Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pardon me... Your Codpiece is Showing!

A codpiece is a section of fabric (or metal in the case of armor) that is sewn onto a male’s hose, to conceal his unmentionables. That’s right, the codpiece came about to solve a practical issue—yes… the medieval version of “your fly is down” except worse! The men wore hose, that were single-legged and tied about the waist, leaving quite a gaping hole. In the days of tunics, this wouldn’t have been a problem as the tunic (long shirt) would have come well to the knees or lower. But then came the doublet and all the sudden, there was a major problem. So, a tailor thought, by golly I’ve got it! And created a codpiece. In the Tudor era it was often padded and boned and grew in size so much that it could carry small weapons or jewels. Men grew creative and fashion conscious, having their codpieces decorated, etc…

So while the codpiece was create to hide a male’s parts when the doublet and hose would have exposed him… it was also used for a few other reasons:

~To emphasize the gender of its wearer
~To emphasize the wearers… masculinity
~To store things like jewels, hence the term “the family jewels” when referring to a male’s appendage
~To stress the notion of male’s organ having a “will” of its own


So tell me, what do you think—are you glad they’ve gone out of fashion and men now have zippers/buttons?

Henry VIII painted by Hans Holbein & and Henry VIII's armor

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