From Loincloths to Boxers: A Brief History of Underwear

At some point in human history, clothes began to become layered, with undergarments as the base covering and other types of clothes on top of them. Depending on the era, societies and cultures had their own conventions and fashion trends when it came to the style and design of their underwear.

The earliest evidence that people had worn underwear seem to be that of the Badarian culture who had lived from around 5000 to 4000 BC. They had used linen and leather as materials, with linen being typically used in daily life, and leather being used by women during their period.

Ancient Romans also used underwear, and what type of underwear they wore seemed to indicate their social status. Loincloths were either made of wool or silk, depending on a person's class. Romans would wear what is called a subligaculum, like a pair of shorts, underneath their togas, while women would also wear a strophium, the ancient Roman equivalent of a bra.

In the Middle Ages, those loincloths evolved into a pair of pants called braies, which had a flap called a codpiece, which is like a zipper during those days. Apart from that, they would wear a chemise, an undershirt worn by both men and women, and tucked either into the men's braies or the women's petticoats.

From the 19th century on, underwear designs had begun to veer toward what we have today, as the availability of cotton made mass production much easier. In 1913, the first modern bra was invented by Mary Phelps Jacob and in 1935, the first jockey briefs were sold by Coopers Inc.

For more details on how underwear evolved throughout history, check it out on The Collector.

(Image credit: Esteban Bernal/Unsplash)


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