Saturday, August 18, 2018
Vintage Skivvies Underwear Archives


The Twentieth Century

Over 3,000 years later, Japanese pilots during World War II were still wearing a similar "loincloth" under their uniforms. Traditional Chinese male underwear has always been a cut-and-sewn version of the loincloth, a diaper-like brief tied in front with two cross-panels.

Like many of today's products and technologies, men’s underwear was significantly improved during both World Wars. The first shorts with buttons on a yoke were introduced to WW I soldiers. Then adjustable, tie-side shorts were issued for summer wear by the troops in WW II. Both were so popular that returning soldiers insisted on continuing to wear them, often forgoing their more familiar union suits. And the war years began the introduction of new fabrics like rayon to compete with or complement cotton.

Over the years, underwear has been associated with modesty — or with the lack of it. Underclothes are inextricably associated with morality, sensuousness, cleanliness, sexuality, hygiene and — sometimes — even social status. No wonder it’s a complex topic, further complicated by the whims of fashion.

Underclothes have had — and still have — important ‘psychological’ characteristics. To understand this aspect of what we wear nearest to our skin, we have to view undergarments in the light of the epoch in which they were popular.

In the days of Victorian prudery, closing out the 19th century and beginning the 20th, the human body was so concealed that mystery alone contributed to a sense of eroticism. In an age when words like ‘trousers’ and ‘drawers’ were thought indelicate because they conjured images of bare male legs, it was inevitable that any concealed undergarment acquired erotic properties. Much of the psychology of underwear as a fetish remains with us today.
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