2006-06-06

Against bifurcation

As some may be aware, I am of the opinion that bifurcated garments are articles of oppression designed to keep men sweaty and uncomfortable in hot and/or humid weather. There are good reasons indeed why the standard lower garment for men in so many hot and humid climes are not bifurcated. I won’t bother trying to explain why this is so—it should be obvious and, in any case, there is plenty of unbifurcated advocacy around (not all of which I endorse, needless to say). (My title is a statement of position rather than an announcement of argument.)

Since most westerners are not of sufficiently broad mind to recognize these advantages, unbifurcated garments have yet to become a viable option for everyday wear. They are, however, an excellent choice for sleeping and about the house.

My preference in unbifurcated garments are the tube sarongs common throughout southeast asia and Indonesia. (They are blessedly free of the wannabe celtic aspect surrounding much kilt-wearing today.) I was introduced to them by my father, who was a geographer specializing in that part of the world and who picked up the practice while there. While I am partial to the simpler plaid sarongs which are standardly worn by men, there are many more elaborate batik sarongs worn by women and on more formal occasions.

As it happens, I came across an excellent article about these sorts of sarongs in Saudi Aramco World. It’s really quite fascinating and worth a read, whether you are familiar with sarongs or not.

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