Etiquetteer Comments on the Calchemise for Men, Vol. 15, Issue 24

Over at Male Pattern Boldness, votes are being taken on what is thought of the new trend from France, the calchemise. Described as "L'extravagance dissumulée" and "vêtement masculin révolutionnaire" by its creators*, the calchemise appears to be a one-piece marriage of a dress shirt and a pair of boxer shorts into a sort of romper or playsuit.

Etiquetteer doubts this is going to take off as a fashion trend in the United States, at least not without a Perfectly Proper pair of trousers on top. The idea of a one-piece playsuit somehow doesn't seem very mature for someone old enough to vote. It does, of course, keep one's shirttail from blossoming over one's trousers and becoming untucked, and that is Very Good and Perfectly Proper. The calchemise does not, however, include a back flap the way a pair of long johns does, as Male Pattern Boldness found out when trying to make a calchemise, and that is Most Inconvenient.

This may come as a shock to you, but Etiquetteer doesn't much care what ladies and gentlemen wear (or don't wear) under their clothes as long as attention isn't brought to the presence (or absence) of those garments. Actually, Etiquetteer was reminded of the late Edward Tanner, better remembered by his pen name Patrick Dennis, who famously wore no underwear at all. He much preferred his own specially-designed and tailored shirts with extra-long tails that he could pull between his legs and fasten in front. In Tanner's biography by Eric Myers, Uncle Mame, a photo of Tanner wearing this novel garment without pants is reproduced in the photo section; Etiquetteer (perhaps fortunately) can't seem to find that photograph on the internet.

What Etiquetteer did find on the internet was the Arrow Shirt Suit, "an ideal garment for athletes, travelers, workers" that differs from the calchemise in having a waistband and button flaps up the sides of each leg. So the idea of the calchemise is not exactly new, although it doesn't seem as though the Arrow Shirt Suit really took off either. Etiquetteer had never heard of it. Had you ever heard of it before reading this column?

The one place Etiquetteer could see the calchemise taking off is at summertime costume parties, preferably at the beach. Don't forget your sunblock. But for daily wear, Etiquetteer is not yet convinced American men will adapt to it.

*Their website is written entirely in French and there appears to be no English translation button. Application of Google Translate offered up some sort of technical glitch Etiquetteer will not pretend to understand.