Thursday, February 2, 2012

Courtier's Muff = Quarterback's Handwarmer?

Thursday, February 2, 2012
Susan reporting:

If the American media is to be believed, just about every television in the country will be tuned to a certain football (football-football, not soccer) championship game on Sunday night. Yet even amidst all the hoopla, we keep our NHG antennae tuned for nifty historical facts to share.

Take this example, drawn from the seventeenth century. Europe in the 1600s was exceptionally cold, a time when the Thames often froze over so completely that month-long Frost Fairs could be held on its surface. Even kings and noblemen shivered in their vast but drafty palaces.

Fashion answered with the gentleman's muff, slug low over the hips with the same debonair nonchalance as a sword. When made from costly imported furs like beaver or sable, a gentleman's muff was also one more showy example of conspicuous consumption in an era that loved display. For this group of late 17th c. courtiers, above left, their muffs are rivaled only by their wigs.

While muffs for men fell from style (though not for ladies: see here and here), they seem to have come back in a big way on the modern football field. It doesn't matter whether a guy is making a statement in the corridors of Whitehall or Versailles, or on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field: he still has to keep his hands warm for peak performance.

As the weather has grown colder, both of this Sunday's star quarterbacks – Tom Brady of the Boston Patriots, right, and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, left – have been wearing certain open-ended, insulated accessories tied around their hips. True, today they're made from high-tech thermal sports fabrics, not fur, and they're self-consciously called hand-warmers – but don't you agree that they sure look like muffs?

16 comments:

Freyalyn said...

I'm sorry, but a gentleman's muff is even more snigger-worthy than a lady's! (I apologise. I'm going now...)

Lenora Jane said...

SO MANY fun opportunities for muff jokes during NFL season. Love it.

Deb said...

Tom is a bit of a fop anyway, what with the hair and the UGGs, don;t you agree? And no, I am not from NY.

Gloria said...

Nothing ever really changes....So now,looking forward to watching these two on Sunday and thinking of that...

Barbara said...

Oh my. A picture really is worth a thousand words.
Viewing these fops from the court of Charles II or of Wm. & Mary
and how they wore their fur muffs really illustrates why the
item was called a muff, doesn't it?

Auntie B in the 'burgh

Isobel Carr said...

It IS a muff!

Anonymous said...

Sho' nuff, that's a muff.
Thanks for the laugh today. GO PATS!!!!

Fey said...

I had a muff when I was a little girl in the late 1940s - early 1950s. Later, in my 20s, when nobody had muffs, I made another for myself and one each for my children. Muffs are much better than gloves, especially for young children, as they always suck their gloves and get them all soggy; also, muffs are much warmer and you can slip your hands out to do delicate things, then tuck them in again before they get cold. You can also hide or carry things in a muff.
Also, when I was little, I had leather leggings that buttoned up to my knees, above my shoes. I've never seen another child in leggings since then, but they were usual until the First World War; most country men wore them and many children.

Kristin said...

New England Patriots!

Pauline said...

OK, girls, your argument is sound and the visual aids back it up. You win on this one. I'm sending your post to all my fantasy football buddies.

And, since the Saints are out and Eli is a New Orleans son: GO GIANTS!

textilehistorIE said...

Fantastic!

Donna Hatch said...

Well, you know what they say about fashion, it always seems to come back around again...not that I'm wishing for corsets, but there are days when I might be tempted to wear one.
That's funny about the hand muffs :-)

Susan Holloway Scott said...

I refuse to make Super Bowl predictions here - though I'd say style-wise, Tom and Eli are pretty even. ;)

Quite by coincidence, Hallie Larkin today also had a print of an 18th c man with a muff - albeit a creepy old man, with the muff there to represent a certain aged infirmity: http://bit.ly/yQahCC
There are more ladies' muffs in the rest of Hallie's post too: http://bit.ly/x4qJGP

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Oops, clicked before I'd finished....
And yes, there's SO much to joke about with muffs, isn't there? Which is the other reason why, in Hallie's print, the elderly man is holding a muff while leering at the much-younger woman.

Caroline said...

Oh my gosh how funny! Manly muffs...

Prudence MacLeod said...

So, do gentlemen prefer muffs? Sure looks like it to me. Ok, I'm going to go shake my head and try to forget everything that just popped into my mind.

There was an error in this gadget
 
Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket