Brief Styling Guide
When Bill Clinton infamously responded to the age-old question of “Boxers or briefs?” on a 1992 MTV Q&A session in favor of the latter, who would’ve thought the future president would be so ahead of his time? That’s right, fast-forward twenty-five years and briefs are back in style.
With boxer briefs long having a foothold on the men’s underwear market, why are more guys now choosing to wear briefs? We’ve all seen, we know what they look like, but how do we draw the line between fashionable briefs and the less trendy image of “whitey tighties”? This styling guide will help make the distinction between the two and give a bit more background on choosing stylish briefs for men.
A Brief History
Initially inspired by old-school bathing suits, y-shaped snug-fit briefs first became popular in the 1930s. For the next fifty years, briefs dominated the men’s underwear market. The increased support and fixed-position made the garment a go-to for men across the US. Little changed for several decades in terms of style; in the 1980s, fashion briefs with bright colors and flashy prints rose in popularity.
Still, the general style of briefs for men remained unstoppable until the reintroduction of boxers and proliferation of boxer briefs in the 1990s. With Calvin Klein ads popularizing boxer briefs and hip-hop culture breathing new life into boxers, briefs became relegated to the underwear choice of a clientele perceived as out of touch and old-fashioned.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
Since when are briefs back in style? And why do guys wear briefs? The prevailing thought ties the increase in fashionable briefs to a change in the relationship between masculinity, body image and men’s fashion. When boxer briefs first took off, the idea was to have a tighter undergarment that conformed to the skin as men were becoming more comfortable with sexualizing themselves.
The current brief product takes this concept a step further. Briefs for men provide a flattering silhouette that’s ideal for demonstrating physical physique. For a culture that has become more fitness-oriented and, to an extent, gym-obsessed, modern briefs with hip cuts are becoming increasingly popular. They have a more angular, narrow cut than the classic round-edge briefs. This allows guys to show off more muscle in their hips and upper thighs by showing more skin.
Besides body image, men are simply more conscious of fashion these days. And fashion no longer must come with a strictly masculine feel. Whether it be floral prints, mesh accented shirts or long-drift cardigans, men’s popular fashion is shedding notions of what is feminine, masculine and acceptable. Men’s casual attire is carrying a more sexual edge, perhaps due to a rise in male objectification, so it makes sense for a more revealing underwear in men’s fashion briefs to rise in popularity.
We now know it’s become fashionable and that men’s body images are changing, making briefs for men a natural choice. There still might be one thing in the back of your mind holding briefs up, so let’s address the elephant in the room.
Briefs took a hit in part due to the misconception that they lead to infertility in men. However, several medical studies since these claims have become prevalent show that this is simply not true. Other factors like bunching caused by choosing an incorrect fit can lead to increased temperatures in the region, a problem that can equally affect all types of undergarment. So, in short, you’ll be safe in your briefs.
Benefits of Going Back to Briefs
Why do guys wear briefs? The benefits are plentiful. Sure, we’ve covered that they’re great for showing off musculature. Beyond that, the snug-fit style makes leg movement a breeze. They’re great for long working hours and getting proper circulation. The support and design prevents the groin from rubbing up against the thighs, reducing the possibility of chafing. They’re versatile for all occasions. They can be worn on trips, at work, for date nights, for outdoor adventures and virtually anywhere. The fact that they’re fashionable again makes them a near perfect underwear choice.
Types of Briefs
Briefs are no longer a one-trick pony undergarment, with the classic white brief featuring a striped elastic waistband. Why guys are starting to wear briefs is in part due to their versatility. There are high-rise, mid-rise and low-rise briefs to choose from. In terms of materials, besides the common cotton and synthetics are lace and sheer briefs for greater sex appeal. Let’s talk a little about what options are out there.
High-rise briefs are a more traditional style that rests just below the belly button and slightly above the natural waistline. When accompanied with high waisted pants or jeans, the high-rise brief securely hugs the groin and lifts it up for support.
A mid-cut brief does much of the same but sits just below the abdominal region. This allows much of the same support and comfort. However, it’s good for those that may not want their waistband exposed about the pants line.
The low-rise brief was first introduced in the 1990s when low-rise jeans and pants first showed up on the scene. The undergarment sits below the waistline, but still provides a degree of support to prevent sagging.
For a more modern look that redefines concepts of masculinity, lace briefs bring a whole new look and feel to briefs for men. Lace briefs bring a great deal of comfort while letting guys show off a different, more non-traditional style. Sheer briefs take this sex appeal to another level by using a see-through style to give a teasing glimpse of your skin.
Are briefs back in style? Absolutely. With all types of cuts and materials that appeal to a variety of demographics, briefs have made their comeback known and look to be here to stay. No longer thought of as either boring or reserved for a more feminine styling, stylish briefs for men can make any guy feel good about himself and how his body looks.