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00. A Brief Tour of the World
Until the late eighteenth century, men's undergarment design remained rather simple. The earliest versions appeared in various configurations of a loin cloth. Braies, the loosely-wrapped garments that were all the rage in the Middle Ages dominated Europe and were worn by men of all social classes. Somewhere in the fifteenth century, the codpiece busted onto the scene, and by King Henry VIII's reign of England (1491 - 1547), had been padded and plumped up to enormously exaggerated sizes. By the late 1700s, industrialization began to revolutionize breeches (much as it did most everything else) and the shapes we might recognize as longjohns or pantaloons started to take form. However, most of what we consider modern styles of underwear - briefs, boxers, Jockey shorts - were introduced to the market in the 1930s. Today, men's underwear fluctuates from functional to flaymboyant; covering almost everything or hardly anything at all. Which inspired our slideshow of eleven brands from around the world, in honor of National Underwear Day (August 5).
Oh my cod!: Portrait of Antonio Navagero (1565), oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, by Giovanni Battista Moroni. (left)