Bringing Back the Codpiece

by A Manly Guest Contributor on April 1, 2011 · 99 comments

in Blog

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Ty Karnitz.

Men today have been bringing back many classic things from the past: the hat, old cocktails, shaving with a safety razor…and now it’s time to revive another quintessential piece of manliness: the codpiece.

What’s a Codpiece?

In the 1500s, men wore hose to cover their legs. Now the hose they wore were nothing like the hose women wear today. The hose covered the legs but did not cover the genitals. As the jackets and doublets got shorter with fashion, men began to accidentally expose themselves when they sat down or mounted a horse. So, to cover their manhood, men began to wear a codpiece (from the Middle English “cod,” meaning “scrotum”).

The codpiece began as a simple piece of fabric that would be tied down, really just an extra piece of linen. However, as time wore on the codpiece became more elaborate and decorative, longer and padded. So instead of helping to conceal the genitals, the codpiece emphasized them.

However, there are alternative theories as to why the codpiece was developed. Author Marion Sichel, in the book History of Men’s Costume, suggests the codpiece developed because men’s hose became so tight they restricted movement, and the codpiece gave men more freedom of movement.

While the most readily accepted idea is that the codpiece was used to emphasize a man’s sexual prowess, there is another idea about what a codpiece was used for. Anthropologist Grace W. Vicary believes that the elongated codpieces might have contained medication to relieve symptoms of venereal diseases; this way the medication would not ruin the outer clothing.

Whatever the reasons for the codpiece’s evolution, it is without a doubt one of the most unique and distinctly manly articles of clothing ever seen. And though its height of popularity might have been in the 1500s, there is evidence that early precursors to the codpiece were around even in Ancient Greece. Some figurines recovered in archeological digs on Crete depict codpieces.

Who Wore Them in The Past

Some very manly men in the past have worn codpieces. Henry VIII is a prime example. His armor on display in the Tower of London shows that he wore a very large codpiece.

Now, the codpiece has fallen out of fashion in the last five hundred years or so, but that doesn’t mean it has vanished entirely. The Star Wars movies show great examples of codpieces on the armor of Darth Vadar and the Storm Troopers. David Bowie wore a codpiece in The Labyrinth, and Malcolm McDowell sports one in the Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. You also see them in a lot of heavy metal bands today and in the leather subculture. Also across the world, at Renaissance fairs, men wear them still to this day.

Codpieces are handsome AND functional. Seen here: an incredibly stylish bulletproof codpiece.

Why Men Should Wear Them

The codpiece should be brought back because it can help men today Command a Room like a Man. Any man boldly sporting a codpiece as he walks into a room will instantly gain everyone’s full attention. But remember, the codpiece is supposed to accentuate and not dominate, so even though everyone is likely to be staring at you, keep the focus on them. Maintain eye contact and talk about others. Following those simple rules will also help draw a lady’s attention.

Where to Buy

Luckily enough, the codpiece is not extinct. They are still readily accessible on some very popular websites, including Amazon, and most of them will only cost you a little over 100 dollars apiece.

But perhaps that is too expensive. Perhaps, as a cautious man you want to make sure that you’re not spending money on something you won’t want in a few years. That’s okay, too, because there are cheaper alternatives.

Sports Authority, and other sport stores, offer a wide variety of jockstraps and cups that with a little effort could be turned into beautiful codpieces. Some of the newer cups look like shorts and could be worn by themselves. Some of the older styles might need a little paint, so they don’t look so white and out of place over your jeans.

Just remember to be creative about it. To make the cup look more sophisticated, try painting a design on the outside of it, like flames or dragons or an axe or maybe just a smiley face. There’s really no wrong way to bring back the codpiece–just get to it!

{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

1 PiperKev April 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

Pretty appropriate post, considering the day… ;-)

2 Logan Monday April 1, 2011 at 9:04 am

While that is an interesting piece of clothing, I don’t think it’s gonna catch on. Just saying politely.

3 Dennis April 1, 2011 at 9:05 am

No, no, a thousand times, NO

4 Emily April 1, 2011 at 9:09 am

If ever I saw a man unabashedly and without either reserve or pretension successfully pull off the wearing of a codpiece I would surely surrender all to him. How extraordinary that would be!

5 Daniel Gordon April 1, 2011 at 9:09 am

I took this seriously, and was quite bewildered, until I realized what day it was. Tricky tricky.

6 Justin April 1, 2011 at 9:11 am

An excellent post for April 1st! Bring back the codpiece!

7 Edin April 1, 2011 at 9:14 am

This is one of the ugliest things I ever saw. I don’t think any man would ever wear that.

8 Paul Lavin April 1, 2011 at 9:16 am

Well this is must be a cod-piece…

9 austinklee April 1, 2011 at 9:20 am

I see what you did there. Well played sir, well played.

10 R.J. April 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

Ah, I’ve been April-fooled.

11 Ryan Crum April 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

Well played! I was thinking you all had lost it until I realized the date. Well played, indeed!

12 Andrew April 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

lol. The first pic just gives me the creeps. Looks like giant clitoris. Just creepy.

13 Bill Hillyer April 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

Well done! Had me for a moment…

14 Frank April 1, 2011 at 9:28 am

Hahahahahahahah…. *deep breath* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! *wiping tears…* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

15 Swordpoint 9 April 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

April what ? Great one played well !

16 michael April 1, 2011 at 9:39 am

Great Idea.
And add a bell on the top.
Full attention guaranteed!

17 Mike April 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

As an opera singer, I have worn cod pieces for various characters and I want to stress to the gentlemen reading this post:

Don’t knock it until you try it.

CODPIECE ’11!!!!

18 Hale April 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

Well ! The size actually matter !

19 Mark April 1, 2011 at 10:02 am
20 Len L April 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

Awesome post….you had me as well until I realized the date…

21 Jim April 1, 2011 at 10:14 am

I see what they did there.

22 Veruckt April 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

Ha ha. April Fools. So long as no one tries to bring back the chastity belt I’m okay.

23 Jim April 1, 2011 at 10:21 am

I just ordered mine from classiccodpieces.com!

24 J D Armstrong April 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

Ha! I was so focused on today being the opening day for the Rockies that I didn’t realize that today was the first of April! I guess I should go cancel my leather codpiece order from Amazon!

25 Rob April 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

Just realized what day it was! Now what am I going to do with this sports cup and all the spray paint I bought?!

26 Razz April 1, 2011 at 11:06 am

I like the idea. I would love to wear a codpiece to my Mother-in-laws home. Better yet, to service on Sunday Morning

27 Justin April 1, 2011 at 11:06 am

Wow. Just wow. I was surfing all my favorite sites, trying to see what they were doing for april fools when I took a little diversion to read my favorite manly website.

I got halfway through this article, hoping against hope that they weren’t actually endorsing the wearing of this article in public, when I finally realized that I had been had!

Well played sir, well played.

Tomorrow you can post an article on how to pull an april fools prank on thousands of readers like a man.

28 Sol April 1, 2011 at 11:07 am

I didn’t catch it until you suggested wearing a painted cup over your jeans.
Very good. INSPIRATION! I shall find my victim.

29 GP April 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

I made my codpiece out of a 1949 Pontiac lucite hood ornament. Glows in the dark !

30 Michael D. Denny April 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

You should probably be careful about the jokes you make, Gentlemen. Seen a rap star lately? That started as something of a joke.

31 Joseph R Marshall April 1, 2011 at 11:35 am

THANK YOU! Finally someone the cod enough to write about it!

32 Greg K. April 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

I took this advice and ran straight out to get one. I couldn’t wait until I got home to wear it, so I just sported it on the way back from the store. I must say, some of the looks made me a little self conscious at first, but I got a lot of winks and flirty eyes from women as I walked past. I decided to go with a classic, yet subdued sueded codpiece – I figure I’ll ease people into it until they get used to the idea, then maybe we can whip out the leather. It’s tough being on the vanguard of paleo-fashion.

33 Nez April 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

You had me going for a minute there.

34 Jenny April 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Finally, a decent April Fools!

35 dpcbb April 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I am wearing a codpiece right now! Its the ONLY thing I wear when reading AoM!

36 John April 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Got punked! Clever, very clever, you are!

37 Dennis April 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Dammit! Hook, line and sinker!

38 Scott McClare April 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Dear Sir: Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

39 Steve April 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I ran into my friend Carson at an industrial club a few months ago, and he was wearing a shiny chrome codpiece. (It was quite appropriate to the atmosphere.) I was just saying goodbye to him when a beautiful young woman stepped in beside me and said, “Excuse me.” She got down on her knees in front of Carson, took out a lipstick, and used his chrome codpiece as a mirror to fix her makeup. She stood up, thanked him politely, and gave him a light kiss on the cheek, leaving a small kiss-shaped lipstick mark perfectly placed on his jawline.

Everyone out together that night agreed that Carson won the night. There was no competition going on, but he won anyway. Apparently chicks dig a shiny codpiece:)

40 William P April 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I was about to write a lengthy email pertaining to the quality of this article and how it does not fit in with the overall nature of this site… and then I realized I had been fooled.

Well played sir, well played.

41 Danny April 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm

LOL!….cod pieces…good one….wink

42 Brian April 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

You could also strap half a potato across your bits. Way cheaper, looks ‘natural’ and doubles as an emergency food source.

43 Guillaume April 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Ha ha. But for those of us gay men who grew up reading superhero comics and spend much of the day bulge-watching as we walk down the street, this is not a joke but a dream, hopefully to one day return. It’s always funny to see how Victorian hetero men are about their sexuality, shown with all the comments here. Yet at least once in their lives they’ve checked out other guys packages in the locker-room for manly comparison with their own, to see how they compete. Everyone knows how a man’s personality is fundamentally tied to the size of his equipment – hung guys are more confident, and the rest either hang back or overcompensate in other ways (you know what they say about all those guys with big trucks).
Bulge-enhancing underwear exists now for those who want it. It’s just a matter of time and cultural change before the codpiece or its equivalent come back into common use. No joke, I say, bring it on!

44 Bob Downs April 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Uh… no.

45 Bryan Roy April 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Please tell me this a joke……April fools right?……..Right!!!

46 Jeremy April 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

This was a pitch perfect April Fool’s joke. You really had me going there. Well done sirs, well done!

47 MKR April 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Perhaps something like Blackadder’s Black Russian would be the thing for April 1.

48 John April 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I was thinking to myself… What?!?! Then, reading the comments below I realize it is indeed the day of tricksters. I’ve been bamboozled!

49 Keystone Jack April 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I want one with Catfish whiskers!!!

50 Ken OBrien April 1, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Oh…no,h-ll no,I didn’t think much of today except for the fact that I had school,I was supposed to have a senior league baseball game and that everyone said they hate me then screamed,”April Fools!”then hugged me…should have known.

51 JG April 2, 2011 at 12:27 am

Then we can listen to some Ludwig Van and hang with our droogs

(If you don’t get the allusion, read / watch “A Clockwork Orange”)

52 Robert Black April 2, 2011 at 1:14 am

What a load of bollocks :) and a TIMELY and WELL POINTED article

53 Saeed April 2, 2011 at 2:48 am

AoM, i’m sorry. you’re a great blog site and all, but i aim to disagree on this one.

54 Matt laufer April 2, 2011 at 2:59 am

April fools day article!! Lol

55 Dan April 2, 2011 at 5:04 am

Only if I can get one with mini moose antlers.

56 G April 2, 2011 at 5:46 am

I like the part where it’s April fools

57 Mark Schäperkötter April 2, 2011 at 6:04 am

I think some Amazon-Indian tribes rock some nice variations on this theme… :-)
How about a photocontest on this subject?

58 Hp April 2, 2011 at 9:14 am

Wow! I had a lot of respect for this site until this posting. Joking or not, this has nothing to do with the “art” of manliness.

59 BRZ April 2, 2011 at 9:26 am

Great Post.

One very important part of being a man is the ability to laugh at yourself. It looks like some of those commenting here could use a little self improvement in that aspect.

60 Almond Butterscotch April 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

It’s unfortunate that the emails go out a day after the posting.

61 Heath Holden April 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Sooo happy that this is a joke. Admit that you had me but in all fairness, it is April 2nd.

62 John Wardlow April 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm

The author is certainly entitled to his opinion.
That said… um, no.

One will indeed command everyone’s attention when walking into a room or strolling in public while wearing a codpiece — by looking like an idiot! It’s true that the occasional woman may be intrigued, but most will think you’re trying WAY too hard to get attention, and probably trying to make-up for having a smaller than average johnson or trying to cover up some other flaw — and as a man, I’d have to agree.

If the author feels strongly that the codpiece should be brought back into common fashion — fine, but subtlety would be a better way to start. Low profiles, neutral, monotone colors that blend into the other outerwear, and a non-exaggerated size & shape would make them more widely accepted.

Still, maybe I’m just a “fuddy-duddy” at 46… but I’ll pass.

63 Nick April 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I completely fell for this at first. Well done AoM.

64 Ball Lightning April 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm

This was by far my favorite article. So entertaining and informative! You guys rule the internet.

65 Dustin April 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm

This is hilarious. I’m sorry, but I would laugh at someone for wearing a codpiece walking around. I hope this was an April fools post haha

66 Zeus April 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Love it!!!, ya almost got me, until the idea of making your own to stay on budget overdid it ever soooooooooo slightly.

by the way, favorite modern use of a codpiece has to be by Blackie Lawless of the shock-rock band WASP, who was known to wear a fireworks shooting, buzz-saw blade adorned leopard skin piece on stage. Now, there’s manliness!

67 Christopher Boatwright April 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

@ Hp & John Wardlow- Have a friggin’ highball and lighten up. April Fools, sourpusses.

@AoM- You make us laugh, and you make us proud. Still the best blog ever.

68 Frank Gucciardo April 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I am a 38 y.o. and have been a reader of this blog for some months…I have since purchaced a fedora…compliments wherever I go…have started and successfully mastered the art of wet shaving, just as my grandfather had…and will never go back to the disposable cart razor.

Now with that said…I have had one of the best laughs in almost a year over this post. I nearly pissed myself.

@ Zeus-oh my…I was laughing so hard I nearly fell off the chair…WASP…just too much.

69 Adam April 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm

So I go my new codpiece and wore it to pitch a branding system to my newest clients. I didn’t want to continue with the work. I think its because the cod piece was to intimidating. Any ideas on how I could tone it down?

70 mike April 2, 2011 at 11:26 pm

i was falling for this, HARD. until i hit the last two paragraphs.

well done, rofl!

71 Adam April 3, 2011 at 12:57 am

Oops, in my previous comment I meant to say “they* didn’t want to continue with the work”

72 Cody April 3, 2011 at 8:16 am

Come on Brett. I love your site but you must have been on drugs when you wrote this article. I could handle the first 3 photographs but that last photograph is where I lost you. Those 2 guys with their patent leather boots, their pretty white make-up, the crushed velvet and the faux fur……..Not deserving of any manly status. I am quite sure that Roosevelt and Churchill would agree with me.

73 BenR April 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’m laughing harder at the commenters who didn’t get the joke than at the joke itself….

74 85Paladin Knight April 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Yes! I’ve been wearing a codpiece for years! I wore one for my renaissance fair in high school and loved it. It has been a vital part of my wardrobe ever since. I’m so glad AoM has brought it into the light. Anyone know any other good places to buy them? I’ve only found them in good costume shops which don’t have the best quality.

75 Jaxx2112 April 4, 2011 at 12:01 am

The first time around, i saw this when perusing AoM on the 2cd. The thing is, since i’m in china right now, the morning of April 2cd is still April 1st for those of you in the US of A. So of course, i completely missed the joke and didn’t realize it until today.

But to reiterate my first words upon reading.

“Wow… just… wow….”

76 Leon Ally April 4, 2011 at 7:12 am

What the……?!

77 Matt C. April 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I love this website, but my first thought on this article is, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

78 Evan April 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Hilarious.

79 Michael April 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I really hope that the people who took this seriously and made negative comments have since realized their folly…. some people really need to grow a sense of humor. As was mentioned on another comment, part of being a man is being able to laugh at yourself once in a while.

80 AGF April 5, 2011 at 5:58 am

If you think “Droogs” is a reference that requires citing, you have barely scratched the surface of pop culture.
thass what I said, you knocked-up-by-a-fed-ex-delivery-man, Admiral Jo fightin’ punk

81 Lucas April 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

Hurmph! You must be North of I-40…..Osage county or someplace with lots of cod heads.

82 Shane April 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I didn’t realize this was an April Fools joke until AFTER I pulled out my sixteenth century bejeweled codpiece and wore it to work. But I must say, joke or not, I commanded the Wal-Mart LIKE A BOSS! My supervisor couldn’t take her eyes off it. One of the teenage girls at the cash wanted to count the jewels and I let her. During the day, some punk tried to steal a cart-load of DVD’s and fishing lures. I headed him off in the parking lot, struck a pelvis-forward pose and took the cart “head-on”. It struck my iron groin and ricocheted back, knocking out his front teeth. The store manager let me eat all the Hostess Cupcakes I wanted.
If wearing a codpiece is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

83 matt April 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

Classic check the date article. Well done. Was going WTF for about 2/3 of it.

84 Jeff Campbell April 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Folks,
Believe me, the codpiece is alive and well in Quartzsite, Arizona.
Go to the “Readers Oasis Bookstore”.
You will meet Paul the owner wearing, depending on the temperature, nothing but a codpiece and his cowboy hat.
Check out his website.
jc

85 Jim April 7, 2011 at 12:59 am

So glad it was only a joke

86 Jared April 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Sorry to be late to the party, but I am sadly disappointed that no one has mentioned Cameo on this yet.

Word Up!

87 Tieson April 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Hilarious article! Well done AoM, well done indeed.

88 Jordan Smith April 13, 2011 at 11:13 am

It’s one thing for a waterpolo player like me to be wearing a speedo and have attention drawn down there but this is ENTIRELY another thing…….. at least speedos help you swm faster! I think it’s pretty funny that they’d even think of this haha

89 MAF97 April 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Racing stripes, dragon flames, and smiley faces. Well played sir. Well played.

And the stylish bullet proof cod wonder — excellent touch.

90 Bud October 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Codpieces for women are widely available in San Francisco and New Orleans. Of course, you never really know if they are women or hybrids.

91 Mj January 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I recently read a short story called “The Masculinist Revolt” written by William Tenn (pen-name of Philip Glass, a great 19th century satirist). It’s basically about a time when mostly women have come to hold all the top positions in the world, and the actual “revolt” starts through the coming-back of the codpiece. I’d like to relate the ending here:

It was almost as if Masculinism had never been. If we discount the beery groups of men who, at the end of a party, nostalgically sing the old songs and call out the old heroic rallying cries to each other, we have today very few mementos of the great convulsion.
One of them is the codpiece.
The codpiece has survived as a part of modern male costume. In motion, it has a rhythmic wave that reminds many women of a sternly shaken forefinger, warning them that men, at the last, can only be pushed so far and no farther. For men, the codpiece is still a flag, now a flag of truce perhaps, but it flutters in a war that goes on and on.

92 Big Matt February 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Although this article is an April Fools prank, some of us Manly Men do in fact wear a codpiece from time to time. I have a leather one that I wear with button fly (open underneath) jeans when I go out for scotch and cigars with the guys. And on leg day in the gym I often wear a codpiece over my gym tights. You definitely want your man-parts up and away when you’re pumping iron with your legs.

93 chris February 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm

no.

94 JR June 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Clockwork Orange.

95 JC June 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I’ve followed the AoM for a while now, and just happened to stumble on this today… It made me seriously question what the website was getting to and thought to myself: ok, now he’s gone too far… Only after reading the comments did I see that it was an April Fool’s prank! Many may not read the comments as I have and may discount the site entirely. I would write a disclaimer at the beginning that it was a joke post from a few years back, just to not scare readers away from the site! My 2 cents anyway…

But now that I know, it is kinda funny!

96 wierd chick August 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I worked with a genius of a man who is well known on the Regional Theatre circuit known as Leather Bob. The man made his own underwear, motorcycle hat, vest, Levi’s style jacket and Levi’s style pants. With one prominent exception. We were all fascinated with one question. How does one pattern a Levi’s fly over a codpiece? I always cringed when I was sitting at the sewing machine and he would walk over and help me. It was at eye level. The man was not my type and it was not at all swoonworthy. Maybe for a male enthusiast of such it would be, just not for me. This man was known as being able to almost literally custom fit a person by knowing the color of their eyes, waist size and height. He had developed algorithms. If anyone could bring back the codpiece, it would be Leather Bob, April 1 or no.

97 Myrtis December 23, 2013 at 12:53 am

Eventually, I began my search for fishing rods 20 ft more such angling destinations so that I can credit for catching over 15
keepers on Saturday night was the new Hydro Wave.

98 Adam January 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm

First, having worn tights with a codpiece, I have to say that it’s incredibly comfortable — second only to being naked –reason enough to bring it back into fashion. I think the practice of ignoring the presence of male genitalia in garment construction might have come about because it was faster, easier and cheaper to produce trousers in sweatshops with neither codpiece nor “fall” (or “drop-front.”) though I believe French fly fronts are around a bit earlier… Anyway, every woman knows what “power” the bustline provides. Thus let it be with the package, Horation. I’m for it. :)

99 pinny March 18, 2014 at 7:34 am

The codpiece should be modernised. some examples:
- make it open and closed like a drawbridge
- flashing lights
- make animal noises.
- make it all bluetooth-enabled so it can be controlled from a smartphone.
In summary a talking codpiece.
Maybe make it bark like a dog.

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