Most men don’t put much time or effort into selecting underwear. It’s the most basic, unexciting item in your wardrobe, and the overwhelming majority of the people you meet are (probably) not even going to see what it looks like.
At most, your gym buddies or partner will catch a glimpse of your underwear from time to time, and it’s no big deal, right?
Snap out of that old-fashioned frame of mind and step into the 21st century—underwear is VITAL to your health and happiness, and there’s no way around it. You wear it daily, it goes with you everywhere, and it’s up close and personal with your most essential hardware.
Is it time you finally overhauled your undies? Let’s compare the two most popular types of men’s underwear—boxers and briefs—to determine the winner in terms of comfort, style, durability, and more. Could there be a way to combine forces of these two underwear archetypes and create a winning hybrid that conquers all? Read on to find out.
Brief History Of Briefs
Believe it or not, men’s underwear—as we know it today—really wasn’t a thing until the 1930s, when briefs were invented by a Chicago entrepreneur named Arthur Kneibler. Prior to that, men simply wore loose long underwear or jockstraps to keep their junk in place and stay warm. During the hotter months of the year, we can assume there wasn’t much protection or stability going on downstairs.
Briefs minimized the male undergarment in ways that nobody thought possible. There was far less fabric to contend with, and men were given more mobility and freedom than ever before. Briefs were an instant hit for men from all walks of life and quickly caught on worldwide.
As time progressed, manufacturers embraced different cuts, styles, and materials, but the briefs we see today don’t differ massively from the originals from almost 100 years ago. They provide support for your manhood, cover the butt 100%, and don’t interfere with any type of pants you choose to wear.
These days, the most common types of briefs you’ll find are mid-rise or low cut, with an elastic band that sits on or just below the waist. The leg bands tend to fall just around the groin, although different styles can be found with various outlines and designs.
You can still walk into any department store or sporting good retailer today and snag a pack of classic tighty whities (in a range of colors) and put them on any day of the week.
How Boxers Came to Be
It didn’t take long after the invention of briefs for the public to start demanding a more loose and comfortable version of men’s underwear, and boxers were introduced by the end of the 1930s. Styled after the shorts that fighters wore in the ring, these undergarments were originally buttonless, but many fastening mechanisms were included in later iterations.
Boxers were an exciting introduction to the world of underwear, and many soldiers wore them overseas to fight in World War II since they tended to be cheaper to produce and easier to manufacture en masse.
An entire generation of men became accustomed to boxers, and they remained very popular for decades to come, especially as companies began producing fun and interesting prints.
Most boxers extend down to just above the thigh, and the waistbands tend to have plenty of elasticity. They remain popular to this day and come in a number of different materials, but simple lightweight cotton is the most common fabric.
Pros And Cons To Consider
Comparing boxers and briefs side by side is sort of an ‘apples vs. oranges’ scenario. Each type of underwear has its own advantages and shines in certain situations.
Some outfits definitely give the edge to briefs, in particular, slimmer-fitting suits and pants where every inch of room counts for mobility and comfort.
Try stuffing your big, poofy boxer shorts into some skinny chinos or slacks—it’s not going to work. Not only are you going to feel those boxers bunch up in a few minutes of walking around, but they’ll also be clearly visible to anyone who cares to check you out from any angle. We all know that amateur-hour look of bunched up boxers in the pants. It’s a no-go at any age.
Briefs are definitely discrete and can also offer a broader range of motion when you’re navigating daily life or working out at the gym. If you’re jogging on the treadmill, squatting heavy weight in the rack, or just stretching after a long session, briefs are going to give you more freedom compared to boxer shorts.
It should also be mentioned that briefs are considered slightly classier and more stylish than boxer shorts, which tend to have more of a laid-back, slacker reputation. If the carefree skater or surfer vibe is the look you’re going for, by all means, stick with the boxers, but briefs are definitely a step up in terms of fashion.
Of course, boxer shorts have their own advantages as well. Many men consider them to be more comfortable for daily wear, especially if they’re just taking it easy around the house or going on a casual stroll through their city or town.
Boxers give you a lot of room downstairs, which for some men is the only factor that matters. At the end of the day, underwear preference is mainly about how your most important parts feel throughout the day, and there’s nothing wrong with giving the boys a bit of extra space to maneuver.
If you are constantly debating whether to go commando to the store or find yourself pulling at your briefs at the least opportune moments, boxers may be the best path forward for you. Just be aware that they aren’t 100% wedgie-proof, and you may have to deal with some bunching here and there.
From a scientific angle, many doctors agree that wearing boxers may actually help increase sperm count and aid overall sexual health. While this debate is still up in the air, you might want to switch to boxers if your goal is to become a dad in the next few months or years.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Most men have spent plenty of time wearing both boxers and briefs but always find themselves unsatisfied with the tradeoffs they require. Thankfully, boxer briefs—which rose to popularity in the 90s—solve this problem permanently for all those guys who are tired of making compromises downstairs.
Boxer briefs are truly a miraculous invention, and it’s a shame it took so long for men to figure out the sweet spot between stability and freedom in the lower regions. These undergarments offer the support you need when walking and working out, plus give you some extra coverage on the leg for warmth and that pleasant compression effect.
A well-fitting pair of boxer briefs will not ride up and keep you cool under pressure with moisture-wicking capabilities. These are the next-generation undergarments you’ve been waiting for, so don’t hesitate to try them out.
Build Your Undie Arsenal
Between boxers, tighty whities, thongs, and mesh trunks, men have a lot of underwear options to choose from these days. Rather than deciding on a single type of underwear and tossing out the rest, keep a few different types in your dresser drawer for different occasions.
With that said, you should try to stick with a particular brand of underwear once you discover the best fit and material for your needs. You don’t want to endure a never-ending cycle of buying and trying new undies, so be ready to stockpile that all-star underwear when you finally find it.
A few pairs of boxers and briefs can take up some space in your wardrobe, but you’ll want to leave more real estate in your dresser for boxer briefs, which are far more versatile and tend to keep their shape for much longer.
If you want to do away with the shopping process altogether and streamline your purchases, lock in an underwear membership service that ships fresh pairs of boxer briefs right to your door every few months. Right when your favorite undies are on the verge of uselessness, you’ve got brand new ones waiting on your doorstep, and you didn’t need to lift a finger. That’s next-gen automation at it’s finest!
The boxer vs. briefs debate will no doubt rage on, but we’ve given you the main talking points to consider before you make your next purchase. Most importantly, find underwear that makes you feel great all day, gives you the support you need, and fits your shopping style and budget.
If you take some extra time to find your perfect undies, you won’t regret saving tons of time and money down the line.