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The History of Men's Underwear

From the fig leaf to the Roman subligaculum

According to the Bible, Adam and Eve opted for 100% natural products when it came to covering their shame – and their private parts. By using the celebrated fig leaf, they unwittingly gave birth to the whole concept of underwear.

In Roman times, the natural look was a thing of the past. Clothing – and the desire to hide more than just one’s private parts from public view – had become the norm. Under their togas, however, the Roman men wore a subligaculum to cover their genitals.

Hard times for men’s underwear

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire resulted in a corresponding decline and fall in awareness when it came to men’s underwear. The Barbarians – as the Romans called all those who could not speak Latin – apparently had no use for such garments. In fact, nobody appears to worn any kind of underwear until the late Middle Ages.

As time passed, however, long linen shirts became increasingly popular. And since linen proved to be agreeably soft to the touch, people started to wear these as undershirts to protect their skin from the rough, scratchy outer garments that were still customary at the time.

The slow development of men’s underpants

Several decades were to pass before men’s underpants in the narrower sense were to reappear on the scene. While outer garments were subject to changes in fashion, the hygienic habits of the majority remained largely unaffected. Only a few aristocrats and rich merchants enjoyed the luxury of silk underpants.

The 1860’s and 1870’s witnessed great developments in this area with the invention of a new kind of shirt tail. And by 1876, the whole Prussian army was equipped with cotton underwear.

Briefs on subscription

Progress continues to be made with regard to comfort: nowadays, underpants are not only manufactured in all possible shapes and colours, the fabrics are far softer on the skin than in Roman times.

Buying underwear has also become much easier. Following the same principle as they adopted for socks, the founders of Blacksocks have revolutionised the distribution of underwear. Blacksocks has turned the provision of briefs into a customer service. Our subscribers no longer have to worry about their declining stock of underwear, check their supplies or buy new items. They simply have their underwear delivered to their door, just like their socks. Subscriptions - also for boxers and shirts - can be ordered from anywhere in the world directly from this homepage.

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