Lois Banner looks at coded messages of gender, sexuality and domination that preceded baggy trousers.
The history of clothing tells us that the young male body was eroticised in late medieval and early modern Europe. The emphasis on parts of the body associated with sexuality began in the late eleventh century, with the adoption of elongated, pointed shoe styles. It spread to the fourteenth century, when short jackets, long legs, and the exposure of the shape of the genitals became the vogue. By the late fifteenth century the preferred body type for men became more massive, while broad and blunted shoes replaced the long pointed ones. The codpiece, a sheath which enclosed the penis, was also developed in this period.