Thursday, April 27, 2017

Union Suits - YesterYear

Stanfield's Canadian "Combinations"

Who knows more about Long Underwear than our neighbors to the north - Canadians?!

At the end of the 19th century, Stanfield’s Company created a name for itself by selling full-body long, one-piece underwear to those heading northwest to strike it rich in the gold rush!  This 1900 ad by A. E. Hunt & Company featured Stanfield's Underwear, made by the famous Canadian manufacturing company. The cost was only $1.19 per suit, red or blue label, and was such a bargain that the clothing company limited sales to only "two suits" (combinations) per customer. 

Sam of Northern Lower Michigan emailed me to correct the fact that Canadian one-piece underwear, including Stanfield's, are called "Combinations" not "Union Suits"! He tells me that "in Canada you don't ask for union suits you ask for combinations or combinaisons if you are French speaking."

Thanks, Sam for getting it right! Thanks to you I have today changed references to Union Suits in this posting to Combinations. I strive to be accurate for my Union Suit Fans (U.S.) and Combinations Fans (Canada). I should have known better as a number of years ago, just out of college, I visited the United Kingdom. My hosts in London, England noticed that I was wearing a union suit. They referred to my long underwear as "Combinations." It makes sense that Canada would follow suit (pun intended).

Stanfield's long underwear is still very popular today. A couple of my Union Suit Fan pals recently emailed me stating that they buy and wear Stanfield's.  Here's more from that outstanding company:

Stanfield's Combinations are not only Unshrinkable but




"Combinations" trophy: two men wrestling in their Stanfield's Long Underwear?! Everyone is a winner win wearing Stanfield's !

The above Stanfield's Combinations Ad is Aimed at
Men Who Work Outdoors and Want
Well-fitting Long Underwear!

Stanfield's provides valuable information for their customers in purchasing Combinations and other types of Long Underwear. Package instructions below are typically shown in both English and French Languages.

A French Lesson....

English: It was below freezing temperatures, so he decided to wear long underwear.

French: Il gelait alors j'ai décidé de porter des sous-vêtements longs.

Real Men Wear Stanfield's Combinations!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More Stocking Stuffers

To Stuff or Not to Stuff ??!!

Thanks to you who responded to my previous blog of April 10th.  There are some definite opinions out there regarding whether to stuff your Union Suit bottom cuffs into your socks. Thanks to all of you. 

Here is a response I particularly enjoyed:

Chris, I come from a family of "tuckers" After a few washings, when the elastic in the socks began to go and the socks drooped, I knew it as I (and other guys) have spent a life time bending down and yanking the socks up and over the cuffs of my thermal long underwear. But ads - SEARS especially - are notorious for showing guys in union suits and thermal drawers wearing socks but with the cuffs of the long johns pulled over the socks. I was told by an uncle that the rationale was so that men could see that these were "new styled" long johns and union suits. It seems that originally (and for some time), long johns did NOT have double knit, reinforced cuffs. Something we take for granted today but "back in the day", cowboys might have had to pull their socks up and over the legs of their union suits to keep their underwear from riding up and defeating the purpose of keeping the bronco busters warm and cozy.

Now, I asked the question (socks over the cuffs or cuffs over your socks) of all the intimates I know who wear long underwear. I found out some data I'd like to share.

I worked, for a spell many years ago, in an office building that was downright drafty and always cold in the winter.  The heat did not reach up to our floor and the landlord did not provide heat from Friday mid-morning until Tuesday mid-morning.  Mondays were like working in a deep freeze. We had a succession of office workers come and go. I warned all about the dangers of freezing to death on Fridays and Mondays (especially) and how the "arctic tundra feeling" might go on until late Tuesdays or early Wednesday due to the lack of steam heat.

Paul was a good guy - born and raised in NYC and the son of a police officer.  When I told him, he assured me that although he felt the cold badly and was terrified of catching cold, he had no issues on that front as his Dad started him and his brother off wearing long johns from an early age.

He talked about his long johns frequently.  When he had them on, he would tell me and others about his choice.  So, I can assure you he wore two piece ecru colored thermal long johns - long sleeved shirt and ankle length drawers - as soon as the mercury plunged down past 35 degrees.  But Paul would get upset if he even thought you could see he had them on.  I had to take his word about them as he wasn't going to show them off even though he never stopped talking about them.

One winter night we went out for a beer after work.  It started to rain, hard, and although we were both snug and warm in our long johns, Paul stepped into a puddle and got his feet wet.  We were about a block away from my place so we came back and I offered him a pair of dry socks as well as a towel for his troubles.  I live in a very small place and Paul much appreciated the dry socks but he got nervous and started blushing when he realized he had to change socks in full view of me.  I asked him what the problem was and he sheepishly admitted:  "I got my long johns on and I don't like to raise my pants leg so guys can see them.  I always got teased when the boys realized that, to keep warm, I wore thermal long johns."

As silly as it was, he made me turn around while he changed his socks.  When he gave me the "all clear" signal, I gave him a plastic bag for the discarded socks and asked him if he tucked the cuffs of his long johns into the socks.

"Of course.  Yeah.  Sure did."  He was almost surprised at the question. "Why, what other way could you do it?"  He asked as I handed him another beer.

When I told him, he laughed it off and said, "That would be defeating the purpose.  Why, I wear my long johns to keep me warm.  If I wore 'em with the cuffs pulled over the socks, a breeze could go up my leg and make me cold.

"Besides," he continued, "after a few wearings, the cuffs stretch out a bit and I don't want to wear them up near my knees.  No sir.  I want to be warm from my neck all the way down to my ankles."

We once discussed the good, old union suit.  Now, like me, Paul grew up doting on cowboy movies and even fashioned himself to be a bit of a cowboy.  So, when I asked him if he owned a union suit, he laughed it off.

"Nope," he told me.  "Now, my father and my grandfather both wore union suits all winter long.  From Labor Day to Memorial Day they put on union suits.

"My Dad is a cop and it was basic for him to wear one as he usually got the night shift and often times near the docks. So, when he made me and my brother put on long underwear, we didn't want the 'old fashioned' kind that guys like him and grandpa wore.  We consider thermal tops and bottoms to be modern and not for old guys."

This made sense as kids today wear long johns only if they have the Superman logo on them.

Paul was in the Army in the late fifties/ early sixties.  He was stationed somewhere in Asia and told me that it was "damn cold" - especially at night and with guard duty.

He froze but the Army provided him with a two piece suit of long underwear.  He gratefully put on his army-issued long johns only to discover that they were made out of wool.  After an hour or so, he said he was scratching his chest, arms, legs (from the knees down to his ankles), etc.

Faced with the choice of scratching or freezing, he reluctantly continued to wear the woolen long underwear but wrote to his Dad asking him to send him some cotton knit long johns.

Well sir, his Dad did just that but sent Paul two white union suits. Paul put them on, enjoying the "itch free" comfort of the cotton but said that he got teased and ribbed unmercifully by the other boys in the army bunk.

"Hey, Grandpa!" they would call out to him as they scratched themselves as if they had a flea circus running wild in their drawers.

On another occasion, Paul's friend Don was with us.  Don grew up with Paul and they were more like twins - what one liked, so did the other.  What Don did, Paul did and vice-versa.

Well, we got around to talking about going to the Pocano Mountains for some skiing (or, for me, picture taking). Don was also a weather freak and reminded both of us to "wear your long underwear.  You boys will get frost bite without a pair of long johns."

I asked Don about the "tuck" issue and he surprised Paul when he told me:

"It all depends.  Now, if I know the night before it is going to be cold, I either sleep in my long johns to get 'em warm or have them where I can put 'em on right after my shower.  Then, I put on my socks.  But if I get dressed and then get cold, or the temperatures get really cold unexpectedly, I will just pop off my shoes and pants and put on a pair of thermal long johns.  Then, the cuffs of my long underwear are over my socks."

Don agreed, however, that although a union suit would provide more warmth (it seems that when he ski's, he leans in all directions causing his parka, sweater and thermal undershirt to hike up and exposing his bare back) but they were something his grandfather wore and were too old-fashioned for him.

The last voter was Juan, the super in our building (the one who did NOT give us enough heat and caused a rise in the sales of long johns).  He worked in the cold basement and also out on the street in front of the building.  But, like others, Juan felt union suits were for "Grandpappy".  He was hip and modern and showed me the legs of his white, raschel thermal knit, long johns. His white socks were pulled up over the legs.

When I asked Juan about the choice, he gave me another reason for tucking the cuffs of his long johns into his socks.

"I wear long underwear when I'm working here and on weekends when I camp and hike.  Now, if I didn't tuck the cuffs into my socks, ants and bugs could crawl up the legs of my long johns and I'd go crazy."

Although it sounded like something out of a Three Stooges comedy, I could picture how wild and crazy a dude could get with a bunch of ants congregating and crawling around under his long johns.

Thanks to Joe of New York City for contributing this gem!

Reference My Hockey Player Post of January 3, 2017:

This Hockey Player Prefers
Stuffing the Bottom Cuffs of

His Union Suit Into His Socks

I welcome guest postings. Union Suit Fans send me your stories, articles, and photographs along with your first name and hometown:

Added April 26, 2017:

Paul of Menominee, Michigan emailed me this picture of himself wearing his red Union Suit stuffed into his socks and boots. "I guess you would call me a socks stuffer,"  he stated!

He also stuffs the sleeve cuffs of his button-down long underwear into his gloves as well.

This opinion received from Sam of Northern Lower Michigan:

Now the final word on the subject of to tuck or not to tuck:  after your shower, you don your union suit then pull on your socks, now if the temperature is around 10 degrees and you have to get on the John Deere 3039 with no cab and blowing snow for the next couple of hours, you can pull on another union suit over your socks, this keeps the legs of your first suit in place and seeing that your feet will be placed in insulated 15 inch boots, a second pair of socks is unnecessary.  

Because I don’t care for the only union suits that can be found in the average store I do my shopping on the net and scan for union suits occasionally. One day I google reported that there was a blog called "union suit fan" and I just had to check it out; and about a year later I reported in. 

Sam: With winter winds howling, no doubt this farmer is wearing two Union Suits with socks properly tucked over his inside underwear!  I'm glad you checked my blog, pal. On those coldest days I see that you manage to be both tucked and untucked as to your socks and unions suits. I will have to give that a try next winter on those coldest days!

..stay buttoned up to button out winter blasts and keep in touch, will ya? ...Chris

Monday, April 10, 2017


Since the time we men first began wearing Union Suits (in the 1870's) we have had to decide whether to tuck the bottom cuffs of our long underwear into our socks or leave them on the outside.

To help answer this burning
question, I turned to my good  
friend and fellow Union Suit
Fan, Bay Area Bill aka
John Suiter of Union City, CA.

By the way, these photos are of
me, not Bill, wearing white socks with the bottom portion of my "Oatmeal Heather" Union Suit by Champion Duofold showing. As you can see by my Featured Post: Me and My Union Suit, I typically wear my
long underwear outside of my socks!

Bill:  I’ve spent a large portion of my life wearing union suits. So, as to your question, Chris, to tuck long underwear into your socks or not to tuck? Hmmm. I've spent many sleepless nights worrying about that question!  

I’ve been perplexed with the nagging question that probably bothers many union suit fans: Should the ankle cuffs of my long underwear be tucked into my socks, or should the cuffs be placed over the socks for the world to see. For example, when the bottom of your pants ride up whilst sitting, exposing your underwear?

As for me, a "country bumpkin" at heart, I usually don't tuck my union suit into my socks. I like to have them exposed so as to show off my long johns. I adhere to The few. The proud. The union suit wearers.

Sometimes though, I am a tucker. Some of my union suits reach only to the bottom of my calves, especially the older Hanes unions that are my summer garments. With those suits, I wear longer socks and tuck in the cuffs. The good thing about tucking is that the tension which the socks place on the union suit legs makes for a rather comfy feeling as I walk around. There is also a more noticeable frequent sense that I am wearing long underwear.

The most detailed description of how to answer this question actually comes from a buddy of mine (let’s call him John) who likes to talk about his college experiences.

John made sure that a supply of union suits was part of his college wardrobe. As it turned out he had a roommate from British Columbia, a Canuck, who also wore union suits – exclusively Stanfield’s. The roommate was a socks tucker big time. John did not believe in tucking the bottom cuffs of his long johns into his socks. Looking askance at John, the Canuck would tell him that it was positively improper for failing to tuck his underwear into his socks!

John eventually told his roommate that a Canadian didn’t have a monopoly on how guys should wear their socks and union suits!!  John told me how he and that darn Canuck, continuously laughed at each other wandering around the dormatory in their long underwear, wearing their socks the way in which each wanted.

As for me, I am often on the lookout for how people who wear long underwear handle the cuffs of their long handles. If you’re like me, it’s not everywhere you go that you spy those long johns cuffs. But it always wakes up a pleasure point somewhere in my brain when I see socks that are obviously containing some well tucked underwear cuffs or better yet, long john cuffs which are exposed and maybe deliberately riding over the wearer's socks.

So how about you, Chris?  Tucker or not?

ChrisI admit to doing both but must say I am a very limited tucker. I wear union suits to sleep in from Labor Day to Memorial Day and, many times, into the early month of June. If I don't tuck those cuffs into my socks when going to bed, my underwear rides up above my knees (I have skinny legs). I feel strangled. You no doubt have heard the old saying of being "all tangled up in your underwear".  I'm sure that comes from guys' union suits riding up on them.

All other times, I don't tuck my long johns into my socks and never have. How can I show off my unions in public if I don't let them be seen?!  Also, I quite often unbutton a couple of top buttons and roll up the sleeves of my outer shirt when wearing long underwear.  Crazy, I know, but great fun to let the world know I wear Union Suits! My wife told me layering with a bit of red showing is very fashionable on men these days! So why not?

Bay Area Bill in his Union Suit
Not Tucked