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Put them away; WM's Brendan Hughes considers the case for man cleavage.

Byline: Brendan Hughes

IT'S the fashion question guys across Wales are secretly asking themselves - "Should I take the plunge?" An increasing number of brave men are embracing their man cleavage, or he-vage, wearing plunging necklines to reveal chest hair, pecs or man boobs.

All celebs are doing it. See the muscle-pumped X Factor graduates JLS in their flimsy T-shirts, designed to show off chest curves that would make Pam Anderson jealous.

US Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick is frequently seen skipping around LA practically bare-chested. He-Have stomach masters John The forces to fashion his polyester Saturday But at decency more Simon In the first high-but the now proudly Comedian Russell Brand - though perhaps more demure these days since shacking up with Katy Perry - loves to unbutton his shirt down to his navel.

And Simon Cowell made his return to British telly on last week's Britain's Got Talent with his moobs pretty much hanging out of his shirt - and the Hoff wasn't much better.

Why the sudden desire to be so exposed, boys? man-Seen Got weekend. Marvin The left) leaders resurgence cleavage, misses his Plunging male necklines, though terrifying the likes of me, are not a new phenomenon.

As far back as the 1920s, movies star Douglas Fairbanks experimented with showing a bit of skin in films such as The Thief of Baghdad and The Iron Mask. Errol Flynn displayed his man cleavage in the 1930s, particularly in 1938's hit film The Adventures of Robin Hood, making man cleavage practically essential for swashbuckling roles.

The look continued well into the '50s and the '60s - remember the admirable display of male dcolletage by super macho Marlon Brando in 1951's film version of A Streetcar Named Desire? And who can forget Sean Connery as James Bond, where an unbuttoned shirt and a whisper of Scottish brogue wooed women across the world.

The golden age of the he-vage however came in the '70s. The convention reached new heights of frontal undress, where TV and movie stars skipped enough shirt buttons to show off a thick forest of hair, perhaps topped with a cheeky gold medallion.

Ladies of a certain age may also fondly remember John Travolta's hairy he-vage peeping through his white polyester suit as he boogied-on-down in 1977's Saturday Night Fever.

And our own Tom Jones was never seen without the creeping thatch, brazenly visible through a sparingly buttoned shirt, covered with gold medallions.

But these disturbing displays of male prowess, shows such as Miami Vice, and comedy characters like Mr T soon made he-vage seem farcical.

The look was thankfully banished beneath buttoned-up shirts and high-necked T-shirts for decades - until now.

Plunging necklines began reappearing on catwalks as far back as 2007 before really taking off on our high streets in 2009.

Male dcolletage was largely an androgynous fashion statement, but the look deep V-necks and scoop-neck tops has become more desirable for the more masculine fashionista.

But it seems with great he-vage comes great responsibility. Fashion experts on t'interweb say no one wants to see pale, flabby man-decollatage.

Apparently, a thin patch of chest hair has become acceptable and even desirable these days - but if you look like Burt Reynolds in his prime, it's probably best to button up.

And so with this trawl through the fashion archives, it seems getting your boobs out can no longer exclusively apply to the opposite sex.

History shows male celebrities have been stepping out for generations in slips of fabric that barely cover their modesty, but is seems its filter down to the lowly guy on the street is a newer phenomenon.

And with the summer season closing in on us, men everywhere are bound to be peeling off the clothing layers, so don't expect to see the end of the he-vage craze any time soon. As for me, these puppies are staying firmly under cover.

He-vage heroes Have a look - if you can stomach it - at these masters of the man-boob John Travolta The Grease star joined forces with the Bee Gees to spearhead a new fashion craze, unleashing his moobs in a white polyester suit in 1977's Saturday Night Fever. But at least he had the decency to cover up a bit more than today's celebs. Simon Cowell In the early days he was first known for his high-waisted trousers, but the music mogul is now infamous for proudly exposing his man-boobs in public. Seen here at the Britain's Got Talent final on the weekend. Put them away. Marvin Humes The JLS star (third from left) has been one of the leaders in the resurgence of man cleavage, and rarely misses a chance to get his baps out.

CAPTION(S):

James Corden goes Baywatch during the filming of the Sunday Night Project. But with a slew of celebs showing off their 'moobs', the look's gone from comic to couture
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 7, 2011
Words:807
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