Tuesday January 19, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Men’s Briefs

On this Day:

On January 19, 1935 in Chicago, USA,  Coopers Inc. sells the world’s first men’s briefs, calling it the “Jockey”.

Briefs are a type of short, form-fitting underwear and swimwear, as opposed to styles where material extends down the thighs.

Briefs have various different styles, usually with a waistband attached to fabric that runs along the pelvis to the crotch and buttocks, and are worn by both men and women. Swim briefs are a variation used as swimwear.

Classic briefs were first sold on January 19, 1935, by Coopers, Inc., in Chicago, Illinois, at Marshall Field’s department store. They dubbed the new undergarment the “Jockey”, because it offered a similar degree of support as the jockstrap (one style of which is also called jock brief or support briefs). The designer of the new style was reportedly inspired by a postcard he had received from a friend visiting the French Riviera depicting a man in a very short, form-fitting bathing suit. 30,000 pairs were sold within three months of their introduction. In the UK, briefs were first sold in 1938. Soon, shops were selling 3,000 pairs of briefs per week.

In North America, “jockey shorts” or “jockeys” became an often used generic term for men’s briefs. More recently, “tighty-whiteys” (and some less popular variants of it) has become a commonly used slang term for traditional full-cut briefs.

In the UK, the term “jockeys” has not caught on and briefs are often referred to as “Y-fronts”. The term derives from the genericized trademark “Y-Front”, property of Jockey International. It in turn derives from the inverted Y-shape formed by the seams at the front of the underpants. The colloquialism is used even when the fly opening may differ in style, and not actually form the shape of the inverted letter “Y” fly on Coopers/Jockey brand briefs.

In Australia, briefs are referred to as “jocks” but should not be confused with jockstraps (more specifically used by athletes) which expose the buttocks. Australians generally use the word “briefs” to refer to the bikini-style underpants for men, which do not have the Y-front opening.

In the 1960s, fashion underwear was introduced in the United States, and, after initially faltering, became more prominent in the 1970s as a result of the decline in views that wearing fashionable underwear was less masculine. By the 1980s, fashion briefs became more popular in the United States; in 1985 they made up 25% of the men’s underwear market, whilst they had almost no share circa 1980. The Underoos and Funpals fashion brief brands for children were introduced around that time. According to Hanes marketing director John Wigodsky, women purchased fashion briefs for their husbands for aesthetic reasons, and therefore fashion briefs became more popular with men.

During the 90’s to early 2000’s the popularity of briefs declined. Boxer shorts were widely portrayed as the casual and masculine choice. However, more recently, as men’s fashion has trended in favor of more tailored clothing, form-fitting underwear such as briefs have come back into style, including newer styles like trunk briefs (short boxer briefs) (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What type of underwear do lawyers wear to court? Legal briefs, of course.

Second, a Song:

“Wilbury Twist” is a song by the British–American supergroup the Traveling Wilburys and is the final track on their 1990 album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. The song was also released in March 1991 as the second single from that album.

The Traveling Wilburys (sometimes shortened to the Wilburys) were an English–American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. Originating from an idea discussed by Harrison and Lynne during the sessions for Harrison’s 1987 album Cloud Nine, the band formed in April 1988 after the five members united to record a bonus track for Harrison’s next European single. When this collaboration, “Handle with Care”, was deemed too good for such a limited release, the group agreed to record a full album, titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. Following Orbison’s death in December 1988, the Wilburys released a second album, which they titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, in 1990.

The project’s work received much anticipation given the diverse nature of the singer-songwriters. The band members adopted tongue-in-cheek pseudonyms as half-brothers from a fictional Wilbury family of travelling musicians. Vol. 1 was a critical and commercial success, helping to revitalise Dylan’s and Petty’s respective careers. In 1990, the album won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.

The original music video featured cameos from many contemporary celebrities including: Woody Harrelson, Whoopi Goldberg, Fred Savage, Ben Savage, Kala Savage, Thomas Guzman-Sanchez of Rhythm Tribe, Milli Vanilli, Cheech Marin, John Candy and Eric Idle. The band and special cameos were shot at the Wishire Ebell in Los Angeles. The DVD video in the 2007 box set The Traveling Wilburys Collection retains only a few introductory shots of John Candy (jumping around in his underwear)  and Eric Idle, otherwise simply showing the band members performing the song (per Wikipedia).

Here is The Traveling Wilburys doing the Wilbury Twist (original version) with all the characters. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“This morning when I put on my underwear I could hear the fruit-of-the-loom guys laughing at me.” – Rodney Dangerfield

The Reverend Bob Beasley of Grimsby, Ontario Canada writes: “As usual, I really enjoyed your daily smile today. As I read the first section, I try to guess what the musical portion will be. Today, I wondered if you would choose my favourite “UFO” song from back in the day. Martian Hop was a one hit novelty song released by the Ran-dells in 1963. It was the first 45 I ever bought (I was 8), and I’m sure I still have it packed away somewhere.

Here is the Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_Hop 

Here is the song on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT5e4pua9LI

Bob – I wished I had that song at hand when I was writing the Smile!  I never heard that song before. I am sure it made it to the top of the Martian Hit Parade!


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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