Alphabet Post: U is for Underwear

Women's Panties

Women’s Panties

Here’s a brief history of underwear to start off your week. 🙂

Loincloth

Loincloth

Underwear, garments worn underneath outer garments, has been in existence for thousands of years. The first form was the simple loincloth that covered men’s genitals, in evidence 7,000 years ago. In fact, more than this simple undergarment was deemed unnecessary by most people until the Middle Ages.

By the Medieval period, men’s clothing had changed and men acquired

Braies

Braies

several new undergarments. Braies were a loose-fitting pant-like garment that men stepped into, then tied at the waist and around the calves. Wealthier men wore chausses, worn only on the legs and again tied at the waist. These were eventually replaced by hose that in the Renaissance were

Codpiece

Codpiece

adorned with a codpiece, a pouch covering the genitals that was also meant to accentuate that area.

What we would deem women’s underwear does not come on the scene until the Renaissance. Previously women would have worn a chemise, a shirt-like garment made of linen worn next to the skin that could be laundered easier than the costly silk and velvet outer garments. At this time women also acquired stays, a garment of linen stiffened with buckram, whalebone, reeds or canes that flattened their breasts.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, stays changed to be more lightly boned and were called

18th century corset

18th century corset

corsets. In the Regency period they were more relaxed, less constricting. By the Victorian era, when a wasp waist was the cornerstone of beauty, they became extremely constrictive. Corsets remained the major women’s undergarment until the 20th century when the liberty bodice gave them more freedom.

In the 19th century, women also acquired pantalettes or pantaloons, crotchless underwear designed to hide the legs and provide warmth under the huge bell-shaped gowns of the period.

Brassiere

Brassiere

The modern brassiere was invented in 1913 by Mary Phelps Jacob and caught on during World War I when metal for boning corsets was in short supply.

Men and women’s underwear changed constantly during the 20th century as the garments became increasingly more comfortable due to new fabrics. Modern underwear came about

Briefs

Briefs

largely in the 1930s. Men’s briefs and boxer shorts, women’s girdle and bra all became popular in the 30s. By the 1960s and 70s underwear was touted for its sex appeal rather than its durability.

G-String

G-String

Current popular items include the G-string and thong for women and boxer briefs for men.

 

 

So what style do you prefer?

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10 Responses to Alphabet Post: U is for Underwear

  1. Daisy Banks says:

    Fascinating and fun. One of my favourite things with historicals is the clothes, putting them on and taking them off. The use of so many pins, ribbons and laces make the whole experience an entertainment. Thanks for this I enjoyed the post.

    Like

  2. melissakeir says:

    Wonderful post! I loved hearing about the changing times. I didn’t realize that men’s undergarments had changed so much. I wonder how they wore the Braies under pants?? They seem to be bulky.

    Like

  3. Carrie-Anne says:

    I’m so glad I never lived in the era of the corset, and that the corsets made today are either meant for sexual fun or form-shaping in a way that doesn’t flatten bones and organs. If one is going to wear undergarments at all, pantaloons or bloomers seem most practical. A lot of the modern-day lingerie meant to look sexy just isn’t comfortable or practical, as good as it looks.

    Like

  4. I love the way you aggregate useful information all into one post, Jenna. And the pictures you find are great!

    Like

  5. Daryl Devore says:

    Another fun post – and your title is hilarious. A good puff of wind would move that loin cloth just a delightful smidge.

    Like

  6. My daughter calls G-strings and thongs, butt-floss.

    Like

  7. D'Ann says:

    I agree with Liza. Why bother with undies at all if you’re going to have string up your ass?

    Like

  8. lizaoconnor says:

    I believe with the g string we’ve returned to the absurd. But at least it doesn’t break ribs and impact the ability to breath. A very fine post.

    Like

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