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You may know the union suit better as “the onesie with the flap in the back,” but this cozy undergarment has been around for decades. Made famous by cartoons featuring guys in union suits with faulty back flaps, the first union suit was invented in the mid-1800s. Originally made for women to wear as a more practical alternative to the gaudy Victorian Garb of the time, the garment soon became a men’s underwear favorite. Men began donning union suits under their everyday clothes in the winter for extra insulation against the cold. They were easy to get on and off, and made using the restroom while ice fishing real easy [we imagine]. The lack of separation between top and bottom parts keeps the body heat in and the cold external air out, which has long been a plus for men in cold weather regions.
With the exception of a few new fabrics and a touch of modern-day technology, today’s union suit differs very little from those of yore. Essentially, union suits are a one-piece garment made from flannel or other warm fabrics; they generally feature a detachable flap in the back still, too. While the main function of the union suit is still to provide an extra layer of warmth, these would make some pretty rockin’ pajamas too–especially in the cold winter months.
Check out our list of the 7 union suits perfect for the modern man.
7. Duofold Mid-weight Union Suit, $62
This heavy duty union suit from Duofold is made from two-layer fabric–merino wool on the outside for warmth and insulation and cotton on the inside to stay soft and comfortable against your skin. It’s great for hardcore days in the cold, from construction work to all-day skiing. It only comes in classic red, so prepare to be mistaken for an elf should you creep out wearing nothing but your union suit.
6. Hanes Thermal Union Suit, $30-$32
This basic union suit from Hanes comes in two colors–classic red and camo, perfect for those days when you’re hiding in the bushes wearing nothing but a union suit. Made from a cotton and polyester blend, this union suit provides a moderate amount of insulation, perfect for a variety of winter activities.
5. Jockey Stretch Waffle Men’s Union Suit, $58
This union suit from Jockey brings in another winter favorite–comfy waffle knit fabric that provides excellent insulation and will remind you of playing in the snow as a child. It’s ideal for sporting under your clothes for short jaunts in the cold, and it makes a great set of pajamas. Another bonus here is the extra wide rear flap opening, designed to make bathroom breaks easier and faster.
4. NRS WaveLite Union Suit with Polartec, $109.95
With a shiny, stretch, and sleek exterior, this union suit is like a wetsuit for the cold. It’s ultra-form fitting for a non-bulky fit and made from 4-way stretch fabric that allows for a full range of movement. Polartec fleece lining provides impeccable insulation and moisture wicking for long lasting comfort and hygiene. It’s the ultimate for winter sports, when you plan on getting down and dirty in the snow.
3. J. Crew Jersey Union Suit, $59.50
“You may laugh, but you’ll love it.” Their words, not ours, but we agree. This stylish union suit is super comfy, made from soft cotton jersey that feels like your favorite sweatshirt, and features contrast trim around the arms, legs and neck. By far the most stylish union suit we’ve seen.
2. Carhartt Midweight Cotton Union Suit, $42
From the first and last name in construction attire, this Carhartt union suit is made from soft cotton fabric and features a simple vertical hatch in the back. The heavy duty design ensures this union suit will last winter after winter.
1. L.L. Bean Two-Layer Union Suit, $59
Packing two layers of fabric for warmth and comfort, this heavy duty union suit is built to withstand the elements. On the outside, Wool Plus keeps warmth in and cold out, while the inside cotton layer keeps you dry and feels soft against your skin. Available in both red and grey, this L.L. Bean union suit is sure to keep you warm when the winter weather is at its worst.
Photo Credit: Sears, Jockey, Hanes