Long Underwear

Our friends on the west coast seem to have been completely flummoxed by all the winter they’ve been getting recently and don’t know how to cope.

One solution, as Ottawa bloggers have pointed out, is long underwear. I thought it might be worthwhile exploring this winter fashion option.

 I’ve never owned long underwear (aka long-johns not to be confused with the donuts of the same name), but I did once know a guy who pretty much lived in his plain white thermal adult onsie. He wore it under everything for 8-10 months of the year, used it as work-out gear, slept in it, lounged around the house in it … I think he took it off to shower, but that’s about it. It was gruesome.

Anyway, I understand long underwear comes in a dazzling variety of colours, styles and fabrics these days – not just the regulation white cotton-poly, box-weave one or two piece garment.  

You can get long underwear in any colour or pattern. It comes in flannel, wool, polypropylene, silk, silkweight moisture wicking polyester,  Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, and even Holofibre, which is a totally freaky, futuristic-sounding textile that not only keeps you warm, but apparantly also boasts of being able to  increase oxygen levels, build strength and accelerate muscle recovery.

As you can see by the photos, the new, improved long-johns can be kind of sexy in their own, non-naked way.





The problem I have with long underwear is that I would feel trapped in my clothes. I like my clothes to be as uncomplicated as possible. I prefer shoes that slide off rather than shoes I have to untie. I prefer cardigans instead of sweaters for extra warmth.  And I prefer pants instead of the skirt/dress/stocking/foundation garment infrastructure.

So, the thought of wearing an entire outfit under my regular clothes is rather frightening. What happens when I go indoors? I’ll start to overheat and freak out. What if I have to pee? If I’m wearing long-johns, how long would it take to peel my way down to pee-friendliness?

Not to mention, I don’t know how I would even fit a whole other outfit under my regular clothes. My clothes are pretty snug and I couldn’t cope with added bulk no matter how body hugging it appears to be.

If it’s really cold out and you need some extra warmth, why not wear something OVER your regular pants? I have a snappy pair of cold/water/wind resistant running pants that I wear over pants when I have to be outside for a while. They’re very warm, thin and lightweight (not like bulky snowpants) and have articulate knees so you can actually move in them.

Best of all they pop off in a jiffy! 

(For when I  have to be indoors between outdoor time).

30 responses to “Long Underwear

  1. Ha, I just finish a post about wearing layers. I wear those type of pants when I am out delivering papers. I get very hot in apartment buildings and eventually layer off down to my pj’s. (people in my building must be used to seeing me deliver the papers in my very casual wear!)

  2. i wore my purple longjohns alllll day on sunday. just long johns. no pants to hide them; not sexy ones either. very practical. i was a little ashamed of myself that night when it came time to taking them off.

  3. Somebody has *finally* articulated what I’ve always thought — how do you fit a second pair of clothing *under* a pair of jeans that fit you perfectly? My friend Jennie’s always got tights or longjohns or some fool thing on under her clothes, and you can’t even tell. But I’d be strangulated.

  4. i wear long johns. and let me tell you. they are my dads from like the early 70s. they are the ugliest bulkiest things ever. i am almost tempted to take pics in them for the laugh factor.

    i can only wear them under bigger work pants of which i only have one pair cause they dont fit under anything else.

    raspy saw them and laughed his fool head off. there is no sexy about these suckers.

    BUT. i am thinking about investing in some new thin ones. especially if this strike is going to continue for the next year and a half as i am predicting.

  5. Violetsky – Oh boy. I can’t wait to see what your perspective is on this because you’re a perfect example of someone who needs warm clothing that is easy to change into indoor clothing and back again. Do you mean you wear the running pants?

    Meanie – Why were you ashamed? Because you wore them all day or because you had to take them off? Purple long-johns don’t sound all that unsexy, by the way. I reckon much of it depends on who’s in them, right?

    Ellie – Thank you! I can barely make it through a day of being squeezed into a bra. Long johns under my clothes would be like a full body bra. Gahhhh.

  6. I have a great pair of long underwear that I bought at Mark’s & Spencers many years ago – nice and thin and cozy. Of course, when I get to where I am going (usually it was work) I will take them off which does require a trip to the bathroom but with a half hour walk in sometimes -30 weather I needed the long underwear AND the ski pants. I even have long underwear that goes under a dress (it’s like a wool slip) – also from M&S. I guess those Brits are into keeping warm too.

  7. If you got the thin silk ones in two pieces, I bet you wouldn’t even notice them under your clothes. They’d be just like your regular underwear only longer. If you wear regular underwear, just substitute the silk long johns. Of course, if you aren’t cold much, then why bother.

  8. Don’t be scared! I wear long underwear all the time and I am a person who is always warm. I wear ones like that pretty lady7 in the cream. They keep my butt warm in the freezing wind.

    On NYE I wore them under my dark gray tights and I do not regret it.

    Somehow the warmth against the bitter cold makes up for being warmer inside.

    I could take them off when I get to work, but then I would just have to out them back on when I need to go outside! I just keep a little fan at my desk and hope for the best. Plus, I sit by a drafty window, do you have drafty windows to utilize?

  9. Jobthingy – Well the strike will be over by the end of the week or it will go on forever. We all need to invest in lots of warm walking clothes and maybe Segues so we can get around. On the bright side, aren’t we getting a hell of a lot of exercise these days? Just think how fit and trim we’ll be in a few months.

    Kitty – I actually included that photo especially for you and I’ll be damned if I can find it back. I’ll keep looking and let you know.

    Melanie – Longjohns AND ski pants? Holy jumpin. Where do you live now that’s so damned cold? And thanks for visiting. I’ve just popped over to your blog and it’s definitely going into my blogroll. I’m always looking for new books to read. This is an awesome idea for a blog!

    Julia – No, I’d notice them. I notice my underwear, too. And I’m only cold if I’m outside in under minus 15 for more than 30 minutes, So mostly I’m okay. I’m not a big fan of layers at the best of times. But I have heard people rave over the silk long-johns.

    Missy – Like I said to Julia, I don’t get cold that often. I’d have to be outside in really cold weather for a long time and not moving to get really cold. I have a fan at my desk too. I always try to position myself near a drafty or open window. I could not stand wearing double layers of clothing inside.

  10. I can’t believe I have gone through 38 years of life and never knew there was a donut named “long underwear.” I suddenly have a huge craving for deep fried sugar.

    As for the undies themselves — I think your idea is the one to run with. When I’ll be spending time outside, I do the same — I wear double-layered splash pants over my regular clothes. My younger sister has some kick-ass fleece pants my mother made for her that velcro down the side for quick removal…I covet them.

    And a donut, too.

  11. Yeah, actually you are on the right track. Stanfields were not made for city slickers.

    I have the fleece lined running pants. Yogawear underneath is good too. There is the problem of fleece on flannel, takes awhile to separate the layers.
    A long jacket that covers the hips is important.
    Actually, I find my legs don’t get nearly as cold as my feet, and warm (thermal) socks over dress hose would be just as warming and much easier to remove and put back on for the office.

  12. I wore some long underwear just the other day underneath the rest of my clothes when we trekked out to the zoo on a rather chilly day.

    Though mostly when I think of long underwear I remember this really cute guy in my residence in third year university who used to lounge about in full-length red long underwear. He made long underwear look way better than it normally would under any other circumstances.

    Ahhh…good times.

  13. Lynn – Longjohns are the king of donuts. And I would definitely “borrow” your sister’s stripper fleece pants some time

    Violetsky – I’m sure there are all sorts of readers out there who can’t identify with this problem at all. I can see Geewits, down in Texas, just scratching her head over the whole thing, for instance. Perhaps the key here is just to move somewhere less cold??

    Kitty – I’m trying dammit. I did come across a site that sells “previously worn” men’s briefs, boxers, bikinis, and all manner of other underpants. I don’t understand why the owner’s photo and profession are listed… there seem to be a disproportionate amount of cowboys selling their used undies(she says naively)

    Mary Lynn – Hey, did you go to my university? Maybe we know the same longjohn obsessed guy?

  14. But, I’ve just gotten this winter clothing thing figured out! And now that we don’t have to look like Michelen Man or a polar bear to stay warm … wait, never mind. Somewhere warmer sounds perfect.

  15. It’s good to know I’m not the only person that feels restrained by layered clothes. Maybe in a past life we were both in straitjackets.

  16. Even I have long johns! I have been so very happy to have them this winter! (To be truthful, I bought them for a trip to Québec last February. I was so afraid I would die from the cold there, but those long johns turned out to do the trick perfectly. Also I wore snow pants over top my jeans.) Mine are polypropylene and are really quite thin, and although it feels weird at first to have them under a pair of fitted jeans, I soon forget about them and just bask in the warmth. And mine are pretty peelable for pee breaks. I rarely wear the matching top, though, because it has long sleeves. I find that a tank top underneath my sweater works better for me. Still – I’d rather be in Cuba that wearing long johns. Florida, Mexico, or Hawaii would also do.

  17. Layers is definitely the way to go… I can see where a one-piece item would be challenging in the pee department, but the layers I wear are two pieces and non-restricting. They are made of some kind of super-thin, high-tech, voodoo material.

    I don’t find them to be strangulating, but then again, one person’s straight-jacket is another person’s hug. :p

  18. peeing isn’t something i ever mess around with, and i don’t like extra clothes either, too confining i guess. snaps or velcro are the way to go i think.

  19. this is coming from a geography which has to live with
    2 degree in winter and 45 degree in summer.

    i was thinking of a petition 2 get long underwear
    promoted 2 other clothes category. So that when the
    newspaper guy knocks the door don’t have to run to
    wear a skirt over the perfectly fine ‘pants’.

  20. Geewits – That’s exactly how I feel. Sometimes at the end of the day I can barely make it through the door before tearing off all my clothes and slipping on the big, loose stuff.

    Pinklea – I think after a lot of discussion on this post, this is the ultimate answer – running away to somewhere warm. To hell with the longjohns and the snowpants. For the money we spend on winter gear, we could just move south for 6 months.

    CP – Very true. I often feel strangulated by hugs, too. It has to be just the right person with the right hug and for a specified amount of time.

    Cedar – You are soooooo retarded. But I’m laughing out loud for the first time this morning, so thanks.

    DP – Hurrah for Velcro! But then it gets all that lint in it and become unreliable. Essentially what you’re saying is that we should all be wearing stripper clothes that can just be ripped off in one dazzling move, right?

    Lost – Ya, we’ve got a similar geography. I see no reason at all why you can’t answer the door to the paper boy in your long johns. Now, if Antonio Banderas comes knocking you might want to slip those thermals right off.

  21. My student digs were so cold I bought longjohns, and have worn them under my jeans on all cold days since. They are cosy to sleep in, and I am happy to lounge around without my pants on indoors which some of my fellow undergrads also do. I do wear regular underpants under, them, so i can get 2 or 3 days wear before washing. Just a couple of questions – do other guys find they do slip down during prolonged use, even if the waistband starts out tight, and should i tuck them into my socks? I should just add that I do not wear white longjohns when i am not wearing pants over them, as that did cause a few comments. Dark blue, grey or black are best.Haven’t seen red ones in UK – they would just be awesome.