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A Woman’s Guide to Men’s Underwear

From boxers to lacy man-panties, I’ve got you covered with all the panty intel and unprovoked opinions you need

There isn’t a Victoria’s Secret for men. Sure, there are niche stores for male lingerie, but Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and Jockey seem to have reeled in most guys with their plastic-covered multi-packs hanging next to the socks and tank tops. Other than that, there’s no place in your average mall for men to peruse an assortment of delightful individual panties. There’s no centralized location for their bottoms to be beautiful!

Say what you will about the Victoria’s Secret brand as a whole, but the experience of carefully combing through dozens of shapes, textures and patterns to adorn your bits with is one of the few joys that makes me believe that capitalism can breed innovation. Yet for men, the majority of underwear is defined more by function than style. What exactly are the purposes of each type of men’s underwear, though? And what makes one variety better than another? 

It’s all a matter of testicular health, comfort and my vague, unprovoked personal opinions of what’s sexy, fun and cool. 

I’ll explain.

Boxers

Boxers are the Budweiser of men’s underwear. They’re essentially thin shorts that extend midway down the thigh and have an elastic waistband that sits loosely on the hips. They’re for guys who love to be dudes, and there’s nothing really wrong with that. The upside of boxers is that they’re baggy, meaning you’ve got plenty of room and freedom for your junk to air out. 

That can feel more comfortable for some, but it’s not necessarily what’s best for your balls. As a urologist explained to Thrillist, boxers aren’t ideal for being active. While their loosey-goosey fit might make you think friction won’t be a problem, the opposite is true — when you’re running around, that extra leg room allows for more testicular friction to occur. Such a lack of support can also aid in the development of testicular torsion, a fun little ailment in which one of the spermatic cords inside your balls becomes twisted like a piece of cavatappi pasta

In other words, save the boxers for when you’re relaxing. They seem great for lounging around at home! You’ll be fine wearing them in other casual situations, too, although another downside is that they can bunch up and become visible underneath your clothes. So again, maybe they’re best suited for big chillin. 

Briefs

Briefs are a shorter, tighter underwear variety, typically only covering the buttocks and cutting off right where the leg and hip meet. I’m going to be honest, though: I’ve never encountered a man who I knew wore them. As in, I’ve never been down to my skivvies with a man who wore them. I’m sure that says more about me than the wearers, but they strike me as very European — and also a garment that calls for a good sense of body positivity. Both of those things are very cool! Don’t let anyone stop you from wearing tiny little briefs if that’s what your heart desires. 

Unless, of course, they’re so tight that it becomes bad for you. It’s possible for underwear to be so taut that it restricts blood flow or produces chafing, and tight undies can also make everything get smellier more quickly as they don’t allow for much airflow. Jock itch and other skin infections can result from this, too, thanks to trapped moisture. There’s some evidence as well that tight briefs can reduce sperm count compared to boxers or boxer briefs, potentially because they keep your balls hotter. 

Basically, if you’re gonna rock the briefs (especially the tighty-whitey variety), please do so responsibly. Those made of materials with moisture-wicking properties like nylon or polyester can help prevent some of the ills of the brief shape. With the right materials, briefs are also solid for physical activity as they help properly support your balls and avoid the aforementioned cavatappi sperm cord. 

Boxer Briefs

Now we’re talkin’! Best of both worlds, baby! Like boxers but much tighter, boxer briefs deliver the support of the brief with a bit of the comfort and coverage of the boxer. To me, they seem like the logical choice. With their streamlined fit, they’re often less visible beneath clothing, and they also help prevent friction from your upper thighs rubbing together. 

Generally, the guidance about looking for synthetic, moisture-wicking materials while also choosing a pair that isn’t too tight applies here, too. Of the possible choices, boxer briefs definitely seem the most versatile, so if for some reason you could only pick one variety, I’d say these are the safest bet. I also personally think they just look the best — boxers strike me as juvenile

Commando

Maybe you’re thinking this is all too complicated, and you’d rather just shirk undies entirely. I can’t stop you, but tread carefully. Going commando might seem most comfortable, just letting it all hang out, but in reality, it probably means your dick is going to make direct contact with your denim jeans and zippers. Not only could it get caught in the zipper whenever you zip or unzip, it will also just be rubbing up against it all day. That doesn’t sound fun. 

Moreover, you’re giving your balls zero support while also just stanking up your pants. When you wear proper undies, you can usually get away with wearing jeans a few times before they need another wash. If you don’t wear anything in between your pants and your gooch, though, you’ve got one wear, max. Who can afford that kind of laundry bill

Thongs, Jock Straps, Etc.

There are a few niche underwear types that might suit your fancy, including jock straps, varieties of lingerie like thongs or jokey underwear that transforms your dick into a candy cane. Generally, the caveats here are similar to those of regular briefs. They’re rather tight, designed to enhance the shape of your package, and therefore, they can restrict your balls or cause chafing in the same way. 

A jock strap, meanwhile, typically leaves your bootyhole nearly out. They’re designed for sports and they hold a protective penis cup in place, but many versions also exist to look hot and show off your package (we’re not talking about a lot of material here). Meanwhile, they do make lacy or satin-y soft panties for men that look much like women’s underwear, only with a pocket in front for your dick (and possibly balls) to go in. This is a good option if you want to feel sexy as fuck, but still need somewhere to store your hog.

If you’re a fan of wearing thongs or jock straps, though, you’re probably already making a very specific decision about your aesthetic desires. You definitely don’t need me here explaining the ups and downs of your underwear choice. Hopefully, you’re wearing a pair that isn’t so tight that it’s uncomfortable, and keep your sperm count in mind if that’s of any importance to you. You’re already doing you, and I commend you for that. 

The Bottom Line on Men’s Undies

As mentioned, I think boxer briefs are the “winner” of the potential men’s undie battle. I polled my peers on Twitter, who seem to share the same sentiment: Nearly 70 percent chose boxer briefs as their favorite, with boxers ranking second at just under 14 percent, briefs at 11 percent and commando at 6 percent (Twitter polls only allow for four choices — sorry to the jock strap and thong wearers who were excluded!). 

But really, wear what you like so long as it feels comfortable and aligns with your lifestyle. The only singular rule you really have to keep in mind is that you should probably be replacing your underwear way more often than you currently are, and not to wear white underwear if you can’t handle the responsibility. Other than that, encloth yourself however your dick and balls desire. 

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