Underwear Facts
Underwear Facts

63 Interesting Facts about Underwear

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published February 27, 2017
  • The average American woman owns approximately 21 pairs of underwear. Approximately 10% of women own over 35 pairs.[7]
  • Ten-year-old Jack Singer of Warwick, New York, wore 215 pairs of underwear simultaneously on June 13, 2010. He broke the previous record of 200 pairs.[2]
  • While underwear may or may not be worn under kilts, tradition holds that a “true Scotsman” would wear nothing underneath.[3]
  • 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.[3]
  • Sexual researchers note that a woman who chooses to wear white cotton panties tends to be a low maintenance and a no-frills type of a woman. Researchers note that this is akin to letting a man see her without makeup.[3]
  • The average woman will wear six different bra sizes throughout her life.[7]
  • Most bras should be replaced every 6 months.[7]
  • Fun Underwear Fact
    An ill-fitting bra can cause health problems
  • Bras that don’t fit correctly can cause back strain and loss of breast firmness.[7]
  • The country with the most underwear models working for Victoria’s Secret is Brazil.[4]
  • The highest-paid Victoria’s Secret model of all time is Giselle Bündchen. At one point, she was earning nearly $5 million a year.[4]
  • The size of an average woman is 5' 4" and 135 pounds. The size of a Victoria’s Secret model is 5' 10 " and 112 pounds. The typical measurements for a Victoria’s Secret model are a 34" bust, 24" waist, and 34" hips.[4]
  • The U.K. typically sells the highest number of the largest bra cup sizes. Japan usually sells the most of the smallest sizes.[11]
  • A 2008 survey revealed that 9% of men in America have underwear that is at least 10 years old. Fifteen percent own underwear that is between 5-9 years old.[10]
  • After police in Colfax, Washington, arrested Greg Flaherty for hanging around an apartment laundry room, they discovered he had stolen over 1,613 pairs of women’s underwear. Reports do not indicate whether they were stolen before or after they were washed.[2]
  • In Italy, women celebrate New Years by wearing red underwear because it is considered lucky.[2]
  • From the cradle to the coffin underwear comes first.

    - Bertolt Brecht

  • On October 14, 1996, a student pledging for the Kappa Alpha fraternity 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.[2]
  • After Michael Hirschey gave Erik Kurtis Low a wedgie on May 8, 2003, Low fatally shot him. The prosecutor for the case said in his closing arguments “that receiving a wedgie is not a reason to kill somebody.”[2]
  • In 2005, a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, Algi T. Howell, proposed a $50 fine for wearing pants that showed one’s underwear. The bill did not pass.[2]
  • Men’s briefs were invented in 1935. A contemporary magazine ad touted the brief’s “scientific suspension” and “restful buoyancy.”[2]
  • A survey in 1998 revealed that 60% of French men change their underwear daily. Approximately 75% of French women change their underwear daily.[2]
  • According to bra-fitting experts, approximately 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.[7]
  • Interesting Bra Facts
    Bra sizes consist of two parts, a number (band size) and a letter (cup size)

  • In 2012, Zimbabwe banned the importation and sale of second-hand underwear. Lawmakers hope the ban will help address health concerns and help the country’s own domestic textile industry.[15]
  • The word “skivvies” appeared in 1932 as nautical slang for underwear. While the term is of unknown origin, earlier use of skivvy/skivey was London slang for “female domestic servant.”[3]
  • The word “wedgie” is derived from “wedge-heeled shoe” and became popular in the 1970s from the effect it gave the victim.[3]
  • Single people are less likely to change their underwear on a daily basis than married people—82% versus 88%, respectively.[10]
  • African American psychologist Tara Raines argues that bra manufacturers cater only to white women in “nude” collections and is urging them to rethink the limited range of natural colors available to ethnic women.[13]
  • The global underwear business is estimated to be worth over $30 billion. Bras represent over 50% of the overall market, briefs approximately 33%, and corsetry more than 10%.[12]
  • Random Underwear Fact
    Ten percent of American women have confessed to going "commando"
  • Ten percent of American women have confessed to occasionally having gone “commando” to avoid visible panty lines.[7]
  • During the Victorian age, women wore knickers, which left the entire crotch area open and exposed because it was believed that an open crotch was more hygienic. Consequently, underwear change was infrequent. Ironically, Parisian Can Can dancers helped usher in closed-crotch underwear.[6]
  • A majority of American women prefer to wear bikini underwear (37%). Briefs come in second (23%), followed by thongs (19%), boy shorts (17%), and other (4%).[7]
  • To avoid urinary tract infections (among other things, such as keeping the genital and urinary areas clean), physicians recommend changing underwear at least once a day.[3]
  • G-strings are very similar to thongs, but they have even less coverage in the back, just a string that essentially disappears between the buttocks. The etymology of g-string is obscure, but it may stand for the word “groin,” which has historically been a taboo word.[6]
  • While modern underwear is made from different fabrics (leather, satin, vinyl, latex, cotton, mesh, and polyester), it is typically considered good hygiene to have the crotch lined with a cotton fabric.[3]
  • At a recent auction in Edinburgh, a pair of Queen Victoria’s underwear sold for £9,375 ($14,500 American). The knickers were made from yards of white cream fabric and had her initials VR (Victoria Regina) embroidered in them.[6]
  • Factors that may cause a change in bra size include a weight gain/loss of five pounds or more, beginning/ending an exercise program, pregnancy or childbirth, more than a year since a last bra measurement, going through menopause or the hormonal changes.[7]
  • Sexual researchers observe that men who wear the “boyish” briefs “may not be ready to grow up.”[1]
  • Victoria’s Secret operates more than 1,000 stores across the United States. It was established in San Francisco in 1977 by Roy Raymond, who wanted to establish a store with an atmosphere similar to that of a Victorian boudoir.[14]
  • During the 1950s, it was popular for college boys to storm the girls’ dorm and steal their underwear and then publicly display them. The popular term for these outings was “panty raids.”[8]
  • Fun Panties Fact
    Panty raids became popular in college after WWII

  • The aging U.S. population is slowing down market growth in the underwear sector. However, analysts note that there is significant growth potential in more developing countries due to increasing income levels, trends toward Western fashion, larger youth population, and rising standards of living.[12]
  • During the recession, nightwear and knit underwear have done better than other types of underwear. Researchers note that these types of undergarments have been so successful because they are more necessary than other types of underwear.[12]
  • The world hosiery market is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2015. Hosiery includes tights, socks, leggings, and pantyhose. The increase is largely due to new machinery—specifically, electronic knitting machines have largely replaced mechanical knitting machines.[12]
  • The nightwear and knit underwear market is expected to surpass $70 billion by 2015. The factors fueling the market include rising levels of disposable income, new fabrics, and a larger variety of styles. Plus-size demand is also increasing in the Western market.[12]
  • China has the fastest growing underwear market in the world. The China underwear market exceeded $16 billion in 2010, with a market growth of around 20% per year.[12]
  • In the 19th century, women typically wore heavy petticoats to keep the cold breezes from blowing up their skirts because they usually didn’t wear any underwear underneath. Until the mid-1800s, it was considered improper for a woman to wear anything in between her legs. This is why women rode sidesaddle and why pants were considered a male-only garment.[8]
  • Interesting Petticoat Fact
    Petticoat is from the Old French petite cote, or "little coat"

  • The main brands in the global underwear market include Calvin Klein, La Senza, DKNY, Princesse Tam Tam, Enamor, Embry Form, Jockey, Victoria’s Secret, Maniform, Wacoal Holdings, Gujin, La Perla, Armani, Wolford, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Etam, Chantelle, Triumph, AB Underwear, and Lovable.[12]
  • The origin of the phrase “going commando” is unclear, though it probably originated with members of the military who more often than not preferred to go without underwear. In harsh environments, wet underwear could lead to crotch rot, jock and anal itching, and chafing. Additionally, it was not uncommon for soldiers to develop severe cases of diarrhea, in which case a soldier may go without underwear and cut off the back of the pants for easier elimination.[3]
  • King Tut is the nickname for Tutankhamen, an Egyptian leader who ruled from age 9 to 18. He was buried with 145 underpants.[9]
  • Some early American settlers had themselves sewn into their underwear for the winter. They did this because it was easier than having to button a lot of buttons. But it also meant that they didn’t bathe until spring.[8]
  • During the 16th century, undergarments became associated with the word “drawers.” A drawer is literally something pulled or “drawn” and comes from the French word tirer (to pull).[8]
  • Interesting History of Underwear Fact
    The first modern "brassiere" was patented in 1914
  • Though there are several legitimate claims as to who is the “father” or “mother” of the modern bra, a New York woman named Mary Phelps Jacobs is typically credited with creating the modern bra. She had her maid sew together two handkerchiefs with some ribbon and a cord. She patented her bra design under the label “brassiere” in 1914 and later sold it to the Warner Brothers Corset Company for $15,000.[5]
  • Long knitted undergarments known as “long johns” were originally worn by a bare-knuckled boxer named John L. Sullivan in the late 1800s. He wore long woolen drawers while boxing in cold weather.[8]
  • Spiritual undergarments go back at least as far as the ancient Babylonians. Often these garments had fringe, which symbolized of God’s protection. Modern-day Mormons have sacred undergarments, which they consider to be the “armor of God.[8]
  • Before the development of antiperspirants, the “dress protector” and the “shirt protector” were popular undergarments that helped absorb underarm sweat and prevent sweat marks from showing on outer layer of clothing.[8]
  • In 1995, a woman named Berbel Zummer was walking through a park in Austria during a storm wearing a wire-enforced bra under her clothes. The metal in her bra attracted a bolt of lightning that killed her instantly.[8]
  • A woman from Britain invented a bra that monitors a woman’s heart rate. If the heart rate is high, an alarm will sound as an indication that the woman is in danger.[9]
  • The Russians are experimenting with bacteria that will eat the worn underwear of astronauts on long space missions.[9]
  • 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.[8]
  • A device that is stuffed into a bra to make it look bigger is called a “falsie.” Falsies were most popular during the 1950s, when big, pointy breasts were popular.[9]
  • Underwear has often been used as a symbol. For example, in the 1960s, “bra burners” protested the way society discriminated against women and restricted their appearance. Additionally, after WWII, French women who had relationships with German soldiers not only had their heads shaved, but they also were forced to walk through the streets in their underwear.[8]
  • Interesting Corset Facts
    The corset is, arguably, the most controversial piece of underwear in history
  • Corsets were such a huge business that they provided thousands of jobs. Additionally, so much whalebone was used to stiffen corsets, hoop skirts, and other types of underwear, that the baleen whale was almost driven to extinction.[9]
  • Underwear has been used to make rebellious fashion statements. For example, in 1780, Marie Antoinette shocked France by wearing chemise dresses at court. Previously, the chemise was worn only as underwear.[8]
  • In 1951, Marlon Brando helped turn men’s cotton undershirts into outwear when he wore an undershirt in the movie A Streetcar Named Desire.[8]
  • In the 1990s, hip-hop artists made it fashionable for men to wear their pants below their waists and showing their boxers or briefs. This style, called “sagging,” is said to have actually originated in prison when jail inmates had their belts removed because they might be used as a possible weapon. Other historians believe this style originated as a sign of availability among homosexuals.[8]

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