With Father’s Day just over a week away, your thoughts may naturally be turning to mirdles. Or to Core Precision Undershirts. Or even to Bubble Butt Underwear with Frontal Enhancement (with Anti-Muffin Top elastic).
Welcome to the compressed, lifted, and superconfident world of mirdles: shapewear (or, let’s be honest, girdles) for men. Please open your man-words dictionary and make the necessary insertion.
Spanx, which has achieved near-generic status in the women’s-shapewear market, introduced its Man Spanx line in February, and the cotton “compression undershirts,” at $55 to $58 a pop, have been “a huge retail hit,” according to a recent New York Times report. “Men may not be talking about it, but they’re buying it,” Nickelson Wooster*, men’s fashion director at Neiman Marcus, told the Times.
Man Spanx may have the edge in name recognition, but it’s not alone, or even first, in the category. Sculptees, whose name strikes me as too diminutive for manly men, sells torso-constraining “sculptwear for men,” including the Pex, the Slim, and the T-Slim. Bubbles sells products for women as well as men (to understand why the company is called Bubbles, check out the women’s “butt bras”); the brand’s giddy nomenclature includes the Toolbox, the Jackpot, the Beach Bum, and—for the ladies—Bump-on-a-Rump. Bubbles also wins the Sassiest Slogan prize: “Take Your Gluteus to the Maximus!”
While a some men may buy mirdles to look svelter, others require a more technical sell. Writing last year in the Boston Globe (“Me and My Mirdle”), Christopher Muther, who may be responsible for coining “mirdle,” explained:
The trick with men . . . is that you can't call a girdle a girdle. You have to stress that it has other benefits, like it will help with posture (I know so many men who are concerned about their posture) or a sore back.
That’s where Equmen—an Australian brand whose name, I’m guessing, resembles “acumen,” emphasis on the men—swaggers in. I lifted the image at the top of the page from the Equmen website to show you just how very, very seriously this company takes its geekery. No sly double-entendres here: Instead, it’s all about the “Core Precision,” the “targeted ventilation,” and the “HELIX-MAPPING™ body response technology.” (In case you couldn’t tell at a glance, the drawing is a diagram of HELIX-MAPPING™.)
Here, for example, is a testimonial from a physiotherapist about the efficacy of Equmen garments:
The garments definitely help with postural support as they encourage optimal horizontal extension and retraction of the Scapulae, (upper central key points) giving a Scapulothoracic neutral posture. The value in this for function is to lessen kyphotic stress in the primary curvature which physiologically eases counter-stress in the secondary curvature of the segments. The wearer should therefore be aware of less effort and mechanical stress particularly with prolonged standing or sitting and may, indeed, notice improved ergonomics with upper limb activity.
I’m sure we’re all in favor of less kyphotic stress in the primary curvature.
In the end, though, it may take more than improved ergonomics to get men into the new tighty whities. As the Man Spanx ads put it, “Behind every man is a really great woman.” Or as a pushy determined customer named Christine wrote to Equmen:
I received my order the other day, and without any explanation handed the v-neck undershirt to my husband. After wrestling into it (he hates anything close-fitting) and moaning about how tight it was, his face suddenly change [sic] to amazement! He said he couldn't believe how great he felt, his sciatic pain stopped IMMEDIATELY, said he felt he could fill his lungs with more air and swears he's 2 inches (5cm) taller.
After a few hours he took the shirt off because he said it was making him feel exhausted having his back made so straight, but next morning it was back on again making him feel like Terminator LOL.
Atta girl, Christine! I’m LOLing with you. Your next assignment: Get him into mantyhose.
Previously on Underwear Week:
* Nickelson Wooster! A relative of Bertie’s, perhaps?
An amusing and illuminating week about undergarments. Thanks! Regarding mantyhose. Soldiers in Afganistan were given native horses to ride and suffered much chaffing which was solved with ordinary ladies pantyhose sent by their families. Maybe now manthyhose is ordinary issue to special ops forces! Incidentally, as I am both tall and overweight, I had difficulty finding fishnet stockings that were long enough until I ordered them from a company that catered to clientele with special needs - cross dressers! After that I was on their mailing list for all kinds of eye opening products.
Posted by: panavia999 | June 04, 2010 at 11:36 AM
After seeing Jimmy Kimmel's "Handsome Men's Club" video, I thought Spanx for men was a joke:
(The whole thing is funny, but the Spanx make their appearance just past the 4-minute mark.)
Posted by: Karen | June 04, 2010 at 11:48 AM
Is it wrong that I like the name Equmen? Thumbs up to that, but as you might guess, thumbs down to HELIX-MAPPING™.
Also, I dearly hope that Nicholson Wooster has a Wodehouse-like nickname; Ninky, perhaps?
Posted by: Jessica | June 04, 2010 at 04:08 PM
Jessica: I can't get past the idea that Equmen is for guys who are half-horse.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | June 04, 2010 at 04:40 PM
"Man Spanx" is so, um, awkward. I wonder why they didn't go for "Manx."
Posted by: mightyredpen | June 05, 2010 at 11:57 AM
Hmm. "Ventalation" [sic] in the graphic... a coined word, or a typo?
Posted by: James Hebert | June 07, 2010 at 10:44 AM
Read more about the emergence of the mantyhose trend, and subtle glide toward the mainstream at The Nylon Gene (www.nylongene.com). It's a blog exploring and explaining the many benefits of men's legwear (tights, pantyhose, etc.) and how they're gaining acceptance from many men as they give it a try and see how they work.
Thanks for the insights on ManSpanx, too.
Posted by: Steve Newman | June 08, 2010 at 09:02 AM
BTW, Nancy, thanks for the shout out to The Nylon Gene (www.nylongene.com). I didn't realize the mantyhose link was directed there when I made the previous comment.
Posted by: Steve Newman | June 08, 2010 at 09:11 AM
Equmen is for "men who are half horse" - that was my first impression too!
Posted by: panavia999 | June 08, 2010 at 07:45 PM