Underwear Glossary

A

a-shirt

A t-shirt without sleeves and cut-away armholes. Stands for athletic shirt.

anatomical pouch

A roomy pouch designed with enough depth to contain a man's package and hold it slightly away from the body. This reduces rubbing and painful compression.

ankle (sock height)

A sock that rises above the ankle but stays below the calf. Also called a quarter sock.

athletic (sock)

A sock specifically designed for athletic activity that provides support, sweat absorption, and anti-microbial properties to reduce odor.

B

bamboo fabric

Fabric made from bamboo fibers is extremely environmentally friendly because it doesn't require replanting or chemical fertilizers. The fibers of the bamboo plant are naturally porous, so they absorb moisture and wick it away from the skin. It keeps you cooler and drier than synthetics or cotton.

bar tacking

A series of hand or machine made stitches used for reinforcing areas of stress on a garment such as pocket openings, bottom of a fly opening, or buttonholes. It can be made by a series of close set zig-zag machine stitches or by whipstitching.

big & tall

A category of men's garments and underwear that are specially designed with larger proportions to better fit men with above-average height and waist measurements. Examples include longer length shirts and underwear with fuller waist cuts.

bikini (men's)

Snug fitting underwear styled after a brief, but featuring high cut legs and less rear coverage than a traditional brief.

bodysuit

A one-piece, form-fitting garment that covers the torso. Shapewear commonly comes in bodysuit form, providing full-body slimming benefits, including torso, waist, tummy, hips, thighs, and butt.

boxer brief

A men's underwear style that combines the length of a boxer short with the snug fit and support of a brief. The long length provides light athletic support and anti-chafing benefits, making the boxer brief a sought after sports essential.

boxer short

Loose-fitting underwear with an elastic waistband, so-called because of its resemblance to shorts worn in boxing matches. The leg of a boxer short can be a variety of lengths, but is always loose on the leg. Their relaxed fit makes them a great sleep option.

brief (men's)

Traditional, snug-fitting underwear with no leg and full rear coverage. Briefs can have a functional fly or no fly at all.

butt boosting

Underwear designed to make the butt look bigger than it does, usually by the use of lifting straps or hidden pads.

C

casual (sock)

A crew style sock that typically falls at mid-calf. Made from a variety of fabrics, ranging from polyester to cotton, casual socks provide a level of coverage and cushioning that makes them great for everyday wear.

combed cotton

This extra-soft cotton is called combed because the shortest, additional fibers are removed (as by combing) leaving only high-quality yarns with excellent strength and softness. Many intimate apparel companies use combed cotton because it feels so good against sensitive skin.

compression shorts

Form-fitting athletic undergarments that have the look and feel of cycling shorts, but apply more compression pressure to combat muscle fatigue.

contour pouch

A pouch that is shaped to contain and slightly define a man's package.

control top

The stretchy, slimming waistband portion of certain hosiery and panties that smoothes the shape of the tummy, hips, and butt.

Coolmax

A polyester-based fabric that wicks moisture away from the body to keep you cool and dry. Coolmax is commonly found in athletic style socks and undergarments.

cotton

Cotton is a natural fabric made from the fibers of the cotton plant, cherished for its durability and comfortable softness. Though 100% cotton fabric is the time-tested classic, much of the cotton used in underwear has been blended with a small amount of spandex (elastane) that helps to retain the shape of the garment.

crew (sock height)

A sock that rises up to the mid-calf area.

D

dress (men's sock style)

Dress socks are usually made from a sleek material, such as mercerized cotton, that allows it to be comfortably slipped into a dress shoe, such as an oxford or wing tip.

E

elastane

Also known as spandex, this synthetic fiber is known for its exceptional elasticity. It is stronger and more durable than rubber, making it an ideal addition to lingerie fabric blends to yield a perfect fit. Elastane is frequently added to cotton to help the garment retain its shape.

elastic

Stretchable fiber, yarn, or tape made from natural or synthetic rubber. It is used to create most waistbands and leg trims in intimate apparel because of its high level of resilience.

enclosed elastic waistband

A waistband in which the elastic strip has been covered in the same fabric used to make the garment.

F

firm compression (shapewear)

Heavy duty compression that actually transforms your shape, sometimes up to one full size. Typically made with latex or rubber, it provides non-stretch or one-way paneling. Firm compression shapewear has minimal to no give and is designed to eliminate trouble spots, reducing inches for a slimmer silhouette. This level of compression is ideal for special events, when you only plan to wear it for a few hours at a time.

flat lock seam

This flat seam is made with a special stitching technique that forces the seam allowance to lie against the garment rather than hanging loose from it. Overall, flat lock seams allow a garment to sit flatter against your body. Additionally, they are easy to layer over, and they reduce seam chafe.

fly

The front opening at the pouch of certain styles of underwear. Typically constructed of two overlapping fabric panels, flys can feature buttons or snaps to keep them closed, as in the case of boxer shorts.

full coverage (underwear)

A term used to describe styles that rest at the waist and offer full rear coverage with a low leg line.

G

g-string

A panty offering the least amount of coverage, a g-string features a narrow panel of fabric in the front that tapers to a thin band, passes between the buttocks and is attached to a thin waistband in the back. G-strings leave your buttocks completely exposed and are worn for their ability to completely minimize underwear lines.

gossamer

A lightweight, sheer gauze-like fabric.

H

high rise

A term used to describe styles of underwear with waistbands that rise well above your natural waistline, covering much of the lower abdomen and, in some cases, reaching up to your navel.

high waist

Underwear and shapewear designed with a waistband that rises high above your natural waistline to provide support and a slimming effect to your tummy and hips.

I

inseam

The vertical inner leg seam on the legs of a pair of pants or underwear with long legs, such as a boxer brief.

instep

That part of the sock lying over the top of your foot.

J

jacquard

A decorative woven or knitted pattern sewn onto fabric, named after its inventor, Josie Marie Jacquard.

jersey knit

The same fabric from which t-shirts are made, jersey is both comfortable and durable, making it an ideal choice for a variety of undergarments.

jockstrap

A supportive and minimal undergarment made for men, especially for wear during athletic activities. The construction of a jockstrap is traditionally an elastic waistband connected to a pouch of fabric that covers the genitals, with straps across the buttocks at the rear. Some jockstraps feature a thong back.

K

kangaroo pouch

A horizontal fly-front pouch at the front of men’s underwear.

kimono

A wide-sleeved robe with a belt that is inspired in style by the traditional Japanese kimono. The kimono style is popular as loungewear and often features a floral or scenic print with a button, toggle, or sash closure.

knit

A textile made by interlacing yarn in a series of connected loops to make a soft fabric with natural stretch.

L

laser cut edges

A technique applied to synthetic fabrics, where by the edges are trimmed using a laser, creating a flat, seamless edge that won't unravel. Garments with laser cut edges are especially ideal under tight, clingy pants.

leg shaper

A shapewear style, usually resembling a bicycle short or footless tight, made to offer control and shaping throughout the legs.

light compression (aka as low compression) (shapewear)

Made of microfiber, nylon blends, and other breathable fabrics, light or low compression garments can range from panties to leggings, and bustiers to full body girdles but are typically lightweight and seamless. The result is a more flattering, toned silhouette for better fitting clothes.

lin-toe closure

A method of closing the toe of a sock by aligning the knit loops at the edge of each piece of knit fabric and using a single thread to join the knit fabric edges loop-for-loop. This type of closure leaves no ridge on the toe seam inside or outside of the sock.

long underwear (aka long johns)

A close fitting undergarment, similar to leggings, worn under pants to provide an extra layer of insulation in cold weather.

low cut

A short length sock that falls below the anklebone, usually 3" to 4" in length.

low rise

A term used to describe styles of underwear that fall below your natural waistline, and don't peep above low rise, hipster pants, and jeans.

Lycra elastane

A registered trademark of the DuPont Company for their spandex fiber. What that means for you--a high quality spandex fiber that is woven into fabrics, such as cotton, to help them retain their shape.

M

matte

This term is normally used to describe a metallic surface with a smooth or sometimes brushed finish that lacks luster and shine. It is also used to describe the same non-lustrous finish on a fabric (as in silk chiffon).

medical (sock)

Socks that are designed to promote circulation and foot breathability. Typically, these socks feature a non-binding elastic top and relaxed fit leg, and are endorsed by certain medical associations, such as the American Podiatric Medical Association.

men's g-string

This minimal coverage style consists of a thin waistband and a single string that goes between the buttocks and is attached to the pouch in the front.

men's thong

A thong has a waistband with a piece of fabric (as opposed to a string) that goes between the buttocks and is attached to the back, offering slightly more coverage than a g-string.

mercerized cotton

Cotton that has been treated with sodium hydroxide to give it a slick texture and lustrous appearance.

microfiber

A smooth, stretchy fabric made from extremely fine filaments. Because microfiber is so lightweight and breathable, it's used to make a variety of garments, from bras to boxer briefs.

mid rise

A term used to describe styles of underwear that fall at or about your natural waistline.

mini-crew

A short crew sock, usually 3" to 4" in length.

minimal coverage

A term used across the sexes to describe underwear that doesn't provide any rear coverage, such as a thong or g-string.

modal

A natural fabric made from the cellulose fibers of beech trees. Modal is soft and silky to the touch, and more absorbent than cotton, making it a favorite underwear material for both men and women.

moderate compression (aka medium compression) (shapewear)

Often made from nylon or a cotton blend, medium compression shapewear offers the same benefits of firm compression garments, minus the latex. Instead it substitutes different amounts of spandex or microfiber and provides panels or layers for additional compression. This level of compression feels snug and supportive, and actually yields a dramatic difference. It won't reduce you by an entire size, but the compression will slim problem areas. Comfortable enough for everyday.

moisture-wicking

A term used to describe a fabric's tendency to draw moisture away from the skin, thus reducing dampness, rubbing, and odor. Moisture-wicking fabrics are commonly used in athletic style underwear and socks.

N

no-show (sock height)

A sock that fits below the ankle and does not show when wearing shoes.

nylon

A family of synthetic fabrics made from strong, resilient fibers. Also known as polyamide.

O

organic cotton

Organic cotton is cultivated using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems restore and maintain soil fertility, minimize the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers and build biologically diverse agriculture.

over-the-calf (men's sock height)

Socks that rise up to just below the knee, usually 15” in length or longer.

P

package boosting

Underwear that makes your package look bigger than it is. This enhanced effect can be achieved a variety of ways, ranging from padding to support slings and hoops that lift your goods into a more prominent position. See also: profile enhancing

ped

Usually, a short length sock that falls below the anklebone.

Pima cotton

One of the finest grades of cotton in the world, ranked just after Egyptian and Supima cottons. It features long, luxurious white vegetable fibers from the cotton plant grown in the southwest United States by the Pima Indians.

piping

A decorative touch added to garments, where a narrow fold of fabric in a contrasting color is sewn into the seam.

polyamide

A family of synthetic fabrics made from strong, resilient fibers. Also known as nylon.

polyester

A synthetic knit fabric noted for its soft feel, durability, and versatility of use.

Powermesh

A lightweight, gauze-like fabric that maintains its rigidity as it stretches. Because of its durability and lightweight feel, Powermesh is often used to line bra wings.

profile enhancing

Underwear that makes your package look bigger than it is. This enhanced effect can be achieved a variety of ways, ranging from padding to support slings and hoops that lift your goods into a more prominent position. See also: package boosting

Q

quick-dry

Performance fabric with “quick-dry” properties eliminates sweat faster so you can stay cool and comfortable longer.

R

rayon

A man made fabric made from the natural fibers of cotton, wood chips, bamboo, modal, and a variety of other vegetable matters. Rayon is soft, absorbs moisture well, and has an attractive luster, making it an ideal fabric for a variety of uses.

rear seam (underwear)

This seam, sewn into the underwear down the rear center portion, causes the shape of the underwear to trace that of your body, creating definition and preventing "unibutt."

regular fit (t-shirts)

A term used to describe the relatively loose, relaxed fit of a t-shirt.

reinforced heel (sock)

A heel that has been strengthened with extra knitting to lend more durability.

Reverso-toe closure

A method of closing the toe of a sock that is identical to the smooth looped toe seam, except that the seam lies on the outside of the sock leaving an extra-smooth "seamless" surface on the inside of the sock next to the foot.

rise

The measurement between the waistband and the first horizontal seam of underwear (at the crotch). Average rises are around 9" and low-rise starts at about 7”. Rise is also a term used to describe where an underwear waistband falls in relation to the waistband of your pants.

S

sandal toe

A seamless toe that is not reinforced with extra layers of fabric or yarn, so your toes look more natural when worn with open toed shoes.

satin

This traditional fabric has a silky, lustrous finish. The long, interlaced yarns of the fabric have no visible pattern, creating a smooth shiny surface.

seamless (underwear)

A term applied to underwear that does not feature side seams that could potentially cause visible lines along the hips.

seamless front (shapewear)

High waisted shapewear pieces with no seam on the front. This is especially important when wearing tight fitting clothes, as front seams can show up as bumps.

seamless toe (sock)

Toes made from a continuous piece of knit fabric, so as not to cause any bumps or bunching inside the toe area.

shaping undershirt (men's)

A shirt made from stretchy material that smoothes over torso, abs and waistline to promote a slimmer appearance. Shaping undershirts are designed to be worn under clothing and remain undetectable.

shapewear (aka shaper)

Garments worn under clothing that smooth over skin, resulting in a slimmer, more toned appearance. Shapewear pieces range from control briefs to full coverage bodysuits. The goal of shapewear is to provide a smoother foundation shape while remaining undetectable under clothes. Shapewear garments include tummy shapers, leg shapers, and waist shapers.

silk

One of the finest textiles in the world because of its natural softness and radiant sheen, silk is created by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Silk has the natural ability to regulate temperature, keeping you cool in hot weather and warm in cool weather.

slim fit (t-shirts)

A term used to describe a t-shirt that fits more closely to the body. Slim fit t-shirts make ideal undershirts, as they don't bunch under shirts.

slimming (shapewear)

A sculpting effect that looks like you're sucking it all in (without the discomfort of actually doing so). It won't reduce you by an entire size, but the compression provides a smoothing effect from your midriff through your thighs for a slimmer, more slender appearance. Comfortable enough for everyday.

smoothing (shapewear)

These form-fitting pieces glide over your skin to smooth over your lumps and bumps. The result is a more flattering, toned silhouette. Your body becomes a smoother palette and clothes will fit better.

soy (fabric)

Soy fabric is an environmentally friendly fiber made from tofu manufacturing waste. Soy protein is liquefied and extruded into long, unbroken fibers that are then cut and processed like other spinning fibers. It's incredibly soft and feels similar to cashmere.

spandex

A synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. Also known as elastane and Lycra Elastane. It is stronger and more durable than rubber, making it an ideal addition to lingerie fabric blends to yield a perfect fit. Spandex is frequently added to cotton to help the garment retain its shape.

stretch cotton

Cotton fabric that has been blended with a small amount of spandex (elastane) that helps to retain the shape of the garment without sacrificing softness.

string bikini

A super lean cut bikini that features a front and back panel, joined together on the sides by a thin elastic string. This low rise style provides minimal rear coverage.

T

tactel

A type of nylon trademarked by DuPont that's amazingly soft and durable. It is lightweight, versatile, breathable, shape-retentive, and easy-to-wash

tagless

Instead of a separate piece of fabric sewn onto the garment, tagless items feature a tag that has been ironed onto the garment itself. This reduces rubbing and chafing.

tencel

A man made fabric made from the natural cellulose found in wood pulp, which is processed into a silk-like, delicate fabric. Tencel is smooth and stretchy with a nice luster, making it an ideal fabric for a variety of uses.

terry cushioning

Knitting all (fully cushioned) or part of a sock (foot or sole only) with a secondary (terry) loop to create extra cushioning in the areas where the extra yarn loops are present.

thermal

Clothing, typically undergarments, made from 2-ply fabric designed to prevent the release of body heat.

thin elastic waistband

A thin piece of raw elastic has been sewn into the inner portion of a garment to give it a stretchy quality, helping it hug your body to stay up.

thong

A thong has a waistband with a piece of fabric (as opposed to a string) that goes between the buttocks and is attached to the back, offering slightly more coverage than a g-string.

transforming (shapewear)

These garments really trim the fat, sometimes even slimming you down a whole size. Heavy duty fabrics apply compression to the areas you need it most, re-sculpting them to appear flatter. Best worn when you only plan on stunning for a few hours at a time.

trunks

Snug fitting underwear that features longer legs than a brief, but shorter than a boxer brief, usually shorter than a 3 1/2 inch inseam.

U

underwear

Undergarments worn under clothes, next to the skin (at Freshpair, we’re all about it).

V

viscose

A man-made knit fabric made from natural cellulose fiber that can be obtained from wood, modal, and bamboo, to name a few. A form of rayon, viscose is soft, absorbs moisture well, and has an attractive luster, making it an ideal fabric for a variety of uses.

W

waffle weave (texture)

Fabric sewn into a square pattern with raised edges.

welt cuff

A welt-cuff top is a double layer of knit fabric at the top of the leg. A conventional cuff is knit with single layer of fabric from the top down. You can see where the knitting of the conventional cuff starts since there is a short tail of yarn.

X

X

A men’s collection from Calvin Klein inspired by a boxer’s fighting shorts.

xilinous

Similar to, or pertaining to cotton.

Y

y-back thong

A men’s thong with a traditional waistband and low y-shaped elastic in the back.

y-brief

A men’s brief with a pouch trimmed in the shape of a Y.

yoga pants

Yoga pants are lightweight and flexible designed for yoga practice or lounging

Z

Zen

A men’s collection from C-IN2 made with rayon from bamboo.