Briefs have a fascinating history and are now being transformed by technology with high-performance undies that claim to do everything from filtering flatulence to emitting soothing vibrations.
The first type of underpant was the loincloth worn by ancient Egyptians.
Known as a schenti it was made from woven materials – commonly cotton and flax – kept in place with a belt.
The lower classes and slaves were almost naked – so technically this loincloth was often ‘outerwear’.
But Egyptian art from 1189BC to 1077BC in the Valley of the Queens shows pharaohs wearing sheer outer garments – rendering the loincloth a type of underpant.
In Europe during the Middle Ages (500-1500AD) underwear consisted of a shirt made of fine linen or cotton for both men and women.
A form of underpant returned during the 15th and 16th centuries when men’s leg-hose were bifurcated (split in two).
To provide extra protection for the male genitalia a padded codpiece was added.
The codpiece also served as a symbol of sexual energy – designed to enhance rather than conceal the genital area.