Friday, November 02, 2012

Tighten your garters lads - let's play to win!




How I wish somebody had leaned over to the "cell phone guy" wearing the long coat and whispered in his ear - "Hey mate, you know you've left your garters on?"

This week, once again, I'm drawn to an article of clothing...you'd think I was a fashionista as I frequently focus on the clothes, but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that I don't have a collection of antique postcards nor do I have an extensive catalog of family photos, so when I look at these pictures, I look for a smallish detail I can write about in a couple of paragraphs without being boring or pedantic. Or I maybe I should just confess to being a nit picker detail person by nature.

Why did men wear garters circa 1921? Socks were made of wool or cotton yarns without much inherent elasticity. Men with small calves might experience problems keeping their socks straight and smooth, not puddling up around the ankles - a fashion no-no. Men with very large calves had the same puddling problem. For fashion's sake the well-dressed man wanted smooth socks and for many that meant garters.  Not only for sartorial reasons did men endure the garter - in sport, sagging socks could be a tripping hazard; socks rolled around the ankles or pulling into the shoe might cause a kind of distracting irritation that could rob an athlete of focus. And for hurling, you need focus!


Before I went to Ireland this year,  the term "hurling" for me meant what my cat was doing on the living room rug to relieve himself of hairballs. Reading about hurling matches in Kilkenny I learned that the sport is like a cross between field hockey, baseball and lacrosse. With as much physical contact as lacrosse, but with no padding, you’ve got to be extremely fit, rugged and rugby-style tough to play the game. And your socks MUST stay up and out of the way. Presumably garters would be the answer but in this crowd of hurlers, why isn't everyone wearing them?

In the final analysis, "cell phone guy" looks like a disorganized type. He's the only one wearing a coat and I think he arrived late, flung on his shorts and didn't really think his finished outfit through. Did he really want to play the game in visible garters (a mere 17,000 people watched the match) or was this an unfortunate mistake in judgement.  I wonder how he would react if he knew that 90+ years later and half the world away some twit like me would be scrutinizing his legs with my computer's magnifying glass and passing judgement on his fashion sense?

Like many articles of clothing, the garter-seeking consumer in the twenties had many options. If you were brand conscious you might like the Boston Garter with "the name stamped on every loop":

 There was the two clasp option:
 Or "the choice of the Sea Shore" with no metal ever touching you:
 Brighton garters "worked in harmony with a man's legs":
www.themuseumsfv.org
The Pacer was a huge step forward - garters built right into the socks!

Thankfully, advances in hosiery fabric technology made the garter completely unnecessary and it virtually disappeared from the male wardrobe. We live garter free, but simply for the sake of research I did a Google patent search to see if there was anything new or interesting in the garter world. Much to my surprise I found the following patent application (U.S.3880160) in 1975 by a woman for the most diabolical looking garter arrangement I've ever seen! It's an athletic supporter with garters attached!


As necessity is the mother of invention I can't help but wonder what kind of situation prompted this lady to think this gizmo up. You can read the full patent here if you're interested.

Athletic supporter garter belt patent

Pull up your socks or tighten your garters and hurl on over to Sepia Saturday to read more interpretations of this week's thought provoking photograph:

 Sepia Saturday










23 comments:

  1. I very much enjoyed reading your humorous post!
    The downside is that my wife is now threatening to give me garters for X-mas...

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  2. I remember my father struggling with his garters -- my brother and I always thought they'd make great weapons (slingshots, etc.). Dad had several pairs -- a red pair for Christmas!

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  3. That gizmo looks like a torture device. I'd never read about male garters before, and I'm glad I don't have to use one (or two).

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  4. I applaud your astuteness on selecting such a tiny part of this photo that most of us would have overlooked. You've proven that SSers needn't have stacks of postcards or vintage photos to come up with a treasure of a post.
    Nancy

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  5. A hilarious post. When I played hockey the garters were worn to keep the stockings up over the shin pads. I've always regarded hurling and shinty as hockey with a lot less rules and much more dangerous.
    Oh and Kilkenny won this year's All Ireland Hurling Championship.

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  6. I said to Nancy, when I saw the photo last week, "I'll bet Helen's going to write about garters." I should have bet money.
    This was not only historically interesting it was hysterical.
    Ooops, I have to go... two of my cats are hurling!
    Barbara

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  7. You garter love this post!

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  8. I've never seen that style of male garters before, but I remember the female ones from before pantyhose became popular.

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  9. Oh this just sets me off- into a happy place! yes! I too just was taken to wondering about that man in his whatever right?! Plus the look of the cell phone- you pulled this off in a way like no one else will do I just know it! Great, great post, thanks! I think quite possibly that man if he could read this would be smiling too!

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  10. Heard an interesting bit on BBC recently re: the utility and phallic implications of the necktie. think you will find it intersting, will try to find and send.

    Pedantic robert

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  11. I suppose that gizmo is for women athletes who could then wear their hygienic pad without fear of losing it during their performance. Times have changed since then. They have their own adhesive... (the pads, not the athletes!!)
    Fortunately. That garter wouldn't look good underneath spandex.
    As for socks garters, it is alive and well among certain folks, now part of the fetish culture.

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  12. Considering the numbers of contraptions women have been subjected to - corsets, girdles, etc etc - I'm glad to see one such nuisance for men. I'm all for equality.

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  13. This was a most enjoyable and fun post!

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  14. A very witty and well-written post. I never even noticed the garters. I do remember my grandfather wearing them though, and I had some to hold up my thick stockings in my school winter uniform. - horrible things.

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  15. I've never seen this kind of garters before. Again I learn a lot here at Sepia Sturday. I'm wondering if "the choice of the Sea Shore" was known in Schevening. I'm searching and I'll let you know.

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  17. I guess I too elastic for granted. I knew I had seen men in advertisements with their socks garters but I thought it must have been overkill not know they would just fall down.

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  18. I guess I always knew about garters for men but never really thought about it. I just cannot imagine a modern man in his James Bond tuxedo with garters underneath. It is really demasculating, hahaha.

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  19. Never thought abot men's garters so this was a big new world of interest for me...unfortunately women had garters long after the men gave them up. an interesting post and a great way to join Sepia Sat. This is what I enjoy I learn a lot on all the posts...

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  20. In high school I can remember wearing rubber bands around my legs to try and hold my knee socks up. Torture all day, but there was no alternative. Lots of girls did it in order to not be constantly bending over in our mini skirts to pull up our socks.

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  21. I can honestly say I've never spent any time thinking about men's garters. You've corrupted me!

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  22. I can't help but think of the beloved threatening statement made my parents of my and earlier generations: "I'll have your guts for garters!" It wasn't just MY parents, I hope! Ha ha.

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  23. OMG - this is hilarious, I'm trying to read this at work without anyone noticing what I'm doing and I just laughed out loud! I had never heard of hurling either and what you said about your cats was right on!

    Cell phone guy probably would be quite unhappy if he knew that so many people were looking at him and picking apart his attire. I vaguely remember some older male relative wearing garters but can't remember who. Men should have to suffer as much as women have over the years with all the crazy undergarments we have worn.

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