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"
up back in the 50's there were union suits in the inventory of
clothing stores that served small towns and farming communities. I
always shunned union suits as being too ridiculous looking when I was
a youngster. But when I got into high school and was changing into
gym clothes, I saw a few of the boys from the nearby farms wearing
union suits without shame. They laughed at themselves and ribbed each
other over their "hillbilly" long johns. But there also
seemed to be an element of pride in wearing "country boy"
grew up in Loudoun County in northern Virginia on a farm between
Purcellville and Lincoln. My Dad wore two piece thermal underwear but
no one I knew wore union suits. I'd only seen men in union suits on
TV or in the movies and it was always associated with comical
humiliation. Like John Payne in "Restless Gun" when masked
men held him up and made him strip down to his union suit. He had to
walk into town in his one-piece long johns while the townsfolk
laughed. But I saw union suits at the clothing store in Purcellville
and, of course, there were the Sears catalog ads. Any type of long
underwear seemed an embarrassment to me when I was a kid. So I
avoided the thermal two piece type that my father wore, not to
mention union suits. Being shy, I was afraid of looking stupid and
having people laugh at me.
I went to college I got my first union suit and really liked the way
it felt when I was outside on a cold day. But I never wore union
suits as my standard winter underwear until I took a job at a lumber
and mill works for a while in the mid 70's. From November to early
March most of the workers wore some sort of long underwear, and for a
few of us, union suits were the long johns of choice. I experienced a
bit of that same feeling the farm boys in high school felt. Sure, I
looked kind of comical when I got home from work and stripped off my
layers down to my union suit. But I felt a bit of pride that I was
wearing the sort of long johns that generations of working men wore
as part of their rural identity.
across your blog while shopping for new union suits (I keep ripping
them at the elbows). I now live in Alexandria, Virginia. Retirement
won't be too far off and I can probably get back to wearing union
suits all winter long. Today, as a white collar professional, I don't
wear union suits every day as I did then. But winter weekends still
provide me with an opportunity to don my favorite long underwear. I
admit I enjoy feeling part of that fraternity.
I said, I didn't encounter anyone wearing a union suit in real
high school gym class. And the boys that wore them were looked up to,
popular athletes, and didn't suffer any embarrassment by wearing
union suits. In fact, it was a spur to good-natured kidding. I guess
that was when I changed my mind about it. I think a psychiatrist
would say I began to associate a union suit with a certain type of
masculinity and male bonding. I wanted to wear a union suit myself
but I'd made such a big deal with my Mom and Dad about refusing
to wear long underwear,
I couldn't bring myself to buy a union suit until I got to college.
I was a college freshman at William and Mary, I was in a play
where I wore a union suit on stage in front of an audience (there
is even a picture of me in it in the Year Book!).
played an innocent rube from Toano, a tiny village about 11 miles
from Williamsburg, Virginia. I had the lead part. In the show (an
original satirical musical about William and Mary), I was a kid from
a small hick town who comes to the "big city" of Williamsburg and gets
on the tour bus. He gets off at Stop 13: The College of William and
Mary (hence the title). The boy wanders into the Wren Building during
the dedication of a new computer in the shape of the Wren Building.
His curiosity leads him to fall into the computer which falls
in love with him. This computer (with a female identity) makes him a
senior with a major in Home Economics and tries to advance the
academic career of the boy that she loves.
scene in my union suit is where I find my dorm room. I take off my
clothes to climb into my bed and meet my room mates: a hippie and a
jock. When the hippie character sings his song, I end up doing the
"Charleston" in my union suit. As I said, after that I was
totally inoculated from embarrassment about wearing union suits! I
totally made a spectacle of myself in my one-piece long underwear but
in a show as a comedic character. I could finally find my way to be
comfortable as a union suit wearing guy! Since I had the lead, my
parents came down to see the show. So, even they saw me in a union
the show, I fall for a girl. But I discover she is only interested in
me so she can steal my term papers on Home Economics to pass on the
her Jock boyfriend so he can pass the course and continue to play
football. In bitterness I go back to the computer, which I had broken
up with. In the end, I become a "computer" myself and take
a job as a vice president of Colonial Williamsburg, Inc. I begin a
career as an automaton executive.
this show was not only the theatrical highlight of my college career
but also the gateway to finally start wearing union suits without
having to hide that it was my long underwear. I took advantage of
this public "outing" as a union suit wearer to adopt
wearing union suits in my off-stage life.
pretty much inoculated me from feeling embarrassed about wearing a
union suit. I bought a couple of union suits for myself, white ones.
Even in the 1970's it was easy to find stores
that stocked union suits. Although the Duofold brand began to gain
some popularity in trendy men's stores, I preferred the basic
old-fashioned type you found in work wear stores. When I briefly went
off the career track with a job at the Barber and Ross Lumber and
Mill Works in Leesburg, VA, I stocked up on white union suits and
wore them every day. That was when union suits really became
me, not just something I put on occasionally.
knew I wasn't the only worker to wear union suits in the winter
because when an unseasonably warm day came along, guys would take off
their coats and shirts. I could tell who had on a thermal shirt and
who had on the one-piece underwear. Union suits may have been the
minority choice but I was definitely not alone in my long underwear
proclivities. Although I was glad to go back to white collar work
when I left, I did miss wearing union suits every day.
I said, though, it was only in my job at Barber and Ross that I felt
I'd really become a day after day union suit wearing guy. So now, I
consider union suits a part of my identity. I guess you too, Chris, feel
pretty much the same.
Union Suit Fan, Ron
I can't thank you enough for sharing your early life and thespian
experience. I was in a couple of plays in high school but not
college. However, your play at William and Mary reminded me of my
first semester at Boise State University. When I walked into my empty
dorm room the first day, incense was burning on one of the study
desks, psychedelic posters were hanging from the walls, and a pair of
ripped blue jeans were thrown over a chair. Soon enough, I met Glen,
a hippie with a beard and shoulder length hair. He even drove a
Volkswagen bus! I'm not kidding.
I undressed for bed that first night though, I was not wearing a
union suit but, rather, boxer shorts and a t-shirt. But within three
weeks or so the weather had turned cooler and I began wearing union
suits, sleeping in them at night. On winter nights, I remember, Glen wore thermal drawers and a t-shirt to bed.
turned out to be a great guy, very introspective and a Beatles fan.
The second semester he transferred to a different room with another
“hippie.” He dropped out of college the following spring and I
never saw or heard from him again. I assume he drove that VW bus down to San
Closed Crotch Union Suits for Union Suit Fans by Cory of Waterford, Maine, Guest Contributor
"Chris, I wonder how many modern day Union Suit wearers know how important the advent of "Closed Crotch" Union Suits was. Before this development, union suits were not all that practical or comfortable. Penman's Canadian Underwear Company realized early on the importance of advertising to get the word out for their "modern" underwear. In January, 1911 they even printed a pamphlet for distribution touting their union suits, "The New Idea in Comfort."
"In theory the union suit has always been the ideal garment."
A 99 year old newspaper advertisement in the November 18, 1920 edition of the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger featured "Harvard Mills" closed crotch underwear that promised men their Union Suits would "fit you to a T... tailored and cut by hand to fit." Why it "Fits as if your tailor made it." The manufacturer was Winship, Boit, & Co. of Wakefield, Mass makers of "high grade underwear."
F. Kohlbeck & Sons, makers of White Cat Union Suits also wanted the world to know that they sold "closed crotch" union suits too! "No more discomfort; no seam or opening through the crotch...closed like a pair of drawers."
Thanks, Cory. That which we take for granted one hundred years later wasn't always true. These ads sold millions of unions suits in the early to mid 1900's. Who wouldn't want one.... Chris
October CoffeeFest This month means jumping out of bed on a cool, crisp morning in your union suit and shuffling out to the kitchen to make yourself that first cup of joe... ahhhh!
Thanks to Rich of Buffalo, New York who inspired CoffeeFest. Rich enjoys quiet cool mornings, savoring a cup of coffee in his union suit, as much as I do. And a special thank you to all the guys who are pictured above with me. True Union Suit Fans! Well time to get me another cup. Go get you some more coffee and have a great day! I plan to.
Union Suit Fan - Miscellaneous Halloween is just around the corner! Why not wear your union suit and go as a moonshine drinkin' cowboy. You just might pick up a friend:
Clay from Saranac Lake, NY emailed, "Chris, some time back you featured scenes from the play, Almost Maine, whereby two of the characters stripped down to their long red underwear. Here are some more pics from that wonderfull and thought-provoking play"
If you have been viewing this blog for awhile, you know then that Tom Moss checks in every couple of years reporting to us on the wagers he has made with his buddy, RC. Well, the boys have made another wager that Tom promises to be a winner (at least for him). RC, an avid Denver Broncos fan, bet Tom back in August that his team would win at least ten games this season, a real turn-around from the past couple of years...
...But poor RC, Denver has lost 4 games already and looks to lose again this upcoming Sunday to the Chargers. The erstwhile Broncos have not won a single football game so far. Look to this blog for Tom and RC's latest wager account including photos probably about mid-November. You can bet that one of them will appear in public in his Union Suit. See Tom's last wager posting dated February 1, 2018 in this blog. Then, RC lost their bet and was required to skateboard at the local park stripped to his union suit!
In just a few weeks look for more great photos of guys wearing one-piece long underwear in the "Great Outdoors" like this father and son. Sam of northern lower Michigan saw my posting a couple of weeks ago featuring Standard Knitting Mills' Healthknit Union Suits. Coincidentally, he had just purchased a couple of them. Here he is relaxing while enjoying a good book:
And finally, you have just a few more days to join me and a bunch of others enjoying morning coffee in our favorite, warm and comfortable underwear. Fall is here so get your photo(s) in pronto so you're not left out in the cold: