Wednesday, February 22, 2017
 
WWII Yoke Front, Tie Side Drawers

  WWII, White Tie Side, Yoke front Drawers

Major Events of the 1940s

The bombing of Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II in 1941. More than 16 million American men and women served in the military. Once again, war brought practicality to men’s skivvies. Heat was always a problem for a uniform-clad, back-pack-laden soldier. So he was issued cotton drawers and athletic shirts. Nylon had been invented in 1938, but civilian use was stymied by the war. Along with rubber, the prime ingredient in elastic, nylon was rationed. So men’s drawers reverted to white cotton cloth, tie-sides with a 3 button yoke-front (pictured left and right), and they were almost exclusively made of cotton.

Jimmy DorseyJimmy Dorsey (pictured left) was one of America's most famous and successful band leaders during the big band era. Big band music, the jitterbug and, of course, the ubiquitous movies helped pass the time as the fighting raged. Guys left at home began wearing Healthknit’s "Kut-Ups" with an inverted V-vent in front to fit over or under the front pouch of briefs, Robert Reis’ "Scandals" with "new crotch comfort" … and anything else they could find to provide ease of action and freedom of movement. All the while, men’s underwear advertisements counseled the public to "buy more bonds," that our "marines come first" and "if your dealer is out of stock ... keep calling."

Harry TrumanArchitecture turned to the glass, steel and concrete of the International Style, while technologies spawned by the war effort led to antibiotics, "sanforized" preshrunk cottons and even the Slinky, the ageless coiled-spring toy. The GI Bill, in 1944, began planning for the massive return home of men … all sporting their army-issued drawers and T-shirts. Harry Truman (pictured right), no doubt wearing some form of boxers, led the country out of the World War and right into the Cold War. Commercial television began, and Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle became household names.

As the end of the war approached, underwear went very public. In 1946, Frederick of Hollywood opened their first store, bringing women's — and eventually, men’s — underwear as a tool of seduction, fully into the light of day.

Everyone wanted what they hadn't been able to have during the long years of the depression and the war. Jockey, Robert Reis, Munsingwear, Healthknit, Otis, Hanes, Carter’s, Expanso and even the prestige shirt maker, Arrow, were all too eager to accommodate. They advertised new colors, patterns never before seen in underclothes, unique cuts "shaped and tailored to body contours," the return of elastic and the use of fancy rayons.

Jockey proudly announced everywhere in print, "Brands are back!"

Raw materials became readily available by the end of the decade, and a new age of American peacetime prosperity was about to begin. Tiring of the war-issue look of drawers and boxers, men turned by the thousands to less and less in their underwear. Sales of Jockey brand briefs peaked, alongside those of Bodygards, Hanes, Allen A and Reis. The trend to brevity had been put in motion.

 

 
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