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Mar 8, 2011

REVEALED -- Men's Fashions Most-Endangered List!

Readers, today's MPB Guy Week post will no doubt spark controversy.  Nothing lasts forever, even in the relatively stable world of men's fashion.  I categorize most the garments below under "Going, Going, Gone," and store a few in my heretofore top-secret "Good-bye and Good Riddance" folder.

I share them with you today gladly, but please note: if you or someone you love is still hanging onto and arguably enjoying one of the following garments, please exercise compassion: men's emotional connection to tatty old garments that have outlived their usefulness is complicated.  In some instances an intervention by a healthcare professional is not only warranted but also necessary.

So here goes.


Friends, once again we must make an example of the very quirky, very something Thom Browne (yes, that Ice Follies nightmare is one of his creations).  Sock garters, if you've never heard of them, were once worn by men to keep their socks up.  They also tended to cut off circulation to one's feet. They fell out of favor for one obvious reason: the invention in the late Fifties of synthetic stretch fibers like spandex, which tolled the death knell for so many fashion favorites.  Let's grieve and move on.

Perhaps you or your man likes to indulge in a puff of tobacco now and then.  Once upon a time this was a pastime enjoyed by a majority of men and women but alas, no longer.  So it should come as no surprise that the beloved smoking jacket is going, going, gone. 

I don't doubt that there are a few fashion eccentrics out there who will cling to their smoking jackets and I say live and let live.  Next!

I am the proud owner of many a vintage bow tie and I actually know how to tie one.  But is there any doubt that these are relics of another era, a time when men also wore....


The last time I saw spats, a bow tie, and a straw hat on a man, I was watching Fred Astaire in Ziegfeld Follies.  If you're interested, you can actually purchase these items (separately of course) on Amazon.  If not quite gone, soon to be forgotten.


On their way out, at least outside the UK, where traditional men's fashion is a fetish, are suspenders, or as they're also known, braces.  Like sock garters, these no longer serve a purpose for men who don't aspire to dress like Edward VIII.  Worn with jeans and Doc Martens they only look scary and let's face it: clip-on anything is always a little cheap looking.

Finally, friends, we have the most controversial choice of all and I don't mean synthetic wigs.

I predict that in a generation or two, no one outside the BDSM community will recognize a jockstrap.

This embarrassing knit accessory has long outlived its usefulness, as today we men have a plethora of sports garments made of miracle space-age fabrics which will more effectively support, caress, and protect our cherished male parts.  I have never seen a jockstrap on a man in the gym under 60.  Guys who play basketball or run generally wear things like this:

Jockstraps will no doubt always have their place, just as lace garter belts, french maid uniforms, and serving-wench bodices continue to have theirs.  But these are costumes, my friends.  If you, male reader, are unable or unwilling to part with your jockstrap, I pray I have not incurred your wrath.  Please don't shoot the messenger.

It seems we're out of time and I haven't even covered tie clips or toupees. Oh, well!

What do you think, wise male readers and the women who love them -- am I right or wrong about these endangered garments?  Is there anything you think should be on this list but wasn't included?  "Wife beaters" or acid-wash jeans, perhaps?

More specifically, what are your thoughts about jockstraps, if you ever do have thoughts about jockstraps and who doesn't, if only in a fever dream?  We don't judge here at MPB and all views are welcome.

Jump in -- well-supported, of course!


  1. Can you actually make bow ties? I know there are many sources out there, but a custom one would so be worth it.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  2. Watch one NFL game featuring a team with white pants and you'll see that jock straps are still quite popular in at least one sport.

  3. Great post - but I must say: Suspenders still serve a purpose. When men have too large a "bay window", they have no chance of keeping up their pants without a belt or suspenders. My father can't keep his up using a belt - one of my responsibilities is to give him new suspenders for Christmas! :-)

  4. Why does one need a special jacket to smoke in? Were there smoking jackets for women too?

    The last time I remember spats was when I wore them as a majorette over my boots.

    I see men wearing straw hats in the summer all the time. These said men are also wearing seersucker. But what can you say, this is the south....

  5. I have to tell you a little jockstrap story.

    When my folks were first married (back in the late 60's), my mom asked my dad what he wanted for Christmas (he has been hard to buy for since birth!).

    His smarta$$ reply: A fur-lined jockstrap.

    My mom asked several times, and he always gave the same answer. My mom was talking to a friend at work about it, when said friend offered up the fact that she had bought a new coat that came with a detachable fake fur collar. She did not plan to use the collar at all and gave it to my mom.

    Come Christmas morning, my mom handed my dad a beautifully wrapped package (weighted down with 2 empty coke bottles). He opened it and nearly died. I have always found this story especially funny, because my dad is and has always been the outrageous one. Mom is more reserved and proper, so when she pulls something like this it stands out all the more.

    Would the fur-lining of jockstraps help them stay in fashion or send them out quicker?

  6. I remember being astounded about a decade ago when a grown son mentioned using a tie clip, but I agree that those seem to be gone. Also for most, are cuff links (although I know they do exist).

  7. Debbie, I would sooner boil myself alive.

    Furry jockstraps -- now THOSE have a future!

  8. My husband uses cufflinks and a tie clip pretty regularly, but he is also a math teacher who wears suits to work everyday. So I will admit, in light of what most teachers are wearing to work these days, he is definitely not keeping up with the newest slovenly trends. BTW, he has bought nearly all of his well fitting and well made suits at the local thrift stores. I'd love to see him in a smoking jacket, but I am afraid he would smoke in it...

  9. I would agree with most all of that list. I do think bow ties will hang on for a while longer. I personally think they look nice, but only on the right man.
    Another commenter mentioned cuff links. I think that if you have more custom clothing, instead of off the rack you probably still wear cuff links. I've seen Stephen Colbert wearing them on his show.

    Love the blog BTW.


  10. How funny that many of these items still appeal to me: Spats, bow ties, sock garters. Though I can't reasonably weigh in on jock straps ...

  11. I'm guessing a smoking jacket was meant to keep the disgusting smoke smell out of your regular jacket. I, for one, think they're quite elegant -- sans cigarette, of course.

    My father was still wearing sock garters in the late 60s.

  12. I do say, I have to disagree a smidge on the bowtie. I still see a lot of professors and teachers that sport them.
    What about button on suspenders? They're very stylish!

  13. This goes back a decade but my husband and I lived in a rooftop flat for a few years and on cooler summer evenings we would admire the elderly gentleman from the flat below sitting on his roof terrace, sipping at his cocktail in a red velvet smoking jacket. He looked so totally cool that ever since, my husband has been looking forward to getting old so that he too could sit outside in a smoking jacket of an evening, with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.

    Yes, we are British. Possibly eccentric.

  14. Speaking of sock garters - my son came home from boot camp and gave us all a good laugh as he undressed from his grad uniform (Alphas - the green dress uni). Apparently, Marines wear combo shirt/sock garters to keep their dress shirts tucked in, tight, and looking sharp. Think of upside-down elastic suspenders that clip onto the shirt hem and then wrap around the legs downward to attach to the socks. Like a torture device, IMO.

  15. Here is a visual of some other poor Marine.

  16. My father in law and many of his compatriots wear suspenders - some of them becasue of the 'bay window' that was already mentioned, and some (like my FIL) because his Parkinson's has reached a point where doing up/undoing a belt several times a day is quite difficult.

  17. My man has three jock straps, two pairs of braces AND a smoking jacket....

    But we belong to that acronym group you mentioned, so, know...

  18. Bow ties live on -- my husband wears them and I still think they are rather subversive in a totally cool retro way. Now if only he would give up the leather elbow patches on his tweed jackets...

  19. You would think the NFL by now would have figured out what happens to white uni pants when it RAINS!! Too much information!

  20. My grandfather used to wear home knit socks, sock garters and, the odd time, arm bands. The sock garters hit the bin when I bought him the first pair of elaticised knee socks I'd ever seen (then call executive hose.) Grandma could have shot me as she'd spent who knows how many hours knitting all those black wool socks, washing them by hand, and putting them on sock stretchers to dry.

    The arm bands were for when shirts didn't come in sleeve lenghts. Grandpa had a few Egyptian cotton shirts that he kept forever. They wore very well and felt like cool silk. Oh, I loved those shirts.

    My father went through a phase in the late 50s of wearing bowties. Had them in every colour and pattern. You can find bow tie patterns on eBay in the vintage sewing sometimes.

    My DH has a job strap, but he says it's a cup. Don't know. I won't touch the thing.

    BTW, aren't suspenders, with buttons (like grandpa wore) supposed to be the correct way to keep your pants up and not a belt?
    Heather (the walking anachronism)

  21. Anachronist that I am, I am doggedly hanging onto my suspenders, cufflinks and bow ties as normal wear, and I have plans for a smoking jacket (and a fez, with tassel) to make for an event in the near future.

    Sock garters and jock straps, however, are unnatural encumbrances and are best left to an earlier, crueler age.

  22. Funny, I didn't know jock straps were out. I figured you had to protect your junk. They were more than just underwear, right? I thought they were hard?

  23. They CAN have a hard plastic cup for soccer/football goalies and such. Most are just coarsely knit pouches with droopy elastic straps.

  24. I love a bow tie worn with a slim shirt and fittend, perfectly tailored pants. Mr. Goodwill Hunting, you may find a pattern for one on Burdastyle at:

  25. Oh dear, sorry about that typo - fitted, not fittend. Though that term could come in handy when talking of the perfect hem length.

  26. Several of my rugby-playing male friends wear rigid jockstraps. I rather wish I didn't know this and that they hadn't mentioned it over lunch.

    Doctor Who is embracing the bow tie. As Eleven keeps pointing out, bow ties are cool.

    I made a pair of spats recently. I'd love to be be able to say they were crisp and white and for a refined gentleman, but they weren't. Fur velboa, for a woman dressing as a cat for Halloween.

  27. My husband always wears a hat, fedoras in winter and straws in summer. He also wears suspenders. He sometimes wears a bowtie. Cute.

    I love, love smoking jackets. My husband does not have one but I would love to have a retro YSL Le Smoking for me. I have an old YSL ad that shows a woman wearing a fez, but not with the jacket unfortunately.

  28. "Speaking of sock garters - my son came home from boot camp and gave us all a good laugh as he undressed from his grad uniform (Alphas - the green dress uni)." Debbie

    The shirt to sock garter is alive and thriving in police and sheriff departments. Keep that picture in mind when you next see a cop directing traffic ;)


  29. I don't think I've ever actually seen a jock strap before.
    Here in the south, bow ties are alive and kicking.

  30. I have to say that I like the suspenders look, especially as some older men wear them, but that suspenders AND belt look is just so like a three year old just learning to dress themselves!!!!

    (signed) an avid lurker

  31. I just discovered your blog, absolutely great, The Fashion Philosopher

  32. I would love to have wife beaters on the list, but I live in Iowa, and yeah, when we go to the state fair, the wife beater is the most popular top, but it's even more popular when it's stained.

  33. jocks can also fall on the underwear topic of support and movement from the other day. i know plenty of people who wear them daily. they have modern versions that don't involve straps cutting into your legs or scratchy pouches (timoteo).Ti find them best when its hot and humid out. pretty much my daily wear in the summer. regarding bowties, smoking jackets, suspenders, and cuff links. I believe they are still going strong with they folks that enjoy some dressing up. You just see them less as our society becomes more casual. Jeans and tshirts get boring. I prefer to see a well dressed man anyday or night

  34. Fur jock straps are on sale and on display in the window of a shop on the square here in Jackson, Wyoming.

  35. Good article. BTW, for the poster who mentioned cuff links... they are still popular (and coming back strong) in Europe.

    Helsinki, Finland

  36. I know an aspiring young surgeon who always wears bow ties. They have the advantage of not dangling on the patient during an examination.

  37. Bow ties are on the upswing! At least, the under 30 set is trying to prevent them from dying out completely. Although, they might be more popular if they were easier to find. I spent many an hour on Google looking for bow ties because I couldn't find any in regular department stores. The Burda pattern is definitely on the "to sew" list.

  38. As @lizajane pointed out though, bowties are out and about on Southerners, for which I'm grateful. They're adorable! I didn't understand braces 'til I saw how good a fitted suit looks with them. The bulk of the belt is gone, and if the suit is slim and has a vest, it's wonderful for the lines.

    P.S. I love how the comments for this have become a place for women to inquire about the things they didn't know (but always wanted to ask) about how jock straps work/look. I learn something every day ;)

  39. I'm from way down south (in Sunny Australia) and here I see a lot of cuff links both in jewelers shops and on cuffs and I adore them. Bow ties are almost ubiquitous for more formal occasions but my obstetrician wears them every day to work, as does a surgeon I know and a local music teacher (he also goes for the leather elbow patched tweed jacket look). My dad wears a bright red one to "black tie" events which I put down to a deep subversive streak. I see suspenders a fair bit too and I have to say that worn right, and by the right man they can be very attractive. My 2 year old son has a pair too and they are very cute. Someone mentioned tie pins and clips. My brother who is a student doctor has just announced his preference for these. Apparently they keep the tie from dangling on the patient during examinations. Of course said brother also collects and wears hats... he has even been heard to describe himself as a "young fogey". I suspect he yearns for a smoking jacket. Perhaps I'll have to make him one.

  40. Dancers wear jockstraps/support otherwise bits keep moving when the body stops. lycra tights are a bit too revealing without them.
    great site
    wardrobe lady

  41. Im from Aussieland as well, and I bought my son a pair of cufflinks for his formal which he loved.
    He bought his best friend a pair of "autobot" from transformers cufflinks for Christmas last year, and bought himself a pair.
    Sadly, his friend didnt survive til Christmas and was buried in them, with my son wearing the other set to his funeral. he then gave them to his friend's family as a keepsake.
    Cufflinks are popular here for sure.

  42. Living in hipster Oakland, you can regularly see guys wearing everything mentioned in your blog (except sock garters). I own a few pairs of suspenders and bowties, and I always get a ton of compliments when I wear them. Surprisingly, jockstraps are becoming popular everyday underwear for guys. I know of a few guys that wear them as everyday wear. They're not like the straps of old, but are actually very comfortable.

  43. When my brother was at camp in the late 1960's he wrote home needing a jockstrap - my mom made my dad buy it as it was a guy thing- he still pays ice hockey but I don't know if he still wears them.

  44. So not with the 21st Century ! You need to get out more. Every major mens underwear brand name includes a fashion jockstrap - literally hundreds of them - e.g.

  45. As much as Under Armour likes to pose itself as the next great thing in workout gear, I've noticed that since the initial boom of sales after its launch, the brand has been showing up a lot less in the locker room and gym. The moisture wicking fabric it's made from actually pulls the sweat away from your body and locks it into the fabric. After a good 3-6 months of wear at the gym, that tshirt or undergear starts to smell the moment it heats up, regardless of how well washed it is. Most men seem to have drifted back to basic cotton tshirts.

    In terms of the jock, I personally still wear them. The thigh-choking leg bands of the moisture wicking (aka odor absorbing) shorts actually feel more constraining then freeing. The boys may need support, but compressing everything else just feels like more of a deterrent on squat day than a benefit.


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