THE HISTORY OF MEN’S UNDERWEAR – PART 1

There is always so much written about the evolution of Women’s fashion that I thought i’d focus on Men’s for a change.  As we are an underwear company and I know men really do take a lot of pride in what they wear under their trousers, I thought i’d offer a 3 part historic overview of men’s underwear.

Let me start at the beginning – as in ‘the dawn of man’ beginning.  It has been said that the fig leaf can be classed as the first type of male underwear, but to me this brings up a few questions, one of those being ‘can a fig leaf be classed as underwear if no clothes were worn on top?’

So I feel it’s safer to say that ‘In the beginning there was the Loincloth’. It had many guises in its time; the earliest remains found on a pre-historic man that lived more than 7,000 years ago.  Its simple design was mainly constructed for protection and consisted of a long strip of fabric that would be passed through the legs and tied around the waist with a strong type of string.

The Egyptians, as long ago as 2,000 BC used fabric to form their undergarments over which they wore other clothing.  In 1352 BC Pharaoh Tutankhamen was buried with 45 loincloths wrapped in bundles of 12 for further use in his afterlife, showing the importance of the male undergarment to the Kings of Egypt.

Strangely the Ancient Greeks never wore underwear.  They dressed very simply with an oblong shaped cloth called a ‘chiton’ that wrapped around their body and did up around the neck with a ‘fibulae’ or broach, a man would go commando underneath this.  The slaves just wore loincloths thus explaining why they were not classed as underwear.

Once the Romans came along, the design started to develop and variations started to appear.  The ‘subligaculum’ which in modern terms means a pair of shorts, was worn under the toga.  Men’s undergarments were becoming of more importance in everyday life and it was noted by the senator and historian of the Roman Empire Tacitus that the “wild tribes” of Germania thought it “a mark of great wealth to wear undergarments”.

The desire for pants was growing.