It’s a shame, but we can’t all look like David Gandy in our pants. Underwear ads paint a glamorous portrait but, in reality, fit, material and quality are way more important than the brand name on the band.
To help you on your way, we reached out to a handful of industry experts to compile these essential rules on style, fabric and maintenance.
Of all the seminal moments in a man’s life – graduations, weddings, the first curled fist of your child around your little finger – none means more than the first time he chooses his own underwear.
But what worked for prepubescent you isn’t your best choice now. Your body’s changed. Your needs have changed. Somewhere there’s a fit that’s more snug. More supportive. More flattering. Let Olivia Francis, founder of underwear experts Hamilton & Hare, be your guide to buying pants that are anything but.
Brief: “This is the traditional Y front. It’s not for everyone but it offers great support and a neat fit. Particularly good for men with large thighs.”
Trunk: “These are a newer style and offer the simplest silhouette, ideal for wearing under slim-fit trousers. They sit perfectly on the hip, a little lower than other styles, and are short in the leg, cutting across mid-thigh, which make them best for men with slimmer legs.”
Take care with ‘hipster’ styles, warn the experts at M&S; they sit low, so work best with tucked in shirts. Or you risk an intimate breeze every time you bend down.
Boxer short: “Traditional boxer shorts offer maximum coverage, comfort and breathability but can often bunch and ride up so do not work well with slim trousers. Our boxers offer a modern, tailored cut that is much more flattering and works well with slimmer legwear. This new approach means they complement any body shape, being both flattering and extremely comfortable.”
Boxer brief: “These are a hybrid between the traditional boxer short and the trunk – they sit on the waist and are slightly longer in the leg. Universally flattering and versatile, they’re the go-to option for most. Particularly good for those with fuller buttocks.”
Why Your Underwear Fabric Matters
Three things matter in your most intimate wear: comfort, support and breathability. Pants brands have long defaulted to cotton and jersey, which provide all three. But textile innovation offers the modern man new ways to keep himself cool and dry. These new fabrics are often sustainable, breathable and even heat-sensitive.
Here, a few experts weigh in on the best (and worst) choices on the market, as well as expanding on a few brand-specific options.
Cotton: An old classic. “This is a brilliant fibre for underwear,” says Francis. “It’s naturally breathable, soft and hypoallergenic.”
Jersey: It’s soft and lightweight with a natural stretch, making it the perfect choice for guys on the move. The Sunspel team advise to “opt for a stretch style, with higher elastic content for added support if you spend your weekends exercising as opposed to relaxing.”
Lyocell jersey: Hamilton & Hare developed this exclusive spin on traditional jersey. “We use a natural paint nanofibre and blend it with cotton for a luxurious feel – the microscopic nanofibres offer unparalleled smoothness as well as moisture absorption.”
Silk: It’s a classic choice, but silk is quickly disappearing from the underwear market. And for good reason. “Although it offers incredible lightness and breathability, it’s a delicate fabric that doesn’t benefit from wash and wear and damages easily,” says Francis. Leave to Peter Stringfellow.
Mesh: The go-to material for sports-oriented underwear, mesh is light and breathable. Some brands go more specific and use heat-sensitive mesh fabric that helps disperse body heat and leaves your pants feeling cool to the touch – even after a bout of cardio.