A blog featuring men's and boys' long one-piece underwear aka union suits. Considered old-fashion by some but known to be warm, comfortable, and fun by those who wear 'em! ............ To check out my new companion blog, UNION SUIT FANS IN THE LIMELIGHT, go to the dancing long johns below and click or tap on "Union Suit Fan." At the top of the next page under "My Blogs" click or tap on "Union Suit Fans in the Limelight"
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Union Suits - YesterYear Cowboy Rick O'Shay's Long Underwear Story
Click to Make Larger Hipshot in his Union Suit: Click to Make Larger
Presidential Underwear The underwear of U.S. presidents has been documented from the time of Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton. Honest Abe's long white drawers reportedly peaked out from his trousers' cuffs when riding a horse. His critics thought him a country bumpkin with lanky legs showing his underwear which was longer than his trousers. And Bill admitted to wearing "mostly briefs" when asked by a young go-ed whether he wore boxers or briefs.
John F. Kennedy
Union suits were most likely worn by presidents from U.S. Grant to George H. W. Bush. The ingenious underwear was patented in 1868 and first manufactured in Utica, New York. Union suits worn by two presidents have been extensively covered (pun intended) in news' reports and books: Presidents John F. Kennedy and Calvin Coolidge. Kennedy's Union Suit: A pair of the President's warm woollen long-johns (also known as a "State of the Union-Suit") sold at Heritage in 2010 for $6,000. By the way two of his union suits sold previously for $3,450 in 1998.
His name was sewn into his long johns just above the inside Duofold label thereby indicating this president's underwear preference was union suits.
The following is an article written about JFK's union suits in June 1998:
Camelot Exposed An
intimate encounter with JFK's base layer
By Tizia Garden
"For all his virile
athleticism, let it be said that John F. Kennedy was no icon of
hard-core outdoor adventure. The man never free-climbed a 5.10 pitch
or threaded the tube of a monster wave. He couldn't pull an indy
grab; he couldn't ride fakie. And he probably didn't know the
difference between a Jumar and a set of jumper cables.
These peccadilloes may explain why
the allure of his cult has always eluded us. Nonetheless, when we
heard that a few hundred items of JFK memorabilia were on the block
at a Manhattan auction house, we immediately dashed over. The wares
that caught our eye? Two sets of Duofold Long Johns, size 40, that
once cradled the nether purlieu of Camelot.
The whiff of adventure clung
beguilingly to these frayed state-of-the-union suits, fashioned by a
company whose label has brushed such legendary backsides as those of
Sir Edmund Hillary and the 1998 U.S. Winter Olympic Team. Sure, old
underwear may seem somewhat (OK, totally) devoid of appeal, but in us
they aroused an admittedly odd curiosity. We pictured them warming
the derriere-in-chief during yachting forays off Hyannis Port, on the slopes of Mount Mansfield, even in
those celebrated Kennedy touch-football battles."
Calvin Coolidge always wore union suits from the time he was a little boy throughout his presidency and beyond. The
very first time Grace Goodhue laid eyes on Calvin Coolidge she said
she was watering flowers at school and happened to look over to see a
young man standing in front of his apartment open window shaving. He was only
wearing a union suit (long underwear) and a derby hat. She had a
great laugh out of it. Coolidge looked out at her, smiled, and
continued shaving! He later confessed that whenever he shaved a lock
of hair got in the way. So he used the hat to hold it down while he
washed his face and lathered up. Grace and Calvin began dating and later
married. How many presidents (or any guys for that matter) meet their
future wives while clad only in their long-handled underwear?
Given to him originally as gag gift, Coolidge kept his mechanical horse upstairs in the White House where he and Mrs. Coolidge lived. He had first climbed on as the result of a dare. He actually really liked the "horse" and rode it often. To the amusement of Mrs. Coolidge and many White House visitors, he rode the mechanical horse throughout his presidency, always while wearing a cowboy hat and, most often, while wearing just his union suit! Secret Service agent reports indicated that he often wandered the White House halls late at night in just his long one-piece underwear.
Interesting Article from 1965 citing Calvin Coolidge and his Union Suit.Added July 11, 2017 ....Chris:
WEST REPORTS Men's Underwear July
(UPI) - Ordinarily, I suppose, a man’s underwear would be to racy a
topic for the public print, but for the sake of nostalgia perhaps an
exception can be made.
The William Carter Co. of Needham Heights,
Mass., celebrating its 100th anniversary, marked the end of an era
by announcing that it has quit making union suits.
the century,” it said, "Carter’s led the country in the
production of union suits. At that time they were called
’combination underwear’ and boasted such illustrious wearers as
Calvin Coolidge, president of the United States. While Carter’s
has been supplying ’old friends’ with union suits in recent years
despite sharply decreased demand, it was felt that the 100th birthday
was a good termination point.”
Yields to "Fashion" the company explained that "demand for
fashion garments, such as T-shirts and printed boxer shorts, has edged
out union suits.” As the Latins used to say, “sic transit
gloria undie.” Possibly some members of the audience either are so
young or, in the case of maiden aunts, have led so sheltered a life
that they don’t know the difference between the old era and the
new. For their edification, I will quote Webster's definition of a
union suit: "An undergarment worn by men and boys with shirt and (pardon the
expression) drawers in one piece.”
may be that some other companies are still producing union suits for
old times’ sake, but for all practical purposes integrated
underwear is dead, may it rest in peace.
peace was pretty difficult when you were wearing a long-handled union suit. I know
because when I was a boy back during the Coolidge administration I
used to sleep in them. They had a way of bunching up on you during
the night, so that you might wind up with a foot caught in the rear
vent. Since Coolidge slept in his union suit, it might explain why he
was known as “Silent Cal,” After wrestling with them all night,
he would have been too exhausted for conversation. But old Cal liked
them for the simple reason that they gave the wearer a sense of
A man in his underwear is a pretty ridiculous figure at
best. In exchanging the simple dignity of the union suit for the loud
colored boxer shorts, he has, I fear, made himself even more so.
regard to union suits, I am asked which ones are best. I don't consider myself an expert but I have worn
union suits since my grandmother purchased one for me at Sears when I was a fourteen year old boy. That suit was warm and comfortable and was just
like the long-handled button-up underwear grandpa always wore! I have been wearing only
one-piece long underwear since then. Two piece underwear is inferior
as far as I am concerned. I have tried a variety of union suits over
the years and must say my favorite maker is Carhartt. Although, like
President Kennedy, I like Champion Duofold union suits too. They are the ones with the cotton / wool blend...Warm!
being said, Carhartt union suits are superior to all others
that I have purchased and worn. They have plenty of buttons up
the front of the suit and the last one my wife gave to me this past Christmas has
a two button vertical flap. The wrist and ankle cuffs have the just
the right snugness and don't stretch out. And, the brand name, "Carhartt," is
proudly shown across the upper chest. If you've never purchased or worn
Carhartt or Champion Duofold Union Suits, you are really missing out!
One of my favorite Union Suit articles was written by Bill Reed, dated December 6, 2005, and was entitled: State of the Union Suit! Hopefully, he won't mind a partial reprint. It began: "Maybe it's the sheath of cotton running seamlessly over the body like a second skin. Maybe it's nostalgia. Maybe it's the giggle-inducing flap that buttons up in back. Or maybe, just maybe, it's an elaborate excuse for men to pull off those tighty-whities and slip into bright-red underwear. Whatever it is, the venerable union suit won't go away....The one-piece wonder of long underwear has been around for nearly 150 years, and sparks vivid memories for its devotees." To read his entire fun article go to: gazette + state-of-the-union-suit