THE HISTORY OF MEN’S UNDERGARMENTS (PART 1)

Most men put them on as they go out of the shower. In fact, at this very moment, there is probably nothing closer to you than your undergarments. But do you know where they come from? It took thousands of years to develop and improve the boxer briefs, boxer shorts and briefs that you wear today. Here is a short history of men’s undergarments.

The first known undergarments date back to almost 7,000 years, as prehistoric men used leather to cover and protect their genitals to go  prehistoric shopping. For thousands of years, only a few things changed.

prehistoric undergarments

Pieces of art from ancient Egypt show that everybody wore loincloths. Pharaohs themselves wore a special kind of kilts/loincloths called shendohs, which had a bull tail tied at the waistband. Spare shendohs were given to them in the pyramid for their lifes hereafter.

Ancient Egypt Clothing (3)

Variations of the loincloth seem to have persisted until the Middle Ages, as loose trousers called breeches came into fashion. These linen garments were going from the waist down to mid-calf. When putting them on, men had to tie them up firmly around their waists and calves. Even though this  operation was far from practical, breeches had the advantage of offering a good coverage. Thus, if a peasant was too hot, he could undress and find himself in undergarments while respecting the rules of propriety.

braies

However, tying up and securing trousers made nature callings a bit complicated and that is the reason why flies were invented. It could be opened with buttons, a slit or threads and enabled men to pee without taking off their breeches.

With hems going up, these undergarments, that were purely practical at first, also became decorative pieces.

As Henry 8th of England began to stuff his undergarments during the 16th century, all his faithful subjects did the same. History revealed later that what was taken for interest in his appearance, if not a will to enhance his masculine attributes, resulted from the accumulation of bandages meant to relieve the pain caused by what could be syphilis.

henry 8th

We had to wait until the industrial age to witness the huge changes that led to the creating of the current undergarments. A story to discover in the second part of the history of men’s underwear.

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