Knickers, panties, tighty whities, drawers, banana hammocks, trunks: the sheer number of euphemisms we have for underwear shows just how important they are today. Yet, even with all that attention, no one is quite sure when people started using these pieces to cover their private parts. But looking back in history, it is evident that underwear has been a part of man's lifestyle since prehistoric times as they realized it’s importance.
Underwear has evolved through thousands of years to become the perfect boxers, briefs, or trunks we know today. Going back in time, art and historical texts have always depicted people wearing some version of underclothing. From Ancient Egyptians, Traditional Japanese wrestlers, Ancient Romans to Native Americans, underwear was a truly multicultural trend. While today's underwear has been refined and diversified in design, it's fascinating to see just how much they have changed over the decades.
Surprisingly, most of us never take time to think about the origin of underwear. So, to pique your curiosity, where did the underwear come from? How did it evolve into the contemporary styles and cuts such as bamboo boxers, bamboo briefs, or bamboo boxer briefs that we know today? Did we always demand the level of quality, comfort, and style as we do today?
The Biblical Fig Leaf
Underwear is and always has been important to the human race-the bible points at a time when Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. However, after they ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, they were forced to use a fig leaf to cover their nakedness. This foliage is perhaps the first underwear that the famous biblical figures wore to shield their genitals.
In many historical art paintings, we see a muscular, starkly naked depiction of Adam. Most of these paintings would later use fig leaves and loins clothes to obscure the genitals of the once-nude figures. Effective and iconic, the fig leaf represented the primary purpose of underwear - to cover the genitals.
There are other references for people wearing underwear throughout the bible. Some notable mentions are Moses and Jeremiah, who used linen breeches to cover their bare flesh. These undergarments (waist cloth) were described as short skirts wrapped around the hips and only reached halfway down the thighs.
Historical texts show that about 7000 years ago, men were already covering their loins when running prehistoric chores such as migrating, hunting, gathering, and building. The loincloth was a long, rectangular strip of fabric that resembled a nappy. It was passed between the legs and tied around the waist. Depending on the civilization and materials available, these undergarments were either made of linen or leather.
Archeologists discovered the first loincloths in Egypt. It is believed that Pharaohs were often buried with their loincloths for use in the afterlife. For example, King Tut of Egypt was buried with dozens of his linen loincloths which had been slightly modified into a triangular fabric with strings on the longer ends. Ideally, this alternative natty style garment was secured around the waist. It would then be passed from the back to the front and fastened at the waist.
Due to its functional simplicity, the loincloth quickly morphed into many different forms. Different cultures wore this undergarment in different ways, while in some other cultures, the loincloth was a reserve for the noble upper-class in the community.
Men in the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca empires wore basic loincloths that were made of fabric strips and that were wrapped around the waist and pulled between the legs to cover the genitals. They would then leave flaps hanging to cover their back and front. In Japan, the earliest form of undergarment was a loincloth known as a fundoshi. The fundoshi was a silk or cotton fabric that passed between the thighs and tucked at the waistline.
In all these cultures, the loincloth's design was almost similar, and its purpose remained constant - to cover man's intimate places.
Unlike the loincloths used by men in Rome, Greece, India, and China, the Egyptians quickly adopted a redesigned version of the loincloth. The Schenti, as it was commonly known, was wrapped around the hips and tucked on one end while the other end was left hanging at the front. This garment was worn across all classes. However, it is believed that men with a societal stature such as Pharaohs and military commanders would have their Schenti pleated using finer, exotic fabrics such as linen.
The evidence of Schenti comes from various drawings and hieroglyphs that show Egyptian nobles wearing a rectangular cloth wrapped at the waist and fastened using a belt. The developing Egyptian weaving industry made it possible to produce linen cloths which quickly became a preferred fabric over leather since it was lighter and comfortable to don in the hot Mediterranean climate.
The cut and design of the Schenti remained remarkably the same throughout the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-c. 1500 B.C.E.). Later, more designs started cropping up. The first variation of the Schenti was a curved cut made at one end of the fabric, so it could hang in front once the undergarment was tucked on the waistline. Over time, schenti designs became more elaborate, and their length increased to cover the entire thighs.
Unlike the Pharaoh's schenti that was more elaborate, poor peasants wore a men's garment called pano. The pano was a simple, rectangular loin cloth without elegant pleating.
At the beginning of the New Kingdom (c. 1500-c. 750 b.c.e), Egypt conquered Syria. The Syrian people had stellar weaving skills that helped introduce better cloths to Egypt, such as Tunic. The Tunic was designed like a robe and would cover the whole body, rendering the loincloth a type of underpants.
The Subligaculum was a form of loincloth commonly worn by both men and women in Ancient Rome. It was created after the fall of the Roman Empire in ancient Europe. These leather garments differed slightly from other loincloths since they had sewn trouser legs. But basically, these legs were just a specially designed cut from the loincloth that would be fastened with a belt.
Like other loincloths, the primary purpose of the Subligaculum was to cover the nether regions. The Subligaculum came in various shapes and designs. In its simplest form, this undergarment featured a stretched cloth with a belt. As an underwear, most men wore the Subligaculum under a toga while women wore it under a stola. The stola was the staple garment for married women. It was a long, sleeveless garment with two belts that would be fastened below the breasts, while another one fastened at the waistline.
While most people in ancient Rome used the Subligaculum as an undergarment, mosaics and reliefs depict that Roman gladiators, laborers, athletes, and warriors wore the Subligaculum without other garments. In fact, evidence from the tomb of Eurysaces the baker paints a picture of slaves working bare chests and only wearing a Subligaculum.
It is believed that the Romans would wear several layers of toga or stola and thick socks to wade off the cold. Historians contend that emperor Augustus would wear four tunics and a heavy toga in winter. In warmer months, it is possible that many Romans simply went commando.
Like everything else in ancient Roman society, the kind of clothes you wore depended on your status.
The braies became an everyday undergarment amongst Celtic and Germanic tribes in antiquity and European gentlemen into the middle ages. The braies were trouser-like, loose-fitting leggings made of cloth tied around the waists and secured at the mid-calf or the knee level. Some people use these garments as underwear while others used them as trousers without any other under-pieces.
The medieval braies were a popular fashion in the 12th and 13th centuries. Some of their common characteristics of the braies included:
Over time, the braies became shorter and turned into all-time undergarments. As their popularity grew, newer variations were introduced. The nobles in the society who found the braies too pedestrian wore more elegant versions, called the "chausses." These were longer braies held in place by a garter belt and extended to cover the entire legs. They had an opening around the crotch area to ease access when using the lavatories.
In the late medieval going into the early modern era, a front flap called the "codpiece" was introduced to make it comfy and easier to use the toilet. The codpiece had some buttons or laces that added beauty and functionality to these fashion articles.
At the peak of braies fashion in the Middle ages, codpieces were added to enhance these loose-fitting trousers' comfort, beauty, and functionality. Codpieces extended at the front of the braies and opened up using buttons, laces, and snaps that enabled men to do number 2 without removing their braies.
This was an additional convenience that never existed with the previous undergarments. But perhaps what drove the codpiece's popularity is the rise of hemlines, which gave these pieces a decorative function. Henry VIII, the English king, is perhaps the widely known poster boy for codpieces.
Historians believe that Henry VIII was among the first people to add some pad on his skivvies to add some oomph. Sooner, his loyal subjects started adding some pads to their codpieces. In a new twist, scholars speculate that the additional padding in Henry VIII's codpiece was made to accommodate medicated bandages - with a galaxy of herbs, syrups, minerals, and decoctions - to alleviate pain from a suspected syphilis case.
Other scholars postulate that the large codpiece was a means to keep away body stains from the expensive, fancy wardrobe befitting a king. Others believe that the Renaissance men had a lot of junk on their belts; hence the padding on the codpiece was a functional necessity to protect their loins from friction and bumps.
A typical posture seen in many paintings of the Renaissance men points at another ignored emphasis for the codpiece. As these ornamental pieces became larger and shapelier, they would serve to enhance masculinity performance and vigor and were designed to enhance rather than conceal the genital area. These pieces also added the convenience to store coins, snuff, and other small items.
Fun Fact: Fashion-conscious courtiers had their codpieces ornamented to serve both as a boast and a provocation as they swaggered what appeared as a boisterous, permanent erection.
The coming centuries witnessed little change - besides a variation of an inch or two at the hem or fabric choice - until the 1860s when the union suits appeared. Then, the invention of the cotton gin in the early 19th Century fast-tracked the development of more elaborate underwear created to meet the needs of an evolving man.
At this point, it became possible to mass-produce undergarments instead of just having simple, homemade skivvies. In the early to mid-19th Century, both men and women had more options for bifurcated drawers. These were knee-length undergarments that had separate legs and would be suspended from the waist. This ingenious innovation made it super easy to access the toilet without having to remove the entire piece.
With time, this design became more elaborate and led to the birth of the union suit. The union suit was a tightly-fitting, knitted jumpsuit that was buttoned down from the neck to the feet. Also known as the "chemiloon," the union suit was the predecessor of long John's and today's onesie. The term union referred to the union or combination of shirts and pants.
The now male-coded union suit was a revolutionary women's underwear in the 1860s. They were popularly known as the Emancipation suits because they liberated women from the painful and uncomfortable constriction corsets common in those days. In addition, the union suits were touted as a healthier alternative. Women would now have some more options beyond the then disease-sweeping long skirts.
The union suit featured a comical drop-seat flap which allowed users to easily use the toilet without stripping down their suits. With time, the union suit was split apart, giving way to long johns, but the appeal never expired.
In the 19th Century, there was a growing demand for more comfortable, stylish, and convenient undergarments that could be used on various occasions. The shape of the initial union suit was believed to be very limiting for soldiers and athletes.
During the 2nd world war, the union suit was redesigned by splitting it into two - a shirt and a tightly fitting legging. These more comfortable drawers were known as the long johns, named after a renowned Boston native boxing champion known as John L. Sullivan.
The newly redesigned long johns were more comfortable and even more stylish than their predecessors. Moreover, they were now available in exotic silk knits for the wealthy and soft wool for the masses.
Today, the long john underwear is a common wardrobe piece for people living in cold places and a favorite pant set for people who love skiing and playing ice hockey. Since they snug close to the body, they provide significant warmth and comfort to compete in.
The jockeys are perhaps the earliest precursor to boxer shorts. At the peak of the industrial revolution in 1874, the booming invention and innovation led to the manufacturing of the new bike. This new transportation technology was a real game-changer.
But there was a problem!
The streets had been made for horses and pedestrians. Those cobblestones on the streets would therefore be very punishing to the rider's loins. So in 1874, Sharp & Smith - a Chicago sporting goods company - developed the jockstrap or the jockeys to provide comfort and support for bicycle jockeys on the cobblestone streets.
Today's jockeys have similar characteristics to their initial design. It is similar to the brief in the front, but the backside lacks the fabric covering your buttocks. Instead, the backside has two elastic straps that join the front pouch from the sides.
Even today, the jockeys are still popular amongst men who practice highly active sports that have immense movements. The idea is to strap in your junk inside the pouch, so it doesn't swing around during sports, thereby preventing injury. Gym rats also find the jockeys important as it helps strap everything in, while leaving the butt exposed for comfort when training the legs and glutes.
Today, the jockeys still serve the same purpose as they did back in the days, including:
By the end of the 19th Century, the apparel industry was now developing by leaps and bounds. The long johns were now a popular option for most men and women. But it wasn't until the 1920s that Everlast - a boxing company - started tweaking leather trunks worn by boxing champions.
In 1925, under Jacob Golomb's leadership, the company developed a lighter and more comfortable version of the fighting shorts, replacing the prizefighter's leather band shorts with more elastic waistbands. They were named boxers, coining the name from their boxing ring history.
While this revolutionary invention set the ground for the briefs as we know them today, most men didn't fancy the newly designed shorts since they lacked the snugly support and comfort that union suits had offered throughout the decades.
In 1934, a renowned apparel engineer, Arthur Kneibler, invented the now familiar Y-front brief. The first briefs, known as jockey shorts, were a snug, legless underwear style with an overlapping Y-front fly for easy access in a jam. Due to the immense support that the briefs offered, they were easily comparable to the jockstraps hence their name, jockey briefs.
The first pieces hit the fashion stores in 1935, creating a frenzy that would see 30,000 pieces sold in 3 months. The briefs and the boxer became the main underwear rivals, which allowed men to re-try the boxer shorts developed some years earlier.
By the 1940s, the new style undergarments were a popular wardrobe option for many men and slowly eclipsed the need for the traditional union suits. In the coming decades, boxers and briefs had equal proponents, with pundits citing various health benefits for each under piece. Proponents for the boxers suggested that the free-hanging nature of the underwear held superior benefits over the tight support offered by the briefs.
In 1938, Lyle & Scott - a Scottish knitwear company - obtained the license to sell the Y-fronts to Britain. The jockeys became an overnight sensation in Britain and would soon be used to symbolize masculinity and agility.
During the 2nd world war, jockey briefs were already featured in advertisements, with models dressed in briefs standing next to war tanks.
By the mid-20th Century, men had more choice of color and patterns when choosing their underwear. There was also an accelerated development of new fabrics such as Dacron, rayon, and DuPont spandex that allowed tighter and shorter fitting briefs.
Notable Underwear Developments in the 20th Century
By 1970, the fashion industry was booming, and designer wear was now all the rage. Labels such as Calvin Klein, Levi's, and Marks & Spencer were transforming the drawers from unmentioned garments to some sort of fashion and lifestyle choice that people would publicly flaunt. Underwear cuts were now trimmer and sexier, and new fabrics allowed for more form-fitting boxers.
Brand names were competing to make the most conspicuous, flashy, loud, and sometimes humorous designs to drive sales. But perhaps one of the main beneficiaries of this snappy trend is a brand name called Joe Boxer designs.
In 1985, the company started manufacturing boxers printed with 100 dollar bill images. Unfortunately, this didn't sit well with the feds, and soon the Secret Service confiscated more than 1,000 pairs of the offending merchandise. In a twist of events, the company used this opportunity to drive PR and embolden its brand image, creating a somewhat crazy obsession for its skivvies. In 1988, the company rode on its newly found fame and set the pace for the industry by creating the first glow-in-the-dark underwear.
Following concerns of the briefs being too tight and the boxers being too buggy, boxer briefs were invented to bring the best of the two worlds. The boxer briefs were a solution to the dwindling popularity of the briefs, which were now being referred to as the "tighty whiteys".
The hybrid boxer briefs had the same silhouette and cut of the boxer shorts for optimum coverage while utilizing the snug fit and elasticity of the classic briefs. After several alterations, most brands started sewing the boxer briefs without a back seam. This offered better comfort and created better contours. The boxer briefs were popularized by Calvin Klein's model, Mark Wahlberg, who was then known as Marky Mark.
Since the first boxers and briefs came into the mass market, more variations have been developed to meet the growing consumer needs. Different brands have developed unique cuts, fit, fabric and decoration to reflect the changing attitudes to sex, gender, and morality.
Innovations in technology and designs have given birth to newer offshoots of the boxer and briefs such as bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, and bamboo briefs which are now easily purchasable.
The trunk and brief styles have obviously been an excellent option for many men. Unfortunately, the most commonly used fabrics have a pesky problem of ridding up. The friction caused by fabric rubbing against fabric between the legs also causes chafing. Innovative materials such as bamboo viscose help solve this problem, making bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, and even bamboo briefs ideal for both sports and everyday use.
The focus now is to create the best mens bamboo underwear that can maintain heat, cover our modesty, and give robust support to our nether regions. Sexual suggestiveness and appeal are also a growing consideration when designing mens bamboo underwear.
Absolutely! Bamboo is an ultra-comfy, antibacterial, and moisture-wicking fabric, which makes it a premium choice for underwear. Its cooling features, odor-resistant properties, and stellar breathability help protect you from uncomfortable moisture, funky smells, and, worst of all, painful infections.
Bamboo underwear serves two essential purposes: fashion and function! Wearing bamboo underwear helps keep your boys clean, comfortable, and protected while still making a bold fashion statement that fits your lifestyle. This ultra-premium fabric ensures that chafing, rubbing, and pinching never happens, keeping your skin and jewels comfortable.
Mens bamboo underwear also protects your genitals from strong dyes and stains that are common in most fabrics. If you love wearing your tight denim jeans, your bamboo briefs or boxers will ensure a safe barrier between your pants and crotch, helping you avoid painful crotch cuts that could happen when you sit down.
Besides, bamboo lasts 3X longer than other fabrics without losing its feathery softness. This means that your skivvies will serve you for longer while delivering the same premium benefits as if they were new.
Key Types Of Men's Underwear
Today, underwear is an important part of the man's wardrobe. If you want to feel and look good, you must start with choosing the right underwear. Your underwear fulfills a number of functions:
With so many underwear styles and cuts today, you might be spoilt for choice when choosing a type that truly reflects your preferences and lifestyle. Here is what you need to know about the various styles so you can make an informed buying decision:
The whitey tighties are the oldest and perhaps the widely known underwear on the planet. They are designed to fit tightly around the upper thighs to offer extra support to your boys. Briefs are designed, so the leg holes curve up towards the top of your thigh, snuggling close to the skin for ultimate comfort. These underwear are easily recognizable by their elastic waistband, no leg, and minimal coverage.
Briefs are an excellent choice for men with thick thighs since they are not likely to bunch when you are running your errands - this is uncomfortable and unsightly. They are also a great option if you prefer wearing low-rise or tighter pants. If your work on a desk all day, briefs can come in handy since they form a natural crease between your legs and body, allowing for optimum blood circulation throughout the day.
Their minimal leg coverage also helps enhance your flat tummy and creates an irresistible sex appeal especially if you are well endowed. For the best experience, consider going for premium briefs such as bamboo briefs which offer unrivaled comfort, breathability, and superb support for your jewels. These expertly manufactured briefs offer just the right amount of cuffing to your nether areas without really being too restrictive.
What to expect:
Looking for something that offers maximum breathability and just enough reveal? Well, boxer shorts are your best bet. For the everyday guy who regularly wears slim jeans or suit trousers, the boxer shorts can offer outstanding comfort. But there is a caveat! Boxers offer very minimal support to your jewels.
Inspired by the prizefighters of the last Century, the boxers offer an ideal loose and athletic feel that is liberating for a person who's grown wearing restrictive underwear such as the whitey tighties. They feature a straight-cut leg opening which covers your thighs partly. The length of the thighs can vary from one brand to another.
Since boxers' legs are not elastic, they don't snug around your skin, hence offering more enhanced breathability to your nether regions. However, with little support to your genitals, boxers are not an ideal undergarment for physical activities.
When looking for a boxer short, look for a slimmer cut that compliments your physique, being both flattering and extremely comfortable. Well-tailored bamboo boxers with the perfect trim will offer enhanced comfort and enough breeze to keep your boys floaty and cool even in the sweltering summer heat.
What to expect:
The boxer briefs are a mishmash of everything good about briefs and boxer shorts. These classic undergarments have a tight fit and offer just enough coverage, which has made them a favorite among most guys.
Boxer briefs have a wide variety of styles and cuts, so you can be sure to get a pair that fits your physique. These underwear are perfect for taller men with ample posterior and larger thighs. They provide ample material between the thighs to prevent chaffing while still providing the same unmatched support of the briefs.
Versatile styles such as bamboo boxer briefs are excellent for physical activity due to their enhanced breathability and sweat absorption, ensuring that you stay comfortable throughout the day. Whether you are looking for all-day office underwear or a workout piece to take to the gym, bamboo boxer briefs are your best bet.
What to expect:
Men's trunk underwear is perhaps the newest style on this list. Trunks are a shorter version of the boxer brief that fits more flush to the skin. Also known as hipsters, trunks offer several unique features that make them a good choice for the liberal gentleman.
Trunks have a pouch to hold your jewels in place, so there's no unnecessary bunching. A trunk's cut is slightly lower, only sitting below the hips to show off your six-packs for the ultimate sex appeal. They snug close to the thighs, giving you the versatility to wear different styles, including the super-skinny trousers without showing.
Their measured length provides just the right amount of flexibility, making your legs and thighs look slimmer and muscular. When looking for trunks, be sure to go for a good quality piece such as bamboo trunks that offer optimum comfort, breathability, and microbial properties that are just right for tight-fitting underwear.
Compression trunks are a newer variation of the trunk, which are specially designed for workouts at the gym. You can either wear them as underwear or as a workout outfit with your favorite underwear beneath.
Trunks are popular because they:
Gentlemen, most of you must be familiar with the women's thongs. Thongs are an ingenious alteration of the 19th-century jockstrap.
Today, more men are wearing thongs for sexual encounters as well as creating everyday underwear. Thongs feature a pouch to hold the jewels in place and a string that runs up through the butt cheeks, connecting with the waistband. This barely naked coverage creates a breezy and free feel while still ensuring that the genital area is firmly supported.
Thongs are elastic to provide comfort and maximum support with minimum coverage. This allows you to go semi-commando without compromising the security of your boys. If you are interested in thongs, be sure to find a quality and size that is comfortable to wear all day long.
What to expect:
What To Look for When Looking for Men's Underwear To Sport This Season
From soft boxers to strong trunks that offer maximum support, you have a variety of underwear styles to choose from today. Your choice of the underwear creates an excellent foundation to accentuate the rest of your wardrobe, boosting your confidence and style. When looking for the perfect underwear to sport, there are several things to keep in mind:
When looking for a skivvy, it's important to look for a shape and fit that aligns with your body shape and everyday lifestyle. If you'd love a comfortable piece that snugs around your skin but doesn't ride too high, a bamboo boxer brief could be your best option.
Some people find bamboo boxers and bamboo trunks to be ideal because they offer sufficient coverage and breathability without snugging too close to the skin.
If your current underwear keeps bunching, creating embarrassing marks on your tight jeans, consider going for briefs that fit comfortably into your body contours. People with awkward junk adjusting moments should look for trunks or boxers with pouches to hold their jewels in place.
The underwear comes in different sizes and cuts, ranging from small to extra-large. Depending on your build, you should go for a cut that aligns with your physique to avoid saggy pants or constrictive undergarments that won't let your nether region breathe.
To avoid costly mistakes, we always advise people to buy one or two pairs of their preferred underwear cut before stocking up the whole drawer. This allows you to have a good idea of your ideal size, which is comfortable and adequate to support your accessories.
This is the most important consideration when buying underwear. There are a variety of fabrics used by different brands, including lycra, spandex, silk, cotton, and bamboo. If you are active in the gym, a bamboo-spandex blended trunk can be a good option for you, while mens bamboo underwear - such as bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, bamboo briefs - is highly recommended for the everyday lifestyle because of its enhanced breathability and comfort.
Bamboo has become an increasingly popular fabric for men's underwear. Mens bamboo underwear, including bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, and bamboo briefs, has been touted as the novelty of modern man's underwear - they are very soft and velvety, offering stellar comfort and insulation.
So, why bamboo underwear:
Bamboo is breathable and hypo allergic which ensures that your nether region stays fresh and clean even in sweltering heat. This makes bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, and bamboo briefs an absolute pleasure to wear in whatever condition or environment.
Unlike other materials that scratch, chafe, and irritate your skin, bamboo is ultra-soft and velvety, offering soft featherlike cupping to your jewels. These sustainable mens bamboo underwear are cut for comfort. Whether you choose bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, or bamboo briefs, each of these cuts is designed to move in perfect harmony with you and your boys. No more chafing, and absolutely no more riding up!
If you are concerned about your carbon footprint, bamboo production is the most ethical and sustainable option. It can be easily produced without destroying the bamboo plants. All our bamboo briefs, bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs and bamboo trunks are made in a non-toxic and renewable manufacturing process for your peace of mind.
Whatever the weather condition, you can stay confident that your boys will maintain their optimum temperature. Each of our uniquely designed bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, and bamboo briefs are made of high-performance mesh fabric to wick away sweat and allow natural airflow for you crown jewels.
If you are looking for comfortable, appealing, and highly durable men's underwear, our bamboo boxers, bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo trunks, and bamboo briefs are a great option for you. Manufactured using the best practices and cut to your exact size and fit, you can be confident that a pair of quality mens bamboo underwear from TBô clothing will keep you cool and comfortable while working or playing outside, regardless of the weather.
Words by Jenn Pala