Did you know?
First, did you know cod is the ye Olde English term for scrotum?
Did you know men were size conscious in the day?
I knew they wore tights and codpieces, but I just thought it was the bar-wear of the day... What?
During publicity interviews for the recent BBC TV adaptation of Wolf Hall, Mark Rylance joked that the codpieces weren’t big enough. US co-production sensibilities, he hinted, required the gentlemen’s appendages to be “tucked away”. This was strenuously denied – there had been no codpiece memo from PBS, apparently – yet critics couldn’t help noticing that all the male characters were discreetly treated in the groin area. Even Damian Lewis, who as Henry VIII might have been expected to sport a giant phallus to emphasise the priapic gusts on which the plot turns, appeared to favour a series of tunics that reached coyly to his knees.
"Is that a phone in your pocket of are you just happy to see me?"
I find it strange as regards modesty, how men were rarely held to account - that it was always women who were condemned for immodest dress, when in fact, male attire could be rather provocative as well.
Since that period, the style has come and gone, but manages to resurface from time to time, and may be making a comeback in our day.
In the Regency period, skintight trousers for men were teamed with narrow coats (rather than Henrician puffed shoulders and barrel chests) to create a long, lean line broken by a wide buttoned flap that puckered and pouched much like an impromptu codpiece. The effect was to draw attention to the phallus while nonchalantly pretending that it was the last thing on your mind.
Now, 200 years on, we have something called shapewear, which comprises not just the obvious waist-pinching, bottom-lifting contraptions for women, but also men’s underpants with padded crotch. The idea is to fashion a discreet bulge under skinny jeans. This, says editor Denis Bruna, is a reaction to the baggy, falling-down aesthetic of five years ago, which made young men look as though they were wearing nappies or even skirts. - ibid
BTW: Just to demonstrate how important this was to men in the Tudor era: Did you know that when a man was hanged, drawn and quartered, he was emasculated before drawn and quartered?
"So you see Sherman, this sheds an entirely
new light upon what we had heretofore
known about the Tudor penal code."