Alright, huddle up.
Men’s underwear types. Types of men’s underwear. Regular ones like boxers. Outdoorsy ones like long underwear. Vegas male review-y ones like thongs. Today, we’re going to talk about them all. What are their different uses? Why choose one over the other? Who invented the jockstrap, and would it be inappropriate for us to kneel before him in collective gratitude?
Good news: I’m about to answer all of these questions (we’ll get to jockstrap guy another time) in this list of 10 men’s underwear types to keep on your radar as you and your crotch navigate this thing called life.
The bench of men’s underwear types runs deep, with options ranging from boxer briefs to thongs. Boxer briefs are arguably the most popular, and London Sock Co. makes an outstanding pair. Briefs come in a close second in terms of popularity, and don’t snooze on Tommy John’s Second Skin briefs if you’re going that route.
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More modern than traditional boxer shorts but still a tried-and-true classic, boxer briefs are characterized by a stretch fabric that contours to your thighs and waist. They won’t bunch up like less fitted men’s underwear types, making them more suitable (and comfortable) under tighter pants and shorts. The higher waist and additional upper-thigh coverage have made boxer briefs a popular choice among taller guys.
Aesthetically, they’re just a nice everyday middle ground between underwear that’s either too loose or too barely there (more on those in a minute). London Sock Co. makes an excellent pair, the Simply Grey Boxer, made of Lyocell for next-level softness and breathability.
Ah yes, the brief. Aka tighty-whities. Aka the Calvin Clein photoshoot special. Though a lot of men have phased briefs out of their underwear wardrobe, they remain a wildly popular type of men’s underwear. Briefs provide the same level of support that you’d find with boxer briefs but use about half the material.
This type of underwear provides no coverage over the legs. So if you’re proud of your tree stumps and are looking for an opportunity to show them off, this is your moment. The tighter fit throughout can also compliment your other netherregions of note. If you’re looking to add to your collection or are brief-curious, Tommy John’s Second Skin briefs are a must-add to your wardrobe.
Trunks are the jack-of-all-trades of men’s underwear types. Their stretch fabric is fitted like briefs and boxer briefs and they still offer your bits and pieces ample support. But two key features have contributed to the trunk’s continued rise in popularity over the years—their low-cut waist and short leg.
It’s one of the most versatile pieces of underwear you can find. For example,
Of all the men’s underwear types, boxer shorts are far and away the most ubiquitous. The name, as you might expect, comes from its resemblance to the shorts that boxers wear. More traditional boxer shorts aren’t loose per se, but provide ample room from waist to thigh. With the boxer shorts fit in mind, you’ll want to avoid tight or form-fitting bottoms to avoid bunching and general discomfort.
British brand Sunspel makes a super soft and lightweight pair of boxers in white and light blue that would make an excellent addition to your stable of basics.
Not to be confused with traditional boxer shorts or boxer briefs, performance boxers are constructed with an active lifestyle in mind. The most effective pairs will be made of moisture-wicking fabric, integrate anti-chafing elements, provide breathability, and prioritize support where we need it most.
While they’d work fine for everyday use, performance boxers are a niche item. Investing in a handful of high-quality pairs and only using them for working out is probably the best play depending on your budget. Lululemon’s 91% modal fabric Always in Motion Boxer features the key integrations I just mentioned and then some.
Quick, find a fire to stoke and a giant leather chair to posture in, because here comes the part about long underwear. Covering the entire area from your waist to your ankles, long underwear is all about comfort. And if that’s all you’re looking for, you don’t need to overthink the pair you choose. Just make sure they’re comfortable and fit well.
But if long underwear is all about utility for you, you’ll want to reach for a technical pair like Carhartt’s Force Midweight Classic Thermal Base Layer. It, and many others like it, are rife with performance features like a heat-trapping waffle knit, antimicrobial fabric, and flex technology that won’t restrict your movement.
When it comes to aesthetics, the jockstrap has taken one for the team for all of us. It’s a goofy-looking thing consisting of nothing but a roomy pouch up front and two straps across the back. But it’s a crucial one if you’re into contact sports or any activity where you’re at risk of an object being hurled toward your wedding tackle at a high velocity.
Speaking of, that pouch up front is mostly used as a vehicle for a hard cup designed to protect you from injury below the waist. Most of the options you’ll find out there are either white or black. But if you have to wear a jockstrap, why not have a little fun with it and go full martini glass motif? MeUndies carries that design and dozens of others to add a little levity to an otherwise awkward-looking undergarment.
Ever been to a beach or public pool in Europe? Remember all those dudes? Yep, those were bikini-cut bathing suits. The underwear version shares several characteristics of the other men’s underwear types we’ve already covered in this list—ample support and room for your goods, stretch fabric—but the bikini cut reveals even more thigh.
Bikini-cut underwear is best suited to the guy who would rather be going commando but can’t quite muster up the courage to fully get there. That, or the guy who likes the look of them and fully plans on parading around bottomless at any given opportunity. In the basics camp, Hanes has a super affordable six-pack that’ll do the trick, but there are also plenty of patterned options out there.
Remember when I said bikini-cut underwear is for the commando hesitant? I lied. It’s the G-String. The G-String has a pouch in the front, a minuscule strip of fabric in the back, and a very confident guy occupying them.
This and the to-be-discussed thong are popular among male review performers, sure, but also those who require frontal support but don’t want to feel any other fabric below the waist. Over on Amazon, Azcode makes a super popular G-String that comes in multiple colors. Protip: Don’t wear low-rise jeans unless you want to look like yet another late adopter of the ‘90s whale tale trend.
Akin to the G-String, the thong also has a pouch up front and a thin strip of fabric in the back. One of the main differences is that thongs typically have more fabric along the waist and are used more widely as a functional alternative to going commando as opposed to the G-String’s largely aesthetic appeal.
Coming in with another outstanding specimen in the world of men’s underwear is our ally in levity, MeUndies. Their Pouch-Front Thong (“sand dune” is a nice color with a nicer name) is made of buttery soft micromodal fabric to keep the few areas it touches cozy and irritation-free.
What To Look For In Men’s Underwear Types
Among the most basic of decisions when it comes to different types of men’s underwear is the style. Ideally, you’ll have a suite of options that suit your lifestyle—traditional boxers for traditional activities, performance boxers for working out, thongs for… thong things. Underwear isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition, so make sure you’re matching the garment to the occasion.
When shopping around for your underwear soulmates, pay close attention to what they’re made of. Cotton is the most common material because it’s lightweight and comfortable, but it lacks sweat-wicking properties. Silk is also lightweight and cozy but offers almost no support in most cases. Build your underwear wardrobe around your lifestyle, and don’t snooze on the details.
You heard me. Design. Yes, your underwear is personal. But if you’re not thinking about who else might be seeing your selections, you’re doing it wrong. Go into your underthings purchase with extracurricular activities in mind as opposed to just settling for the first neutral colors that cross your path.
Choosing the right underwear is a make-or-break situation in terms of comfort, style, and range of motion. The pairs you choose should be guided by your needs and personal taste—but if you’re looking for one of the most crowd-pleasing types of men’s underwear, you can’t go wrong with boxer briefs. Protip: London Sock Co. makes a stellar pair.
If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times: what’s best for you is up to you. Let the fit and feel be your guide. That said, boxer briefs are a universally loved style of underwear thanks to their balance of coverage and support.
The best and healthiest materials for men’s underwear are fabrics like cotton and bamboo, thanks to their comfort and, more importantly, breathability. As for the style, you can’t go wrong with the support and coverage of the boxer brief. Otherwise, avoid materials like polyester and rayon since they have a tendency to trap heat and moisture, which can lead to chafing and other skin disorders.