HAPPY NATIONAL UNDERWEAR DAY! Join us as we celebrate everything from thongs to bodysuits or whatever we wear underneath! Today we’re celebrating with friend and underwear expert Brenna Cully (Twitter: brenna_jo)!! LET’S PARTY!!

Show Notes

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History + fun facts about the holiday

  • “Undergarments” are items of clothing worn beneath outer clothes, usually in direct contact with the skin, although they may comprise more than a single layer. They serve to keep outer garments from being soiled or damaged by bodily excretions, to lessen the friction of outerwear against the skin, to shape the body, and to provide concealment or support for parts of it.”
    • Undergarments are generally of two types, those that are worn to cover the torso and those that are worn to cover the waist and legs, although there are also garments which cover both. 
    • Different styles of undergarments are generally worn by females and males (though do you, bb). Undergarments commonly worn by females today include bras and panties (known in the UK as knickers), while males often wear briefs, boxer briefs, or boxer shorts. Items worn by both (and any, all, or none) genders include T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, bikini underwear, thongs, and G-strings.
  • Undergarments are known by a number of terms: Underclothes; underclothing; underwear, smalls, unmentionables, Reg Grundys, or Reginalds.
    • Reg or Reginald Grundy was an Australian entrepreneur and media mogul. I could not find the origin of this use of his name, and it seems he was well-liked. It appears that the primary goal to use “grundies” is that it simply rhymes with “undies.”
    • In the US, women’s underwear may be known as delicates due the recommended washing machine cycle or because they are, simply put, delicate
      • Women’s undergarments collectively are called lingerie, intimate clothing, and intimates
  • An undershirt (or “vest” in the UK) is a piece of underwear covering the torso, while underpants (or “pants” in the UK), drawers, and shorts cover the genitals and buttocks
  • Not wearing underpants under outer clothing is known in American slang as “freeballing” for men, “free buffing” for women, and as “going commando” for either sex. The act of a woman not wearing a bra is sometimes referred to as “freeboobing.”
  • The function of underwear can range from the following: preventing outer garments from being soiled by perspiration, urine, semen, menstrual blood, and feces; women’s brassieres provide support for their breasts (although this is now in dispute due to some recent studies which claim that bras may worsen breast sagging due to the inactivity of the ligaments that already support them); men’s briefs serve the same supportive function for their balls and dick; a corset may be worn as a foundation garment to alter a woman’s body shape; men often wear more tightly fitting underwear, such as jockstraps and protective cups, for additional support and protection when playing sports; sports bras provide greater support to women, thus increasing comfort and reducing the chance of damage to the ligaments of the chest during high-impact exercises such as jogging.
    • In cold weather, underwear may also constitute an extra layer of clothing to help keep the wearer warmer. 
    • Underwear may also be used to preserve the wearer’s modesty, such as camisoles and slips under clothes that are sheer
    • Conversely, some types of underwear can be worn for sexual titillation, such as edible underwear, crotchless panties, and thongs
  • Some undergarments may also have religious significance (PICTURES IN THE SHOWNOTES)
    • In Judaism, the tallit katan is often worn beneath the shirt. This is a fringed garment traditionally worn either under or over one’s clothing by Jewish men. It is a poncho-like garment with a hole for the head and special twined and knotted fringes known as tzitzit (TASSELS) attached to its four corners
      • While all four cornered garments are required to have tzitzit, the custom of specially wearing a tallit katan is based on a verse in Numbers 15:38-39 which tells Moses to exhort the Children of Israel to “make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments.”
    • Following their endowment in a temple, Mormons wear special temple garments which help them to remember the teachings of the temple. These are worn both day and night, and are required for any adult who previously participated in the endowment ceremony to enter a temple
      • They are intended to provide the member “a constant reminder” of the covenants they made in the temple, since members are instructed to wear the garments day and night–i.e. They “should not partially or completely remove any portion of the garment to participate in activities that can reasonably be done with the garment worn properly beneath the clothing,’ such as ‘working in the yard.’” Swimming is given as an example of an activity that would justify removal, but members are further instructed to “put it back on as soon as possible.”
      • The nature of the protection is ambiguous and varies between adherents. In fact, they are sometimes derided as “magic underwear” by non-Mormons
        • Researchers who interviewed a sample of LDS who wear the garments reported that virtually all wearers expressed a belief that wearing the garment provided “spiritual protection” and encouraged them to keep their covenants
          • Some of those interviewed “asserted that the garment also provided physical protection, while others seemed less certain of any physical aspect to protection.”
          • In Mormon folklore, tales are told of Latter-Day Saints who credit their temple garments with helping them survive car wrecks, fires, and natural disasters 
      • The garment was first described in the 1840s as a one-piece undergarment extending to the ankles and wrists, resembling a union suit, with an open crotch and a collar. It was made of unbleached cotton and held together with ties in a double knot
        • A union suit is a type of one-piece long underwear, created in Utica, NY, originating as women’s wear during the 19th century as an alternative to constricting garments. The first union suit was patented in 1868 as “emancipation union under flannel.” It was traditionally made of red flannel with long arms and legs, buttoning up the front, with a button-up flap in the rear covering the buttocks (which was colloquially known as the “access hatch,” drop seat,” fireman’s flap,” and “crap flap,” among other things”)
        • In 1923, a letter from LDS Church president Heber J. Grant stated that after careful and prayerful consideration the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church had unanimously decided that specific modifications would be permitted to the garments:
          • Sleeves could end at the elbow;
          • Legs could be shortened to just below the knee;
          • Buttons could be used instead of strings
          • The collar was eliminated
          • And the open crotch was closed
      • Protestors against the LDS church have used the garments to publicly mock and parody the wearing of the garments, including spitting and stomping on them in view of attendees of an LDS Church General Conference in 2003. One protestor reportedly blew his nose into a garment he was wearing around his neck. 
        • A scuffle broke out between a protester and two church members who attempted to take the garments from him
        • In response, the municipality of Salt Lake City planned stronger enforcement of fighting words and hate speech laws for the 2004 conference, in order to avoid a repeat of the conflict. They also enacted new protest buffer zones
    • In Sikhism, one of the five articles of faith is a certain style of underpants similar to boxer shorts and known as the kacchera
      • This tradition started in 1699 as a religious mandate from Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism, and the garment is worn by baptized Sihks, serving as a symbol of one’s commitment and dedication to the order of the tenth master
      • It is considered the Guru’s gift and remind the Sikh’s of the Guru’s message regarding the control of the Five Evils or Five Thieves. These are the five major weaknesses of the human personality at variance with its spiritual essence, known as “thieves” because they steal a person’s inherent common senses. They consist of lust, wrath, greed, attachment (love of and attachment to worldly things and relations), and pride.  he primary aim of a practicing Sikh is to subdue these five vices and render them inactive.
        • I hadn’t previously known about the parallels to the Christian Seven Deadly Sins, which are lust, wrath, greed, envy, sloth, gluttony, and pride. The Sins are often thought to be abuses or excessive versions of one’s natural faculties or passions
      • It’s intended to remind the Sikhs that they should control their sexual desire or lust, and meant to give a feeling of dignity, modesty, and honor to the person who wears it, as well to remind the Sikh of the Guru’s commandment to think of members of the opposite sex as he or she would think of immediate family and not as objects of lust
      • The kacchera is secured and tied with a drawstring, so as to remind them that when one is untying it, one is given time to think about what one is about to do
    • Zoroastrians wear an undershirt called a Sedreh that is fastened with a sacred girdle around the waist known as a Kushti
      • The Sedreh contains a small pocket in the front, which is supposed to collect one’s good deeds
      • It is considered a spiritual shield from evil
  • History of underwear as a concept! 
    • The loincloth is the simplest form of underwear and was probably the first undergarment worn by humans. In most civilizations this was the only undergarment available. It continues to be worn by people around the world
      • Archeologists have found the remains of loincloths made of leather dating to at least 7000 years ago, including on our old pal Otzi the Iceman. Otzi was found sporting not just some of the earliest evidence of tattoos, but also a goatskin loincloth under his furry leggings.
        • I included two photos of Otzi in the shownotes, one of his original form and one of a reconstruction of what he may have looked like
      • King Tut was apparently buried with 145 spare loincloths
    • In ancient Rome, pants were known as subligaculum, which was a unisex garment. Female performers were known to have also worn an additional “boob tube’ (a flat bit of stretched cloth) to protect their modesty
    • Bras were worn at least somewhat during the 15th century, as evidenced by four medieval bras that were found in a hidden vault underneath floorboards in an Austrian castle. This 2012 discovery “astonished costume historians, who had always declared the bra to be a 20th-century invention.”
    • During the Middle Ages, the loincloth was replaced by loose, trouser-like clothing called braies, which the wearer stepped into and then laced or tied around the waist and legs at around the mid-calf. Wealthier men often wore chausses as well, which covered only the legs
    • By the Renaissance, braies became shorter to accommodate longer styles of chausses, which were also giving way to form-fitting hose, which covered the legs and feet. 
      • Braies were usually fitted with a front flap that was buttoned or tied closed. Know as a codpiece, this allowed men to urinate without having to remove the braies completely 
      • Henry VIII, whose reign ran from 1509-1547, began padding his codpiece, which caused a spiralling trend of larger and larger codpieces that only ended by the end of the 16th century
        • It’s been speculated that the King may have had syphilis, and his large codpiece may have included a bandage soaked in medication to relieve its symptoms
        • He also wanted a healthy son and may have thought that projecting himself in this way would portray fertility
      • Codpieces were sometimes used as a pocket for holding small items
    • During the 16th century, the farthingale became popular. This was a petticoat stiffened with reed or willow rods so that it stood out from a woman’s body like a cone extending from the waist (AKA a hoop skirt. Photo rendition is in the shownotes)
      • Corsets also began to be worn about this time. At first they were called “pairs of bodies,” which refers to a stiffened decorative bodice worn on top of another bodice stiffened with buckram, reeds, canes, whalebone, or other materials. These were not the small-waisted, curved corsets familiar from the Victorian era, but straight-lined stays that flattened the bust
    • The mass production of underwear became possible with the invention of the spinning jenny machines and the cotton gin in the latter half of the 18th century, since they made cotton fabrics widely available
      • Women’s stays of the 18th century were laced behind and drew the shoulders back to form a high, round bosom and erect posture. 
      • Stays became shorter and were unboned or only lightly boned, and started being called corsets. As tight waists became fashionable in the 1820s, the corset was again boned and laced to form the figure.
        • By the 1860s, a tiny (“wasp”) waist came to be seen as a symbol of beauty, and the corsets were stiffened with whalebone or steel to accomplish this. 
        • Tight lacing of a corset sometimes led to a woman needing to retire to the “fainting room”–this was a private room used during the Victorian era to make women more comfortable during the home treatment of female hysteria, particularly for privacy while receiving pelvic massages
    • Jumping through time to discuss used underwear 🙁
      • The sale of used female underwear for sexual purposes began in Japan in stores called burusera, and they were even sold in vending machines. 
      • With the advent of the internet, which made anonymous mail-order sales possible, some women began selling their dirty panties and other underwear. 
      • Some men find the odor of a woman’s bodily secretions sexually arousing, and will use the panties as a masturbatory aid
      • The sale of dirty panties, sometimes worn for several days and sometimes customized with requested stains, is a significant niche in the sex work field. A far smaller market sells used male underwear to other men
      • Celebrity underwear is sometimes sold. A framed pair of Elvis Presley’s dirty underwear sold for $8k in 2012. Undergarments of Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth, and Franz Joseph have been sold at auction. Some celebrities, including Jarvis Cocker, Alison Goldfrapp, Nick Cave, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ricky Gervais, Jah Wobble, Fergie, and Helen Mirren have donated their underwear to be sold for charity
  • History of the holiday itself can be traced back to 2003, according to nationalunderwearday.com. The holiday was founded by Freshpair, which is a privately held online retailer of men’s underwear and women’s intimate apparel, headquartered in Fairfield, NJ. The company was founded in 2000.
    • So that means this holiday is now old enough to drive!
    • Freshpair established National Underwear Day in an effort to “shine light on ‘unmentionables’”, starting by advertising heavily congested areas of New York City. In 2012, they promoted the holiday by launching a pop-up shop near Columbus Circle. 
    • In 2013, they advertised the holiday in Times Square by attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in their underwear. However, the company was tragically unable to break the record, which is currently held at 2,270 by the Utah Undie Run. The event topped out at around 800 people
      • The Undie Run is an event where a large number of people disrobe down to their underwear, and then run. The Utah record was set on September 24, 2011. That run was held to protest Utah’s conservative laws. 
      • COED Magazine, a US magazine marketed to college students, reported that Undie Runs are the “number one university sanctioned event.”
      • The earliest known Undie Run was started by student Eric Whitehead at UCLA in the fall of 2001
    • Freshpair participates in the annual Underwear Run in Manhattan, sponsored by Aquaphor (my favorite post-tattoo protectant!)
    • According to nationalunderwearday.com, a website run by Freshpair, the holiday has been featured on CBS, Good Morning America, Fox News, Live with Kelly and Michael, The Huffington Post, and dozens more!
      • In 2018, it was endorsed by the Ellen Degeneres show, and I included a link to part of the segment in the shownotes. There are a lot of screaming middle-aged women ogling the many male models, Justin Bieber, and Mario Lopez cuts included in this clip.
  • Fun facts and statistics! From online articles “11 Weird Facts About *Panties* We Bet You Didn’t Know!”, “39 Amazing Facts About Underwear”, “63 Interesting Facts about Underwear”
    • The average American woman owns approximately 21 pairs of underwear
      • Approx. 10% of women own over 35 pairs
    • Trend analysts observe that a woman who wears a g-string is typically a woman who feels more uninhibited and more confident to display her body. Sexually, she is more willing to try different and creative positions
    • Thongs were invented in 1939, after NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia passed a law that nude dancers needed to wear them rather than going bare
    • Sexual researchers note that a woman who chooses to wear white cotton panties tends to be a low maintenance and no-frills type. Researchers note that this is akin to letting a man see her without makeup
    • The same sexual researchers also observe that men who wear the “boyish” briefs “may not be ready to grow up”
    • The average woman will wear six different bra sizes throughout her life
    • A recent survey found that nearly ⅔ of women are wearing the incorrect bra size, and 29% of those women are completely unaware of it
    • Most bras should be replaced every 6 months
    • The size of an average woman is 5’4” and 135 lbs. The average size of a Victoria’s Secret model is 5’10” and 112 lbs. The typical measurements for a Victoria’s Secret model are a 34” bust, 24” waist, and 34” hips
    • A 2008 survey revealed that 9% of American men have underwear that is at least 10 years old. 15% own underwear that is between 5-9 years old
    • Italians consider it good luck to bring in the New Year wearing red coloured underwear
    • On October 14, 1996, a student pledging for the Kappa Alpha frat at Texas A&M required emergency care after receiving injuries from a wedgie. He had to have one of his testicles removed as a result of the injury
    • After Michael Hirschey gave Erik Kurtis Low a wedgie on May 8, 2003, Low fatally shot Hirschey. The prosecutor for the case said in his closing arguments “that receiving a wedgie is not a reason to kill somebody.”
    • The word “wedgie’ is allegedly derived from “wedge-heeled shoe” and became popular in the 1970s from the effect it gave the victim
    • Single people are less likely to change their underwear on a daily basis than married people–82% vs 88% respectively
    • To avoid urinary tract infections, among other things, physicians recommend changing underwear at least once a day
    • There is also an estimated 1/10 of a gram of fecal matter in most people’s underwear
    • Quick reminder that Disney World made their employees wear communal underwear until 2001, when they finally killed that policy due to lice and scabies outbreaks
    • The world’s most expensive underwear is a chastity belt that costs $2000.  It’s a gold, diamond, and pearl chastity belt created by jeweller Uwe Koetter for a private client
    • The most expensive lingerie set is the Susan Rosen Diamond Bikini, which was designed exclusively for the 2006 Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue and is worth $30M
      • This thing is just basically threads tying together what look like upside down heart-shaped nipple pasties made of diamond and metal mesh. On the crotch, it’s just a g-string with a heart-shaped cover over the model’s pubic mound, with a massive diamond in the center. Photo in the shownotes.
    • Panty raids were a popular American college prank in the 1950s, consisting of large groups of boys who would invade the womens’ dorms to steal panties, later putting them on display as a trophy of a successful raid
    • Jack Singer of New York wore 215 panties simultaneously on June 13th, 2010, setting a world record for panty wearing and breaking the previous record of 200 pairs
    • Kindergartners in Siberia run outside in their underwear and dump freezing water over themselves to strengthen their immune systems
    • On August 14, 1945, more than 1K Japanese officers raided the Imperial palace to destroy the recording of the Emperor’s speech of surrender. Confused by the layout of the palace, the rebels never found the recording. It was later smuggled outside in a basket of women’s underwear for broadcast.
    • In 1995, Boris Yeltsin, the then president of Russia, and when visiting DC was found drunk in his underwear trying to hail a cab to find pizza
    • Actress Tallulah Bankhead was infamous for not wearing underwear. During the filming of Lifeboat, the crew complained about her flashing them when she had to climb a ladder. Director Alfred Hitchcock reportedly quipped that he didn’t know if it was a matter for wardrobe or hairdressing. 
    • The British Army issues antimicrobial underwear that can be worn for three months at a time
    • Carrie Fisher wore no underwear in Star Wars because George Lucas convinced her “there is no underwear in outer space”
      • We learned on National Laundry Day that this is a lie! Astronauts incinerate their underwear
    • In Finland, the word ‘kalsarikannit’ means to get drunk at home, alone, in your underwear
    • The makers of Edible Underwear were denied patent protection on the grounds that “candy and pants were incompatible”
    • Major league baseball umpire required by rule to wear black underwear, in case they split their pants
    • Abercrombie & Fitch was forced to remove a line of thongs in childrens sizes made specifically for pre-teen girls. The front of the underwear read phrases such as “Eye Candy” and “Wink Wink”
    • An 18-year old man tried to eat his underwear in the hope that the cotton fabric would absorb alcohol before he took a breathalyzer test
    • A majority of American women prefer to wear bikini underwear, coming in at 37%. Briefs are second at 23%, thongs at 19%, boy shorts at 17% and “other” at 4%
    • Some early American settlers had themselves sewn into their underwear for the winter, since it was easier than having to button so many buttons. It also meant that they didn’t bathe until spring. I’m guessing these were some variation of the union suit, with a crap flap option
    • Scholars note that women seemed to wear corsets during times in history when their lives were severely restricted and they had few rights. As women gained more rights, they rejected the more restrictive underwear
    • In the 1990s, hip-hop artists made it fashionable for men to wear their pants below their waists and showing their underwear. This style, called “sagging,” is said to have originated in prison when jail inmates had their belts removed because they might be used as possible weapons. Other historians believe this style as a sign of availability among homosexuals
    • After police in Colfax, Washington (about a 5 hour drive from Seattle, basically the Idaho border), arrested Greg Flaherty for hanging around an apartment laundry room, they discovered he had stolen over 1613 (so…1613.5?) pairs of women’s underwear.  “Reports do not indicate whether they were stolen before or after they were washed.”

Activities to celebrate

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  • From nationaltoday.com
    • Join an Underwear Day parade!
      • “Not for the faint of heart, but if you have some guts join in on the fun! National Underwear Day parades happen in major cities. See if there’s one happening in your area!
        • This might be a stretch. I could only find records of any Underwear Day parades taking place in New Orleans
    • Treat yourself to a new set!
      • “Nothing says confidence [more] than a new set of undies. Ok well maybe people won’t be able to see them, but you’ll know they’re there. There is always something fun and powerful about having a secret power set under your suit or dress.”
    • Attend a Burlesque show
      • No other type of show in the world is as much about the underwear as a burlesque show. Generally a 21+ sort of event, but if you want to see the best of extravagant undergarments, glitter, confetti, dance and music, there isn’t a better place to see it.”
  • Use #NationalUnderwearDay on social media!
  • Daysoftheyear.com suggests reveling in your undergarments! “Show them off and smile, for you should be happy with who you are, and embrace that body image!”
    • Folks can choose to “post a picture or two with the hashtag in order to promote their acceptance of their body image, while others join flash mobs of underwear-clad individuals in major cities. Some just parade around their homes in their undergarments, while others prove their courage and go out wearing them publicly.”
    • “No matter your preference, the embracing of your image is the important thing. Every body is beautiful, so celebrate that fact! Maybe just stay in and watch some movies in your underwear, like Risky Business or Eyes Wide Shut (someone is a Tom Cruise fan). Eat some finger foods, get a tan (bad advice–say no to skin cancer, kids!), and embrace your own self-image, maybe snap a few photos for yourself–or a friend!–and own this holiday for yourself.”
    • Where Are My Panties by OutKast
    • Thong Song by Sisqo
    • Lingerie by Usher
    • Lingerie by Lizzo
    • T-Shirt & Panties by Adina Howard and Jamie Foxx
    • Silk Lingerie by GHOST DATA
    • Bikinis & Briefs by The Runway (Runway Music for Victoria’s Secret)
    • Underwear by Royal Republic
    • Shopping Spree by The Briefs
    • There’s No Underwear in Space by The Claypool Lennon Delirium
    • Underwear by Pulp
    • Underwear by The Magnetic Fields


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Tallit Katan

Temple garments







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