A “Brief” History Of Underwear

The pharaoh Tutankhamun was entombed with 145 spare undies, intended for use in the after life. It still seems lesser than what a millennial would pack for a 2 day trip.
 
Here’s a history of the underwear simply because they didn’t cover it in school and if one day your grandchildren ask you this, you might just have an answer. Or you’re just bored. Either things.


Underwears have remained an essential for as long as we remember. They are completely practical pieces of clothing, to cover our modesty, keep us warm although barely there underwears exist too, for different purposes altogether.


Going by the literal meaning of the word underwear and the conjecture that surrounds it - they aren’t meant to be seen and have to be worn under clothes. But it hasn't always been like that.


Undies have gone through years of evolution (thankfully) to be the little comfortable pieces of clothing we so love today.
 

  • Back in 5000 BC, Cavemen and pharaohs wore what was basically an ancient nappy, the loincloth. It's the longest existing style of underwear, a piece of fabric wrapped around the hips and through the legs.
 
The upper class wore silk. Sigh, if they only knew about micromodal.
 
  • Moving on to the middle ages, women went commando till the 19th century, (whew that's a long time) not bothering about knickers but only wearing shirts under heavy dresses. Men wore baggy linen breaches

 

  • If you think you love boxers, think again. In the 1600s King Charles II would wear 13 inch long silk boxers tightened around his waist with fancy ribbons.

 

  • At the beginning of the 1800s women still wore a long nightie-like garment under their dress but it was now called a chemise not a shift.

 

  • Ever wondered why you say pair of underwear? Its because drawers were literally a pair of two separate legs to be pulled up in the early 19th century.

 

  • Men moved on to drawers which were 2 long separate legs which had to be “drawn” up and soon enough women slipped into them which later evolved to become risqué pantalettes that frilled decoratively around the calves.

 

  • By the late 19th century women's drawers began to be decorated with lace. Mens underwear in britain began to be called pants (really, why are we going backwards here?)

 

  • In the 19th century women's underwear was usually open between the legs but in the 20th century closed knickers replaced them. And from then the knickers only grew shorter.

 

  • By the 1950s the beloved bikini briefs emerged, named after an island in the Pacific Ocean.

 

  • Mens underwear grew shorter still, with the word drawers finally going out of existence to be replaced by underpants.

 

  • By the 80’s the thong came to be. A triangular piece of fabric and strings, the risky undies show an eerie resemblance to the original loincloths — perhaps underwear hasn't changed that much at all.

 

Thankfully the days of knee length underwears of scratchy materials are done with and we now exist in the extremely comfortable world of  soft micromodal underwear.

However long undies must have taken to evolve, it's pretty evident that there's never been a better time to be wearing underwears, so yay you!


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