The Guardian tries its best to make codpieces trend, and it’s absolutely cringe. As usual these days, they convince no one. Yet it begs the question – why was the codpiece ever popular?
Here’s a believable practical purpose:
The codpiece did not just appear overnight, it evolved. In the late Middle Ages, when the rising hemlines of tunics, coupled with a lack of underwear led to exposure of wobbly bits. The parson in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales decries the “scantnesse of clothing that covere nat the shameful members of man.”
University of Cambridge says the codpiece changed into a masculine showpiece, if you believe that. The trend soon gave way:
Costume historians have long argued that the codpiece fell from favour as the result of the vogue for femininity that swept through the French and English courts. Elaborate ruffs and ballooning breeches heralded a shift in focus to the face and hips. “It’s evident in the late-16th and early 17th-century portrait miniatures of decorous young men by Nicholas Hilliard and similar painters that the style of men’s fashion was taking a new direction,” says Bartels.
I definitely understand the practical explanation. The masculine/feminine thing seems like overreaching. I find it impossible to imagine a world where men start wearing codpieces outside their shorts or skinny jeans. I’ll file this under a Guardian prediction to see how they do.