A revolution, of sorts, was launched on this date in 1935. It was the day when the first men’s briefs were sold. The Cooper’s company of Chicago put their new undergarments on sale at Marshall Fields Department Store. During the first quarter of that year, more than 30,000 of the underpants were sold.
The very first men’s briefs were “y-fronts”. In fact, you can still purchase briefs based on the original patent. Cooper’s, Inc. suffered financial setbacks later in the Great Depression of the 1930s. After a corporate reorganization, the company was renamed “Jockey”.
Up until 1935, the only commercially available men’s undergarments were union suits or long johns and shorts similar to today’s boxers. The new underwear was made possible by the appearance of elastic bands that replaced drawstrings, buttons and snaps.
The term jockey came into popular usage because the new type of underwear offered support in a similar manner to that of athletic supporters (jocks).
“I hate the whole reluctant sex-symbol thing. It’s such bull. You see these dudes greased up, in their underwear, talking about how they don’t want to be a sex symbol.”–Ben Affleck
The public thinks that colored undies were introduced in the late 1960s, but that’s not quite right. During World War Two, traditional white underpants were too conspicuous when soldiers hung them out to dry, so darker colors were introduced as ameasure of safety to the troops. Jockey shorts were even the target of Nazi propaganda. Adolf Hitler pointed to the popularity of jockeys in the Allied nations as “proof” of immorality and degeneration.
Many styles and fabric choices have appeared since World War Two. However, whether you call them BVDs, jockeys or tighty whities, men’s briefs are the industry standard. Athletic and active men often prefer more support than offered by loose boxers that ride up the legs and create wedgies. The same can be said for men who wear more form fitting, tailored jeans and slacks.
So guys, on this anniversary of the introduction of jockeys to the world, do you wear boxers or briefs?
“These days, you have the option of staying home, blogging in your underwear, and not having your words mangled. I think I like the direction things are headed.”–Marc Andreessen
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that jockeys were so popular in 1948, that all men on the British Olympics team were issued a free pair.