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Remember when boxer briefs were the norm in every man’s underwear drawer? Those days are long gone. We now live in the Age of the Brief. It used to be that briefs brought images of whitie tighties and/or gay men to mind. Now they bring to mind images of athletic underwear, sexy underwear, and a confident man with a sense of style. Yes, men in briefs are making a comeback. But is there a reason behind this growing trend?
In this installment of “Ask The Expert,” we take a macro look at men’s fashion in an attempt to answer that question. And while it isn’t our intention, we do expect to convert some diehard boxer fans to briefs along the way.
Arik from Melbourne, Australia – I’ve noticed that a lot more guys at the gym change into briefs before going about their day. I used to assume this meant they were gay, but clearly some of them aren’t. I’m pretty sure. Is it just me, or are briefs becoming more popular than boxer briefs? Just curious.
The Underwear Expert – Good question, Arik. The short answer is: yes, more and more men are wearing briefs these days, gay and straight alike. It’s our belief that this shift has to do with an overall mindset and a change in what “masculinity” means in terms of style.
Back when boxer briefs reigned supreme, briefs were seen as a more sexual underwear option — men who wore them were making a clear choice to show more skin than was necessary. This hasn’t really changed, but the idea of men sexualizing themselves has.
The darker side of this has to do with body image and sexual objectification. It’s no secret that men are objectified more in today’s world than they used to be. Hell, look at any men’s underwear ad or the overall rise in gym-obsessed guys. Details even published an article late last month on “bigorexia,” or muscle dysmorphia, which affects 1 in 10 men. A small number, but a sad and true statistic.
So one reason we are seeing more men in briefs is because the brief style provides men with a flattering silhouette that’s ideal for showing off a fit physique. This could also explain why modern briefs with hip cuts are increasingly popular. They’re more narrow than the classic brief cut, and all about showing off a masculine form. Show more skin, and you show more muscle.
Body image aside, men in general are looking more fashion-savvy these days. Men now pick their fair share of floral prints and don’t think twice about it. It used to be that florals were too flashy for most men and sometimes even written off as feminine. But now floral prints have grown into casual men’s attire, especially with the younger teen and 20-something crowd. Beyond that, we’re seeing more fashion-forward looks being made for men — and somewhat sexual ones at that.
Mesh made a large impact on men’s fashion this year. From entirely mesh tanks to mesh-accented shirts and sweaters, we started to see casual attire having more of a sexual edge — no doubt a result of the rise in male objectification. We’re making an educated guess when we say the growing acceptance of gay men has something to do with this.
As homosexuality has become more accepted, looking fashionable and put-together seems to have become more common. Trendy outfits used to have a connotation of femininity or metrosexuality. There was even a “South Park” episode about it! Well-dressed men don’t register as “possibly gay” anymore, they’re simply fashionable and style-conscious. This change of mindset leveled the fashion playing field for men. What was one fashion-forward are “gay” is now fair game for straight men.
And while we are seeing more men in briefs — at the gym, in underwear selfies, etc. — we aren’t living in a perfect world where every guy is well-dressed and putting effort into how they look. For instance, this article is being written in a coffee shop with a man in overalls in clear view, and another in a tracksuit with dress shoes. One can only help there are some fitted, stylish briefs under there.
Check out the gallery below to see how modern briefs run the gamut from straight to gay.
Photo Credit: Jerrad Matthew Exclusively for The Underwear Expert
Feature Image: Mack Weldon Brief – Black