By: Kamille Martin
The first trace of men’s undergarments can be traced back to almost 7,000 years ago. Prehistoric men would cover themselves typically with leather, pharaohs called them shendohs and Native American Indians also wore a type of loincloth. Pharaohs would even be buried with these shendohs incase they needed some coverage in their afterlife. I’m not sure how comfortable/breathable those leather underwear would have been, because if you’ve ever worn leather pants in Texas, the sweating is unstoppable.
Loincloths stayed in existence through the Middle Ages until the braie was invented. A braie is pictured on the bottom left corner of my slide. They were typically light colored and had a drawstring that tied to keep them on. Braie’s had more coverage and were longer, so that if men were really hot they could take off their britches and still be modest. The main problem with braies was the drawstring belt, it made quick urinating very difficult. In order to fix this issue the codpiece (not pictured) was invented. A codpiece was very similar, but the drawstring was replaced with buttons, snaps or laces, which allowed the men to urinate without having to pull them down. King Henry VIII (8th) started padding his codpieces in the 16 century; scholars have thought maybe it was to provide male compensation, or that the padding was bandages soaked with medicine to relieve the pain caused by syphilis. Either way the trend of padding codpieces stuck around until 1590.
In 1925, elastic waistbands came into play with these longer types of undergarments in order to be more comfortable and easier to put on and off. Fast-forward 9 years later (1934), the whitey tighties were invented. Arthur Kneibler an executive and designer for a hosiery company called Coopers Inc. was sent a postcard from a friend in the French Rivera. Pictured in the post card was a male in a bikini-style swimsuit, and that’s where his idea came from. The product and company became wildly popular; in 1971 they changed their name to Jockey.
Boxers became all the rage at the end of WWII, but they were not an immediate success. Since they are so loose fitting they didn’t provide much support like the previous undergarments that men were used to. In the 1970s/80s designer underwear made a huge splash with tighter, sexier, and often humorous designs. Some of the most popular were Calvin Klein and Joe Boxer.Pictured to the right, Mark Walberg in a 1990 Calvin Klein ad. We saw and are still seeing many celebrity ads for their company and many female celebrities have been pictured lately in Klein underwear. In 1985 Joe Boxer made the headlines when the Secret Service took 1,000 pairs of boxers that had US $100 bills printed on them, because they said it violated forgery laws.
Luckily today, we mostly see boxers and boxer briefs. Unfortunately, not every male body looks as hunky as Mark Walberg’s.
Articles, For More Mental_floss, and Visit Mentalfloss.com. CNN. Cable News Network, 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/homestyle/10/27/mf.men.underwear.history/ index.html?eref=rss_us>.
“Braies, 13th Century.” [BSD-BR01]. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://historicenterprises.com/mens-c-99/13th-century-clothing-c-99_107/braies- 13th-century-p-948.html>. (white/cream knee length)
“Costumes.” Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://www.pinterest.com/pin/444308319459960767/>. (loincloth)
“ForeverClassicMoi.” ForeverClassicMoi. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://foreverclassicmoi.wordpress.com/2013/03/>. (boxers)
“Randuwa.” : June 2010. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://randuwa.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html>. (4 men)
“2012 June 25.” Holly Would If She Could. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://hollywouldifshecould.net/2012/06/25/>. (Calvin Klein)