fashion flashback

PHOTOS: 25 vintage male underwear ads & a brief history on undies

The first known pair of underwear can be dated all the way back to 3300 B.C., when cavemen wore loincloths to cover and protect their man meat. These prehistoric g-strings were made of animal hides, barkcloth, and hand-woven textiles. Sounds comfy, right?

Thankfully, the development of modern men’s underwear began in the 19th century with the introduction of the first commercially available style.

By the mid-19th century, the underwear commercial industry started to develop. But it wasn’t common for all men to wear underwear until the late 19th century. Do we know what everyone was wearing before then? No. Do we wanna know? Also, no. But we’re guessing it was pretty… breezy.

Originally designed for boxers to wear in the ring, boxer shorts became popular as underwear in the early 20th century. Briefs were then introduced in the 1930s and became popular in the 1950s. Because, you know, who doesn’t like a little support? 

In the ’50s and ’60s, men’s underwear started to become more about fashion, with bright colors and bold patterns. (We see you animal print!) This was the first time men’s underwear had moved away from functional and into more fun. [Insert wild animal growl here.]

In the 1980s, designer brands began to enter the market, offering premium quality and luxury materials. The cuts got tighter and the rises got lower. And underwear got even sexier. There was a cultural shift on how men’s bodies were shown through ads and pop culture. Underwear ads were more about the body and the bulge. And since then, men’s underwear has continued to evolve, with new materials, styles, and designs.

So, hold on to your skivvies and click through to gawk at some vintage underwear ads…

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    I used to wear the Contour underwear from International Male. I wish they were still in business.

    • G-Man

      Man I miss that store, I used to love going in there.

  • JeffBaker

    Thanks so much for the yummy pictures! And thanks especially for the vintage WWII ads! I saw a bunch of those in bound back issues of LIFE Magazine in the school library when I was in High School in the 70s. Brought back some good memories and not just of checking out the guys!

    • xandro

      its interesting seeing literal decades of underwear!

  • Bravura2022

    Why is this publication in general back in the past there’s got to be plenty unsigned and unnoticed Emerging young male fashion designers that specialise in the latest designs patterns & prints gay underwear brand that deserve recognition and most exposure guaranteed!????

    • abfab

      You’re not paying any attention al all, are you? Most of the thirst traps Q posts are pushing undies ALL THE TIME! Modern, as in today!

  • SoggyDuck

    A great collection of men’s underwear ads, but missing is the one from Sears Catalog that caused such a stir when a “shadow” looked like a peeking penis. I think that was in the 1950’s. I think I wore out that page!

  • Man About Town

    These are hilarious. And I love that it ends with the classic ’80s Tom Hintnaus photo.

  • DBMC

    I love that some of these models are actual porn stars!

  • Woteva

    Oooh! For sure I’ll be wearing my Heidelberg Electric Belt whilst picking Edelweiss with Maria Von Claptrapp (and keeping an eye out for that lonely goatherd).

  • Invader7

    Some of the undergear looks and probably was very uncomfortable… Signed, Mr Jock Strap or Commando …….

  • A N O Y A

    YA – I had to have the mesh underwear back in the 70’s – If you are underwear photography fan check out my D N A magazine collection posting available on craigslist . . . Best photography!

  • bachy

    I wear briefs to the gym for support, and, ahem… “flappy-pants-pappy” boxers everywhere else – for the freedom.

  • Metro135

    I recognize at least two of the models as gay male porn stars in the 70s.

Comments are closed.