HealthDo I Have to Wear Underwear?
It’s Do I Have To? Practical advice for skeptical adults.
So you want to go True Scotsman. Whatever your reason—a desire for a healthy breeze, a practice of sartorial minimalism, poor laundry coordination—that’s private, like your privates.
¹ Does it make me more mad than the Barenaked Ladies song where whatever his name is says, “hide out under there, I just made you say underwear”? No, it doesn’t. That was me at my most mad.
Underwear, by its very nature, is a hidden thing. It could feel unnecessary because theoretically no one would ever know you’re not wearing underwear. And yet, for something that’s meant to be seamless and undetectable, it causes problems. It can be bunchy if it’s too big, bunchy in a different way if it’s too tight. I read an interview with a fashionable underwear designer who said, “If you’re thinking about your underwear, you’re wearing the wrong underwear.” This underwear company “dominates” the red carpet and Fashion Week, and it's called Commando. This enraged me¹. An underwear company that names itself after NO UNDERWEAR WEEE!! seems to exactly describe the undergarment paradox of our time: Underwear is supposed to seem invisible—it’s supposed to feel like it's not there, but it’s supposed to exist.
Quick, while I’m riled up, I will make a case for underwear, because I like the stuff. It’s great because you can basically do whatever you want with it and no one knows. Is your underwear magenta with a tiny pattern of an invented village? What a wonderful thing for you to know that no one else knows. Also, being in only underwear is one of life’s most perfect experiences of clothes, when it comes to comfort.
Underwear has practical benefits. It’s protective against harsh and rough fabrics (jeans, professional pants). It will let you do laundry less on said jeans and pants, because they won’t get as sweaty. I will also let the trajectory of human history speak on behalf of underwear. Humans have been wearing underwear since they have been wearing clothes. King Tut was buried with numerous linen loincloths. Henry VIII was an underwear innovator.
² TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS SOCIETY. DO YOU NEED AN AMERICAN CORRESPONDENT? IF SO THIS IS MY OFFICIAL APPLICATION. PLEASE LET ME KNOW, I EAGERLY AWAIT YOUR CONFIRMATION THAT I CAN SERVE AS A SCOTTISH TARTANS AUTHORITY.
I am about to be a real killjoy, so sorry about that, but any alleged history of people going without underwear is false and paltry. As for this True Scotsman rumor, about how Scottish men don’t wear undergarments under their kilts, this turns out to be false. In 2010, the director of the Scottish Tartans Authority², Brian Wilton, said that the commando tradition is “childish and unhygienic.” Pervy authority figures used mirrored floors to make sure their troops’ troops were protected. According to a little history I read about the word “commando,” the term itself has less to do with soldiers in Vietnam (who were originally credited), and more to do with prostitutes in London during World War II, who were called “Piccadilly Commandos,” so there goes your Rambo fantasy. That being said, we must not forget that Bill Murray’s character in important war movie Stripes said, “Chicks dig me, because I rarely wear underwear and when I do it’s usually something unusual.”
I like that attitude. He seems like the embodiment of a freeballing lifestyle.
I am also just going to tell you right now that despite all of our private delusions, we are not Bill Murray. We can’t just do whatever Bill Murray does, which is exactly what he wants, it seems. I feel we should remember we're not Bill Murray when we start to wonder whether the commando lifestyle is for us. We do not and will never have the charm, panache, or freewheeling controlled chaos of Bill Murray. We just don’t. He has a secret, and we don’t know it. Maybe his secret is that he’s not wearing underwear except unusual underwear, but truly, we shouldn’t begin to guess.
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