Why Are They Called Long Johns?

Why Are They Called Long Johns?

The cold weather has brought you a few pairs of women's long johns for your kids. They love the fit, the comfort, and they've come to mix and match the colors to show their eclectic style. They even wear their women’s long johns to bed, along with school and playing outside. The downside is that your kids love their women’s long johns. You have to make them change. No one wants to lose the comfort that a women's long johns gives them. 

Thermals are known popularly as long johns. The name has been around for decades and has been seen as the classic and baggy waffle-style long john’s vintage look from their humble beginnings. But why are they called long johns? How did the name start? 

First of all, long johns are considered warm underwear that has long legs. They are also defined as underclothes, underwear, underclothing, and an undergarment worn against your skin and under your regular clothes. That's pretty self-explanatory, but the long john has laid its claim to history. While its history wasn't steeped in high fashion, it still has had a lasting impact on the world.

History of the Long John

Besides having a long run by keeping everyone warm and toasty in the colder months, these classic long johns go as far back as the 19th century. These traditional garments were originally a one-piece "union suit" of flannel that fit underneath your clothes to keep you warm. While it's not the flannel that reigned supreme during the grunge era of the 90s, it became a staple initially for women. Shortly later, working men realized these were brilliant and decided this fashion trend was for them. 

These weren't the first type of long underwear produced. Their essential nature made them famous when long johns became a popular must-have in the world. The union suits were a one-piece with buttons down the front and a trap door on the rear area. Another was a two-piece garment usually made of wool or flannel. Either one is considered long johns though some may argue the semantics.

The Man Behind the Long John

British history claims that clothing manufacturer John Smedley of Derbyshire, England, is responsible for introducing long johns to the public. They were named specifically after a famous heavyweight boxer; John L. Sullivan fought wearing only his long underwear.

While history has other stories about the beginnings of long johns, they were then and still made to keep people warm and dry during the cold and winter seasons. Whether the name came from a British boxer or a knife fighter in the 17th century, you can rest assured that thermals today are much better at what they do when it comes to keeping your kids warm and dry.

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