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Trends in Medieval Underwear

Stashed in: Women, Couture, Fashion

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It is believed that women did not wear underpants or drawers until as late as the very end of the 18th century. The find of a pair of completely preserved linen underpants in Lengberg arouses anew the question: male or female?

The underpants from Lengberg are of a type that developed during the late 14th and 15th century, when men started to wear joined (full) hose or trousers instead of single legged (split) hose. Then long-legged braies were no longer needed to fill the gap between the two trouser legs. Spread out, the underpants have a slightly hourglass-shaped cut with narrow straps at the corners. They were repaired three times with linen patches, now overlaying one another.

Paintings, woodcuts and book illustrations both of sacral and secular themes show only men wearing this type of underpants: a small piece of cloth covering buttocks and pubic area fastened with narrow straps tied in a bow at the hips. When women are shown wearing pants it’s always in the context of ‘a world turned upside down’. Trousers and underpants were considered a symbol of male power and women wearing them were pugnacious wives trying to usurp the authority of their husbands, or women of low morality.

Wow. I had no idea underwear was so revered.

And yea, cries for panty parity were heard throughout the land!

Can you imagine life without undergarments?

I would rather not! 

I would rather not, too!

Thanks for making me appreciate something I took as a given...

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