A Man’s Guide to Underwear in the 21st Century

A Man’s Guide to Underwear in the 21st Century

Your underwear is one of the most important parts of your wardrobe, if not the most. It’s the thing that is in constant contact with your genitals, and its first and foremost purpose is to take good care of your package. Yet, the typical man wouldn’t be able to confidently say what type of fabric is best for certain weathers. Or if they know what kind of underwear is best for exercise. Heck, they won’t even know that underwear size isn’t just about small, medium, and large.

Men have so many options when it comes to underwear, and it is important to be aware of all this. We are sacrificing our comfort and health when we don’t pay attention to our underwear.

This is everything you need to know about men’s underwear, going from different types of underwear to different fabrics, as well as sizing, and a little extra for our family jewels.

1. UNDERWEAR TYPE

A good portion of men tend to simply stick with one type of underwear. They either wear loose boxer shorts or go with tighter briefs. It is understandable. There is simplicity that comes with just having one go-to kind of underwear. However, there are so many different types of men’s underwear that people can cherry pick from. From the strictly utilitarian type of undies such as the jockstrap, to the rather aesthetically focused ones such as the G-string, men’s underwear has a surprising level of diversity.

It helps to know all these different ones, because our bodies are all very different as well. And what we find comfortable may be something entirely unexpected.

So, let’s get familiar with the various underwear types and discuss the pros and cons of each..

underwear briefs

1.1 Briefs

This was formerly one of the most common types of men’s underwear and considered traditional nowadays. Briefs are probably your old man’s best friend, and they are very versatile. They typically cover your entire butt and the package, and leave much of the upper thigh, as well as the side of the leg exposed. Because of their build, they can be comfortable under almost any outfit you wear, and they firmly wrap around your nether regions, keeping everything in place including your family jewels.

Briefs come in different types. In general, there are three:

Low-rise Brief: The waistband sits below the natural waistline on the hips.

Mid-rise Brief: The waistband sits at the natural waistline.

High-rise Brief: The waistband sits right below the belly button. It can streamline the waist, smoothing out the love handles and the stomach.

The designs for briefs have also gotten very creative, and they can be really fun as well, with many brands now printing interesting and colorful patterns on them.

Pros

  • They keep everything in place
  • They’re quite comfortable
  • They go with pretty much any outfit

Cons

boxer shorts

1.2 Boxer Shorts

Boxer shorts are loose underwear that are more about breathability than support. They don’t wrap around the groin as much as briefs do, so they let everything hang freely inside. Many of them also feature an open fly that allows you to exit with ease. Men tend to prefer wearing these to sleep to give their packages freedom. If you’re looking for something that’s easy on your junk and leaves plenty of space for a breeze, then boxer shorts may be what you need.

Pros

  • They are very breathable
  • They are quite comfortable due to being loose

Cons

  • Boxers can create a bulky mass around your groin, so it doesn’t look as good with tighter pants
  • Often not as aesthetically pleasing
  • Your package is left flopping around all over the place, which can cause chafing

boxer briefs

1.3 Boxer Briefs

Boxer briefs are basically a hybrid of the brief and the boxer. They are longer legged like the boxer, offering more cover over the thigh, while tight-fitting like the brief, holding the sack in place. They provide more protection from chafing from sports and exercise, and often have a moderate rise on the waist.

Boxers’ legs fall right around the widest part of the thigh, which means no matter how thick your legs are, boxers will fit snugly around them. Ride up may become an issue, but that depends on the length and fabric type.

Pros:

  • Pretty much all the benefits of a brief but more comfort.
  • Great for guys with big thighs
  • Less chafing

Cons:

  • Depending on the length and fabric type, legs may ride up and cause irritation

boxer trunks

1.4 Trunks

Trunks are basically boxer briefs with shorter legs. The hem falls just above the widest part of the leg, so for guys with leaner builds trunks are more comfortable and have a more snug fit than boxer briefs. Plus, trunks can accentuate their muscles better than boxer briefs can.

Because there is less of the fabric and it fits more tightly, there may also be less ride up and bunching happening as you move around throughout the day.

Pros:

  • Great choice for when wearing shorts over them
  • Good for guys with lean legs

Cons:

  • May not fit that well for men with large builds
  • More prone to chafing

jockstrap

1.5 Jockstraps

Jockstraps have a pouch and a pair of bands that wrap around the upper thighs and the butt. It looks like a brief without your butt covered. They were invented in the 19th century for bicycle-riding messengers and delivery men who were also known as ‘bike jockeys’, hence the name. It was designed at first to protect men from riding their bikes on cobblestones, which were the common choice of road paving in cities back in the day. From there, jockstraps spread throughout contact sports and for those who engaged in rigorous physical activity because they provide extra protection for your package. They also lift your genitals up and away from the body, which means it keeps your junk cooler and drier than your run of the mill briefs.

Pros:

  • They’re great for sports activities
  • If you and your partner are into it, they can be sexy
  • It can be quite liberating due to the minimal nature of it, while not exactly free-balling it

Cons:

  • Your butt is left bare
  • High chances of chafing

1.6 Long Underwear

Also known as long-johns, long underwear was first introduced in 17th century England. They’re basically long underwear that are very versatile, and quite useful in winter. Not only are they loungewear, but you can wear them under your pants for an extra layer against the cold. They also cover more of your body so feel free to pop out to take out the trash in your long underwear.

Pros:

  • They keep you warm in cold weather
  • They’re quite comfortable

Cons:

  • They can be difficult to take off.
  • It can get sweaty inside once it’s too warm.

1.7 G-Strings

Yes, G-strings for men exist and they definitely are not for the faint of heart. These things are exactly like the female equivalents. They provide bare minimum coverage around the pouch and the rest of it is a string. Naturally, your cheeks are fully exposed. If you’re up for it, give them a try. It certainly will be a different underwear experience.

Pros:

  • They leave more of your body parts to breath.
  • They can look sexy, provided you’re in the right context
  • They go well with tight pants

Cons:

  • They can be uncomfortable
  • It’s really difficult to pull off the look

1.8 Feel free to mix and match

What’s important with knowing about different types of men’s underwear is that you are aware of the choices, and what benefits each one brings. This way, your wardrobe is flexible. You can have your boxer briefs as your go-to, boxer shorts when you want to lounge around and be comfortable, and long underwear for the colder days.

2. FABRIC TYPE

Underwear comes in various fabric types and the nature of the cloth can determine your level of comfort. This includes many things like heat-retention, breathability, and moisture absorption. If you suffer from any discomfort involving sweat building up or chafing, you need to pay attention to the fabric of your underwear.

Of course, depending on the situation and the condition, you may need to switch out the type of fabric as well. What works well in summer may not be good for cold weather. What’s good for exercise, could be terrible for everyday wear.

We will now list the common types of underwear, their characteristics, and what they’re best for.

2.1 Cotton

Cotton is a natural fiber, and one of the most common fabrics for essentials. Cotton is used not only for underwear, but t-shirts and socks as well.

cotton balls

It’s soft and hygienic. It also has tiny pores that allow quite a bit of breathing, which means it’s going to be well ventilated down there. Not to mention, it’s moisture absorbent. All in all, cotton makes for high quality underwear that is comfortable to wear.

There are however many downsides to cotton. One is that maintenance is tricky. You always have to worry about shrinkage, and it can get quite abrasive when you wear it while exercising.

Also, cotton can absorb a lot of sweat, meaning that it sticks to your body under humid conditions. And that leads to irritation, which in turn can cause a lot of problems for you, including discomfort, itching, and even infection.

2.2 Nylon

Nylon is a name for a family of synthetic polymers that can be processed into fibers, films, or other various shapes. It’s a versatile type of fabric and along with other many applications, it is one of the main types of underwear fabric we commonly use.

The main strengths of nylon are that its properties make it quite resistant to wear and tear. Some of its advantages include being durable, keeping its shape, retaining color, not shrinking after wash and dry. This is the reason why it’s also used in swimwear. Even after multiple washing, nylon will stay the same. It also has low absorbency and hence dries very quickly, meaning that it’s great for those who have a problem with sweat.

However, there are downsides to this miracle fiber. One particularly bad one is that nylon traps heat. This means that it can get extremely hot down there, and this can result in unsanitary and uncomfortable conditions inside your underwear.

Also, nylon doesn’t breathe very well, meaning that while it has low absorbency, it can also keep sweat in under certain conditions, and that is never good for your hygiene.

2.3 Cellulosic Fibers

Plant based cellulosic fibers made from bamboo offer a better alternative to other natural fibers such as cotton. Its composition consists of regenerated cellulose which is then manufactured into fabric for clothing.

plants

Rayon is one type of cellulosic fiber and it’s soft and breathable, known for silk-like feel. It’s great for the summer months or whenever you’re going somewhere warmer. Often, they will also be mixed with other fabric blends to introduce some stretchiness into the fabric.

The downside of Rayon therefore is one that plagues other natural fabrics, which is that it can be delicate and shrinks easily. So machine-washing is a definite no-no for this material.

The far better type of cellulose-based fabric is called Modal, an evolution from rayon. This is by far the softest type of fabric to be used as men’s underwear. Unlike rayon it is also more durable and flexible. Understandably, it is a great option for underwear.

As with many natural fibers, modal is a great lightweight fabric for underwear for all seasons. It’s soft, it’s cozy, and yet here’s where it makes up for the downsides of natural fibers, which is that it’s resistant and strong. This one can definitely withstand machine washing and even be tumble dried. Similar to nylon, it stays true to its original properties after many washes. When in doubt, one can simply buy modal underwear for any occasions.

The downside to modal is that first, if you have any allergies to trees or tree-related elements, you might also be allergic to modal. Also, it’s relatively more expensive than other materials, but it is becoming much more affordable.

2.4 Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic material and it’s very popular as fitness gear as it is quite stretchy. It moves well with your body, and that means less irritation even under the hardest athletic conditions.

Polyester is also durable. They can be machine washed and dried, they don’t wrinkle, stretch, or shrink, and they just simply last longer than your usual undies. They repel moisture and sweat, but unlike cotton they remain dry, so it doesn’t stick to your body and keeps your genitals feeling fresh when training or doing physical activity.

However, polyester has a huge downside for the environmentally conscious, and that is that the fabric comes from petroleum byproducts. So, it’s absolutely terrible for the environment. However, these days there are more eco-friendly options, so just make sure to look up the manufacturing process. It can also be considered unhygienic to wear all day as your sweat in your groin has nowhere to go, hence the importance of wearing a natural fabric like cotton or modal for its moisture absorbing properties.

2.5 Silk

Silk underwear is slightly more unusual than other types of fabric, particularly because of its premium nature. This fiber is formed from the protein secreted by silkworms, and it has a long history of being the luxury fabric of choice.

silk

The upsides of silk are numerous. Its texture is extremely soft, which keeps the wearer comfortable, and it has great insulation, meaning that it keeps you warm during colder months. It is also sturdy and has the greatest pull strength relative to other natural fibers. Because of the softness, it’s great for when you’re wearing a suit.

However, the insulation properties of silk are also its downsides. It’s a terrible conductor of heat, so it is not recommended at all for summer months or everyday use.

Also one significant downside of silk is the obvious one. It’s expensive, and it will blow up your clothing budget. Thus, it’s best that you keep silk for special occasions.

2.6 Get the right fabric for the right conditions

As with different underwear styles, you should pick and choose the fabrics depending on the weather conditions and what you’re doing.

If you don’t want the hassle of hand washing, don’t buy cotton. If you are more of the active type, keep some polyester for your workouts and exercises. Add rayon or modal for the summer months. Have nylon for the colder months. And perhaps a nice silk pair for Valentine’s or anniversaries. If you don’t want to complicate it too much and want versatility and utility, then get modal, you can’t go wrong. It’s all about having a choice.

3. SIZE

There is no formal standardization in men’s underwear sizes. It varies depending on the country of origin and even between manufacturers. Thus, you may be medium in one brand, and an extra-large for another brand at the same point in time. Not only that, but your underwear size is also not just about the waist. It’s about your thighs, and your hips as well.

Here we’ll talk about the various aspects of underwear size. Because there is so much more than whether deciding you’re a medium or a large.

waist measurement

3.1 The Waist

Waist size is probably the most widely known size reference for underwear. Most manufacturers categorize underwear sizes solely on the waist size.

  • SMALL: 28-30"
  • MEDIUM: 31-33"
  • LARGE: 34-36"
  • EXTRA-LARGE: 37-39"
  • EXTRA-EXTRA-LARGE: 40-42"

However since sizes vary depending on the brand, it’s always better to know what your own waist size is.

Measuring your own waist is simple:

Step 1: Take off your shirt. If you measure your waist with the fabric on top, you’ll miss your mark.

Step 2: Locate your waist. Feel around your sides. It’s right around where the top of your hip bones meet at the bottom of the rib cage. You should find a fleshy band between the bony parts, just below your belly button. That’s the waist.

Step 3: Take a measuring tape, hold one end of the tape against your waist, and wrap the tape around your body. Check the number. That’s your waist size.

Once you know your waist size, you can then check every brand’s size guide to make sure you get the right size each time.

3.2 The Thighs

Having a good fit for your thighs is essential because this can be a source of much discomfort. Men’s thighs come in various sizes, and guys with big thighs may want to pay attention to the length of the leg.

One potential problem from thighs not fitting well is a ride up, which is when your underwear rubs against your skin, gets bunched up at the ends and goes up your thigh. This can get really uncomfortable as it chafes a lot, and it also exposes more of your skin to the fabric of your outerwear, and that can lead to irritation.

This happens because the fabric is far too tight on your skin. Thus, whenever there is movement that rubs the skin against the fabric, it bunches the fabric up and holds it there. Then this repeats over the day, causing the underwear to creep up your legs. If the thigh edges were a bit looser, they would simply readjust to their original shapes.

Also, make sure that your underwear is long enough so the fabric doesn’t get bunched up easily as you move around throughout the day. We recommend 5 ½ inche in-seam minimum for less ride up and chafing.

3.3 The Hips

One of the things that many guys don’t realize about their underwear is that other than waist size, you should also try to pay attention to how it works around your hips. This is because your hips are going to consist of the widest part that your underwear covers. Since comfy underwear is about flexibly and firmly wrapping around the front and back of your groin, comfort at your hips is very important.

The problem is that generally the manufacturer only lists the waist size and not the hip size (unlike they do for women’s underwear). So it’s up to you to figure this out. Put your underwear on and move around. Do some stretches, twist your body this way and that. If it feels too tight at your hips, then that’s a sign that you should grab a bigger size next time.

Also, make sure that there is some elastane in the fabric of your underwear. This is what gives underwear that stretchy property and with it, your hips will be comfortably

3.4 Try one first

Of course, it’s difficult to know if the size is good unless you wear it. So it is important to take an experimental approach to this. You obviously can’t try underwear at any store, and retailers don’t accept any refunds if the underwear has been opened from its packaging. Thus, make sure to try one at a time. If it doesn’t fit right, then buy another size. Once you find the size that is right for you, you can then make a bulk purchase.

pouch

4. THE POUCH

The pouch is the part of the underwear that is designed specifically to hold your testicles in place. This mostly goes for tighter kinds of underwear such as boxer briefs and jockstraps. For looser types such as boxer shorts, everything is simply allowed to breathe naturally so there is no need for a pouch.

However, most men’s underwear is flat front and back. They don’t reserve space for the balls. In the case of tight-fitting underwear, this means that your genitals are pushed into the groin, and as we all know this can be uncomfortable.

So let’s talk about the pouch. We’ll start with the look and the feel of the pouch, and why it might be better for you to buy underwear that includes a well-designed pouch.

4.1 The Fit

When you stand still naked, your genitals fall front and center. They don’t bunch up to the side, they’re not squished into the groin, and they certainly don’t stick to your thighs. They simply stay in between your legs, and they protrude forward. Naturally, there should be extra space in the front.

For reference, take a look at the bra. Compared to the man, a woman’s body involves larger breasts. So a bra is designed to accommodate for that curve. It allows for there to be space so it can hug the breasts. It doesn’t try to let them hang loosely, or press them inward into the chest. It simply allows them to be in their natural position more or less.

The pouch is essentially similar to how the bra works. It accommodates for the genitals by creating a space just for that body part. This way it also keeps the genitals in their natural position and doesn’t push it against the groin.

This is all the more important because your genitals will move around throughout the day. You sit, you walk, you cross your legs, or you squat. All and any movements of your lower body can shift your testicles from one position to the other. This obviously creates much discomfort.

With a pouch however, there is more chance that the genitals stay in place throughout the day. It gives consistency and stability to the position of your private parts that the typical underwear with flatter fronts can’t provide.

4.2 The Benefits

That extra space that naturally follows the contours of the genitals can change pretty much everything you ever knew about men’s underwear.

Here are the main benefits:

  • It is more aesthetically pleasing to look at.
  • Keeps your testicles cool because of the fact they are separated from your inner thighs.
  • Keeps your testicles dry because the pouch provides increased airflow.
  • Extra space also helps to reduce sticking and gives a little more space for air circulation, reducing the temperature and therefore sweating.
  • It keeps the testicles from getting bunched up into an uncomfortable position.

Other than the benefits of look and the feel There’s also a scientific component to this. When your balls are pressed closer to your body, the higher temperature might heat up your testicles and lower your sperm count. So for the sake of your fertility, it is definitely beneficial to have a pouch.

4.3 Finding the Right Pouch

Not all pouches are equal. To start off, a lot of pouches try to sacrifice function for looks. They try to lift up the balls, or even put foam in to make the bulge look bigger. As much as we are fans of making our balls look good, we don’t want to promote false advertising. Also, all of this extra stuff to the pouch does not exactly spell comfort.

The best kind of pouches are those that are anatomically-correct. These pouches adopt the natural position of a man’s package, allowing them to hang as they were meant to. They prevent squashing, sticking, sweating and chafing, giving the user a comfortable experience wearing them.

Also, the pouch should be simple. It shouldn’t be burdened with any bells and whistles. If it’s there to create space for your balls to comfortably sit in, then it’s doing the job. Some brands try to push the limits of the pouch by attempting to innovate on the tried and true. For instance, dual-pouch boxer briefs may sound like it’s an improvement, because in general two is probably better than one. But not in this case. Based on our tests, it actually creates more constraint around your balls, making it uncomfortable to wear than their single-pouch equivalents.

As you should whenever you try a new thing, take an experimental approach. Buy one with a pouch that you feel like would best suit your needs, and see how you feel. If it’s not right, then try another.

CONCLUSION

After you have learned all the essential knowledge about men’s underwear, it’s time to actually go out and get better underwear for yourselves. Let’s be honest. You are likely compromising with worse fitting underwear because you think there are no better options out there. But there are. You just have to look for it.

And of course, you can start with trying ours. As you might have guessed, we know a thing or two about men’s underwear.

So that’s everything you need to know about men’s underwear in the 21st century. It’s time you felt your best in your own undies.

Posted by Manmade on 2021 Sep 9th