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Readers, nothing lasts forever, even in the relatively stable world of men’s fashion. I categorize most of the garments below under “Going, Going, Gone,” and store a few in my 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 garments that have outlived their usefulness is complicated.

So here it goes…

Friends, once again we must make an example of the very quirky designer Thom Browne (yes, that “Holiday on Ice” outfit 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 1950’s of synthetic stretch fibers like spandex, which tolled the death knell for so many (saggy) fashion favorites. Let’s grieve and move on.

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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.

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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.

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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 spats.

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And straw hats (in summer of course)!

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The last time I saw spats, a bow tie, and a straw hat on a man, I was watching Fred Astaire dance in some old MGM musical. They can be had still in a few old fashioned hat stores, believe it or not, at least here in NYC.

On their way out, at least outside the UK, where traditional men’s fashion is still important (at least among some), 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.

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Finally, friends, we have the most controversial choice of all…

I predict that in a generation or two, no one will recognize a jockstrap.

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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 these briefs. Or they should.

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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, 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, readers: am I right or wrong about these endangered garments? Is there anything you think should be on this list but wasn’t included? Acid-wash jeans, perhaps?

Jump in — well-supported, of course!

~Peter

When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”

24 Comments

  • Missing

    Oct 2, 2011, 01.01 PMby Gary Porter

    First things first: I’m 57 years old and have never seen a smoking jacket, a pair of spats, sock garters or a straw boater in real life. They are not endangered—they are gone, and have been since before I was born.

    As for Thom Browne, he’s much misunderstood and not quite ready for prime time; but I do believe that in the not-too-distant future men will be wearing shorts to the office on a regular basis, even in the corporate world. And the men’s clothing industry will have to figure out some way to deal with it.

    I’ve seen bow ties and braces come and go. Right now they seem to be only for the very young. You don’t mention neckties, which are also on the verge of extinction. Up until business casual came along I owned, literally, dozens. Now I have about five, all from J. Crew, which I bring out for weddings and funerals or the odd day I feel like dressing up like a J. Crew model. And you don’t mention suits, which these days seem to worn only by attorneys, politicians and corpses. There’s also the matter of tuxedos. My opinion: let them go.

    One final matter: in that runway shot the model is wearing braces with a belt. Very bad form. You wear one or the other, never both.

    Oh, and jock straps. I haven’t owned one since high school. Exactly one guy at my gym has one, and he looks like a dork. I see young guys wearing boxer shorts under their gym shorts, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. But I tried it, and it didn’t seem to make any difference at all—just make sure your shorts are long enough that spreading your legs across a weight bench doesn’t get you arrested for public exposure. My running shorts have built-in spandex liners, male girdles, really, which make any form of underwear redundant.

    Of course, jock straps do have a cult following among a certain contingent of fetishists. Like Speedos, I don’t think they’ll completely disappear any time soon.

  • Meg_large

    Sep 1, 2011, 05.34 AMby madebymeg

    smoking jackets! my grandfather wore the plaid trend until the day he died. i even dedicated a jacket in his honor: http://megmadethis.blogspot.com/2011/05/umpa-jacket.html

  • Missing

    Aug 11, 2011, 06.07 AMby mnr

    Spats are f-ing awesome. They need to make a comeback. But most people don’t even SEE the jockstrap. How is it part of fashion? Is it more part of fashion as in it was an essential fuctional item? Because it was never pretty or decorative…

    The thing about fashion is that a slight change in texture, material, or the like can cause a whole new revival of the object. I believe straw hats are one of those things. Then again, I only know of one fashion sect that wears straw hats, and those are alive and thriving in the spring and summer.

    I think a rounder crown and a finer weave with more modern fabric ribbon trims, almost to look like a bowler, would bring it back into style really fast.

    Thanks for writing this post, man’s fashion isn’t covered nearly enough.

  • 100_1467b_large

    Aug 9, 2011, 07.31 PMby Paula Lucas

    I don’t know, I kind of like that holiday on ice outfit…I really like bow-ties, though. I hope they never go completely out of style!!

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    Aug 9, 2011, 05.56 PMby Jodi Wade

    Suspenders are actually pretty cool where I live (Budapest, Hungary). My flatmate last year would wear them on nights out at electro parties…

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    Aug 9, 2011, 02.48 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    I’ve enough vintage silks and whatnot that I could actually make bow ties from scratch and no one would know that they weren’t made in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. As for those boaters, one local Chicago shop says it actually gets men sometimes buying these…and they’re not in a movie production or trying to imitate Fred Astaire.

  • Missing

    Aug 8, 2011, 06.48 AMby guideessay

    Thanks for sharing such nice information, I like your way of writing dude which is very unique and understandable. Keep posting..

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    Aug 7, 2011, 10.37 PMby kraftykatina

    I love bow ties!! I have a sweet 70s pattern and made one for my dad. It’s a bad cheater one with elastic. I need to make one that isn’t a cheater! Love the old school men’s fashion!!

  • Sushi_party_large

    Aug 7, 2011, 06.21 PMby notdeadredhead

    Suspenders? I think if they’re done well, they can work extremely well. (If they’re so awful, how come some people still use them in weddings?) However, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of suspenders with blue jeans and t-shirt. I’ve seen that quite a bit… especially back in high school. Sometimes it can work with a person’s personality/style, but most of the time it just looks foolish. It reminds me of a group of clowns that only got half-dressed for a show. Skinny jeans for guys just always sounded painful to me, and they had a talent for being more than a little awkward side. There are some others, but moderation in all things! X^D

  • Marzi90_large

    Aug 7, 2011, 05.07 PMby MadeByMarzipan

    I’ve never been able to jump on the “Real Men Wear Pink” bandwagon. It just isn’t a sexy color on a man. (Except maybe to another man?)

  • Folded_tshirts_jaipur_large

    Aug 7, 2011, 04.56 PMby camberwellgal

    I’m not sure that bowties and braces are totally on the way out, amongst a certain kind of East London Hipster/Dalston Dandy, the late Edwardian look seems to be quite the thing; well scrubbed haircuts, clipped moustaches, shirts tucked into trousers held up with braces and brogues (or espadrilles in the summer…less 1910s), with different degrees of this amongst students.

    Office going partner observes that the humble tie on the other hand does seem to be an endangered species in less hip circles, both public and private sector. Unless you are senior management, most often seems to be carried in the suit pocket, only to be worn when meeting clients/stakeholders. Anyone else noticed this?

  • Photoge01_large

    Aug 7, 2011, 04.41 PMby gedwoods

    Hmmm… I’ve been wearing suspenders (braces for the English, bretelles for the French) for more than a year now. I have developed a very painful pinched nerve in my leg, and my doctor indicated it was from wearing a belt too low on the hips – construction workers get this condition a lot because of their tool-heavy belts. He suggested I switch to suspenders, and I haven’t regretted the choice at all. Suspenders made out of high end fabrics make a strong fashion statement, mostly favorable – I’ve found white suspenders to be particularly effective this way. They may recall an earlier epoch, but they are still effective, and they provide an healthy alternative to the low-slung belt that many men age into (as they develop a “tire” around the middle, the belt slides lower towards the hips). Possibly, we could modernize the design somewhat, however. So I am voting for a hold on the suspenders, at least personally! (I discovered while in England this summer that the word “suspenders” is confusing to the Brits, as they associate this with girdles – given that I was also talking about a male corset, this was doubly confusing to them!).

    For your list, what about cuff links? And separable collars – perhaps those belong on an older list and are Gone, Gone, Gone! What about the cummerbund?

    1 Reply
    • Folded_tshirts_jaipur_large

      Aug 7, 2011, 05.10 PMby camberwellgal

      Indeed Gedwoods, I’m glad you mentioned the braces/suspenders confusion not me!

      My (Brit) inner nine year old has long sniggered at the notion of otherwise conservatively dressed north Americans enquiring after suspenders, perhaps they were wearing womens stockings under their well pressed trousers…

  • Missing

    Aug 7, 2011, 05.48 AMby rochelle49

    I love the bow ties, too. I am lucky as my husband has several and know how to tie them! What about vests? That item of male apparel seems to be more stable than ladies vests, or is it?

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    Aug 7, 2011, 12.30 AMby meshuggeknits

    Bow ties are cool. Fezzes are cool.

    1 Reply
    • Missing

      Aug 9, 2011, 03.36 PMby emmakenyon

      Matt Smith is cool ;)

  • Vatten_large

    Aug 6, 2011, 10.49 PMby ichigogirl

    Ooouh, I think Bowties are about the least sexy thing a man can wear, right next to bum-bags. My vote is to keep them on the list, in other words!

    Spats, however, shouldn’t we ALL learn to use spats again? At least those of us who live where it snows and the authorities try to get rid of the snow by spreading salt on it, a real shoe-killer. A decent pair of spats have been om my want-list for ages, and they could work on men too, if in a nice style! They’d have to cover more of the foot than the ones in the picture though (toes for eg.)…

    I’d like to see a similar list on womenswear ;-)!

    2 Replies
    • Photoge01_large

      Aug 7, 2011, 04.31 PMby gedwoods

      Hello ichigogirl,

      Those of us men who live with the snows tend to wear something called “boots”, which don’t need spats! (However, for cross-country skiing, we do sometimes wear gaiters, which are very like spats!) :)

    • Vatten_large

      Aug 9, 2011, 05.45 PMby ichigogirl

      Hehe, Gedwoods, I think you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere where the authorities haven’t decided to turn the snow into slush by drenching it with salt… even the biggest, meanest boots suffer terribly from wading around in salty slush for a day or so. The feet inside the wet boots too. But riding a bike in the slush is probably the worst, a real shoe-killer, boots or not. Feet sprayed with salty slush are no fun. That’s when I desperately want a good pair of protective spats.
      And that will be in a couple of moths time, eeeeh!

  • Dodo_large

    Aug 6, 2011, 09.52 PMby lila-1

    Hmm, we seem to have missed the spats and sock garters phase around here. Maybe hoodies for men over 18?

  • Amhb_sq_large

    Aug 6, 2011, 05.59 PMby adriprints

    Lots of classical musicians still have to wear bow ties for concerts… I actually really like the look of them. I agree that probably most who don’t wear them regularly don’t know how to tie one, though. ((hmm. Does the possible extinction of the bow-tie say anything about classical music, too?))

  • Dscf6507_large

    Aug 6, 2011, 07.43 AMby urbandon

    Gone, gone, gone and see you later.

    I have to agree with your picks here. Yes, in the past (my teens) I did wear sock suspenders and braces (at the same time!) …hell, it was a vintage fashion trend then!

    Put on the death list- acid wash jeans, stone wash jeans, 501 jeans (YES!), ripped jeans, dungarees and trainers with suits.

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    Aug 6, 2011, 02.54 AMby nouvellegamine

    bow ties & suspenders will be popular with alt teens for the foreseeable fashion future :)

    and i used to wear sock garters to hold up my argyles with my 1940s dresses. yeah, that’s right, i was all kind of awesome as a teen ;P

  • Dsc_00842_large

    Aug 5, 2011, 08.52 PMby Suriah Phillips

    you think bow ties are out of fashion? clearly you’re not a Doctor Who watcher. i’m with you on spats though.

    • This is a question
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