Men's Underwear


Men were wearing manufactured “under drawers” made of flannel by the
1830’s. Union Suits were first patented in 1868 for women as an
alternative to constricting garments. This was part of the 19th century
US clothing reform efforts and was billed as “emancipation union under
flannel.” Union suits then became popular among men as well.

C. F. Bennett of the Chicago sporting goods company, Sharp & Smith,
invented the jockstrap in 1874. It was originally designed to support
and protect the bicycle jockeys who rode the cobbled streets of Boston.
Twenty-three years later, Bennett’s Bike Web Company began
mass-producing the Bike Jockey Strap.

John L. Sullivan, boxing’s first modern world heavyweight champion (1882
-1892), wore long wool drawers in boxing competitions. Because of his
popularity in the US these became known as “long johns.”

John L. Sullivan wearing long wool drawers -  Because of his popularity in the US these became known as “long johns.”

John L. Sullivan wearing long wool drawers - Because of his popularity in the US these became known as “long johns.”

In 1910 the Saturday Evening Post ran the first full color ad for
underwear, a painting, not a photograph.

Into the 1920’s men still wore flannel drawers and flannel tops under
their clothes. These were available as separate vests and ankle length
drawers, or as the all-in-one piece union suit. These must have been
cumbersome as they buttoned up the front and had a buttoned “back seat.”
(Also known as the “access hatch” and “fireman’s flap”).

New designs were tried out with the emphasis on comfort and ads were full of
different “patented” designs to reduce buttons and increase accessibility.

In 1910 the Saturday Evening Post ran the first full color ad for  underwear - Notice it is a painting and not a photograph

In 1910 the Saturday Evening Post ran the first full color ad for underwear - Notice it is a painting and not a photograph

Men’s underwear would shrink from the first wash and it was difficult to
determine the correct size. Sanford L Cluett invented sanforized
material (patented 1930’s) which guaranteed that an item would not
shrink more than one percent.

Boxing brought on the next change of style. Jacob Golomb, the founder of
Everlast, replaced leather belts on the boxers’ shorts with elastic.
These then became known as “boxer shorts.”

In 1934 Arthur Kneibler of the sock company, Coopers, developed a snug,
legless underwear with an overlapping Y-vent fly. They patented this
Y-front and produced it in both long and short length knitted drawers,
and introduced what we now call briefs — all under the Jockey trademark.

Jockey advertisement - Jockey patented many new styles

Jockey advertisement - Jockey patented many new styles

Thirty thousand pairs of new Jockeys sold within the first three months
of introduction. In 1936 Munsingerwear developed “the kangaroo pouch”
underwear which used a horizontal vent.

The current trend of colored underwear can be traced to World War Two.
Troops took fire because their underwear could be seen drying by the
enemy. The Jockey Company switched to an “olive drab” color for service
underwear. A wartime ad in 1945 had the headline: “Target: White
Underwear”. The ad explained why the army changed to OD (Olive Drab):
“A spot of white against coral sand or tropic green makes a bull’s eye
for the enemy. Patches of white draw gunfire; they show troops are
there. Olive drab blends with its background .”

War time advertisement - "Target: White Underwear" campaign

War time advertisement - "Target: White Underwear" campaign

Men started wearing undershirts outside in the 1950’s. Also in 1950s the
first T-shirts with nylon-reinforced neckbands to prevent sagging were
introduced.

The 1960’s saw the shift of underwear from function to fashion. Bikini
briefs were introduced that hung low on the hip and had elastic on the
legs. They offered no access flap and were available in high and
low-sided versions. Novelty prints and wild colors were added. Boxer
shorts were also being offered in solid colors, patterns, and prints
from abstract to holiday-themed.

Hanes introduced the “Beefy-T” heavyweight T-shirt in 1975, which had a
stronger fabric for screen-printing purposes.

In 1982 Calvin Klein introduced his line of men’s underwear which sealed
the deal on the perception of men’s underwear becoming a fashion
statement. His model was Tom Hintnaus, Olympic pole vaulter.

Calvin Klein advertisement - The market is changing

Calvin Klein advertisement - The market is changing

Boxer briefs were popularized in the 1990s, combining the boxer’s length
with the shape and fit of a brief. Also n the 1990s, hip-hop artists
made it fashionable for men to wear their pants below their waists,
showing their boxers or briefs. This style, called “sagging,” may have
originated in prison when jail inmates had their belts removed because
they could be used as a possible weapon. Others believe this style
originated as a sign of availability among homosexuals.

Written by Amandainvermont

Vintage Grandtex Ribbed undershirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Grandtex Ribbed undershirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Durolon undershirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Durolon undershirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Apollo undershirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Apollo undershirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans undershirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans undershirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Simpson t-shirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Simpson t-shirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Zimmer t-shirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Zimmer t-shirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Underknit t-shirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Underknit t-shirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfields t-shirt packaging - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfields t-shirt packaging Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield t-shirt - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield t-shirt Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage union suit - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage union suit Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penamans union suit - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penamans union suit Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans short union suit - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans short union suit Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans union suit - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans union suit Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield union suit - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield union suit Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage 1940s men's boxers pattern - Courtesy of amandainvermont

Vintage 1940s men's boxers pattern Courtesy of amandainvermont

Vintage Atlantic Stretch underwear - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Atlantic Stretch underwear Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Bess underwear - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Bess underwear Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Bodyguard underwear - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Bodyguard underwear Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage 1950s boxers - Courtesy of yumyumvintage

Vintage 1950s boxers Courtesy of yumyumvintage

Vintage Woods boxers - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Woods boxers Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mac Dee long - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mac Dee long Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mac Dee short - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mac Dee short Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Watson long - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Watson long Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield mid boxer - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield mid boxer Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield clipper - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield clipper Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Kangaroo brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Kangaroo brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Emilio undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Emilio undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Laurin undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Laurin undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage MASH undershorts / trunks - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage MASH undershorts / trunks Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mr Brief underwear - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mr Brief underwear Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Aztec briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Aztec briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield X front briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Stanfield X front briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Dino briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Dino briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mr Brief underwear - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mr Brief underwear Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Penmans briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Olympia briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Olympia briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Fruit of the Loom briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Fruit of the Loom briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Fruit of the Loom bikini briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Fruit of the Loom bikini briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Hip Shing briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Hip Shing briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Olympia briefs - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Olympia briefs Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mr Brief underwear - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Mr Brief underwear Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Jockey denim hip brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Jockey denim hip brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Jockey terrycloth skant - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Jockey terrycloth skant Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Jockey terry skant - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Jockey terry skant Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton mesh brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton mesh brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton mesh brief - Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage Triton mesh brief Courtesy of gilo49

Vintage jock strap - Courtesy of amandainvermont

Vintage jock strap Courtesy of amandainvermont

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