Today there is an abundant selection of underwear available on the market for men and even more so with the evolution of the internet, where you can search for all types of weird and wonderful styles of mens underwear.
With more liberal views, the encouragement of men to become more open of their own sexuality and more promiscuous society, underwear designs have consequently transcended the boundaries of what would only have been acceptable for men to wear 10 or 20 years ago.
However, in many respects we are returning more towards what would have been openly worn by men centuries ago when vanity and social expectation had less of persuasion on what men wore and underwear was regarded less of a fashion item and more as a functional and practical garment. Thongs were first worn by men thousands of years ago and it is only through socialization that they have become more acceptable amongst women.
However, thongs are now making there way back in to mens underwear mode in a big way and therefore I thought it might be interesting to look more closely at the general history of mens underwear.
The history of mens underwear can be traced back to at least the Egyptians. The loin cloth is probably the first known style of underwear and usually made from a simple piece of leather and covered by a skirt or other garments during colder weather. This is a common item of underwear and that is worn in many societies worldwide, and as well as being styled from leather, has also been made from cloth, other fabrics and even bark. Some are fashioned so that when the material is passed between the legs it forms in to something similar to a thong.
It wasn’t until the 13th century that there is the first evidence of pull on underwear being produced and mens underwear being regarded as a fashionable garment. However, these first designs of mens underwear were more like a pair of long linen pants known as ‘braies’. However, these were selectionof underwear available on often open at the crotch and so the ‘codpiece’ emerged as an item of underwear essentially that maintained a mans modesty.
The ‘codpiece’ probably marked the first type of garment associated with underwear and coverage of the genitals that was also considered a fashion item and symbol of the wearers identity as they would be padded, shaped and sculptured in to varying shapes and styles.
The ‘the industrial revolution’ marked a prominent turning point in the design of underwear, as the development and weaving of cotton provided a new dimension to mens underwear, such as knee length draws that saw the incorporation of a draw string waist.
Jockey first started to fashion briefs in the 1930’s and with the advent of elastic, we saw the development of elasticated waist bands and shorter traditional draws that could be argued to be the first type of boxer shorts.
During the 1950’s DuPont, Lycra, Spandex and Nylon played a huge role in the fashioning of mens underwear and for the first time mens underwear really became a fashion statement with the introduction of greater designs and colours.
Mens underwear has moved on hugely from the 1980’s onwards and largely due to it being sexualized far more. Probably one of the earliest and memorable sexualization of underwear was in fact during a Levi’s advert of a man stripping off to his white boxer shorts in an American launderette.
Mens underwear now takes many looks, colours; and fabrics have become increasingly advanced with the use of technical micro and anti bacterial fabrics. There also seems to be less of a divide between what styles and designs are usually for men or women, with greater crossovers in looks. G-strings and thongs are no longer the preserve of women and this style is probably the most popular sold item by online retailers. Boxer shorts and boxer briefs are becoming skimpier and with closer similarities to boy shorts worn by women and mens underwear is even popular in silk and sheer fabrics.
The curious question begging now is what underwear is going to be around for men in the future?
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