The "are you having a laugh?" catchphrase associated with his character might not have caught on, but in one respect Ricky Gervais can call himself a trendsetter. When Andy Millman strapped on a girdle for the finale of Extras in a dismal attempt to audition for a part meant for someone 10 years younger, he was ahead of the curve. The biggest thing in men's underwear this season is "bodyshaping briefs". New York's Saks Fifth Avenue now sells spandex undergarments with a "trimming effect". LA label Go Softwear is launching a "waist eliminator" with a waistband that extends mid-torso to hold the tummy in.
'Body-shaping briefs' are sweeping the US
While wearers report bolstered egos, vanquished beer bellies and the vim of men half their age, the bandied-about new terminology - "bodywear", "support boxers", or, ye gods, "compression shorts" - does little to disguise reality. In short, these are girdles. Or, apparently, mirdles - "men's girdles".
This is dangerous territory. Rumours that Tom Cruise complimented his stack-heels with a girdle, the better to fit his Giorgio Armani wedding tuxedo after putting on 20lb, were met with derision. Yet male girdles are nothing new. In the 19th century, English dandies sported them with pride; by 1899 ladies' corsetiere Madam Dowding was advertising "The Marlboro" for men, while Mark Pullin, aka Mr Pearl, Parisian corset-stitcher to Kylie, maintains an 18-inch waist thanks to his. The question is: will mirdles be a hit here? Probably. "Not everyone has time to go to the gym, so body-shaping pants are great," says Mithun Ramanandi, accessories buyer at Selfridges in London. Not only has the men's grooming market traditionally taken its cues from America - warming to hair dye, teeth-whitening kits and tinted moisturisers - sales of men's underwear are growing faster than women's (David Beckham's eye-watering Emporio Armani ads upped their briefs sales by 50%). "The awful truth is I can see the mirdle taking off here," says Alex Bilmes, GQ's features director. "Still, the day I buy one will be a sad one in my life."
Breathe in chaps - the rise of men's girdles | Fashion and style | Life and Health
Who's thinking TOM CRUISE?