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About This QuizThis underwear quiz from HowStuffWorks tests your knowledge of the style, function and history of underwear. Take the underwear quiz now to see how much you know.
We're all born in the buff, and for many thousands of years, that's how we stayed. What was likely the first piece of underwear?
Loincloths -- the garb of cinematic barbarians and cave men alike -- is believed to be the earliest ancestor of modern undies.
bras made from branches
What material were the first loincloths made from?
The first loincloths were made from leather, but we're not talking about cowhide. Mankind donned these undershorts about 7,000 years ago, so they would've been made from whatever beasts were for dinner. Those beasties varied according to location and season.
leaves and grass
What's a shendoh?
a now-extinct animal from which early loincloths were made
an ancient Egyptian form of the loincloth
A shendoh is what the ancient Egyptians called their underwear -- kind of like a combination of kilt and loincloth. The shendoh was so important that pharaohs were often buried with scores of them.
the first thong
Traditionally, a kilt is worn:
Kilts were designed to be worn sans underwear. And while some Scots continue the commando tradition, the Scottish Tartans Authority (a group of Scotland's leading weavers and kilt retailers) condemned the practice as "childish and unhygienic" in 2010.
with special boxer-like underwear
What are braies?
overshorts that could be worn by both men and women
the first bras
Braies are loose-fitting undergarments that were more like trousers than underwear. These medieval underpinnings reached from waist to mid-calf, were tightly laced and could be worn in public without shame.
Which description best defines "codpiece"?
the act of stuffing loose shorts with a fish
a loincloth made from fish scales
an opening in braies, fastened with buttons or lace
In terms of undies evolution, braies were a real step up from loincloths. But all those laces could be a problem if you needed to quickly take care of business. Codpieces gave men the freedom to urinate when and where they wanted with ease; they're the reason men's modern underwear have those convenient openings.
What basic purpose does a corset serve?
lifting the bust
cinching the waist
both of the above
Corsets, the undergarment that defined the Victorian era, tighten, lift and flatten portions of the female frame. This multipurpose garment was hugely popular in the 1800s ... and it was also hugely uncomfortable. Stories persist that corsets could be so constricting that they damaged some women's internal organs.
When did the first push-up bra hit the market?
Your grandma's grandma's grandma might've been wearing a push-up bra! These now-indispensable undergarments first hit the market in 1893, but they didn't really pick up in popularity until the 1940s.
Men's briefs were inspired by:
In 1934, an executive clothing designer at Coopers Hosiery Mills, Inc., received a postcard of a man in a briefs-style swimsuit. A year later, the company (which later changed its name to Jockey) debuted Jockey shorts. The clever name was to invite comparison between the support offered by its new briefs and that afforded by a jockstrap.
OK, so briefs were inspired by a swimsuit, but what about boxer shorts? The idea for these came from:
actual shorts that boxers wore
Jacob Golomb, the founder of the boxing equipment company Everlast, invented boxer shorts when he replaced the leather belt holding up pugilists' pants with an elastic waistband. However, it took a few decades for boxers' shorts to become boxer shorts -- a now perfectly respectable underwear choice.
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