Would it be silly to rock one of these arm bands? - http://www.riverjunction.com/thumbnail.asp?file=assets/images/produ...

And if they are cool, where would you get one? What are they called?

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My 1958 etiquette book says they're inappropriate - take your shirts to a tailor if the sleeves are too long (the purpose of armbands). An armband on a suit or sports jacket or overcoat has meaning - usually personal (death in the family) or political. Avoid those unless you want to make the corresponding statement.

The girly-men in high school wore things like that to "prom" - garters matching their gfs' dresses. Again, not recommended.

So, yes, silly, IMO.
Thanks for the help!
They are called sleeve garters. In the 19th century, a man's dress shirt was more-or-less considered underwear. The only parts of a shirt that a true gentleman would expose in public were the collar, cuffs, and the bib above the vest. Because of its underwear role, little consideration was paid to a good fit. Ready-to-wear shirts were sized for the neck only; the rest of the shirt was made big enough for the biggest man. They had long tails to protect the skin from the pants and vice-versa (no other underwear was worn). They had waists that were as wide as the shoulders and arms that were too long for most. Sleeve garters were invented to keep the arms of the dress shirt restrained while working with jacket off. They were strictly utilitarian, and they were never fashionable, because upper-class gentlemen never needed them -- his coat or jacket was always on, and his shirt might be custom fit. Sleeve garters were a middle-class thing for men whose occupation had light enough work that they could wear a (non-custom) dress shirt instead of a worker's shirt, but still enough manual labour that they had to take their coats off.
Sleeve garters were a middle-class thing for men whose occupation had light enough work that they could wear a (non-custom) dress shirt instead of a worker's shirt, but still enough manual labour that they had to take their coats off.
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Is this why these things make me think of bartenders and bank tellers in old West movies?

The rich were able to have their shirts custom-made by professional shirtmakers. Those who weren't so well-off bought shirts that were only measured in neck-circumfrence. Everything else (sleeve-lengths included) were extra large to fit as many people as possible. So if all you could afford were the cheap shirts, then yes, you needed sleeve-garters.

Yeah they look dumb.

do not.

They only look 'dumb' if you don't know how to pull them off. Making something look good is a matter of having the balls to wear it with confidence and style.

well said.

+1

Hi,

As Dean says, they're called sleeve-garters. They were common from the 1800s until the early 1900s and were used to adjust the length of your shirt-sleeves in the days when ready-made shirts had sleeves a mile long. These days nobody really wears them (there's no need), but they're an interesting historical curiosity. I've got a couple of pairs of them which I inherited from my grandmother (grandmother was a tailor for nearly fifty years) and I use them occasionally, but more to keep my sleeves out of the way of things when I'm doing hard work (cleaning dishes, sweeping fireplace, yardwork, etc), rather than to keep my sleeves at the right length.

And honestly...if you wear them for any great length of time, they do start to pinch on the arms a bit.
Arm garters. Wear 'em only if you're going to rock a full frock coat and brocade waistcoat. Or a handlebar mustache, center part in your hair and a bar keep's apron. They're right there with the overcuffs that clerks used to wear to keep ink off their shirt cuffs and shirtsleeves.
Seriously, in looking at historical photographs, you don't see arm garters too often.

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