Male Pattern Boldness is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Apr 5, 2016

NOT A JOKE: The "Calchemise" -- YEA or NAY?



So this is now a thing.

Readers, let me introduce you to the calchemise, a men's garment that's been getting a lot of press lately, primarily in Southern Europe (and a shout-out to MPB reader Andrea C. for bringing it to my attention).

As you can probably tell, the calchemise (from the French caleçon, undershorts; and chemise, shirt) combines a dress shirt with what look like boxers to create a romper-like garment that can be worn under regular pants or by itself.

As with most envelope-pushing men's fashion of late, it helps to have good legs (check) and be under thirty (damn).





Where would one wear a calchemise you may be asking.  The calchemise website -- where you can actually order one (or two, or a whole wardrobe full) -- provides a range of possibilities, largely confined to skateboarding and/or posing on the narrow streets of picturesque Mediterranean cities with very little traffic.  The designer of the calchemise, Simon Freour, would really be the person to ask, not me.

Just looking at photos of the calchemise makes me reflexively reach back and tug the fabric bunching between my butt cheeks, though, thankfully, there isn't any.  It just doesn't look comfortable -- but I'd be willing to try one on nonetheless (hear that, Simon?).

Now for some context.  A one-piece chemise-type men's garment, known as a union suit, was popular in the first half of the last century.  You could even sew one yourself.



You may recall that, a few years ago, I purchased a similar garment (vintage deadstock) on eBay.  I'd intended to copy it and draft a pattern for it, but somehow never did.  The union suit, however, was intended solely as underwear.



My recent acquisition, this vintage Seventies John Weitz jumpsuit pattern, includes a short-panted version, but it wouldn't be mistaken for a calchemise -- unless it was done up in cotton shirting; then it just might.



And let's not forget Simplicity 5417, below.

Actually, let's.



The calchemise is closest to a woman's romper, which (I believe) peaked in popularity a few decades ago, though contemporary patterns can still be found for them today.   Many women complain about the need to disrobe entirely in order to relieve themselves, but somebody must still be wearing and/or sewing these things.  Perhaps you?







In closing, what do you think, readers?

Is the calchemise something you (if you're male) or the man in your life (if there is one) would enjoy wearing, if only for skateboarding or looking cute on the way to brunch?

How about wearing them under pants: would you want your shirt attached to your boxers?

The calchemise -- OUI ou NON?  (Yea or Nay?)

PM UPDATE: Just learned there are buttons between the legs that you pop open when you need to use the bathroom, fwiw.

How do you say "oy vey" in French?

69 comments:

  1. Project Runway all stars appears to have a thing going with jumpsuits ... fine for the runway, but I'm with you on the hard to wear.

    Having said that, the calchemise would probably help keep one's shirt tucked in. As for wearing it on the street, if men can go out in thongs (the underwear kind) ... then I guess they can go out in shorts attached to their shirts.

    [I did see someone standing in line for a bar once who I think was wearing a thong ... but maybe just a shirt, I didn't look that closely.]

    ReplyDelete
  2. Where I live in New Zealand, rompers are still very popular with the ladies, though I couldn't bear to wear one myself. I agree with Beth above, keeping one's shirt tucked in could be a helpful aspect?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought that's what a belt was for. LOL

      Delete
    2. Belts are to hold your trousers up. As I understand it, a gentleman who has bespoke quality tailoring won't have belt loops, because the garment has been made to fit him. I know some dinner suits (tuxedos) have little adjusters inside.

      Delete
  3. Women's rompers have been back in fashion (and increasingly so) for the past 3 years or so (speaking Continental Europe), especially for a younger crowd (i.e. not me), mainly rayon or jersey material.

    No man I know would be daring enough to wear a calchemise (and I have never seen one/ never heard of these things before).
    Would one wear underwear underneath? Hopefully. (Women wear underwear underneath a romper. )
    If you don't wear underwear, I'm pretty sure you would neither skate nor bike or ...move, in general... especially if the legs are as short as in the first picture :)

    Actually, I can't wait to see someone out in the wild wearing one. The looks you'd get!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It looks more like a man's bodysuit ala Donna Karan. Meh. But I am certainly not the market for this!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh no! I kind of love it but only in private on someone I want to see it on, not in public ever!

    ReplyDelete
  6. One can only hope that every version is made from a knit with plenty of vertical stretch. FYI, Duluth Trading Company (purveyors of extra long t-shirts intended to prevent "plumbers crack") send around an April Fools Day email purportedly introducing the "tradesman's bodysuit" a t-shirt/jockey short combo intended to completely eliminate that apparently prevalent problem among men in active occupations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plumber's crack is much more polite than the term we use....'Builder's Bum'!

      Delete
    2. lol I think a direct mention of the crack is far ruder!

      Delete
  7. on those guys? hell yeah, i'll look at them all day long. but i definitely wouldn't wear one. and i notice none of them are bending over, which would cause the, uh, problem ...behind... that you mention.

    ReplyDelete
  8. On you, Peter I'd like to see it, however, it looks as if you could never bend over or move at all without displaying certain items of anatomy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Seems like it would prevent plumbers crack, and honestly I wish them on you male types as those stupid jumpsuits for women keep coming the heck back. Y'all can get nekkid in a bathroom stall whenever you want do do your business too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Seems like it would prevent plumbers crack, and honestly I wish them on you male types as those stupid jumpsuits for women keep coming the heck back. Y'all can get nekkid in a bathroom stall whenever you want do do your business too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Non! This type of outfit looks cute on a toddler, but not so much on an adult. Of course, if you wish to wear this as a means to get in touch with your inner child...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jumpsuits: When fitted properly (and stretchy fabric helps a lot), can be super cute. Nothing like a military pilot in his jumpsuit (which is not stretchy, just to be confusing). Yes, cold in the bathroom. I have an evening one (stretchy, full legs swish nicely when dancing). My husband is fond of cosplaying characters who wear jumpsuits a la M5837 above: John Candy's Barf the Mog, from Spaceballs is next weekend's getup. Both Wash and Kaylee wear jumpsuits in Firefly, though with shirts underneath usually, which solves the bathroom issue. Jumpsuits are great for really dirty work, particularly in dark places that might have creepy crawlies that you really don't want to give access to your exposed waist. This sort are frequently fitted with many creative pockets. BUT: hard to fit, weight of fabric needs to be heavy enough to withstand the significant pulling, thought given to seam treatments and placement, and I really don't expect to see the above look in a more public place than a catalog, for all the reasons the others have said.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I had a couple of grandad collar , button fronted t shirt/boxer all in ones a few years ago and they were quite cool because you never had the problem of the tshirt spilling out of your trousers or even riding up. However, going to the toilet does require undressing completely!! And I was young and beautiful at the time whereas now I would probably look more like grandad in cut off thermal long johns!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Non, non, non! Ces sont abominables. If you are taller (like me) or heavier than "standard/average" the fit will be uncomfortable at best. I had something similar acquired in a fit of idiocy in the 70's (knit pullover with snaps in the crotch) and probably wore a grand total of twice. Horrid. Turn back now. Rinse your eyes out and drink until you forget what you've seen.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mais non. We are fast approaching the day where the loincloth will be seen in fashionable bars and restaurants. And we'll all use seat cushion sanitizer. I'd call this process a race to the bottom but that would be in poor taste.

    ReplyDelete
  16. NON, NON, NON, the last thing I want to see is a man's underwear. With or without pants.

    ReplyDelete
  17. NON.....just going to the bathroom would be an ordeal that I don't wish to live with.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Men, especially male designers who think women should wear jumpsuits, should be compelled to wear the calchemise for 2 days. It won't be as much of a nuisance as for women, who must undress to the knees each time they need to use the toilet. I confess that the thought of wedgies for male designers pleases me mightily. Most forget that you need extra length in the crotch if you are going to sit in any comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well, I don't know. I showed these to my husband and he rolled his eyes. So I'm thinking that was a no vote on his part. I used to wear those shorts rompers back in the 80s. I liked them then. I was in my early 20s and considerably thinner.

    ReplyDelete
  20. No indeed! As a way to keep your shirt tucked in, a la union suit, perhaps. Otherwise no thanks. Though along with others, I agree it would be entertaining to put male designers of women's jumpsuits into one for a few days...

    ReplyDelete
  21. As with many things that men wear slouching down Milan and Paris catwalks, these evoke first the thought "I hope they paid those guys a LOT to wear that stuff." I can't imagine that any of them have these photos hanging on their walls to show off. So, I vote NON.

    ReplyDelete
  22. As outerwear???

    Sorry had to pick myself up off the floor after laughing too hard. A couple really remind me of shirt versions of early 20th century camiknickers.

    An underwear as outerwear that I can't get behind. (not even punning there)

    ReplyDelete
  23. With the snap crotch, the inevitable resemblance to baby onesies is complete. Non.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I see it with a two way zipper with cover flap inside for comfort, and the longer leg covering (shorts), and in a heavier material to give it more of a masculine look. How about a 70's collar with longer points? Epaulettes? Short Sports Socks with tennis shoes.
    Frank Fotheringham

    ReplyDelete
  25. In order for a jumpsuit to function properly, there needs to be extra ease at the waist. There's no extra ease - there's no elastic waistband. The reason men wear boxers is for breathing room/ circulation. The wedgie isn't going to be just in the back with this farcical garment.

    ReplyDelete
  26. In order for a jumpsuit to function properly, there needs to be extra ease at the waist. There's no extra ease - there's no elastic waistband. The reason men wear boxers is for breathing room/ circulation. The wedgie isn't going to be just in the back with this farcical garment.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh Lawd, No! The picture did give me a fit of giggles, though.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Love this article! And it's a great idea for those who work in a corporate setting. It keeps you shirt tucked in and not bunchy. Women wear bodyshirts and they make suits look nice. You should try one. Make it long enough to sit at a desk for long periods.

    ReplyDelete
  29. they look like the mens' version of womens' garments that used to be called 'body suits' and were intended to keep slippery shirts tucked into hip-huggers in the 60s and 70s . they also had snaps in the crotch. i've only ever seen them in stretch fabrics - knits that were easy to sit in.

    i'm not sure this is the real you.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I used to dance, and the mens shirts had stretchy boxers/underpants attached to stop them riding up as they did the energetic stretching and moving required for the dance styles. While I am not a fan of loose shirts with loose briefs attached, lots of the guys said how useful it was to have a stretchy (and therefore comfortable) boxer brief with an elasticated waistband (to limit riding up) keeping a loose shirt from popping out when you couldn't wear a belt.

    I don't like the ones you have pictured, they look far too loose, but if you took a proper stretch brief pattern (with a fly front, for ease!) and attached your shirt to it then you'd have a convenient and comfortable option for keeping a shirt tucked in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was my thought - the only place these would be even vaguely desirable would be for the stage, especially musicals. Otherwise... distinctly nay.

      Delete
    2. With you both.

      To me these models immediately reeked of back up dancers for a tousled hair, heavy eye-liner chanteuse in a men's dress shirt singing and pining for her man (Joey Heatherton? Nancy Holloway? Lola Falana? Shelley Fabares?)

      This man-romper in pleather with one large grommet would be an entirely different conversation.

      Delete
  31. These could result in some spectacular wardrobe malfunctions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I saw the first picture, I thought "Now that's something I could wear when I want to relax and put my feet up." On second thought...uh, no.

      Delete
  32. My dad [aged 79] would probably applaud these as he always moaned about his shirts untucking themselves from his trousers. I remember back in the 70s being mortified by the fact that he laboriously sewed tape to the tails of all his shirts so that he could tie them underneath...a sort of DIY calchemise I suppose.
    BTW there have been some very amusing discussions on FB lately about the return of bodysuits- women just aren't plumbed for the ruddy things! [Not to mention the cheesewire effect]

    ReplyDelete
  33. I think I'll pass on this one Peter, LOL! I agree with you on the woman's romper… I've never made one only because I wore an occasional one or two back in the day and I definitely do not like dis-robing in public to relieve myself, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  34. American men are quite conservative by nature and this definitely wouldn't fly here! They may be more adventuresome on the continent, but you're not going to see this as a mainstream trend on these shores trust me......the length of the shorts part alone would turn the majority off! No way, except under longer shorts or pants!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I reckon the best translation of oy vey is the classic oh la la. You may also use additional las for emphasis. I suggest a good few in this case. Legitimate use. There has to be a fashion psychology dissertation out there somewhere on comfort levels related to breaking the outerwear underwear two shells rule. This is playing fast and loose with that, I'd say. But then, mighty folks have always pushed the boundaries of comfort with fashion and we have been a richer culture for it. Arguments against are a little more down to earth: I see no point and, I really don't think it's clear what you're aiming for there so maybe avoid contexts where wearing only underwear would get you arrested!

    ReplyDelete
  36. http://www.thevintagecache.com/images/medium/patterns/m2513_MED.jpg I still own and make this one... Works for me...

    ReplyDelete
  37. Ha! This is awesome. I was about to say 'no way, jose!' but then realized this is almost exactly how I dress Taco in the warm weather, complete with crotch snaps. Except with short sleeves. In fact I just bought several sewing patterns for this sort of garment for him (baby/toddler size) including KS3730. I guess now I'll have to be fancy and call it a calchemise instead of a romper.

    Question: Do adult men wear underwear under the calchemise? Or is the idea that it is all in one? That seems like it could be a bit drafty...

    ReplyDelete
  38. The gentleman of the house here would rather die then wear that thing and neither of the teen boys are impressed either... The teens, boys and girls wear a lot of jersey jumpsuits and I figure its the same bathroom problem but easy to just put on one item when running late for school...

    ReplyDelete
  39. What did men do to deserve this? The calchemise definitely would not fly in my household with 4 gents. The bodysuit/jumpsuit.Been there. Done that. I think I'll pass on it's resurgence.

    ReplyDelete
  40. That...is a very revealing garment, and really reminds us all that clothing need not cling to be revealing.

    On the one hand, I like anything that challenges gender norms and I don't see why a fellow can't wear a pair of tailored camiknickers if he wants. On the other, I for one would feel a bit unguarded parading around in the street with shirting for trousers. A more robust fabric, a bit of a waist and maybe a couple more inches of inseam and I would think about it.

    But honestly, clothing wasn't better before modern fabric - stretch wovens and the use of jersey for day are great inventions. Not all traditions need to be revived.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Two words: Mormon Underwear. Or, if you prefer, Temple Garments.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Aw dang. Now I know what my next project will be!

    I had considered making some dress shirts like this in the past, to prevent untucking, but I was thinking of wearing pants too.

    I wear jumpsuits 3 or 4 days a week, so the onesie aspect doesn't intimidate me. You do need to put the crotch lower than you would if you were designing pants, if you intend to be able to crouch or bend over. Or sit. As a consequence it can look droopy in the crotch when you are standing up. But I think a happy compromise could be developed with some drafting and prototypes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or make them tight but of knit fabric, and spend the day doing the Picard Maneuver.

      Delete
  43. A definite nay for me, sorry Peter! Even with good legs and aged under thirty!! As underwear sure, but nothing more than that!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Frankly, I am fed up with people thinking they look good wearing their underwear in public. Evening dress looks like someone's slip or nightgown, and hair hangs like hemp. Stretch T-shirts = walking sausages. Where is the honest pride once taken in one's appearance? Why do people WANT to look ugly, cheap, and half naked??

    ReplyDelete
  45. Peter....I know what you're up to!!! LOL!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Care to share??

      Delete
    2. Test, you're a clever and imaginative fellow.....think about it! LOL!!

      Delete
    3. Check out Peter at Instagram and you'll see what I knew was cooking all along!!

      Delete
  46. Any jumpsuit must have the required openings for elimination. Therefore, in my opinion, they're only for underwear or nightwear. Yuck

    ReplyDelete
  47. Ummmm.... Yeah.... Not sure what I'm thinking about that. I'll have to show it to my better half and see what he thinks.

    As far as rompers go, they are STILL quite popular, especially for pageant girls (by which I mean even adults) as part of their "fun fashion" or "casual wear" runway events. I've rocked a lace romper in coral on the pageant runway recently. And it had a back zipper. 'Nuf said.

    ReplyDelete
  48. The only thing I've ever worn close to this would be overalls. The tank top loose fitting version would be something I'd wear if it was in a soft fabric. But a long sleeved version with shorts atatched, NA. I don't like tucking in shirts anyway and on the models even though they are tucked in or secured to their shorts they still look messy.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails