Men’s Underwear in the 1970s – a Time Best Forgotten?

The 1970s is, quite justifiably, referred to by many as “the decade style forgot”. Psychadelic colours, bell bottoms, safari suits, brown in every shade, lime green, velour, crochet, and all in one looks are all fashions of the time many of us hope to never see again.

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Questionable style in the 1970s was not, however, limited to men’s outerwear. Men’s underwear during this decade was also, put simply, at times frightful – by today’s standards, in any case. And what was deemed sexy at the time might never be suitably explained to those of us who didn’t live through it…

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After what was known as the “Peacock Revolution” of the 1960s, men’s underwear styles displayed a concern for fashion and colour like never before – and in a way that had previously been reserved for outer garments. Polyester and cotton blend fabrics were popular, and not only were undies produced in ever so stylish (for the time) colours and patterns, but undershirts were co-ordinated with said undies. Nice.

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There was even an all-in-one undies/vest suit available…

And even more extreme – an all in one undies and shirt ensemble…

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Undergarment fashions were bold, colourful, and “anything goes” seems to have been the motto of the time.

Fancy some floral print under fashion? How about mesh nylon underwear? Or denim low rise briefs?

100% nylon fabric was commonly used for men’s undies to achieve a sleek and natural fit, which complemented the figure hugging clothing styles of the 1970s. Due to the fashion for tight trousers, tiny shorts, and synthetic fabrics, boxers were decidedly out of style and briefs were in.

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Advertising of men’s undies took on a whole new character in the 1970s as well; models were often nearly naked, and perceived sex appeal in advertising was not limited to women’s lingerie. Maximising a man’s “assets” became popular like never before. The hairier the chest, the more flesh on show, and the more “loud” the undergarment – the better. If he also sported a moustache – advertising gold!

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Here we are forty years on. While men’s undies are still advertised cleverly and being fashionable is important to many, one must wonder what we will think when we look back on today’s styles in decades to come. In the meantime, a nostalgic pondering on the 1970s can be funny, baffling, and everything in between…

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