Sleepwear And Underwear

Written by Beth Hrusch
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Sleepwear and underwear is a matter of comfort for today's busy society. Whether they are an important part of your wardrobe, or something you barely think about, the fact remains that they are foundations of our daily routines, and the first item of clothing to be put on at the beginning and end of each day. They help determine the quality of sleep and the level of our comfort during the day. A good collection of sleepwear and underwear is a source of comfort when we are stressed, and a form of support to help get us through a busy day.

Sleepwear and Underwear through the Ages

Underwear has played an important part in human history, going back almost as far as humans themselves have walked the earth. Loincloths have been found on the remains of ancient Egyptians dating to 7,000 years ago. They were the form of underwear used for centuries. Made of simple cotton, loincloths were wrapped around the waist and crotch and covered with a skirt or tunic.

Around the 13th century, pull-on underwear was invented, and the loincloth was largely replaced by long, baggy drawers called "braies," made from linen and worn by men of all levels of society. Paintings from the period depict field hands wearing only these drawers while working in the summer sun. Other undergarments soon came into common use, such as the codpiece, stocking and undershirt.

Sleepwear and Underwear Evolves

By the time of the Renaissance, braies had evolved into tighter-fitting garments that resembled hosiery. They were made with a flap at the crotch so that men could relieve themselves without taking them off. In the Victorian era, drawers were knee-length and made from linen, cotton and silk. These were paired with wool flannel shirts. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, factories starting churning out union suits. These were a one-piece variation on the traditional shirt and drawers combination.

The 1930s brought a revolution in underwear construction with the invention of boxer and brief style. These featured elastic waistbands, snap fronts and the very first "Y" front brief, courtesy of the Jockey Company. Munsingwear soon followed with their own version of the vented brief, the "kangaroo" pouch. The importance of support was finally being recognized. Women, too, were benefiting from the new technology. Snap and hook closures, underwires and smaller, less constricting drawers made for greater comfort and freedom of movement.

Advances in Fabrics

Mid-century brought with it a host of new man-made fabrics that allowed sleepwear and underwear to stretch and give with movement, wear better and dry faster. Polyester, Lycra spandex and nylon tricot all helped the underwear industry improve their designs so that underwear could be smaller and more form-fitting. New designs in underwear that followed these breakthroughs include the camisole, athletic tank, high- and low-rise brief, and strapless bra.

Today's sleepwear and underwear is a direct descendant of these designs. They take advantage of the latest in fabric technology, while still utilizing the ideas of the past. Now, as then, comfort is key, but a new consideration is style. In the 1970s and 1980s, the sexualization of underwear put a whole new spin on the way people look at their undergarments. Sleepwear and underwear is no longer purely utilitarian and functional, but makes a fashion statement all its own. Colors and patterns, flattering French cuts and string bikinis, boxer briefs and push-up bras all emphasize the body's contours in a way that would have shocked and surprised our forebears!

An Essential Part of Our Wardrobes

Sleepwear and underwear has come a long way from its beginnings as strips of material hidden beneath a tunic or dress. For today's modern man, woman and child, it is a fun and fashionable way to express oneself, a soft and comforting old friend to help relieve stress and the foundation of our wardrobes. Underwear today is a hard-working part of our busy lives, helping us get through our days in comfort and style. It is the item we reach for most often, without which we would feel less secure.


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