Brief history of underwear

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 18, 2020

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Today, as the weather gets colder, I thought we might discuss the history of underwear. But don’t worry… I’ll be brief.

Before the 1880s, underwear was practically non-existent. Maybe that’s why they were called “unmentionables.”

Then some scientists recommended all parts of the body except the face should be covered to protect from germs. Germs and chills, they said, made people mighty sick.

So, everybody began to put on calico or white flannel undies. Wearers even starched them! Starched creases proved terribly dangerous. Just think about riding a horse or pole-vaulting in starched underwear.

Around the time miners came to Virginia City, people wrapped themselves in both silk and coarse wool underwear. It’s hard to guess which ones miners wore, because few posed for photos without their pants (although a few reportedly lost their shirts).

One other possibility: Maybe they tried long underwear, those neck-to-shin garments I like to wear to the pool. (This may also explain why I swim alone.)

But sadly, I’m running out typing space, so – as one pair of underpants said to the other – I gotta fly.


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