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The History Of Underwear For Dummies

by Nate Charny

Unless you’re living in a nudist colony, rocking a kilt the right way, or currently having sex (niiiiiiiice), you’re probably wearing underwear right now. It’s a garment we trust to protect our most delicate areas every day, but what do we really KNOW about underwear? Most of us simply take it for granted.

In fact, due to cost cutting measures in the education system, 90% of schools no longer teach the history of underwear. We’re here to help. The internet already taught you sex education, so this blog post is just expanding the curriculum.

Let’s dive right in and start with the basics.

When was underwear invented?

The first form of underwear we see in the historical record is the loincloth. If you have a tea towel and a stapler, you can make your own loincloth at home. Archaeologists have found evidence of leather loincloths being worn as far back as 7,000 years ago. Those things have gotta be pretty ripe by now.

After loincloths, the next important point in the evolution of underwear happened a couple years ago when Ball Hammock® pouch underwear was invented by Shinesty.

when was underwear invented

Who invented underwear?

Many people credit Adam & Eve with inventing underwear by covering their nakedness with fig leaves. But technically, if you have to keep holding the leaf over your crotch, you can’t really say you’re WEARING it. I figure underwear was probably invented by some caveman whose balls were getting chilly during the Ice Age so he took down a wooly mammoth and used its fur to cover HIS wooly mammoth. In terms of large scale manufacturing of underwear, the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney made mass production possible. So those ugly cotton granny panties? You can blame those on Eli Whitney.

Fun Fact: In the early 1900s, Hanes became the top manufacturer of underwear. Now, over 100 years later, you can still buy underwear from Hanes, but we’d really prefer if you didn’t.

Did the Romans wear underwear?

Short Answer? Yes. Long answer? Yeeeeeeesssssss. In fact, most people living in Rome today STILL wear underwear. Although if you play your cards right, maybe they’ll take them off for you.

Why was underwear invented?

Underwear has evolved over the centuries to meet the changing needs of society. In the simplest times, underwear helped prevent snakes from biting the genitals of early humans walking in the woods. Things only got more complex from there. For example, underwear of the 1800s involved complicated corsets and bustles which required women to keep a team of sturdy servants on call to cinch her into garments that would slowly suffocate her over the course of an evening.

why was underwear invented

When were thongs invented?

The first thong bikini was created in 1974 by Rudi Gernreich. Is it any surprise that underwear designed to give women a permanent wedgie was designed by a man? Thongs gained popularity on the beaches of Brazil in the late 1970s. Maybe that’s why waxing off all your pubes below your bikini line is called a Brazilian. I’m just guessing though, so feel free to Google it. I’m not doing extra work.

What did people do before underwear?

Before people started wearing underwear, everyone just went commando. There are pluses and minuses to not wearing underwear. On the one hand, by the time you hit 30, your boobs or balls were usually dragging on the ground behind you. On the other hand, you could go to the bathroom anytime you liked without breaking stride. Going commando is still popular with many people today who enjoy the feeling of rough denim chafing their junk with every step they take.

Why is it called underwear?

Despite the popularity of this garment you don beneath your clothes, no one knows why it’s called underwear. All jokes, it's called underwear because wear it underneath your clothes.

Why don’t other animals wear underwear?

While some monkeys wear diapers, this is usually against their will. Animals simply aren’t as uptight as we humans are. Although as any parent who has taken their child to the zoo can tell you, having animals wear underwear would save us from having a lot of awkward conversations.

What else can you tell me about the history of underwear?

Um, that’s kind of an open-ended question. Do you want to be more specific?

"Not really."

Ok, well let’s see. There’s plenty more to talk about. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that men’s underwear got legs. So that’s interesting. Oh and codpieces were a thing for a while. They were like the front fly on today’s boxers, letting the man pee without having to take off all his clothes.

"Anything else?"

There’s tons else! We haven’t even talked about bras yet! Leather bras were popular in Ancient Rome, and remain so today in the dominatrix community. Sports bras offer even more support and are also popular among dominatrixes when they go jogging. The first modern bra as we recognize it was invented in 1913 by a woman who tied two handkerchiefs together with ribbon.

And then there’s boxer briefs! They’re one of the most recent innovations in underwear, appearing starting in the 1990s. Boxer briefs finally provided a way to wear supportive underwear without getting made fun of for wearing tighty whities. Truly a momentous occasion for middle school boys everywhere.

"Ok, I think I’m satisfied. Is this blog post wrapping up soon?"

Yep! Thanks for reading. Now that you know the history of underwear, head on over and check out the present of men's underwear and women's panties.

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