MENS UNDERWEAR TYPES - STYLE GUIDE FOR MEN
Men's underwear – simple isn't it? They're just underpants aren't they, some bigger, some smaller?
The main styles of men’s underwear are:
But then there are the wild cards, including:
Unravelling the jargon, with the help of Deadgoodundies.com expert Jane Garner, will help gents make the right choice when they next treat themselves to new undies. The rule of thumb is to check out the depth of the side seam…
As Jane explains, there are always variations and some brands have specific terms for their own special designs, such as brazil or cheeky briefs.
"This is fashion, so the terminology is flexible and brands use different terms for different shapes of male underwear," she says. "Men are hugely loyal to the brand and shape they know and love, but we do recommend they stray once in a while to try something new, which is often a surprise improvement on their original choice."
Key features of each style
String or thong: DGU describes a design with a very fine back strap as a string, but if it's wider, then a thong, but these are mostly interchangeable.
BRIEFS & SHORTS
There are many variations called briefs for men…
Micro brief: also known as a slip, male bikini or, in America, as the 'European' brief. The side seam on a micro will be 2-3cm, or around an inch deep, or less. This shape is massively popular and a well cut micro is always a top seller.
Tanga brief: easy to spot because there is no extra fabric beneath the waistband at each side, but still good front and back cover. Ideal for men of action who want maximum room to manoeuvre.
Mini brief: here the side seam will be 2-3 inches/6-7cm – a slightly safer choice than the minimalist micro, offering more overall coverage.
Midi brief: this shape needs to be seen on the body to be appreciated, it's half way between a micro and a maxi brief or trunk. The depth is 4-5 inches/10-12cm, creating good, solid underpants which can have a chic retro look.
Hipster brief: a shallower boxer brief using an attractive and very modern low rise fit.
Boxer brief/maxi brief/trunk: whatever you call them, the snug fitting boxer brief shape for men is probably the world's best selling shape in male underwear today (based on high street sales – online retail like DGU's favours more diverse shapes, especially shallower cuts). Deep sided, these undies fit from below the waist to the top of the thigh in a boxy trunk design.
Boxer short: classic loose fit boxer shorts, mostly in shirt-style cotton rather than softer jersey fabrics, often with buttons down the front.
Long boxer: variation on the boxer brief with a longer leg – this could be 3cm, 6cm, 9cm or more onto the thigh. Skin tight but not restrictive, these are for guys who want more leg cover, have larger thigh circumference, or as an under layer for sport, running, cycling, yoga…
Long john: classic full length underwear favoured as a thermal layer by lovers of winter sport and the great outdoors, but also men who work in any cold environment. A flurry of interest from fashion designers a few years ago shifted the appeal of long underwear so it's also worn as male loungewear and nightwear these days.
Jockstrap: another men's underwear style that's gone from purely practical to high fashion. Made up of a pouch with buttock and waist straps, a jock offers support, shaping and sometimes protection (with a cricket box), with maximum aeration round the back. Since fashion took an interest, the jock has metamorphosed with some brands moving more into colour and sensuality.
Cheeky brief: as the name suggests this is a clever shape designed to expose more bum than classic male undies.
Knee/calf length johns: variation on a theme… Same top as long johns, but finishing just below the knee or onto the calf in a style preferred by men who don't like too much fabric round their ankles or want greater leg cover for exercise or sport.
Meggings: usually highly fashionable in daring fabrics and patterns, male leggings are the same shape as footless tights. The second skin fit is much closer than a long john.
All-in-one body: using the same principle as a one-piece swimsuit, a male body will be tight fitting. Some are designed for practicality – avoiding that breezy gap between t-shirt and underpants – but most are slinky, mostly totally smooth but some with zip fronts. The upper body can have sleeves or vest straps, the lower half echoes boxer briefs or may have a thong back or full length legs.
When it comes to best sellers on Deadgoodundies.com, preference has shifted in the last two years from strings and thongs having total dominance to micro briefs and tanga cuts. But as Jane points out, there is always a market for the teeniest undies for men: "A lot of men will wince at the thought of wearing string underwear, but many of our customers love them. The right size and shape thong can provide just the right amount of support and coverage for activities from sport to dance and yoga, or in extreme heat, and an invisible but modesty-preserving layer under light clothing."
Deadgoodundies.com has customers of all shapes, sizes and physiques all over the world. As Jane concludes: "The best underwear a man can wear is something that fits well, feels great and makes him look good. We have individual size guides for each brand to help customers choose what's right for them. Our detailed descriptions will point out if a specific design has been created, for example Obviously for Men AnatoMAX underpants, with additional capacity for well-endowed gents, or a shape that caters for larger thighs.
"Whatever you call them, there's a style of men's underwear to suit everyone and DGU has one of the biggest selections of quality brands in one place anywhere in the world. So it's a good place to start." Back to top.