A Timely History of Briefs.

(To The Tune of: Fortinbras, King of Techno by Songs To Wear Pants To)

Today, he announces to much fanfare, is the 65th anniversary of the creation of the briefs,those underpants of the first order. They were first sold by Coopers Inc of Chicago (now Jockey International) on January 19th 1935, designed by apparel engineer Arthur Kniebler as a replacement for the jockstrap, hence their name of jock-brief. (Briefs are known as jockeys to Americans, presumably because it reduced a man’s wotsits until they were midget-sized.) In England the traditional design meant they came be to be called Y-fronts – due to the unusual apeture at the front for extracting the wotsit.

With this flimsy justification, here’s a brief history of the undergarment:

The Lioncloth

The Lioncloth
At the dawn of history, Man’s rapacious shame nearly made the fig tree extinct, so an alternate form of genital coverage had to be found. Enter the lioncloth, as modelled by Conan, Jesus and other fictitious barbarians! Early hunters decapitated entire species to turn them into fetching puce or leopard-skin print pants. As the various large cats became extinct and the pun became too egregious, the early freedom experienced by the hunter-gatherer society faded, and they moved into the middle ages.

The Boxer Rebellion

Braies Yourself
In the Middle Ages, people still hadn’t really conceived of underwear as a good idea – they just wore the same clothes all the time, or until codpiece fashion changed. Braies were halfway between commando jodphurs and man-nappies – large folds of cloth wearers stepped into. The codpiece was actually a pocket in the braies to allow urination (in this instance cod meaning scrotum, rather than edible fish), which gradually became larger because Henry VIII thought his willy should be bigger than everyone else’s (or possibly because he filled it with syphillis-medication – true fact!) In Scotland, this shifted into the Sporran, as an ideal place for haggis storage.

...or stretching a joke too far...
Long John Silver's Silver Long Johns

The Boxer Rebellion
As the century moved on, braies got replaced by hose or drawers. Industrialisation meant that cotton fabrics became widely available, and people no longer had to make their own pants out of firehoses or dresser drawers. In the late 19th Century, some New York chappy created the Union Suit, a one piece suit with an ‘access hatch’ or ‘fireman’s flap’ at the back. This was the precursor of the Peak Pant, the Long Johns, a favourite of tramps and boxers everywhere, which became the male world’s preferred undergarment.

War is Pants
Despite the deaths of most of Britain’s men, those who returned from the front were equipped with army issue shorts – much like modern boxers and a sea-change in pant design. Those with the limbs left to wear them, rapidly adopted this modern convenience. Then 1935 saw the advent of the brief, shorts with the legs removed, and the 1980s saw a further refinement, in the advent of the G-string, which removed the back, and crotchless pants, that removed the bottom.

The Future
With the trend of the last hundred years being a gradual retreat from the apex of the pant, the Long John, we can see that soon there will be no pants left at all in the wild, and will only be kept alive in special museums, or old people’s homes. Everyone else will be going commando, which will keep military recruiters very happy indeed.

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  1. AK

    Simply stunning.


    1. Grill

      Thanks! It was genuinely the anniversary of the Y-front as well.


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