On August 5th National Underwear Day provides us an opportunity to think about and to wear our favorite undergarments. Whether boxers, briefs, panties, tighty-whities, our underthings provide a layer of comfort.
If you’re like many Americans, your mother warned you to always wear clean underwear. The reason? "You never know when you will be in an accident!" Although there are probably better reasons to wear fresh underwear, this is the one that most often comes to mind.
Underwear is the layer of clothing worn closest to the body and under the outer clothing. It protects clothing from sweat and provides the wearer protection from cold and chafing. Another benefit to underwear includes support and body shaping.
While some may see these intimate items of our wardrobe as necessities, others utilize them as accessories. Since fabrics allow underwear to be designed for specific needs, a wide variety are made for sports and specific climates. Depending on preference, select garments for both modesty or feel alluring.
A 2012 survey by Elitedaily.com reveals that the average woman owns 20 pairs of underwear – for every day. Then, they own 14 extra pairs for special occasions.
In 2018, retailers reported an increase in the popularity of nude colors. Instead of bright fashion colors or sultry bedroom styles, skin blending shades that disappear under sheer outer clothes won consumers dollars.
Narional Underwear Day - Underwear in history
Freshpair founded National Underwear Day on August 5th, 2003.
Underwear wasn't always called underwear! In the Middle Ages men wore linen shorts called braies but women did not wear underwear other than a shift or under tunic.
In Britain the word ‘pants’ meant long garments that covered the whole leg and were worn under trousers. The word pantie for ladies was created as a shortened version of the word pants.
What about the word ‘knickers’? This one came from a famous book called “The History of New York” written by Diedrich Knickerbocker, the character pen-name of Washington Irving, about a Dutchman living in New York. In Britain, the book contained illustrations of the Dutchman wearing long, loose-fitting garments on his lower body and the word knickerbockers was born. The word knickerbockers sometimes is still used to describe loose trousers for sport.
In the early 19th century women’s underwear consisted to two separate legs joined at the waist with a tie band. They really were a ‘pair’. Whatever you want to call them underwear sure has been popular for a long time!
Egyptologist Dr. Aleksandra Hallmann from the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Oriental Institute in Chicago decided to explore this topic. In February this year the researcher organized an international conference in Chicago on the subject of clothing in various ancient civilizations. As for the clothes of the ancient Egyptians, she has important findings.
"Egyptians most often used rectangular fabrics of various lengths and widths, which they wrapped in many ways around their bodies" - says Hallmann. But the known items also include socks, gloves, loincloths and even underwear - a triangular piece of fabric girded around the waist.
In the picture at the top left of this segment I've posted a picture of a famous sculpture of King Menkaure and his Chief wife "Khammie" in younger days. In Children of Stone, Menkaure is a pivotal character but he's seen as older, heavier, severely depressed and alcoholic as well as addicted to opiates in the form of mood altering "Sweet Horizon" which can also be deadly. He wears a basic men's shenti - a cross between a loincloth, kilt and fancy diaper held in place with a snug belt. His wife wears a shift called a kalasaris, but in all reality clothing in ancient Egypt was more for adornment than protection from the elements. Nakedness was not one bit shameful or considered overly sexual. Children were naked until puberty. Laborers or any of the working poor frequently wore no clothing at all outside a leather work apron.
I've taken a few liberties in clothing my characters in the story. I described the priest class as wearing later period "long" shenti's and cloaks for travel. Wserkaf's "shot blue/purple" cloak has magical properties that assist him in invisibility.
Ariennu wears her own version of a Minoan woman's skirt and bodice, as a "salute to her worthless father" and because she likes the way the bodice accentuates her breasts. Naibe wears a simple tunic of a wilderness woman. Deka allows extra fabric in her skirts which can magically become smoke-like wings. Marai in Ineb Hedj wears a plain tie-front, sleeveless shirt and work apron over his shenti. (He's always been shy) Maatkare, on the other hand is proud of his body and wears little more than a leather jock, sheer kilt material and golden jewelry.
In Going Forth by Day the women dance for the king and various nobles clad in nothing but jeweled hip belts.
The difficulty in proving any of this is that little remains of clothing other than what is shown in the art. In Tutankhamen's tomb, archaeologists found several triangular pieces of cloth. For lack of proof they labeled these "underwear".
Last week I mentioned that "Miss Hattie and the Hoppers" would be included in the upcoming Anthology pictured below. I also posted a character sketch of Hattie my story's main character.
This week three more characters by three more authors are being presented. Now, I usually try to use illustrations based on the segment, so I hope the authors Penny, Greg, and Morgan will forgive me if I've gotten it wrong!
Penny Blake's character Aleksa
My name is Aleksa,
I'm nine years old and I live on the new farm development in Indigo. I was born in the big city but I don't remember it because we moved out here when I was just two years old. I'm scared. I've never been on my own before, not utterly alone like this. Everyone I know has perished in this strange plague. But now it's just me and I don't know what to do. I grew up on the farm here in Indigo, at first things were wonderful, I had the freedom of the beautiful fields and country side... but now all the crops are dead, like the people.
So far my childhood has been a very happy one, until recently when the plague struck. It came so suddenly, and now everyone is gone and it's only me left. My best relationship was with Baba, my grandmother. Mammy and Daddy worked hard to get the farm going but Baba was always around to comfort me and entertain me with stories of life in the big city and all we hoped to achieve out here, growing crops for ourselves and the people of the big city too.
The thing I value most is my family... but they are all gone now. At least I know I will soon be able to see them again. The lanterns that have to be lit every night to guard against the spirits of the dead – The Mulo – are all I have left, I cling to the ritual of lighting them each night and it brings me comfort.
Baba said it would keep us safe from the Mulo – those who carry the marsh lanterns, the spirits of the dead. I can see the marsh lanterns getting closer each night. I pray that Baba was right and I pray I will see her again soon.
Greg Alldredge’s character Nicole
1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.
I go by Nicole; my western name. In my community, I go by Hang. I left home long ago. The constraints placed by my conservative parents chaffed. I needed to be free of the shackles my mother placed on me. She was a true tiger mom in every sense of the word.
2. Tell us where and when were you born.
I’m first-generation Vietnamese born in the US. I come from a small community of asylum seekers outside of Houston. I left there for San Francisco as soon as I turned 18.
3. How would you describe yourself?
Independent, angry, easy to overreact. I know these words don’t sound like positive attributes, but they have helped me survive my strange life.
4. Tell us about where you grew up.
If the suburbs of Houston are anything, they are boring. Nothing ever happened there. The mixed community of San Francisco drew me from an early age. I followed the money.
5. How old are you?
6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
Not really, I didn’t fit in with the redneck white kids that made up the majority of the schools I went to, not the other Vietnamese students either. I felt like an outcast, never fitting in either world.
7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
Men suck… They will tell you what they think you want to hear, then stab you in the back with the truth. If I was a more violent person, many of them might be dead.
8. What do you value above all else in life?
Freedom, the freedom to do as I please when and where I want. Money is a means to achieve that freedom.
9. What are you obsessed with?
10. How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
My life… who said it was good? I have the problem of picking the same type of men… they seem nice enough until after a few months the real person comes out. I should just swear off men for good.
11. Biggest fear?
Waking up at 30 in a loveless relationship trapped and unable to escape the asshole.
12. What line will you never cross?
I have never killed a person, though I have plotted out several grisly murders. I’m not sure I have the courage to kill another.
13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
Finding Max alongside the road. He is my best friend. The last fight… it was the worse, I thought the asshole was going to kill me or me him.
14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
I’d rather not say, it is much too painful.
15. Biggest secret?
I don’t really know how to shoot a gun very well.
16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
17. What is your current goal?
To stay free and alive.
Morgan Smith's character Samiana
My name is Samiana abinna Malekah binn Billika, the very least of the chieftain’s daughters.
Tell us where and when were you born.
I was born in the Wet Season, just before my father left us. The clan was camped at the watering place just at the end of the Long Sands Trail.
How would you describe yourself?
A mess. A curse. Bad luck.
How old are you?
I’ve seen fifteen Wet Seasons now.
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
I think, in a way, I did. At least, the clan tried to make it so.
But I brought them only misfortune.
What are you obsessed with?
Finding out why I am the way I am.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
Well, that’s where my story starts, isn’t it?
Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
Sands! Where could I even begin? Everything I ever try to do comes out wrong.
And there you have it! Stay tuned for next week's three characters stepping from the pages of upcoming anthology Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes and into the spotlight. Hattie, Aleksa, Nicole, and Samiana among others will be waiting for you to read the whole story each of them has to tell.
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