If someone asks you, ‘what is the one thing you cannot live without?’, i'm sure underwear would almost certainly never pop up in your mind.
Yet, it is a significant piece of clothing that you use on a day to day basis – even though it may not really top the list of things vying for your attention at the beginning of the day.
That said, it is fascinating to think that someone, somewhere, for some reason, decided to create this rather important piece of clothing that constitutes to an industry worth billions of dollars across the world.
The modern day underwear business however, started a long, long time ago. The evolution of the underwear or the “undergarment” seems to have started in the 14th century.
A loincloth made of wool, linen, or linsey-woolsey blend, in ancient Greece and Rome, only men wore underwear.
Some speculate that slaves wore these undergarments in wool, linen or more easily available materials, whereas the more affluent in society would differentiate themselves by wearing them in silk.
Women’s undergarments began to show up and in the 20th century it became a booming industry with bulk production in innovative and sometimes, quirky designs.
Today, the undergarment industry has reached a whole new level with different types, colors, patterns, and brands.
Here are 13 fun facts about underwear from around the world that you probably don't know.
1. A record to beat
On 13th June, 2010 ten-year old Jack Singer of Warwick, New York wore 215 pairs of underwear simultaneously breaking the previous record of 200 pairs.
2. Lady Luck likes red
Italian women celebrate New Year’s Eve by wearing red underwear as a sign of good luck.
3. Talk about representation
In the undergarments industry, 50% represents bras, 33% briefs and corsetry more than 10% of the overall market, contributing an estimated to be worth $30billion.
4. Another place where men came first…
In the middle of the 18th century, women did not wear anything as underclothing considering it to be a male garment worn under pants. In the 19th century, to keep up with the cold breeze women started wearing heavy petticoats underneath.
5. Going Commando?
Soldiers would religiously wear underwear, but sometimes it would lead to discomfort in harsh environments. Wet underwear could lead to crotch, jock, anal itching and chafing, resulting in diarrhoea, and other problems which is why soldiers would decide to avoid the traditional garment – giving rise to the term “going commando”
6. We told you your underwear is important – beyond this lifetime too
Tutankhamen, also known as King Tut, an Egyptian leader, ruled from age 9 to 18. Was buried with 145 underpants.
7. A Cafeteria for bacteria?
In The field of astronomy, Russians have also been researching bacteria that will eat worn underwear of astronauts on long space missions.
8. Sexy…but at what cost?
Baleen whales were almost on the verge of extinction since the whalebone was widely used to stiffen corsets, hoop skirts, and other types of underwear. There was a time corsets contributed majorly to this industry allocating thousands of jobs.
9. Making some noise
With changing times, underwear has been used to create rebellious fashion statements. In 1780, Marie Antoinette wore chemise dresses at court. An unexpected sight left everyone shocked since the chemise was worn only as underwear.
10. Science to back it up!
1935 re-invented men’s briefs as ‘scientific suspension’ and ‘restful buoyance’ as quoted by a contemporary magazine of that time.
11. What’s common between your underwear and women’s shoes?
The word “wedgie” is derived from “wedge-heeled shoe” and became popular in the 1970s from the effect it gave the victim.
12. Talk about Victoria’s secret
At an auction in Edinburgh, a pair of Queen Victoria’s underwear sold for £9,375 ($14,500 American). The knickers were made from yards of white cream fabric and had her initials VR (Victoria Regina) embroidered in them.
13. Off with your belts please
In the 1990s, hip-hop artists made it fashionable for men to wear their pants below their waists showing their boxers or briefs.
This style, called “sagging,” is said to have actually originated in prison when jail inmates had their belts removed because they might be used as a possible weapon.
Weapon or not, a lot of these trends have transgressed the borders and made it mainstream society in India, and other parts of the world.
What remains to be seen is what comes up next, and how will it make an impact on all of us.
Until then, stay comfortable, stay sexy, and we hope you find the beast within when you pick your next pair.