Culprit Underwear Vintage


From Man Girdles
to Marky Mark:

The Shocking and Hilarious History of Underwear Ads

Here are our picks for some of the funniest, most shocking, or controversial ad campaigns in underwear history from the turn of the 20th century to now.

  • 1900
  • 1905
  • 1910
  • 1915
  • 1917

19
17

Imperial

Drop seat underwear is cool becouse it makes you feel like a gaint baby. In this 1917 ad for Imperials's Drop Seat Union Suits, two grown men play leaprog white the copy emphasizes handy features like the "closed crotch" (Wow, what a handy feature!).

  • 1920
  • 1925
  • 1930
  • 1935
  • 1936

BOWER & BRACE

These Bower and Brace ads feature "The Bracer" a men's girdle designed to rein in your bulge [not that bulge, the other one].

19
36

These crotch-heavy Spanx for men showed that the 1940s had not yet embraced the dad bod.

 
  • 1937
  • 1940

Jantzen

Girdles were popular for women too, like this 1940s ad that promises to “bring down the rear” and give you a flat posterior. Cut to 70 years later and we’ve arrived at butt lift panties. This woman would be rolling in her flat posterior grave. Thankfully she never lived to see the Kardashians.

19
40

  • 1942
  • 1944

19
44

Munsingwear

Towards the end of the 1940s, men’s underwear started to get a little more modern looking. There were still a lot of unresolved issues in the subtext of the ads, as you can see in this Munsingwear campaign.

  • 1946

Reliance Ensenada

Nothing unusual going on in this Reliance Ensenada ad from 1946. Just two wholesome boys getting physical over a pair of boxer shorts, if you catch my drift.

19
46

  • 1948
  • 1950

19
50

Warners

This ad features a caveman dragging a woman by the hair, believe it or not this was not controversial at the time. Imagine if it ran today...

  • 1955

Maidenform

In the 1950s, Maidenform was among the first to tout themes of sexual liberation and female empowerment, but this voyeuristic ad featuring a woman’s bra exposed by an uplifting breeze makes you wonder: Is this ad for women’s empowerment, or men’s enjoyment? You be the judge.

                     
  • 1960

19
60

MAN MATE

Innovation really starts to take hold in the 60s, for example this pair of Man Mates with a special, uh… “stretch opening.”

  • 1962
  • 1964

Allen-A

Who knew that furries existed in the 1960s? Allen-A was well ahead of the curve on kinky furball fetishes when they personified the hairy one-eyed monster.

                     
  • 1966
                     

Plaza 6

Underwear ads were not immune to the counterculture revolution of the 1960s as shown in this psychedelic ad from Plaza 6. Maybe their lace has been laced.

  • 1968
  • 1970

body power

In the 1970s sex began to go mainstream and men could feel sexy too. Still a popular look for guys named Sergio.

19
70

  • 1972
                     

Bonds

Nothing scream “class” like gazing past your moustache reading a leather-bound tome in your underwear.

  • 1974

Unusual Underthings

Religious undertones and sexual overtones combine in this unusual Unusual Underthings ad from the 1970s. (Note the crucifix in his chest hair.)

                     
  • 1976
                     

Briefwear

Are you a man of action? If so, you’ll need a pair of white nylon zipper-front briefs that turns transparent when wet! (seriously, read the ad)

  • 1978
  • 1980

Maidenform

Is this Maidenform ad sexual liberation for women or the inspiration for Trump-care? This ad probably sent more young men to the hospital than Bird scooters.

19
80

  • 1985
  • 1990

19
90

Holeproof

I’m not sure what they put in the drinking water down in Australia, but this ad involves an echidna eating ants off a woman’s thighs to show they’re hole-proof. No comment.

  • 1992
  • 1994

Calvin Klein

If you were alive in the early 90s, then this image of Marky Mark grabbing his funky bunch is probably permanently seared into your brain, for better or worse.

                     
  • 1995

19
95

By 1995, Calvin was accused of encouraging child porn with these salacious ads shot in a creepy, wood-paneled basement.

Jockey

In the 90s, Jockey tried to compete by turning 911 into a all-male phone sex hotline.

                     
  • 1996
  • 1998
  • 2000

American Apparel

By the mid 00s, American Apparel had replaced Calvin Klein as the bad boy of underwear ads, and their increasingly risqué campaigns continued to spark outrage and controversy throughout the decade—not least due to the fact that they often featured employees of the company.

20
00

  • 2002
  • 2004

Religious undertones and sexual overtones combine in this unusual Unusual Underthings ad from the 1970s. (Note the crucifix in his chest hair.)

20
05

  • 2006
  • 2008
  • 2010

Thinx

This women’s underwear brand thought that ultra-liberal New York subway riders would be fine with these suggestive ads, but the campaign went viral when people were outraged.

20
10

  • 2012

20
15

Jockey

This campaign dares to ask the question, if Buzz Aldrin had been wearing a 2013 pair of Jockeys, would he have conquered the entire universe?

  • 2016