Its compound status gives it meaning – undergarment means ‘under the garment’. It refers to the clothes worn next to the skin, and below other garments. While some garments serve exclusively as undergarments, some can be worn as an outer garment as well, like the boxer shorts or the T-shirt. Worn for comfort, warmth, hygiene, genital support, or for religious reasons, undergarments form an important and intimate part of all our lives.
The earliest form of undergarment was the simple loincloth, and its derivatives. While the basis of undergarment design for men was mobility and comfort, for women beauty and maintenance of chastity was the primary motive. At times, undergarment design promoted the sexuality of women, like the bodice in 17th century England and onward. The wearing of undergarment is designated by conventions. In certain cultures and contexts, exposure in undergarments is considered indecent, whereas in some other cultures it is not. Wearing of undergarments in public is a halfway house between decent dressing and nudity (which is accepted in some cultures, like Tahiti and Scandinavia).
Female undergarment can be a venue of experimentation and an expression of beauty in itself, or it can be relegated to the status of a taboo. In formulations like the lingerie or the g-string, it is a vehicle of overt sexuality. Undergarments universally support the frame and make the wearer look more handsome and prevent attention from overt sexuality. Today, it is both a style statement and a utilitarian device. Designers and fashion houses actively design for this genre of clothing, and whole stores may be found dedicated to them. This section of the directory provides you with an assortment of links to various undergarment resources.