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However, many types of braies, chausses and hose were not intended to be covered up by other clothing, so they were not actually underwear in the strict sense. Braies were usually fitted with a front flap that was buttoned or tied closed. This codpiece allowed men to urinate without having to remove the braies completely.
Henry VIII of England began padding his codpiece, which caused a spiralling trend of larger and larger codpieces that only ended by the end of the 16th century. It has been speculated that the King may have had the sexually transmitted disease syphilis , and his large codpiece may have included a bandage soaked in medication to relieve its symptoms.
Codpieces were sometimes used as a pocket for holding small items. Over the upper part of their bodies, both medieval men and women usually wore a close-fitting shirt-like garment called a chemise in France, or a smock or shift in England. The forerunner of the modern-day shirt, the chemise was tucked into a man's braies, under his outer clothing. Women wore a chemise underneath their gowns or robes , sometimes with petticoats over the chemise.
Elaborately quilted petticoats might be displayed by a cut-away dress, in which case they served a skirt rather than an undergarment. During the 16th century, the farthingale was popular. This was a petticoat stiffened with reed or willow rods so that it stood out from a woman's body like a cone extending from the waist. Corsets also began to be worn about this time.
At first they were called pairs of bodies, which refers to a stiffened decorative bodice worn on top of another bodice stiffened with buckram , reeds, canes, whalebone or other materials. These were not the small-waisted, curved corsets familiar from the Victorian era , but straight-lined stays that flattened the bust. There is a myth that Crusaders , worried about the fidelity of their wives, forced them to wear chastity belts.
There is no reference, image, or surviving belt to support this story. Most historians of this period are of the view that a chastity belt was worn to prevent sexual assault and that the woman kept the key. Men's braies and hose were eventually replaced by simple cotton, silk or linen drawers, which were usually knee-length trousers with a button flap in the front.
The Month of February by Gerard Horenbout. In , findings in Lengberg Castle , in Austria , showed that lace and linen brassiere-like garments, one of which greatly resembled the modern bra, date back to hundreds of years before it was thought to exist. The invention of the spinning jenny machines and the cotton gin in the second half of the 18th century made cotton fabrics widely available. This allowed factories to mass-produce underwear, and for the first time, people began buying undergarments in stores rather than making them at home.
Women's stays of the 18th century were laced behind and drew the shoulders back to form a high, round bosom and erect posture. Coloured stays were popular. With the relaxed country styles of the end of the century, stays became shorter and were unboned or only lightly boned, and were now called corsets. As tight waists became fashionable in the s, the corset was again boned and laced to form the figure.
By the s, a tiny " wasp " waist came to be seen as a symbol of beauty, and the corsets were stiffened with whalebone or steel to accomplish this. Tight lacing of a corset sometimes led to a woman needing to retire to the fainting room. By the s, the dress reform movement was campaigning against the pain and damage to internal organs and bones caused by tight lacing.
Inez Gaches-Sarraute invented the "health corset", with a straight-fronted bust made to help support the wearer's muscles. The corset was usually worn over a thin shirt-like shift of linen or cotton or muslin. Pantalettes originated in France in the early 19th century, and quickly spread to Britain and America. Pantalettes were a form of leggings or long drawers.
They could be one-piece or two separate garments, one for each leg, attached at the waist with buttons or laces. The crotch was left open for hygiene reasons. As skirts became fuller from the s, women wore many petticoats to achieve a fashionable bell shape. By the s, stiffened crinolines and later hoop skirts allowed ever wider skirts to be worn.
The bustle , a frame or pad worn over the buttocks to enhance their shape, had been used off and on by women for two centuries, but reached the height of its popularity in the later s, and went out of fashion for good in the s.
Women dressed in crinolines often wore drawers under them for modesty and warmth. Another common undergarment of the lateth century for men, women and children was the union suit. Invented in Utica, New York , and patented in , this was a one-piece front-buttoning garment usually made of knitted material with sleeves extending to the wrists and legs down to the ankles.
It had a buttoned flap known colloquially as the "access hatch", "drop seat" or "fireman's flap" in the back to ease visits to the toilet. The union suit was the precursor of long johns , a two-piece garment consisting of a long-sleeved top and long pants possibly named after American boxer John L. Sullivan who wore a similar garment in the ring. The jockstrap was invented in , by C. By the early 20th century, the mass-produced undergarment industry was booming, and competition forced producers to come up with all sorts of innovative and gimmicky designs to compete.
The Hanes company emerged from this boom and quickly established itself as a top manufacturer of union suits, which were common until the s. Meanwhile, designers of women's undergarments relaxed the corset. The invention of new, flexible but supportive materials allowed whalebone and steel bones to be removed. The emancipation or liberty bodice offered an alternative to constricting corsets, and in Australia and the UK the liberty bodice became a standard item for girls as well as women.
Men's underwear was also on the rise. One product manufactured by his firm was tightly fitting boxers that resembled modern underwear. Though the company was bankrupt by the early s, it had some impact on men's underwear design. Underwear advertising first made an appearance in the s. Leyendecker of the "Kenosha Klosed Krotch". Early underwear advertisements emphasised durability and comfort, and fashion was not regarded as a selling point.
By the end of the s, Chalmers Knitting Company split the union suit into upper and lower sections, effectively inventing the modern undershirt and drawers.
Women wore lacier versions of this basic duo known as the camisole and tap pants. In , the US had its first professional underwear designer. Lindsay "Layneau" Boudreaux, a French immigrant, established the short-lived panty company Layneau. Though her company closed within one year, it had a significant impact on many levels. Boudreaux showed the world that an American woman could establish and run a company, and she also caused a revolution in the underwear industry. In , a New York socialite named Mary Phelps Jacob created the first modern brassiere by tying two handkerchiefs together with ribbon.
Jacob's original intention was to cover the whalebone sticking out of her corset, which was visible through her sheer dress. Jacob began making brassieres for her family and friends, and news of the garment soon spread by word of mouth. By , Jacob had a patent for her design and was marketing it throughout the US. Although women had worn brassiere-like garments in years past, Jacob's was the first to be successfully marketed and widely adopted.
By the end of the decade, trouser-like " bloomers ", which were popularized by Amelia Jenks Bloomer — but invented by Elizabeth Smith Miller , gained popularity with the so-called Gibson Girls who enjoyed pursuits such as cycling and tennis. This new female athleticism helped push the corset out of style. The other major factor in the corset's demise was the fact that metal was globally in short supply during the First World War.
Steel-laced corsets were dropped in favour of the brassiere. Meanwhile, World War I soldiers were issued button-front shorts as underwear. The buttons attached to a separate piece of cloth, or "yoke", sewn to the front of the garment, and tightness of fit was adjusted by means of ties on the sides. This design proved so popular that it began to supplant the union suit in popularity by the end of the war.
Rayon garments also became widely available in the post-war period. In the s, manufacturers shifted emphasis from durability to comfort. Union suit advertisements raved about patented new designs that reduced the number of buttons and increased accessibility.
Most of these experimental designs had to do with new ways to hold closed the crotch flap common on most union suits and drawers. A new woven cotton fabric called nainsook gained popularity in the s for its durability. Retailers also began selling preshrunk undergarments. Also in the s, as hemlines of women's dresses rose, women began to wear stockings to cover the exposed legs.
Women's bloomers also became much shorter. The shorter bloomers became looser and less supportive as the boyish flapper look came into fashion. By the end of the decade, they came to be known as "step-ins", very much like modern panties but with wider legs.
They were worn for the increased flexibility they afforded. The garter belt was invented to keep stockings from falling. In , Maidenform , a company operated by Ida Rosenthal , a Russian immigrant, developed the brassiere and introduced modern cup sizes for bras.
Modern men's underwear was largely an invention of the s. On 19 January , Coopers Inc. Designed by an "apparel engineer" named Arthur Kneibler, briefs dispensed with leg sections and had a Y-shaped overlapping fly.
Jockey briefs proved so popular that over 30, pairs were sold within three months of their introduction. Coopers, having renamed the company Jockey , sent its "Mascul-line" plane to make special deliveries of "masculine support" briefs to retailers across the US. In , when Jockeys were introduced in the UK, they sold at the rate of 3, a week.
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