28 May 2012
Men's underwear has come a long way, from loincloths, braies, and codpieces to union suits, boxers, and briefs. Tracing the roots of this important piece of clothing is probably as interesting as history itself.
In the olden times, men wear loincloths which are a piece of cloth that covers their private parts. Loincloths consist of a strip of twisted cloth around the waist which has a longer and wider piece that hangs from the back. This covers part of the buttocks. The end of the longer strip of cloth is pulled towards the front and tied or tucked to the twisted cloth strip around the waist to cover the penis. The ancient people known to have worn this early form of men's underwear are the Egyptians and Romans. Interestingly enough, the Greeks, known for their rich culture, did not wear any underwear. Their slaves, however, did.
After the loincloths, the braies or baggy drawers were introduced in the middle ages. Made out of linen, this type of men's underwear was worn by males from different social strata. The braies, like the modern briefs, need to be stepped on before they can be pulled up. However, that's where the similarities end. The braies, once pulled up, is tied at the waist to prevent it from falling down. It's also tied around the middle of the calves to avoid men's private parts from being exposed to too much air.
During the Renaissance, the codpiece was added to the braies. The codpiece made life easier for the men of that era since it allowed them to urinate without the need to untie the braies. As the years went by, the codpiece was molded to fit the penis; padding was added to it as well.
More developments were made to the braies, the choice of underwear during the Middle Ages. It remained airy around the genitalia, but the parts covering the legs and thighs started becoming fitter.
The progression of years saw the innovations made to men's underwear. New materials like cotton, wool, flannel, and silk were used to manufacture underwear.
During the Industrial Revolution, the underwear was called the union suit. It is similar to the long johns we know today (the undergarment extends to the wrists and ankles) except for the flap on the person's rear side. This flap was included in the union suit to provide instant convenience for those who are in dire need to go to the toilet.
Before World War II, boxers and briefs were introduced to the world. Boxer shorts, amazingly, was inspired by the choice of clothing of professional boxers.
In the 1930s, men's underwear came out in different styles. More fabrics were used in creating underwear.
Soon, underwear was made available in different colors and styles. It has also become skimpier and skimpier, a far cry from the union suit and braies of centuries ago.