Damned Fashion: Necropants

Yes, we know. When we talk about Icelandic fashion, your mind probably goes to alt-pop chanteuse Bjork, pictured below:

Bjork being fashionably Icelandic

However, long before Bjork was dressing up like a bird, something far more sinister in the world of Icelandic fashion was afoot: Necropants.

So, what exactly are necropants?

To answer this, one could visit the Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft in NW-Iceland, home to a real pair of necropants, colloquially known as nábrók. Or, more simply, you can read this post, after which you too can own a genuine pair of necropants.

First things first, you have to be a man. Sorry, ladies, but even in this age of gender equity, necropants remain purely men’s clothing, for reasons that will soon be abundantly clear.

Second, you have to have a (male) friend who is also crazy into this kind of fashion.

Now, this is not a new trend – it goes back to the 17th century; these were magical times in Iceland, filled with sorcerers, witches, and yes, necropants.

So, here’s the deal – you and your guy friend have to make a pact: whoever dies first ends up being skinned from the waist down. There are rules: your friend (assuming you’re alive to read this) has to be flayed in one piece. There are no stitches in necropants.

Having done this, suit on up! Once you’re snugly inside your friend’s skin, it will adhere to your body. From here, things get absolutely fabulous!

You’ll need to find a widow – a poor one at that – and steal a coin from her. Stick said coin into your buddies scrotum. Along with the widow’s money, insert a sigil, which is a fancy way of saying a magical drawing. In this case, the sigil is called the nábrókarstafur, and it looks like this:

The nábrókarstafur, to be drawn and inserted into a dead friend’s scrotum.

So, what’s with all the scrotum inserting? As long as the poor widow’s coin remains in place, your dead buddy’s ball-sac will always be filled with money.

Need some money for the vending machine? Just reach inside. Gotta make a phone call? You’ve got all the change you’ll ever need.

And, if you ever get tired of wearing the necropants, all you have to do is find some poor soul who’s willing to trade places with you, one leg at a time. As long as the coin and the nábrókarstafur stay in place, the pants will keep yielding results.

Yes, these pants aren’t just a fashion statement, they’re an investment.


Okay; now, let me stop being glib for a moment.

All of this is real (well, maybe not the never-ending supply of coins, but the pants, yes, they were a thing).

Likewise, the Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft is also real, located in the village of Hólmavík. They’re so real, they even have a restaurant, called the Galdur.

A veggie burger(!) from the Galdur restaurant

They even have an artist/scholar in residency program, for any of you interested in Icelandic magic.

And, yes, they keep a real pair of necropants on display from the 17th century.

Tours are conducted in multiple languages, including English. Groups are welcome, and in a sidebar that makes me smile, children under 17 are admitted for free.

So, if you find yourself in Hólmavík, Iceland, trek down to the Museum, grab yourself a bite at the Galdur, and prepare to see fashion the likes of which might even make Bjork blush…

[P.S. after much internal wrangling (weeping and gnashing of teeth), we decided not to include an actual image of the necropants – after all, admission is free to children under 17. Images are a quick google search away; sometimes, haute couture even makes us blush…]

Frederik Ruysch
Instead of Necropants, here’s something just as disturbing: a tableau by Frederik Ruysch of human fetal remains, also from the 17th century

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