Boxers, briefs or what?
August 19, 2008 8:49 AM   Subscribe

What sort of men's underwear is socially acceptable (or perhaps even fashionable) for people in their 20s? What's to avoid? Bonus points if it can be had cheaply.

I know little knowledge of underwear fashion trends, and don't see enough half-naked men to know if I'm making a fashion faux pas.

Anonymous because I'd find it awkward for people to know I care about this.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (59 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Boxer briefs. In solid, dark colors.
posted by availablelight at 8:54 AM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

I second the boxer briefs.
posted by at 8:55 AM on August 19, 2008

Yes, boxer briefs.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:56 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Socially acceptable:

Anything that extends less than 4 inches from waist to the bottom at any point (except the crotch area).
posted by SirStan at 8:56 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing boxer briefs, preferably dark.

Unsexy/uncool: anything white, anything that doesn't have legs.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:58 AM on August 19, 2008

Hehe. This question makes me giggle, because I'm a bit of a men's underwear connoisseur. Personally, I think both boxers and boxer briefs are perfectly fine from a fashion perspective, as long as they fit you well, are kept neat and clean, and are in some sort of darker color, grey, or inoffensive pattern. White is pretty much out, unless they're for exercising. The absolutely biggest underwear faux pas I've seen was someone wearing greyish, worn out white briefs. Don't be that guy. Although, I'm sure you'll never be that guy since you care enough to ask the question.
posted by booknerd at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2008

I switched to boxer briefs myself after one of those really weird not-drunk-but-very-buzzed college conversations in which men endorsed them for comfort, and women immediately added that they highlight the buttocks appealingly. Can be had very cheaply.

Full boxers are also plenty socially acceptable and are cheap too, but aren't quite as fashionable and I, at least, find them less comfy.

Of the Big Three, briefs are the only "no, don't!" item.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2008

If you're keeping your pants on, then no one knows what you're wearing. Seriously. But since you ask, I'll tell you what I've noticed.

Keep in mind that I'm a college senior, so there's a possible age bracket difference to consider. But also, since there's community laundry I get a chance to see a lot of other people's underwear without things being weird/orgiastic.

Boxers seem to be the way to go. They don't squeeze anything down there, which is great. Style doesn't seem to matter as much. I've seen expensive, cheap, detailed, plain, everything.

Plus, in a pinch you can walk down the hall in your boxers and no one will care, or at least will care less than if you're going around in tighty whiteys. Especially if you're in an area where those ugly plaid shorts are popular.

Boxer briefs seem to be next. You get less room, but since they're tighter on your leg there's also less/no chance of someone looking up your shorts.

Beyond myself and my roommate (both straight up boxer wearers), I can't tell you who is wearing what.
posted by theichibun at 9:00 AM on August 19, 2008

it depends on your pants situation:
  • if you're wearing skinny jeans or tighter pants in general then it's easier to wear boxer briefs or briefs to avoid bunching.
  • if you're wearing low-rise pants, then you want low-cut underpants.
  • If you're going to be rolling in just underpants for whatever reason, make them interesting.
  • I have no idea why you would wear a thong.
I find it's important to wear what's comfortable. If your junk is not having a good day, the rest of you won't, either.
posted by heeeraldo at 9:05 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I like trunks. They fit snugly like broxer-briefs, but have slightly shorter legs. The only requirement in my book is that there’s not a seam going up the rear midline. H&M and Gap are what I wear most often.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 9:06 AM on August 19, 2008

Eddie Bauer knit boxer briefs in black = the win, baby.

So says my wife...
posted by Irontom at 9:10 AM on August 19, 2008

I actually had a pretty extensive conversation about this one night, with a group of male and female twenty-somethings. Conclusions:
  1. No one likes whitey-tighties.
  2. The women universally agreed that boxer-briefs are the most attractive on guys. (Boxers were considered neutral.)

posted by greenie2600 at 9:16 AM on August 19, 2008

Boxers, please. After seeing my dad walk around in the house wearing only worn out tighty-whities when I was little, any sight of those things on anyone makes me cringe. And preferably dark colors.
posted by curagea at 9:19 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

boxer briefs. alternately, if you are more adventurous when it comes to fashion, american apparel makes briefs and boxer briefs in ridiculous bright colors. the caveat to this is that if you have enough self confidence (and a nice enough ass) they are awesome. if not, you look ridiculous.

do not ever wear a thong.
posted by dizziest at 9:41 AM on August 19, 2008

I think the CK "steel" range is very nice; very comfortable and looks pretty sharp. Not the cheapest though. Still, if you've got a nice date with your partner, you know you look good when the trousers come off.
posted by modernnomad at 9:50 AM on August 19, 2008

boxer briefs, in fun colors (but not patterns). i'm thinking a bright baby blue, a nice teal, hell even a light purple would be hot. rrrraaar.
posted by kidsleepy at 9:51 AM on August 19, 2008

Anybody whose opinion of you is in any way dependent on what underwear you wear is someone whose opinions are utterly worthless. Wear what you find comfortable.

If you mean attractive to the ladies, by the time you're down to your skivvies you've already made the sale, assuming we're not talking about skidmarks, holes, and smells. Any woman who was going to fuck you but decided not to because she disapproved of your underwear when she saw it -- well, you're better off not sticking your dick into crazy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on August 19, 2008 [9 favorites]

Boxer-briefs or boxers. Either is fine. Boxer-briefs do not have to have particularly long legs.

Any colour that differs appreciably from white is ok, though you have to have confidence to pull off orange. Differs appreciably means no pale blues, no light greys. Vertical stripes are ok. Other patterns may be acceptable, and are generally more ok on boxers than on boxer-briefs.

Do not wear tighty-whities. Do not wear saggy or baggy tighty-whities, even in a non-white colour. If you like loose, choose boxers, not stretched out old boxer-briefs. Get rid of them when they have stains or holes.
posted by jeather at 9:52 AM on August 19, 2008

Underwear is the one garment where you should never consider fashion, unless showing it off in some way is your goal.

You shouldn't limit yourself to buying one kind of underwear. You should have many types of underwear, and use them for the appropriate occasions.
posted by poppo at 9:54 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I suggest going commando.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

I discovered boxer briefs on my own a few years ago. They are awesome, especially for the gym or running, but I kind of thought they weren't cool and that everyone else was wearing regular boxers. I'm glad to find out so many people approve of my underwear choice.
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:03 AM on August 19, 2008

My boyfriend wears American Apparel boxer briefs that are black with white on the seams and...well, let's just say they highlight all the right things. Hot.
posted by youcancallmeal at 10:05 AM on August 19, 2008

Good god damn boxer briefs are hot. Oh man. sexy.

OUT: underwear purchased by your mother, or your ex.

It's a testament to my good humor that the candy-cane-heart boxers from his former fiancee lasted as long as they did.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:26 AM on August 19, 2008

If you mean attractive to the ladies, by the time you're down to your skivvies you've already made the sale, assuming we're not talking about skidmarks, holes, and smells. Any woman who was going to fuck you but decided not to because she disapproved of your underwear when she saw it -- well, you're better off not sticking your dick into crazy.

Well, when a young lady is considering how attractive you are and how much she wants to Get It On, Part II, your perceived attractiveness will play a major role.

Certain kinds of underwear make you look hotter than alternate underwears. So yeah, looking hotter does mean a girl will be more willing to sleep with you.

I don't see how that translates into crazy.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:31 AM on August 19, 2008

Going with boxer briefs here too. While I'm against the tighty-whities I'm gonna have to say that white boxer briefs are sexy. You get the great shape and the white color gives it cleanliness and a very ... put-together look (assuming your white is white and not gray, yellowed or tattered).

I'll have to add cotton as a requirement. The more cotton the better. While silk or rayon or something might add a sheen that looks sexy it definitely doesn't feel sexy after a long, hot day.

I'm not a fan of boxers in a fashion/style sense. But, it depends on your own look. If you wear the baggy, saggy jeans that hang on your thighs then boxers are definitely the way to go. The bunchy-ness and puffiness of the material keeps me from staring at you inappropriately.
I've actually run into a few people who wore boxer briefs with baggy jeans. They've bent over or reached for something high and I was given a free show. If it didn't turn me on so hard I would be shocked and screaming, "Indecent exposure!" Fitted boxer briefs really outline all of your goodies very well.
... if this is a look you're going for then, by all means... =)
posted by simplethings at 10:50 AM on August 19, 2008

I will be the voice of dissent. My husband wears briefs and they are very attractive. Of course, he is a skinny guy with skinny legs, so boxers and boxer briefs would look weird. He wears dark colours (and also has a dark mustard yellow, which I like).
posted by crazycanuck at 10:53 AM on August 19, 2008

Boxers are what "urban" kids wear in high school, and (ugh..) sometimes into their twenties... so they can show them off on top of saggy jeans. In any other use, they bunch up in pants that fit, and are ideally relegated to sleeping duty.

Boxer briefs are what you want.

I'll give a little review here in case you're planning on buying a bunch of undies later today: I've tried several brands, and I own a lot of Calvin Klein boxer briefs. I own both trunk and full length boxer briefs from CK. The cloth is too thin in the legs. They stretch and ride up over the course of the day up so you end up wearing scrunchy tighty wighty briefs instead of boxer briefs. They're comfortable at first, but what they turn into by the end of the day is just unacceptable.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2008

No one likes whitey-tighties

Perhaps no-one you know. Having lived in an area with both a lot of military and a lot of gay men (yes, there was some overlap) I can tell you that there is significant support for briefs among certain subpopulations of gay men, straight men, and straight women. (Lesbians don't so much care.)
posted by desuetude at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2008

Dude, fuck everyone who says boxers are acceptable. Underwear provides support. Boxers are a scourge. Their only purpose is to stand in for shorts when you're out of the public eye on a hot day. (I will grudgingly admit that they compensate for having no ass, but's still a shame.)

Boxer-briefs are a pain in the ass if you have well-muscled legs; I have a few pair and the "thighs" just ride up and nestle against the mankini line--not sexy or confortable. If you can find some with bikeshort-strength elastic around the leg holes, tell me about 'em.

Well-fit briefs are the way to go. They're comfortable, don't get in your way, and usually stay well-hidden. Black or any dark color is best, but don't listen to the naysayers who'll tell you white is abhorrent: Body Glove makes briefs--I think they're a thin jersey cloth--that don't have a visible waistband and aren't baggy or translucent (I would look up an example, but I'm at work), which are the major no-no's. If you look good, you'll look good in them. (If you look extraordinarily good and have no compunction about others' judgment: dude, go for the French cut. Someone has to.)
posted by kittyprecious at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

The fact that briefs are still unfashionable in this day and age is ridiculous to me. The only bad kind of underwear is old and stained. And boxers look ridiculous on skinny guys.

Also, who wants saggy balls from a lifetime of boxers when they hit 50?
posted by shownomercy at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2008

As a guy in my 20s who typically fancies other guys in their 20s, I can confidently join in the chorus of those singing the hallelujahs of boxer-briefs. They're flattering, comfortable, and forgiving. I especially like the ones that are cotton blends, as the pure cotton variety tend to get stretched out after walking all day and lose their shape by evening. You don't want to get home and remove your trousers, only to find out you have sad, saggy underwear hanging from your hips.

Please don't wear the grandpa white undies under any circumstances. That is, unless you don't mind this happening to you or if you look like this.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2008

You don't decide whether to do it until after he's stripped? There's some point where he's right there taking off his clothes and you're thinking "Hmm. If his underwear are acceptable, I'll fuck him. But if he has briefs on, I shall tell him to start dressing again, or I shall stand up and walk out of the room."?

That seems utterly bonkers to me. Bark at the moon and roll in your own filth barmy.

Well, perhaps no one has sex with you more than once, but most people consider having sex with the same partner more than once. Said partner's visual appeal is part of that decision-making process.
posted by sondrialiac at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Specifically, you want Land's End boxer briefs, which, at $19.50 for a 3-pack, are the perfect intersection of quality and price.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2008

Any woman who was going to fuck you but decided not to because she disapproved of your underwear when she saw it -- well, you're better off not sticking your dick into crazy.

While it's probably not likely that a sane woman (or man) is going to tear off your pants, notice a pair of lame manties, and run right out of the room in horror, your choice in underwear is one of those small details that can subtly make an encounter that much more or less sexy - along the lines of cleanliness of one's house and person, failure to hide the porn, or presence of large stuffed animals in the bedroom. Some people just don't care, but for some people these details can make the difference between "mmm boy, that was some sexy sex" and "hmm, that was okay, but I don't think I'd do it with them again."
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:13 AM on August 19, 2008

Don't wear any and people will immediately know how ballsy you are. You are not a slave to fashion.
posted by wangarific at 11:14 AM on August 19, 2008

I was surprised at some of the issues discussed in a recent Men's Health article on the matter of men's underwear, being a 20-something underwear-wearing man myself.
posted by knile at 11:19 AM on August 19, 2008

I wear a thong.

The wife likes them, and they are hella comfortable when working out/biking/running etc. No chafing and bunching and so on.

On days when I don't wear a thong, I wear briefs. Maybe I'm strange, but my boys need a house.

DKNY makes some good spandex ones that like wearing nothing without the jangly bits jangling when exercising. For day to day wear, Calvin Klein makes some nice cotton ones.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:39 AM on August 19, 2008

Uh yeah, how is underwear a fashion statement for guys outside of Calvin Klein ads?

Boxer briefs BTW. They make my ass look great.
posted by booticon at 11:40 AM on August 19, 2008

My junior high sex-ed teacher spent way too much time discussing underwear, and that boxers are SO much better for a man's reproductive health. He had all the poor boys worried that if they ever wore briefs they'd never have enough 'little swimmers' to have kids later.
I guess this was before boxerbriefs were popular. I imagine he'd have the same problem with them.

I will nth the support for the sexiness of boxerbriefs. My husband usually prefers boxers for comfort, but when he wears those black boxerbriefs... damn, I can't keep my hands to myself.
posted by purpletangerine at 11:52 AM on August 19, 2008

You know what? Briefs, y-fronts, whatever you call them, are just fine. I've never kicked a guy out of my room for stripping down to a pair of the classics. They're cheap, familiar, comfortable, and available in a decent array of colors. If you like them, wear them -- and take them off -- in good cheer and good health.

But my eyes do have some extra affection for boxer briefs, which are very, very nice gift-wrapping indeed. And my hands really appreciate the easy access of boxers.

However, if you ever put on a kilt, you had better be regimental, even in midwinter. Standards matter.
posted by rosebuddy at 11:55 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Boxers, please. After seeing my dad walk around in the house wearing only worn out tighty-whities when I was little, any sight of those things on anyone makes me cringe.

Interesting...because seeing my own dad walk around in his boxer shorts turned me off of boxers for life. I don't know, any time I've seen boxer shorts in the movies or on TV shows, they look all balloon-y and (for some reason only known to my subconscious) smelly. I like traditional men's briefs. To me, nothing sexier than seeing that frontal region encased in a "pouch," just begging to be caressed or played with. But that's probably just my own fetish.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:00 PM on August 19, 2008

Boxer briefs are hot.
posted by Nattie at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2008

kittyprecious nails the reasons boxers and boxers briefs are uncomfortable. They ride up. The discomfort is commensurate to one's size.

White is clean, crisp, timeless. Black underwear seems to me like an affectation. Honestly, the whole "tighty whities = kiss of death" bandwagon seems like some sort of cascade effect to me.

Also, as someone who wears undershirts - and I assume you would want your undergarments to match - a black undershirt? That would show through a shirt like crazy.

But I guess if the question is about what is socially acceptable, then issues of functionality may play no role in this.
posted by softsantear at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2008

I am a girl. I hate boxer briefs (just ... ick) and love briefs. The kind of nerdy guy who rocks the tightie whities is often the kind of nerdy guy whose pants I want to remove. But apparently I am the exception.
posted by dame at 12:14 PM on August 19, 2008

Boxer briefs died with the 90's. Go with briefs. I like the fun colored ones that American Apparel carries.
posted by cazoo at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2008

Does it make a difference if you are circumcised I wonder? I am and can't stand boxers. Support is what's needed. And boxer briefs? Like wearing a tube top down below - horribly constricting.
posted by A189Nut at 12:42 PM on August 19, 2008

Also, as someone who wears undershirts - and I assume you would want your undergarments to match - a black undershirt?

Wha? I'm a boxers guy, and I dare say it's never occurred to me to be concerned that my undershirt didn't match my shorts. Are you a devotee of Underoos?
posted by mumkin at 12:51 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm talking about white-white and black-black as it relates to brief-type underwear. Obviously, if you wear boxers, this is a whole universe away from color coordination, because your boxers probably have sailboats or something on them, and there is no hope of coordinating that with an undershirt.

Boxers wearers seem to be more laissez-faire about this sort of thing. Maybe boxers aren't designed to be worn with undershirts. Personally, I think it would be snazzy if you had a plaid undershirt that matched your plaid boxers. Isn't underwear like a second skin? It would be weird if the top half of your skin were a different color. (Perhaps I'm taking the analogy too far.)

Think about the analogue in women's undergaments - 9 times out of 10 a woman will wear a top with the bottom, no? And mismatched bra and panties is a veritable sin, or so I understand.

But if you wear solid colors, why on earth would you match black with white? You wouldn't. So if you wear black shorts, you would, by my reasoning, wear a black undershirt, which would bleed through your overshirt.
posted by softsantear at 1:05 PM on August 19, 2008

Another vote for the boxer briefs. Sometimes it's all I can do to restrain myself when my boyfriend is getting ready for work in the morning in these. The Hanes' line (the slightly more expensive, not the basic....and we're talking $8 for a 2-pack here, not $30) really does it for me.
posted by messylissa at 2:56 PM on August 19, 2008

I've never, ever once found underwear-clad men to be sexy until Mark Ruffalo's booty-shaking dance of win - it was the singular moment converting me to a tighty-whity fan (at 1:08 here; I'm too lazy to find a better screencap), and I not too happy about searching for various combinations of "Mark Ruffalo", "dance", and "underpants".
posted by grippycat at 2:57 PM on August 19, 2008

H&M and others are now re-introducing 70s style mid-size Y Front briefs, in retro patterns and colors.
posted by iviken at 3:00 PM on August 19, 2008

Damnit, this thread is making me wish my boyfriend wore boxer briefs instead of boxers. I'd almost forgotten how much I liked them until all these other commenters came along and got me all worked up...
posted by booknerd at 3:41 PM on August 19, 2008

Body Glove makes briefs--I think they're a thin jersey cloth--that don't have a visible waistband and aren't baggy or translucent.

Yup. They even look pretty good on lumpy guys like me, if I do say so myself.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:51 PM on August 19, 2008

Bonds hipster briefs, or variations thereof. Sold in packs of in a variety of colors (usually green, red, blue, black, orange or light blue). They wear out at the tops, above the elastic, first; when they get a hole there, it's time to chuck 'em out.

They're just neat, clean, well-fitted underwear, and that's the image I intend to project with them: I am not the sort of man who is fussy about his underwear, beyond keeping it clean and changing it daily. Nor do I lie about in my tent in it, that's what a bathrobe is for. YMMV. :)

I like my underwear and pants fairly snug, not quite tight, but I'm skinny and a lifelong dedicated jeans-wearer. Boxer-briefs look interesting, though; I might try a pair.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:03 PM on August 19, 2008

I think my husband looks nice, and he has plain briefs. Some of them are white, and tight, and he still looks very good.
posted by jb at 5:23 PM on August 19, 2008

wait, I'm 31. So I guess I don't count anymore.
posted by jb at 5:25 PM on August 19, 2008

I think any kind of underwear is acceptable, as long as it isn't baggy.
The problem with the tighty-whities is that they tend to sag and look really pathetic if you don't replace them often.
I think boxers are fine, as long as they aren't all billowy on you; that just looks like you have something to hide, or possibly raided your dad's underwear drawer. and that's just creepy.
Boxer briefs are okay, but they can veer into cheesy.

So just wear whatever is most comfortable, make sure they're clean with no holes, and replace them if they start to look tired.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:23 PM on August 19, 2008

Etsy has some really great options. I saw an amazing pair on there once, black with the mario piranha plant on the front, but I can't find it now.
posted by troika at 12:12 AM on August 20, 2008

Food for thought: My sister and I agree that the sight of ANY man in tighty whities (regardless of hotness factor) instantly makes us think of Homer Simpson. Wear them if you dare.
posted by chaplinesque at 4:41 PM on August 20, 2008

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