Illustration by Sibel Ergener

The Amazing, Lost Men’s Underwear Ads of the Early 1900s

Just try to act casual

Despite the Bible’s insistence that Adam put on a pair of leaf-briefs the moment he left the garden, men have not always worn underwear. And even when they did, for much of history, men’s underwear was nothing Justin Bieber would condescend to pose in. Men wore loincloths, then braies (a sort of loose linen pant that you can be sure your one weird history teacher kept in his closet). Those were followed by the very popular codpiece, an item that I only recommend Googling if you want to see a mix of Renaissance paintings alongside dudes in latex with their dicks out.

“Boxers or briefs?” wasn’t even an option until the middle of the 20th century; boxers were introduced in the 1920s, and briefs in the 1930s. But in the early 1900s, the game was almost entirely variations on the union suit along with some flowy capri briefs thrown in. Coupled with the era’s lack of sexy advertising/David Beckham, that meant that men’s underwear ads almost entirely consisted of men being real casual.

These are some of those casual underwear men.

1. This man who’s casually posing like he’s in the end of the Blair Witch Project.

Regatta, The Underwear and Hosiery Review, January 1921

2. These dudes who are casually lifting weights in their nightshirts while also plotting a murder.

Amtex, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, September 1921

Seriously, look at this guy’s face. This is 100 percent a murder conversation:

3. This man who’s so casually confident about his fart, he let it be visualized in the ad with him.

Peerless, Men’s Wear, April 22, 1908

4. This casual father and son who want to see the country club’s dress code burn.

ACO Athletic Underwear, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, February 1921

5. These casual men who are only a face prosthetic away from being costumed as ‘60s Star Trek aliens.

Hatchway, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, December 1921

6. This man who’s casually holding his finger in his book like the other man just interrupted him, which would mean he was reading his book while perched on the end of a hall table as if that’s a thing a human has ever willingly done.

Hatchway, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, December 1921

7. This man who is either a giant or casually riding a baby giraffe, which would be a real dick move.

Springtex, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, May 1921

8. These casual men who seriously make me wonder if watching golf in your underwear in 1921 was a thing.

Navicloth, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, July 1921

Wait — is golf a sex thing? Is that why rich people like it and country clubs are so exclusive?!

9. These men who are real casual about overt phallic symbols.

Amtex, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, October 1921

10. This casual 1908 Ron Swanson who knows what you want to see.

Dayton Clothing Mfg. Co. Men’s Wear, February 19, 1908

11. This young man who’s trying to look casual but apparently has to get into a power stance just to close a drawer.

Norwich, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, July 1921

12. This man who worked up such a sweat trying to move a piece of furniture with two other men that he had to take a casual break.

Amtex, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, June 1921

13. This man who’s trying to be casual about the fact that his back went out when he was picking up his shoe.

Nuxee, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, November 1921

14. This father casually explaining to his son that he’s not going to get breasts during puberty.

La Tosca, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, May 1921

15. This man casually showing off his fishing pole as if that’s not going to end with a hook in someone’s eye and three men in their union suits rushing to the hospital.

Amtex, The Underwear & Hosiery Review, July 1921