I see London, I see France
The Underwear Guide
Underwear is all too often the forgotten sibling of the wardrobe family. Relegated to the backs of dark dresser drawers and thoughtlessly donned every morning, men’s underwear suffers neglect by our focus on exterior style. But we’re not solely to blame. The choices out there are dizzying, which is one of the reasons why so many men stick with the underwear they grew up with.
On the bright side, the sheer number of choices in style and material means that you might just find your perfect pair if you take the time to break out of your comfort zone. If you do, you’ll enter a new world where fine cotton, silk, merino wool and high-performance synthetics greet you in the morning and give your boys the kind of home they deserve. Here are our choices of the best underwear out there today in just about every permutation possible — with the exception of the thong and what some refer to as the “junk sling.” Read on and choose wisely.
White Supremacy Not Applicable
Briefs are typically viewed as the most unadventurous skivvies in the whole lot, but that’s largely because they were Dad’s go to when we were young. Heck, you know he still wears ’em, but he’s likely unaware of how far they’ve come. Of course, briefs might be considered the most practical of undies due to their supportive fit, non-creeping tendencies, breathable cotton fabric and no-nonsense waistband. And there’s nothing inherently wrong about comfy, white cotton — other than the fact that they are about as sexy as fanny packs, sweater vests and pleated pants. But there’s more than just white “full cut” briefs out there. A rainbow of colors and patterns push things out of the boring zone and into a bit of adventure (just avoid animal prints, please). Mid-rise and low-rise briefs offer a bit less support but still manage to effectively hold everything in place extremely well. Plus, the onset of odor-fighting merino wool, cooling bamboo fibers and breathable synthetics has diversified the game even more.
The Maxisms Brief by Related Garments $28
Superfine Cotton Briefs by Sunspel $50
Two-Pack Stretch-Cotton Briefs by Dolce & Gabbana $55 (2-pack)
More Inches Is Manlier
It was a bright moment for John Varvatos, mid-90s, when he invented the boxer brief (at the time, he was head of menswear design at Calvin Klein). This brilliant melding of boxer shorts and traditional briefs boasts the support of briefs while providing additional length in the leg for more coverage. The benefit, at least aesthetically, is a significant drop in the dork factor that regular briefs tend to convey. If you’re a fit bloke, these are the most flattering underpants you can wear.
Boxer Brief by Me Undies $20
Original Series 6-inch Boxerjock by Under Armour $20
Boxer Short by Schiesser Karl-Heinz $45
Keeping Junk in a Leaner Profile
Trunk briefs are the “hot pants” version of briefs, toeing the line between traditional briefs and boxer briefs. Longer than the former and shorter than the latter, they essentially have the same cut as Sean Connery’s swim trunks in Goldfinger, hence the name. Again, because they’re a bit longer than the traditional brief, they kick old-fashioned right in the derriere with a more modern, more buff look that’s anything but tighty whitey. Definitely geared more for the athletically focused man, they’re supportive without feeling restrictive in the upper leg.
Stretch Cotton Trunks by Emporia Armani $26
Liquid Stretch Micro Low-Rise Trunk by Calvin Klein $30
Lock ‘Em Down Trunk by Lululemon $32
The Air Down There
If your boys prefer to roam free (within reason, of course), then boxer shorts might be the right fit for you. Originally made to provide the same freedom of movement as shorts worn by boxers, boxer shorts caught on not just for their airy fit but also for style points; they were collegiate and/or gentlemanly, a fine departure from kiddie-style briefs. Typically made of materials like cotton and silk, the only restrictive part of boxers is the elastic waistband — the rest of the boxers are created to fit loosely. Highly recommended to enhance fertility by giving your package fairly unfettered digs, they might just be the only skivvies that come with a medical recommendation.
Navy-Striped Boxers by J.Crew $19
Traditional Fit End-on-End Boxers by Brooks Brothers $25
Gingham Cotton Boxer Shorts by Derek Rose $50
Trapdoor Not Included
These have come a long way since the days of gold prospectors’ union suits (complete with the button-release backdoor) — and thank God for that. Long underwear, or long johns, are no longer just the baggy cotton waffle-knit numbers from your childhood that used to trap sweat and leave you clammy and unfulfilled. In fact, the new breed of long underwear is geared for warmth and athletic endeavors, with a host of new fabrics that pull them from the dark days of ugly necessity and into the realm of high-performance base layers that can protect you from the harshest climates.