving into the 1980s and 1990s, underwear became more than just a necessity, it was fashion. Calvin Klein made headlines, made millions, and made people pass out with his raunchy underwear ads. Now we see underwear designed after TV shows, movies, holidays, and pretty much every major comic book character. Underwear has come from a piece of leather to protect men’s disco sticks from catching on fire, to an item seen as fashionable. With respect to Kneibler’s tighty-whities, I think I’ll take the new, sleeker designs for my man.

Alber Elbaz’s Favorite Accessory

By Ashley Frost  

            necktie4Maybe it’s because I’m single, but I’ve recently become obsessed with men’s fashion. With Paris Fashion Week currently going on it is not women’s fashion I am fawning over, but men’s. I’ve always loved a well-dressed man, and neckties are the pieces that, literally, tie an outfit together. Neckties are an iconic part of menswear with a rich and fascinating history, can you think of any other fashion item which does not serve a functional purpose that has been around for centuries?

            In the mid-1600s Croatian officers were presented to the French royal court, these officers wore scarfs around their necks as part of their uniforms. This look was immediately adopted by French high society who called it “la cravate”. In 1784 Beau Brummel created the three piece suit, including the necktie as the focal point. Brummel is said to be the first person to start using neckties for expression of individuality. In the mid-1800s the word tie replaced cravat and ties started being mass produced.

            necktie2The first designer tie was created in the 1920s by French designers; they started making ties from nicer fabrics such as silk with various designs on them. Throughout the rest of the 20th century neckties went through various trend cycles. In the 1940s they started growing thicker, and then the trend switched to thinner ties in the 1950s. Due to men’s trousers moving lower on the hips and vests becoming less popular, ties have become much longer.

            In the late 1800s and start of the 1900s bowties were primarily worn by intellectuals. Men who were architects, professors or attorneys were frequent wearers of the chic bowtie. Bowtie wearers began to be thought of as snobby. Today the bowtie is worn mainly at formal events. Clowns and comedians such as Pee-wee Herman have helped the bowtie loose its snobby stigma. Historians are unclear whether the bowtie led to the necktie or vice versa, but as long as handsome men are still wearing both I could care less which one came first.

            necktie3Neckties are not a fashion item that can be only worn by men. Thanks to fabulous trendsetters like Diane Keaton ties are a trendy part of today’s women’s fashion. In fact during New York Fashion Week several female collections included ascots and bows. If you want to use a necktie in a little less chic way, try wearing it loose over a white button down or V-neck. Think Avril Lavigne, early Brittany Spears and Jennifer Aniston… but with clothes on.

            Public figures such as Winston Churchill, Carey Grant, Frank Sinatra and many other dashing men have helped neckties withstand the test of time.  Alber Elbaz, Gucci, Brooks Brothers, and Karl Lagerfeld are just a few designers continuing the legacy of the necktie. These designers emphasize ties with quality and functionality while remaining stylish. The necktie is my favorite part of men’s wear and I sincerely hope it never goes out of style.



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