Our resident man on the good, the bad and the downright repellent from the world of male grooming. This week: Mantyhose isn't the sexiest word, but is there something in it?
First there were Man Spanx, body-shaping undershirts designed to compress one’s unsightly man gut – and presumably a couple of vital organs – into non-existence. Now there’s Mantyhose, technical hosiery (Bro-siery) for the modern gentleman.
While one brand’s marketing department cites male historical figures who lived in tights, he-ggings would be considered a sartorial faux pas in today’s society - even in Camden. Star-patterned nylon-and-cotton blend leggings are charming on a six-year-old girl; on a grown man, however, they reek of "offender behaviour".
Mantyhose are a peculiar innovation for a small start-up. Not because one has to wonder if there is enough
demand to merit their mass production but because one can’t help feeling a little shortchanged. After all, what use is a pair of man tights without a massive Shakespearean codpiece? That’s like Christmas without Santa, like coffee without cream.
I should confess that I have worn tights before. In winter I pound London’s pavements in compression tights to keep out the cold (though I have the decency to layer with a pair of long shorts). I often wear them under my jeans on long-haul flights to keep my circulation going. Male horseback riders wear them to prevent saddle sores.
Crucially, none of the above are a fashion statement of any sort; they fall under the heading of "technical wear" and provide function over form. What’s more, they they’ve all been – ahem – reinforced in certain areas.
Fashion-conscious bro-isery, on the other hand, doesn’t just look like it has a tendency to squish vital bits, it also looks worryingly fragile (a man with a ladder in his tights. Imagine!). Thankfully, one retailer has had the foresight to put together a visual guide to donning Mantyhose: http://e-mancipate.net/guide-how-to-put-on-the-mantyhose
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that men’s tights come with a fly. Though, in fairness, we’d presume that the kind of guy that invests in Mantyhose probably sits down to pee anyway.