Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Brief on Briefs

Excuse us for bringing up a delicate subject for a moment..

Why exactly do men buy vintage underthings? It seems to be a growing trend. Being sticklers for every historical detail? For a certain thrill? Neither....Read on!

Wearing vintage briefs certainly won't matter for reenactors. Afterall, you do not have x-ray vision to find out if the gent at a 20s style Gatsby picnic is wearing historically accurate underthings and in most cases, wearing them or wearing something freshly store bought would not impact the outward look of a garment. Men's underthings do not have quite the history that ladies underthings do, which are meant to support and shape the body depending on figure type but more so the fashionable tastes and social morals of the day. (Of course also, there were times in history of course that while the proper lady wore layers of undergarments, the gents wore none!)

When perusing the internet, and hearing from wearers of vintage underthings and other vintage clothing merchants alike, we found that a certain fetishist aspect was also not the reason for the interest like we half expected. Afterall, the underwear preferred is usually left over stock from a store that closed years ago.

The big, mysterious reason that men buy vintage underwear is...They don't make 'em like they used to. You heard us right!

There are several reasons they aren't "made like they are used to" and one has to do with homogenization of sizing and the other has to do with features. The features that men may find in years past, even as late as the 70s and 80s are as follows:

Fit. Boxer shorts especially are made in Small, medium, and large, and it is leaning that way with regular briefs too. It does save money for manufacturers' bottom line because everyone is forced to pick something. They don't have produce signage for sizes that don't sell through as quickly and they have fewer templates required to cut from, also decreasing the chance of irregulars. One size does not fit all, and just as women have fitting problems when they are expected to fit into one of 3 or 4 sizes, men have similar, even if less obvious issues. I am sure everyone has experienced, male or female, when one size was too small and the next size up was too big!

Snaps front styling. One found a snap front feature in different styles of briefs rather than full elastic. This allowed for easy dressing, especially for those with special considerations such as mobility issues, freedom from irritation that some men experience with elastic waistbands or even perhaps allergies to synthetic fabrices.

Quality of fabric. The content of the cotton used and the grade of fabric, and the fact that items were not blended with synthetic some men find more comfortable, and some find to last longer through multiple washings.

Kangaroo Pouch. There, I have said it. Munsungwear, I believe, actually coined the term. Instead of just a slit in the front, older styles actually had a complete seperate area in the front, to speak politely. It allowed for a better overall fit because the leg holes were not encumbered by the excess of material needed in the front, and allowed further wearing ease with certain types of garments. Our friend, Linda, owner of VintageClothes-Line, currently has a smaller pair of 80s vintage briefs with this feature in her shop as an example. Click to check them out.

Leg Bands. Many times the leg area was fully formed, not just an afterthought, and the leg bands could be elastic on regular briefs.

Gussetting. The seams and crotch area were lined, unlike some modern versions.

We are not intending this to be the "last word" as it is a vast subject and there could be a whole book I am sure devoted, nor are we out to "convert" anyone to wearing vintage underwear. We hope to have explained a little more about what makes vintage men's underthings buyers tick, so you will know what it is all about should you run acrossed an ad for some, and not think it is anything strange, or more so think that folks need to get a life and stroll down to their local store and get what everyone else is wearing with no complaints. Of course, you can still think that way, but at least you know to use the old phrase "there is a method to their madness."


At 1/05/2006 8:04 PM, Blogger Burl Veneer said...

Hey, cool blog! I probably wouldn't have found it if you hadn't stopped by mine, so thanks! I've got it bookmarked & linked, and I look forward to reading someone else's musings on the pleasures of vintage wear.


At 1/06/2006 11:22 AM, Blogger vintageclothesline said...

Thanks, Chris, for the link. Yes, it is true they don't make men's underwear like they use to. There are just so many more comfortable and quality features in the vintage ones. I will be listing some snap closure boxers over the weekend and I know they have a following because of the reasons you gave.

Good work, Chris, and I will be following your daily blogs.


At 1/06/2006 11:50 AM, Blogger VintageGent said...

Hi Burl, you have quite a tie collection. I can't wait to read more!

Linda, don't mention it - no trouble at all. Hopefully your unmentionables will fly off the shelves this week. :) So true, things are just not made like they are used to and that's one of the topics I will continue to explore as well . ~ Chris


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