Friday, March 16, 2018

Union Suit Fan:  Southern Comfort 

San Antonio John in his
Jockey Drop-Seat Union Suit 
Before initiating my blog some twenty months ago, I assumed that long underwear was purchased and worn by men and boys north of the Mason-Dixon line and points north of and including Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, and Utah. So, it has been surprising to say the least that I have heard from so many Union Suit wearers from the south and southwest part of the country including Florida, Louisiana, Arizona and, most recently, from Texas.

Some time ago Evan, my best friend since junior high school, dropped out of college and moved to the panhandle of Texas to live with his grandparents in the little community of Perryton. His grandpa got him a job as a roustabout in the oil fields. Since then I have known that cold winds sweep across flat and treeless west Texas, an unforgiving region in the winter time. Back in Idaho Evan had worn two-piece thermal underwear and loved to poke fun of me in my union suits! Yet, later on that same boy himself purchased and wore union suits which he eventually favored and always donned for work out on the rigs.

That's right, after the first cold Texas November day, that kid purchased himself two pairs of insulated coveralls, a heavy Carhartt stocking cap, wool socks, and a couple of bright red union suits. He was bound and determined to stay warm out there in the prairie on those oil rigs. By the way it was Evan who introduced me to red long johns on his visit back home to Idaho when we were both about twenty years old. Up until that time I had worn only white and grey unions.

But this posting is not about Evan. I mention him only to illustrate that I do recall guys (at least oil field workers, farmers and ranchers) in the northern part of Texas wore long underwear. However, it was still a bit of surprise when I recently heard from John of San Antonio, a Union Suit Fan, from “deep in the heart of Texas.”

In an email John reported to me that he has been wearing union suits since he was a little boy growing up in south Texas. Like several of us his dad had always bought him two-piece thermal long johns. John pulled these on to wear while hunting and running around ranch land with his dad.

He told me that while trudging along on hunting trips as a twelve year old, he would complain to his dad about how uncomfortable his underwear was. “The elastic waistband bothered me and the bottoms would eventually start creeping down making it uncomfortable for any extended period of time. Man was I surprised when dad came home one day with a supply of Sears union suits for me. I started laughing and told him there was 'no way I was wearing old man underwear!'
His only comment to me was, 'Oh you will wear them alright.'

Of course I knew what that really meant. I started wearing those union suits when hunting and working with him outside and discovered, wow, they were really comfortable. Since that time I have only worn the one-piece style.

I live in San Antonio, Texas, and if you know anything about Texas weather, we can get all four seasons in one day.  Temperature swings of 30 degrees or more are not unusual.”

John went on to say, “We are so use to our warm / hot weather here that anytime the temps drop below 70F it’s time to pull on our long handles. I think my initial resistance to union suits was the early age they were bought for me. They were always comical in the movies and on TV. I’m happy that my dad required me to wear them because I discovered how comfortable and practical they are.

I grew up with cowboys since we had a ranch in north San Antonio. So I think I wore the correct underwear. I liked the picture of you in your boots and hat. It reminds me of when I was that age. (See USF posting, “Me and My Union Suit,” dated December 15, 2016.) Unbelievable, I starting out resisting wearing union suits and was embarrassed if anyone knew I had one on."

So there you have it. Southern Comfort. Not embarrassed anymore.

What ?! Guys Down South 
Wear Union Suits ?! 

Yes, Sir! Temperatures in the south turn down right chilly. 
So, guys there demand the same comfort and warmth in their long underwear as we boys up north. 
Can you blame them? Union Suits fit the bill. And, if they can have a little fun along the way, so much the better!

Thanks, John. Stay warm down there and welcome to our fraternity.

Added March 26, 2018:

Another Union Suit Selfie Just Received 



  1. Trevor from Shamrock,Texas admonishes me via email: "Chris, of course, us Texans wear Union Suits. Unions are so practical, why, I bet they were invented here!"

    Hey Trevor, Utica NY might argue that last point, but I would say that Texans made union suits famous. Just look at all the movies of Texas Cowboys who were caught in their one-piece underwear! ...Chris

  2. Beth of Orange, Texas emailed to say that she noticed San Antonio Johns's wedding band. "and a few other things, too bad," she lamented.

  3. I think Trevor may be right. More research is needed. ;-)

  4. I live in North Dakota and wear union suits. Heavy weight in winter and lighter weight one rest of year. They are the best for those cold or chilly days! My son lives in Texas and he say the same about being cold when it gets below 70 degrees.

  5. mj johns: good to hear from a fellow union suit wearer. So, does that kid of yours wear union suits down there in the lone star state like San Antonio John? Drop me an email sometime... Chris

  6. He lives in Corpus Christi.
    No he doesn’t wear union suits. He is one of those who think they are for old people. He would rather be cold I guess. Not me!
    What is your e-mail? Would like to visit with another unionsuit wearer!
    Mine is:

  7. mj johns: You and any other readers of this blog can reach me at