Saturday, August 18, 2018
Vintage Skivvies Underwear Archives


Ancient Beginnings

Was an apron of fig leaves the first underwear? Probably not, because it didn't go under anything! It’s difficult to determine when man first thought of undergarments. One thing is sure: man’s anatomy has always dictated the design of his underclothes. Men’s underwear has always been primarily functional, conforming to the body's natural shape, and made of sturdy, washable fabrics.

5,300 years ago, a man was walking around in a loin cloth. Or so thought the mountaineers hiking through the Tyrolean Alps in 1991. They stumbled on the frozen body of a man believed to have lived that long ago. Bits of clothing recovered with the body included a leather loincloth. The loincloth is clearly the universal antecedent of men’s underwear.

In 1352 BC Egypt, the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun was buried with 145 loincloths. Surely that was an ample supply for the afterlife. They were each a long piece of linen shaped like an isosceles triangle with strings meant to be tied around the hips. The length of cloth hanging down in back was brought forward between the legs and tucked over the tied strings in the front, from the outside in. Whenever masculine Egyptian loincloth-clad royalty covered themselves with robe or skirt, then we had an example of underwear.

The loincloth was still being worn as underwear by the shepherds in southwestern France as late as 1835. This remarkable fact was reported by Abel Hugo, Victor Hugo’s brother. Abel was obviously interested in a different kind of history. 

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