A History of Men's Swimsuits: Are You Team Jammers or Team Briefs?

From Wool Suits To Briefs, the History of Male Swimwear… & The Great Debate

"Are you a Boxers or Briefs man?"

For decades, older ladies have been asking this question, hoping to get a blush out of younger men. The swimsuit equivalent? "Jammers or Briefs?"


The History Behind Male Swimsuits:

For most of history, recreational swimming was done in the nude, even by United States Presidents. (I know, right?) Nude swimming was even common for training at men’s schools!

Towards the late 1800s however, laws banning nude swimming emerged and companies began making modest, one-piece knitted wool swimsuits, as wool absorbs less liquid than cotton. 


Vintage Swimsuits

Rumor has it they were overheard saying, "We'd rather be wearing Zone."


In the 1930s, following many organised protests (and many arrests!), the laws were removed and so were the upper parts of bathing suits. This transformation ushered in a new wave of swimsuits. The suits look vaguely like modern day briefs, but they also featured an important and "patented" high waist for support!


Notice the zipper on the righthand swimsuit. That's right, the top of the suit zipped right off! Talk about progressive.


"Patented waist that won't roll down!" We may need to revisit this trend...


The world wars and resulting fabric shortages led to shorter lengths over the years and by the 1980s, with theatres dominated by beefy characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, the television sets dominated by World Wrestling Foundation (now World Wresting Entertainment), everyday people began interesting themselves in bodybuilding and physical fitness. Tight briefs were the obvious next step as swimwear needed to complement the male physique.


We don't really know how to caption this so we're going to leave it to a caption contest in the comments below... Winners will be picked by us and will receive a $10 discount on any item.


The late 1990s brought forward compression shorts called ‘jammers’, which resemble biker shorts as they begin mid-waist and ending above the knee.


Now that looks pretty familiar, huh?


Cut To Modern-Day:

You can see either of the two being sported, but which do you prefer? We, at Zone, have decided to give you both sides.

Those who prefer briefs argue that less fabric, just like less hair helps with hydrodynamics: you cut through the water faster. Less fabric also means your skin breathes easier, they dry faster, your range of motion is not limited, and of course— the tan lines are less evident.

Some claim that more coverage given by the jammers is better— it creates less drag, as the water repellent fabric would be faster than skin. The compression of the jammers also reduces muscle fatigue as well as minimising muscle and skin movement in the water, further lowering skin friction drag.

 In the end, nobody has been able to conclude which style is really more helpful, performance-wise, so it all boils down to how you feel and how you will use it! How much leg movements will you do? Do you need more sun protection? Are you more comfortable in one style than the other? Consider your needs and make your decision based on that.


Do you prefer jammers or briefs? Also, do you have a funny caption for the picture above?! Be sure to sound off in the comments or send us a Tweet at @ZoneSwimwear

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