Certain types of clothes, such as cycling shorts and kilts , are designed to be worn or are traditionally worn without underpants. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. These are similar in style to boxer briefs, which are longer in the legs from the waist to the knees and tighter-fitting, like briefs. The first, and simplest, is simply a long strip of material which is passed between the legs and then around the waist. Although most lingerie is designed to be worn by women, some manufactures now design lingerie for men.
Elaborately quilted petticoats might be displayed by a cut-away dress, in which case they served a skirt rather than an undergarment. During the 16th century, the farthingale was popular. This was a petticoat stiffened with reed or willow rods so that it stood out from a woman's body like a cone extending from the waist.
Corsets also began to be worn about this time. At first they were called pairs of bodies, which refers to a stiffened decorative bodice worn on top of another bodice stiffened with buckram , reeds, canes, whalebone or other materials. These were not the small-waisted, curved corsets familiar from the Victorian era , but straight-lined stays that flattened the bust. There is a myth that Crusaders , worried about the fidelity of their wives, forced them to wear chastity belts.
There is no reference, image, or surviving belt to support this story. Most historians of this period are of the view that a chastity belt was worn to prevent sexual assault and that the woman kept the key. Men's braies and hose were eventually replaced by simple cotton, silk or linen drawers, which were usually knee-length trousers with a button flap in the front. The Month of February by Gerard Horenbout.
In , findings in Lengberg Castle , in Austria , showed that lace and linen brassiere-like garments, one of which greatly resembled the modern bra, date back to hundreds of years before it was thought to exist.
The invention of the spinning jenny machines and the cotton gin in the second half of the 18th century made cotton fabrics widely available. This allowed factories to mass-produce underwear, and for the first time, people began buying undergarments in stores rather than making them at home. Women's stays of the 18th century were laced behind and drew the shoulders back to form a high, round bosom and erect posture. Coloured stays were popular. With the relaxed country styles of the end of the century, stays became shorter and were unboned or only lightly boned, and were now called corsets.
As tight waists became fashionable in the s, the corset was again boned and laced to form the figure. By the s, a tiny " wasp " waist came to be seen as a symbol of beauty, and the corsets were stiffened with whalebone or steel to accomplish this. Tight lacing of a corset sometimes led to a woman needing to retire to the fainting room.
By the s, the dress reform movement was campaigning against the pain and damage to internal organs and bones caused by tight lacing. Inez Gaches-Sarraute invented the "health corset", with a straight-fronted bust made to help support the wearer's muscles. The corset was usually worn over a thin shirt-like shift of linen or cotton or muslin. Pantalettes originated in France in the early 19th century, and quickly spread to Britain and America.
Pantalettes were a form of leggings or long drawers. They could be one-piece or two separate garments, one for each leg, attached at the waist with buttons or laces. The crotch was left open for hygiene reasons.
As skirts became fuller from the s, women wore many petticoats to achieve a fashionable bell shape. By the s, stiffened crinolines and later hoop skirts allowed ever wider skirts to be worn. The bustle , a frame or pad worn over the buttocks to enhance their shape, had been used off and on by women for two centuries, but reached the height of its popularity in the later s, and went out of fashion for good in the s.
Women dressed in crinolines often wore drawers under them for modesty and warmth. Another common undergarment of the lateth century for men, women and children was the union suit. Invented in Utica, New York , and patented in , this was a one-piece front-buttoning garment usually made of knitted material with sleeves extending to the wrists and legs down to the ankles. It had a buttoned flap known colloquially as the "access hatch", "drop seat" or "fireman's flap" in the back to ease visits to the toilet.
The union suit was the precursor of long johns , a two-piece garment consisting of a long-sleeved top and long pants possibly named after American boxer John L. Sullivan who wore a similar garment in the ring. The jockstrap was invented in , by C. By the early 20th century, the mass-produced undergarment industry was booming, and competition forced producers to come up with all sorts of innovative and gimmicky designs to compete.
The Hanes company emerged from this boom and quickly established itself as a top manufacturer of union suits, which were common until the s.
Meanwhile, designers of women's undergarments relaxed the corset. The invention of new, flexible but supportive materials allowed whalebone and steel bones to be removed.
The emancipation or liberty bodice offered an alternative to constricting corsets, and in Australia and the UK the liberty bodice became a standard item for girls as well as women. Men's underwear was also on the rise. One product manufactured by his firm was tightly fitting boxers that resembled modern underwear. Though the company was bankrupt by the early s, it had some impact on men's underwear design. Underwear advertising first made an appearance in the s.
Leyendecker of the "Kenosha Klosed Krotch". Early underwear advertisements emphasised durability and comfort, and fashion was not regarded as a selling point. By the end of the s, Chalmers Knitting Company split the union suit into upper and lower sections, effectively inventing the modern undershirt and drawers. Women wore lacier versions of this basic duo known as the camisole and tap pants. In , the US had its first professional underwear designer. Lindsay "Layneau" Boudreaux, a French immigrant, established the short-lived panty company Layneau.
Though her company closed within one year, it had a significant impact on many levels. Boudreaux showed the world that an American woman could establish and run a company, and she also caused a revolution in the underwear industry.
In , a New York socialite named Mary Phelps Jacob created the first modern brassiere by tying two handkerchiefs together with ribbon.
Jacob's original intention was to cover the whalebone sticking out of her corset, which was visible through her sheer dress. Jacob began making brassieres for her family and friends, and news of the garment soon spread by word of mouth. By , Jacob had a patent for her design and was marketing it throughout the US. Although women had worn brassiere-like garments in years past, Jacob's was the first to be successfully marketed and widely adopted. By the end of the decade, trouser-like " bloomers ", which were popularized by Amelia Jenks Bloomer — but invented by Elizabeth Smith Miller , gained popularity with the so-called Gibson Girls who enjoyed pursuits such as cycling and tennis.
This new female athleticism helped push the corset out of style. The other major factor in the corset's demise was the fact that metal was globally in short supply during the First World War. Steel-laced corsets were dropped in favour of the brassiere. Meanwhile, World War I soldiers were issued button-front shorts as underwear. The buttons attached to a separate piece of cloth, or "yoke", sewn to the front of the garment, and tightness of fit was adjusted by means of ties on the sides. This design proved so popular that it began to supplant the union suit in popularity by the end of the war.
Rayon garments also became widely available in the post-war period. In the s, manufacturers shifted emphasis from durability to comfort. Union suit advertisements raved about patented new designs that reduced the number of buttons and increased accessibility.
Most of these experimental designs had to do with new ways to hold closed the crotch flap common on most union suits and drawers. A new woven cotton fabric called nainsook gained popularity in the s for its durability. Retailers also began selling preshrunk undergarments.
Also in the s, as hemlines of women's dresses rose, women began to wear stockings to cover the exposed legs. Women's bloomers also became much shorter. The shorter bloomers became looser and less supportive as the boyish flapper look came into fashion.
By the end of the decade, they came to be known as "step-ins", very much like modern panties but with wider legs. They were worn for the increased flexibility they afforded.
The garter belt was invented to keep stockings from falling. In , Maidenform , a company operated by Ida Rosenthal , a Russian immigrant, developed the brassiere and introduced modern cup sizes for bras. Modern men's underwear was largely an invention of the s. On 19 January , Coopers Inc. Designed by an "apparel engineer" named Arthur Kneibler, briefs dispensed with leg sections and had a Y-shaped overlapping fly. Jockey briefs proved so popular that over 30, pairs were sold within three months of their introduction.
Coopers, having renamed the company Jockey , sent its "Mascul-line" plane to make special deliveries of "masculine support" briefs to retailers across the US. In , when Jockeys were introduced in the UK, they sold at the rate of 3, a week. In this decade, companies also began selling buttonless drawers fitted with an elastic waistband. These were the first true boxer shorts, which were named for their resemblance to the shorts worn by professional fighters.
Scovil Manufacturing introduced the snap fastener at this time, which became a popular addition to various kinds of undergarments. Women of the s brought the corset back, now called the " girdle ". The garment lacked the whalebone and metal supports and usually came with a brassiere now usually called a "bra" and attached garters.
During World War II, elastic waistbands and metal snaps gave way once again to button fasteners due to rubber and metal shortages. Undergarments were harder to find as well, since soldiers abroad had priority to obtain them. By the end of the war, Jockey and Hanes remained the industry leaders in the US, but Cluett, Peabody and Company made a name for itself when it introduced a preshrinking process called " Sanforization ", invented by Sanford Cluett in , which came to be licensed by most major manufacturers.
Meanwhile, some women adopted the corset once again, now called the " waspie " for the wasp -shaped waistline it gave the wearer. Many women began wearing the strapless bra as well, which gained popularity for its ability to push the breasts up and enhance cleavage. Before the s, underwear consisted of simple, white pieces of clothing which were not to be shown in public. In the s, underwear came to be promoted as a fashion item in its own right, and came to be made in prints and colours.
Manufacturers also experimented with rayon and newer fabrics like Dacron , nylon and Spandex. Women's undergarments began to emphasize the breasts instead of the waist. The decade saw the introduction of the bullet bra pointed bust, inspired by Christian Dior 's " New Look ", which featured pointed cups. The original Wonderbra and push-up bra by Frederick's of Hollywood finally hit it big.
Women's panties became more colourful and decorative, and by the mids were available in two abbreviated styles called the hip-hugger and the bikini named after the Pacific Ocean island of that name , frequently in sheer nylon fabric. Pantyhose , also called tights in British English, which combined panties and hose into one garment, made their first appearance in ,  invented by Glen Raven Mills of North Carolina. The company later introduced seamless pantyhose in , spurred by the popularity of the miniskirt.
By the end of the decade, the girdle had fallen out of favour as women chose sexier and lighter alternatives. With the emergence of the woman's movement in the United States sales for pantyhose dropped off during the later half of the s having soared initially.
Underwear as fashion reached its peak in the s and s, and underwear advertisers forgot about comfort and durability, at least in advertising. Sex appeal became the main selling point, in swimwear as well, bringing to fruition a trend that had been building since at least the flapper era. The tank top , an undershirt named after the type of swimwear dating from the s known as a tank suit or maillot , became popular warm-weather casual outerwear in the US in the s.
Performers such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper were also often seen wearing their undergarments on top of other clothes. Although worn for decades by exotic dancers , in the s the G-string first gained popularity in South America, particularly in Brazil. Originally a style of swimsuit , the back of the garment is so narrow that it disappears between the buttocks. By the s the design had made its way to most of the Western world, and thong underwear became popular.
Today, the thong is one of the fastest-selling styles of underwear among women, and is also worn by men. While health and practicality had previously been emphasized, in the s retailers of men's underpants began focusing on fashion and sex appeal. Designers such as Calvin Klein began featuring near-naked models in their advertisements for white briefs. The increased wealth of the gay community helped to promote a diversity of undergarment choices. I told B I needed some socks too and at least 30 pairs of Jockey shorts.
He suggested I switch to Italian-style briefs , the ones with the T-shaped crotch that tends to build you up. I told him I'd tried them once, in Rome, the day I was walking through a Liz Taylor movie — and I didn't like them because they made me too self-aware.
It gave me the feeling girls must have when they wear uplift bras. Warhol liked his Jockey briefs so much that he used a pair as a canvas for one of his dollar-sign paintings. In the UK in the s, tight jeans gave briefs a continued edge over boxer shorts among young men, but a decade later boxers were given a boost by Nick Kamen 's performance in Levi 's "Launderette" TV commercial for its jeans , during which he stripped down to a pair of white boxer shorts in a public laundromat.
The s saw the introduction of boxer briefs , which take the longer shape of boxers but maintain the tightness of briefs. Hip hop stars popularized " sagging ", in which loosely fitting jeans or shorts were allowed to droop below the waist, exposing the waistband or a greater portion of boxer shorts, briefs, or boxer briefs worn underneath.
The chiseled muscularity of Mark Wahlberg then known as Marky Mark in a series of s underwear advertisements for Calvin Klein briefs led to his success as a white hip hop star and a Hollywood actor.
Some people choose not to wear any underpants, a practice sometimes referred to as " going commando ", for comfort, to enable their outer garments particularly those which are form-fitting to look more flattering, to avoid creating a panty line , because they find it sexually exciting, or because they do not see any need for them. Certain types of clothes, such as cycling shorts and kilts , are designed to be worn or are traditionally worn without underpants.
This also applies for most clothes worn as nightwear and as swimwear. Some analysts have encouraged people with a higher than average libido to change their underwear more frequently than average due hygiene-related issues of by-products such as cowper's fluid and vaginal lubrication.
Underwear is sometimes partly exposed for fashion reasons or to titillate. A woman may, for instance, allow the top of her brassiere to be visible from under her collar , or wear a see-through blouse over it. Some men wear T-shirts underneath partly or fully unbuttoned shirts. A common style among young men is to allow the trousers to sag below the waist, thus revealing the waistband or a greater portion of whatever underwear the man is wearing.
A woman wearing low-rise trousers may expose the upper rear portion of her thong underwear is said to display a " whale tail ". Boxer shorts with colourful patterns, pictures of cartoon characters, sports team logos and slogans are readily available. British manufacturers and retailers claim that most British men prefer "trunks", or short boxer briefs.
Gregory Woods, author of "We're Here, We're Queer and We're not Going Catalogue Shopping," stated that in companies often do not market men's underwear to straight men on the assumption that they are not interested in buying underwear for themselves; therefore many such advertisements are catered to women, as well as gay men, to convince them to buy underwear for their husbands. Likewise, specialist underwear brands are constantly emerging, such as Andrew Christian , 2 x ist , Leonisa , and Papi.
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