A Briefs History of Time (in Pants)

ImageWe wonder whether 2000 years ago B.P.P. (Before Pants People of course!) anyone predicted the arrival of a stylish dedicated mens underwear website for the 21st Century? Well if you're a Nostradamus expert, perhaps you can let us know whether the great man made any such references to say 'pants coming from the sky for a great man' (we're not fussy - we'll gladly share a prediction with knicker-friendly Tom Jones any day of the week).

Throughout history, pants, underpants, underwear, undies, smalls, drawers, skimpies, skivvies, kecks, under-crackers, budgie smugglers, Reg Grundies - you name it -  have played an important role in our society from Adam & Eve to David Beckham via Henry VIII, Elvis and Tom Cruise dancing around in his white Y-fronts (surely the initial inspiration for his, shall we say "slightly mad", couch jumping antics on Oprah). We'd hazard a guess that ol' Nostra' himself had a weakness for "caleçons flamboyants" under his gown, although we're kinda fuzzy as to what exactly was fashionable way back in 16th Century France.

Men's underwear may have become more famous in recent years thanks to the likes of Marky Mark, Golden Balls and Kellan Lutz posing in their tight boxer briefs, but the humble (we say almighty) pair of pants has been around a lot longer than all of these celebs and their skimpies combined.

So next time you purchase a pair of fancy Core-Points for your lucky man or yourself, spare a thought for the origin and evolution of the uber-important underpants.

To help you on your way down memory lane, here's a quick whiz through the history of pants "Professor Hawking-stylie":

History of Pants

  • A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was nothing: a vacuum, a void, rather dark, no Han Solo and certainly no pants. Then came the Big Bang, a few firecrackers, a sparkler or two and hey presto! The Earth begins in ernest, it's God's first day at the office, he's wearing the trousers but still no pants.
  • Would you Adam and Eve it? Thanks to a nasty serpent and a Golden Delicious, going starkers becomes "so last year, darling" and "figleaves is the new black" - it's a pivotal day in the history of pants.
  • 7,000 years ago, the leather loincloth is born for the fashion conscious caveman, leading to the prehistoric animal-skin bikini for Rachel Welch and the mankini for Peter Stringfellow. The loincloth is a long strip of fabric passed between the legs and tied around the waist. King Tut is buried with his own fine line of triangular shaped linen loincloths - the poseur! In Ancient Greece, pants equal poverty as only slaves wear them whilst the hoi polloi walk around swinging freely.
  • The Romans create the "subligaculum" - possibly not their finest hour in catchy names but a great era nonetheless if bikini-like tangas are your cup of tea.
  • By the 13th century, loose pull-on calf-length drawers or "braies" are invented for medieval dudes to hang loose and stay cool. They are usually baggy and made of linen. Cue lots of partying, damsels in distress, debauchery, acid house etc. The Simon Cowells of the day also wear "chausses" which only cover the legs, so no high waistbands then.
  • The Renaissance is a notable era of cultural change but it's not half as important as the significant developments in the smalls department. The braies get shorter and the chausses become tighter and Henry VIII sports the first budgie smuggler ever, like WAY before Ronaldo. It's the codpiece! Great for spending a penny in a hurry, this button-down or tied covering flap attaches to the front of the crotch and accentuates the genital area, making certain men think they are BIG BOYS. No shrinking violet, Henry pads his pouch out and the rest (abundance of wives, drumsticks, gammy leg, bad time for people's heads) is history. Some boring historians suggest his bulge is actually created to hide soaked bandages to treat his syphilis but we prefer to lovingly think of Hezza as King Dong.
  • From the late 16th century through to the 19th century, life is not exactly peachy if you fancy a certain "Je ne sais quoi" from your under-kecks. Just as the Big Society now follows New Labour, more austere and demure smalls follows the cocksure Tudors, in the shape of tight-fitting knee-length cotton, silk or linen drawers.
  • The jockstrap is first invented in 1874 to provide support for cyclists or "bicycle jockeys" on cobblestone streets.
  • The all-in-one "union suit", which is created in the States and intended originally for women, becomes "de rigeur" for men before the turn of the 20th century. Traditionally made of red flannel with long arms and long legs, it buttons up the front and has a button-up flap in the rear covering the buttocks (subtly known as the "access hatch", "drop seat" or "fireman's flap") allowing the wearer to "drop the kids off at the pool" without getting undressed.
  • Possibly named after a boxer who wears a similar style garment in the ring or a tall man called Jonathan, "long johns" eventually replace the union suit. This style of two-piece underwear with long legs and long sleeves, is issued to US soldiers during WW2. Made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials (cotton, flannel, wool, polyester, cotton-polyester and polypropylene) long johns are still worn today as "thermal underwear" or by actors in Westerns.
  • In the 20th century, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and major advances in cotton manufacturing, underwear gets a huge makeover.
  • Boxer shorts or boxers are first invented in 1925! The founder of the boxing equipment company Everlast creates a lightweight version of the fighting shorts which are loose around the legs with an elastic waist.
  • Hot on its heels, the popular tight fitting Jockey-style briefs or "Jockeys" (named after the jockstrap as it offered a similar degree of support) are first sold in Chiacago in 1935 and sell like hot cakes.
  • Boxers (long on leg) and briefs (short on leg) are battling it out ever since for supreme underwear dominance. Sure, there's other styles of undies out there like thongs, tangas and the newfangled trunks and boxer briefs, but for argument's sake, the million dollar question is almost always "short & tight or long & loose?" Boxers fanatics wax lyrical about how nice it is to let one's Dick Van Dyke hang free and feel the air. Briefs converts proudly proclaim that having one's Don Johnson neatly packed in a fixed position is where it's at - quite literally. Perhaps you'd like to tell us your own personal preference in our "What's your favourite underwear on a man?" online poll?
  • The story of pants does not end abruptly at the eternal standoff betwixt briefs and boxers. Fashions change for a start. The 1950's is characterised by the introduction of more colours, patterns and fabrics like spandex. The 1970's wave goodbye to slack hippies and say hello to tight jeans and briefs. Times are well and truly peachy if you have a perm or your name is Kevin Keegan or you are Kevin Keegan with a perm. Back of the net!
  • Forget about Pac-Man. Designer undies become all the rage from the 80's onwards. No longer just a necessary commodity, skivies take on a life of their own becoming sexier, tighter and more in your face. Boxers are the ultimate fashion statement along with braces and mobile phone bricks. Who can forget Richard Gere in American Gigolo and Nick Kamen in "that" ad (which of course was supposed to be promoting a certain pair of jeans rather than a certain type of underwear!)
  • The holy grail of underwear hybrids - the boxer briefs - are introduced in the early 1990's thanks to Mark Wahlberg in his Calvins with his nephew, sorry, we mean Kate Moss. Since then, Bjorn Borg has put down his wooden tennis racket and totally rejuvenated the market and it's hats off to Daniel Craig - Bond has made hipster trunks the new figleaves on the block. Who knows? Maybe soon, the "subligaculum" will make its long awaited comeback... 
  • In an era of Steve Jobs pausing for dramatic effect and Stephen Fry tweeting away, pants are all about technologies, aesthetics, and yes, sex, these days. The current buzzwords in underwear design are moisture management, male enhancement, compression and built-in physiotherapy. Soon under-crackers will be able to brush your teeth and walk your dog.
  • In the 21st Century, designer underwear is one of life's best-value luxuries that both men and women can enjoy on and off! Which is where we come in... (ooh matron!)

Underwear + Nuts = Pants People®

What's your favourite underwear on a man?

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