I think I might be obsessed with underwear - the 18th century variety anyway. I guess it's a hazard of the historical romance trade. Keep in mind, when I say "underwear" I'm referring to those garments worn to cover one's behind - what we might call briefs or panties today.
Lately, I've been thinking about men's underwear. Not surprising, since in the late 18th century time period, women didn't wear underwear of this sort, as it was considered unhealthy. Women, it seemed, needed to "air out."
Men, on the other hand, didn't have such issues. Although, I suspect that with the time period's lax attitudes toward hygiene, a few of them might be well-advised to give their "drawers" a good washing. But even so, my research leads me to conclude that even for men, underwear was considered optional.
I'm erring on the side of having my heroes wear drawers. Not only is there less of an "ewww" factor, it's a convenient way to add texture to a love scene. For most encounters, the act of removing one's clothing (or that of one's lover) would naturally be part of the give and take leading up to the act. The way it happens can tell a reader a great deal about the characters' attitudes, sensibilities, mood and even their feelings toward each other.
My friend and fellow author, Maddy Barone, found a photo of a pair of men's linen drawers from the late 18th century on the Victoria and Albert museum website. This particular pair was made in France sometime between 1775 and 1800, so it's logical to conclude that one of my wealthy American characters might wear such a pair. (The French were notorious for trading with the Americans despite their treaty with England.) Still, I would like to uncover an image of something more rustic that one of my more average characters might wear. Then again, perhaps it was the everyday 18th century man who considered underwear to be optional.
The research (obsession) continues...