Underwear

Birgit Engel, Text by (Art/Photo Books) Feierabend Verlag, Ohg $9.95 (141p) ISBN 978-3-89985-066-6
From tighty whities to flannel boxers and beyond, men's underwear gets a frightfully thorough treatment in this odd little book, a tribute to a garment that's""little heeded and often worn for hygienic sic reasons only."" Engel begins with ancient Egyptian loincloths and quickly arrives at 19th-century undergarments (although, she admits,""wearing underpants did not immediately become a standard habit for everyone"" at that time). She goes on to cover various underwear styles--including the brief, the tanga, the long john, the boxer brief, the string and the jock strap--as well as fabrics and major designers. Drawing on magazine advertisements, studio shots of men frolicking in their underwear and close-up photographs (front and back), Engel goes to great lengths to show styles that go beyond anything available from Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. Readers may think that this cultural history is just an excuse for gawking at male abdomens, but chapter headings such as""Washing: There's No Way Around It"" and""What Can Be Done About Stubborn Stains in Laundry"" will remind them that the book actually has some practical uses.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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