If the last briefs you wore had dinosaurs or construction trucks on them, you might be confused with the sudden popularity in briefs once again. Surely it can’t be, but are men’s briefs back in style?? Yes, yes they are.
Don’t worry though. Mens briefs have improved leaps and bounds beyond the tighty whities your mom used to buy you. They’re comfy, supportive, and *gasp* can be quite sexy! They’re the OG of men’s underwear types for a reason.
While mens boxer briefs have been the king of underwear drawers in the past decade, I’m here to tell you that briefs are back, baby! If you’re still not a believer, read below for an in-depth look into briefs and by the end, you’ll be wearing briefs again too!
WHAT ARE BRIEFS?
Briefs, tighty whities, knickers—whatever you want to call them, they’re a type of men’s underwear that covers the butt and front, but doesn’t extend down the thighs. Akin to women’s hipster panties, they’re form-fitting and meant to provide full coverage without the extra fabric.
They used to be the most common type of men’s underwear, but they faded in popularity in the 90s for some reasons we’ll cover below.
WHY DID MEN STOP WEARING BRIEFS?
There’s quite a few reasons that a lot of men ditched their briefs in favor of looser cuts like mens boxers and boxer briefs. From perceived medical issues to fashion choices, a lot was going on with men’s underwear during the 90s. Let’s get into it!
1. A THEORY THAT BRIEFS CAUSE MALE INFERTILITY
At one point, people thought that briefs might cause your sperm count to lower because they’re too warm or tight. Even shows like Dr. Oz started to talk about it, despite there being zero evidence backing it up.
Thankfully, it’s completely not true—briefs do not raise scrotal temperatures enough to cause infertility. On a completely different note, I will be naming my fictional band “The Scrotal Temperatures.”
2. FRAGILE IDEAS ABOUT MASCULINITY WERE COMMON
Briefs: just one more thing that toxic masculinity tried to ruin. Masculinity was in flux during the late 80s and 90s with the AIDS crisis, rise of hyper masculine music, and changing dynamics between men and women in the workplace.
Since the very idea of what it meant to be a “man” was, for some, threatened, it became even more important for some men to be perceived as masculine. Wearing briefs was deemed feminine because of the amount of skin showing, how much they emphasize your package, and the homophobic idea that only “gay men wore briefs.”
The last thing a typical dude would want to be perceived as in the 90s was feminine. So wearing a “girly” type of underwear that might give the impression of homosexuality was lower in popularity.
3. THE INCREASED POPULARITY OF BOXER BRIEFS
Briefs started to go out of style as boxer briefs became more popular thanks to uber-sexy marketing campaigns featuring the biggest stars. I mean, who could ever forget the iconic Marky Mark Calvin Klein ads? Certainly not me!
With this push from brands, boxer briefs started to be seen as what cool, chill, sexy dudes were wearing, while nerds in shows like the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” wore starched tighty whities. So, not only were briefs seen as feminine, they were also seen as what the nerdy guys wear. It’s no wonder so many guys decided to switch to boxer briefs.
4. EXPOSED UNDERWEAR WAS IN STYLE
It was such a move in the 90s and early 2000s for men to wear their jeans super low and expose their underwear. Originating in the exploding hip hop movement, sagging pants became The Look for young men.
Because so many men were exposing so much of their underwear to the world, boxers and boxer briefs became more popular. After all, it wasn’t nearly as hot of a look to have your jeans below your butt…with your upper thighs sticking out under your briefs!
But guess what! This trend loosening its grip on fashion, combined with changing ideas of masculinity, means we’re wearing briefs again.
WHY ARE MEN'S BRIEFS BACK IN STYLE?
If we went through all of that in the 90s, you might be wondering: are men’s briefs back in style? And why? Let’s break it down!
1. THEY OFFER COMFORT AND SUPPORT
Why do we wear underwear if not to comfort and support our nether region? With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us inside for the past few years, it’s become even more popular to choose comfort over anything when deciding what to wear.
Today’s briefs are not the same as those scratchy, stiff ones your mom used to buy you in a pack of ten. Improvement in construction and materials used have made briefs one of the most comfortable types of men’s underwear for a few reasons:
- No chafing. The cut of briefs around the crotch make them amazing anti chafing underwear that prevent your most sensitive bits from rubbing up against your thighs all day. Where boxers and boxer briefs can push all of your junk and thighs together, briefs keep them separate and protected from the dreaded chub rub.
- Good for exercising. Briefs are some of the best workout underwear because they offer full support of your jiggly bits, which is very necessary for a painless run!
- No more wedgies. One of the biggest improvements in briefs construction is the no-wedgie fit! The bottom hem is designed to stay in place and leave your crack alone—yay!
- Breathable fabric. A lot of briefs are now made with fabrics like hemp fabric, which means they’re more breathable and moisture wicking. If you were worried about your sperm count even despite what doctors say, this makes briefs a lot more enticing because the breathability will help keep your little (I mean, big) buddies cool!
2. EVOLVING DEFINITIONS OF MASCULINITY
Amongst the general population, especially young adult men, we have seen the image of ideal masculinity change from the bulked up Rambo type of man to a softer and more emphatic kind of man.
Am I saying that there is no more toxic masculinity and everything is perfect? Of course not, but this change has helped men feel more free to express themselves however they want.
From more men wearing softer colors or more feminine patterns like floral to the rise of skinny jeans, this increased “metro sexuality” has opened up more options for men’s clothing. I mean what straight man hasn’t been coaxed into a floral short-sleeve button up shirt by Tan France on Queer Eye?
So, are briefs back in style because of more open mindedness around masculinity? Yes! Case in point: the humble brief. Whereas before men felt they couldn't wear briefs in fear of being called girly, now they’re more able to choose the style of underwear that’s the most comfortable and supportive for them.
3. STYLE CHOICES
Along with the changing definition of what is “manly,” certain style choices and clothing trends have influenced men to start wearing briefs again. The rising popularity of skinny jeans and short shorts (ahem “hoochie daddy shorts”) makes briefs the best type of underwear because neither style works with extra fabric around your crotch.
Also, in general, a lot more men are showing off their body-ody-odies, so briefs are favored because they show off extra skin and shape. The body acceptance movement has also made it a lot more comfortable for men of all body shapes and sizes to flaunt their stuff (and we love to see it)!
SO, ARE MEN'S BRIEF BACK IN STYLE?
Yes, men are wearing briefs again, but why are men’s briefs back in style? They’re comfy and super supportive during exercise, they fit well under the biggest clothing trends right now, and they’re downright sexy!
If you’re new to briefs or wanted to say no when asked, “are briefs back in style?,” don’t fear the change! Finding a pair of breathable underwear that supports but doesn’t restrict is easy thanks to all of the amazing sustainable fabrics like hemp and organic cotton that brands are using these days.
So, did I convince you to start wearing briefs again? If not, start from the top and read through again (only slightly joking)!