Briefly Noted: Underwear for Your Masculine Center

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The gender politics of underwear are weird. What makes “men’s” underwear exclusively for men? Is it still men’s underwear if I’m wearing it? Why do I have to look at so many pictures of washboard abs and generous crotches? If clothing is how you express yourself to others, then underwear is how you express yourself to…yourself. Sometimes wearing men’s underwear is the smallest transgression we dare to make. Sometimes it’s the loudest secret we have. Sometimes it peeks out the top of our jeans. Sometimes it’s all we’re wearing.

So come all ye of varying genders, and let’s talk about underwear for the masculine of center.


 

Breaking Tradition

by anon

I’ve always been that kid with hyper-senses. A loose hair between my back and shirt drives me crazy. That ball of fuzz that forms in the toe of the sock after washing drives me crazy. Traditional underwear seams? Used to drive me crazy. It’s been almost a decade since I last wore a pair of traditional underwear. When I started college, my (then) girlfriend wore Hanes boy short underwear and I was excited to get in them. Get in a pair of my own, I mean. So it all started there; with this idea that I was still wearing girl’s underwear. The model on the little cardboard covering was a girl. So when I checked out at the register, it was okay. When my mom saw them, it was okay because they were girls’ underwear.

Fact: It's really only men's underwear if men are wearing it.

Fact: It’s really only men’s underwear if men are wearing it.

The next change happened about 4 years after that when I met my now (and forever) girlfriend. It’s another essay and several poems to explain how she changed my life. She taught me everything I know about sexuality and gender. Taught me, really taught me that it was okay to be me; whoever that me is. That’s when I got my first pair of men’s underwear. Actually, she got them for me in a surf/skate shop in Eilat, Israel, where we met. They were Rip Curl and they were teal and they were – and still are – my favorite pair of boxers. Over that year, I acquired several more men’s trunks, but was still wearing my girls’ boy shorts as well. It wasn’t until I got back to the States that I really changed my whole wardrobe.

I started buying everything that made me feel comfortable, and that included more men’s underwear so that I could be wearing them on the daily. I started with Hollister – my brand of choice at the time. Since then, I’ve branched out to American Eagle, Express, Hanes and even Champion. It took some time, but I’ve finally figured out what I like and what I don’t like, and I never realized boxers could be so different.

I heard you were gay, so I got you this rainbow of boxers

I heard you were gay, so I got you this rainbow of boxers

For anyone just starting to venture into the surprisingly wide world of boxers, I’m here to provide some recommendations. As a size guide, I’m a 32” waist and I wear a size small.

Masculine-of-Center

1. Hollister – $16 a pair but can be found for less when they start pumping out good sales deals, like everything else Hollister. I like that Hollister has a white waistband and most of their boxers have stripes – I’m a sucker for stripes. They’re cut a little shorter than I like, and they ride up like crazy. There isn’t a band around the seam of the thigh and they end up riding up and feeling like a traditional pair of underwear. Other than that, they’re light and comfortable.

2. American Eagle – $12.50, but I only buy when they have a 2 for 20 deal. AE has the most cuts: Boxers, slim boxers, briefs, trunks, athletic cut and performance cut. The athletic cut is my cut of choice. They’re longer than the trunks, which I like. The more thigh coverage, the better. Unlike Hollister, these stay in place – no riding whatsoever. I mostly own solid colors, but sometimes they come out with some patterns, which I dig.

3. Express – These are cut slightly shorter like Hollister, but they’re tighter so they don’t ride. Actually, they’re a little too tight; if I had known, I would’ve gone a size up. But they feel nice paired with an Express suit.

4. Hanes – like anything else from Target, they’re cheap, so you can get several in one pack. It’s a good alternative when you don’t feel like spending 10+ bucks a pair. They’re also looser, if you like that fit, and they stretch out over the course of the day. It’s a thicker material – unlike the other brands – so I don’t pair them with skinny jeans, but definitely under a pair of sweatpants.

5. Champion – I recommend these for the athlete. They’re the longest pair I have, and they’re made with a lighter, more breathable material. They’re great under basketball shorts, when working out or going for a run. They air out the sweat more than a cotton pair. Nowadays, I’d check out AE’s performance boxer, but I got these before I knew of them. Also, they’re cheaper because, again, they can be found at Target.

Eventually, I’d like to add a little Calvin Klein (6) to my drawer, but that’s a top shelf boxer for my wallet right now. So if you’re shopping on more of a budget, I guarantee the American Eagle band peeking out above your jeans will be just as sexy to your human-love as Calvin Klein. It can be a little scary walking into the men’s department for the first time and especially purchasing men’s underwear, but it’ll feel so good knowing that you’ve fucked with at least one person’s idea of gender. And it’ll feel even better when you wear them for the first time.


Underwear Undercover

By Malaika

Bey rockin' the calvins

Bey rockin’ the calvins

When it comes to my personal preference in underwear, I’m all over the map. My favourite place on that map is where the masculine of centre underwear live: boyshorts, boxers, you name it – if it’s marketed for a man, it’s perfect for me. I have been known to reduce my food budget to make room for an expensive pair of European boxers (or two) while on exchange in France. I wore said boxers under my favourite pink and purple skirt with flowers on it and felt completely like myself – my secret butch side tucked safely away, only to be revealed to those I trusted enough to let in close.

I like pink and frills and makeup and sparkly stickers but when Kate made her butch gift guide, I had never seen a list of items that was more me. When it comes to gender presentation, I don’t want to be pigeonholed and my underwear reflects that. When I get dressed, I want my underwear to contradict my skirts; when I get undressed, I want the layers I peel off to be full of surprises and contradictions much like my body, much like myself.


Bois/Boys/Bois and The Little Boys Department

By Madi

I like to tell my closer friends, and apparently anyone on the Internet who will listen, that I have a dream to someday revolutionize pants. In my utopian view of the future of the clothing industry, clothes will be made, sized, and marketed based on body type – which may or may not be associated with sex or gender. In the meantime, on a quest to find the most comfortable and rad underpants for my physical and emotional person, I have found myself time and time again in the little boy’s clothing department.

As a member of the population who possesses less than, what I feel, is their fair share in derriere department, I often find myself with extra fabric around the back, resulting in less-than-optimal wedgie situations. That being so, purchasing underwear made for the segment of the population most at risk for outwardly-inflicted wedgies – that is, actual little boys – is a logical choice. My experience only extends to boxers and boxer briefs, as most of the fun boy’s briefs are too small even for my microscopic bum.

But a modest ass

But a modest ass

For those of you thinking about taking the plunge into the wonderful world of underwear made for little superheros, I have a few words of wisdom. Shopping in the little boy’s department only seems shady if you act shady. Most little boys don’t buy their own underpants and you’re probably closer to the demographic generally present in that area of the store than you would generally assume. Don’t be worried if that pair of super snazzy boxers only comes in up to a size medium: if you stitch the crotch shut, you’ll probably be ok. Because trying on boy’s underwear isn’t generally an option, a good place to start with sizing is to measure your waist, or to look at what size waist people who wear your current underwear size generally have. Honestly, there will be quite a bit of trial and error involved.

For minimum wedgies and maximum comfort, the best fit has the crotch resting against your own, the waistband on the lower curve of your hips, and the bottom of the legs tight enough to stay put but not cut off circulation. This especially applies when wearing tight pants and/or working out/ moving around a lot. My favorites are the kind with visible elastic and the fabric that is kind of ribbed. When the fabric starts to pull away from the elastic waistband, you can either obtain new underwear like a practical person, or see it as a built in handle, like I do!

nananananananana

A good thing to keep in mind is that the tightness of your pants and underwear should directly correspond. You can wear tighter underwear with looser pants, but not the other way around. I do however prefer looser underpants with looser outer pants and also for sleeping. I bought this underwear in XL because I must have been feeling like a big kid on the playground that day, but they turned out to be large enough that I could probably wear them on the outside of my snowpants. Regardless, they are extremely comfortable and if you wear loose pants, I would highly recommend them.

Smaller does not necessarily equal better, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices when it comes to your underwear. It will probably be worth it to wear those underwear made for an eight year old even if they sometimes ride up to well above your belly button just so that you can have the bat signal creeping up above your waistline. You will rock a special kind of courage and attitude that day. Just try to pick that wedgie in private.


Next: Ariel Speedwagon trangresses bravely and Katrina talks underwear-as-outerwear.

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Avatar of katrina

Katrina is a 23-year-old grrrl splitting her time between her great homeland of New York City and Washington DC. She loves activism and hates sleep, which is convenient because neither of those things really allows for the other anyway. She thinks that slang is rad. As a math equation (with words, because she is bad at math), Katrina would go as such: writer + riot grrrl = wrioter grrrl. When not manifesting itself as a mathematical equation, Katrina’s life usually reads out like a lesbian coming-of-age novel, though sometimes she wishes it were more like a bad 1950s lesbian pulp fiction story. Also, she really, really, truly believes that the revolution is upon us. Come read her rantings about it on her twitter and blog!

Contact: katrina[at]autostraddle.com

katrina has written 64 articles for us.

64 Comments

  1. Thumb up 11

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    I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS, AND AM ACKNOWLEDGING THIS, BUT CANNOT READ IT (yet) BECAUSE OF RESEARCH PAPER BUT NOW I HAVE AN UNDERWEARED REWARD FOR ME WHEN I FINISH.

    Bless you Autostraddle. All the hummus to you

  2. Thumb up 5

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    “Traditional underwear seams? Used to drive me crazy.”
    “I started buying everything that made me feel comfortable, and that included more men’s underwear so that I could be wearing them on the daily.”

    yes this

    traditional women’s underwear always made me SO uncomfortable, both physically and in terms of gender expression (which i only came to realize much later, it was all very confusing to me at the time). as a teenager i discovered boy shorts which was an okay solution for a while
    then, like a decade later, it occurred to me that i could just go and buy men’s underwear for myself and not give a fuck. somehow this was a life changing insight..;)

    boxer briefs forever and ever
    i wear puma and hanes

  3. Thumb up 2

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    I am currently wearing a pair of AE boxer briefs. I actually prefer the low rise trunk over the athletic for the reason she gave for liking the athletic trunk. It is a bit too long for my comfort, but I wear the athletic when I’m home in my sweats… or just walking around the kitchen because I know it turns my gf on.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    I am still so confused about sizing in men’s underwear. Should I be trying to match the men’s size guide waist measurements to my waist or hip measurements? Or something in between? Any suggestions welcome.

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      I think knowing your measurements helps, but really every brand is different (because inches are hard, ya know). I can only speak for myself, but I correctly assumed I would take the same size (like S-M-L size) as I would anything else.

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        Thanks, but do you mean the same size as in women’s clothes or the same as in other men’s clothes? I usually wear a medium or large in women’s clothes, generally a UK size 14. Any idea what size that would likely equate to?

        • Thumb up 2

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          I’m a small, and generally take the same size in women’s and men’s (though I don’t usually/ever buy men’s pants, so I don’t know about their sizes). I have a couple pairs of mediums that are a little big, but not to the point where I can’t wear them. If they were cheap I’d probably get a pair of each then buy more of whichever fit better.

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          i think i generally wear like two sizes down in men’s clothing compared to women’s.
          in underwear it seems to be one size down, so if you wear women’s underwear in medium, i would start with a men’s small and see how that works out

  5. Thumb up 3

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    I would love to start wearing more boxer style underwear but I don’t know how to find the right stuff! I have large hips although I’m trying to lose weight I’ve never been below 40ins in that department. I have a very girly hourglass kind of figure and I’m worried about them riding up. Back when I was a closeted gaymo I used to steal and wear my boyfriend’s underwear and OH MY GOD SO COMFY. I want them for myself, but I’m not sure if they’ll work on this body.

    • Thumb up 1

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      I have the same hip issues (45in) with fuller thighs as well .. and my waist is a good 11 or so inches smaller .. I get mediums and larges in the boxer briefs depending on the brand (genuinely Hanes or Old Navy which tend to be smaller so don’t freak out) if you wear a guys jean go by the waistband to start (sm . 28/30 md 32/34 lg 36/38 xl 40/42) ..
      Not Only are they comfy .. they are made more durable with better materials and last ages longer than girls underpants

      • Thumb up 6

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        Whoa hey, it’s okay. I’m asstastic and I wear the AE boxer briefs. I think my actual waist is around 30″ and my hips are 39″ or 40″ or somewhere in there. It’s totally fine. Go for a low rise one and you should be alright. Low rise men’s clothes, unlike a low rise junior’s fit (vomit) should still hold your butt in.

        YOU CAN DO IT I BELIEVE IN YOU.

    • Thumb up 2

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      dearest samantha,

      let us fistbump for having identical situations. i, too, have child-bearing hips that make me cry a lot. i wear only mens’ underwear and have found that not that many brands work for me but i’ve had a lot of luck with h&m mens’ boxer briefs(which is also very cheap!) because the band is very stretchy and with american eagle briefs and boxer briefs. ae has very stretchy bands and run in weirdly large sizes? so a medium is pretty comfy and can stretch to some wide-ass hips.

        • Thumb up 1

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          omgravy .. you must try a pair .. you will not believe the power they have in boosting your confidence .. the way they bring everything together .. is crazy good …
          I know it’s easy to say .. and can sometimes be a tall order .. but, go easy on yourself .. you gotta love you ! (trust me .. I’m a semi-old lady and know about these things)
          there are a lot of things you can do with clothes to mask the outward feminine appearance .. shirt length, layers, relaxed fit / baggy jeans .. if you’re not already familiar with DapperQ you should check them out .. lots of dappers of all shapes and sizes
          and don’t worry so much about mom .. there are plenty of answers that can work without screaming out I’m GAY (unless of course you are ready to do that) .. for example .. pj’s .. or for working out .. (they really do protect your inner thighs) .. or even omgosh they are so comfy I love them .. you of course are the best judge on how to answer ..
          side note .. my mom is very vocal about Not liking my white ones .. she says they do nothing for my hips .. sooo .. you might try out a solid color to ease into wearing them .. no need for added trauma ..
          I totally agree .. You CAN do this ..

  6. Thumb up 6

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    I have so many boxer brief feelings. Mostly that I wear them all the time, and my mom doesn’t think it’s weird. Also, if you work in a kitchen and wear super-baggy chef pants with regular girl’s underwear, you really need to make the switch because I bet your thighs are rubbing together and it’s uncomfortable.

    And, if you’re not buying $10 Calvin Klein underpants at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx, DO THAT!

    • Thumb up 2

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      This is the main reason I need to figure out how to wear men’s underwear! My nursing uniform trousers are a total nightmare and by the end of a my third twelve hour shift I consider it a huge and fundamental injustice that they don’t sell thigh-covering undergarments for women. Glad I’m not the only one with this problem :)

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      thank you for letting me in on this tj maxx calvin klein undies secret, i’m clearly all set for anniversary gifts for the rest of all time. and if my girlboifriend is reading this (and i know she is)…happy early anniversary, babe!

    • Thumb up 3

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      this is true! almost my entire calvin klein underwear collection is from TJ Maxx.

      ALSO one time i found two pairs of the original hanes boxer-briefs for ladies i talk about in my boyshorts/girtrunks post at a TJ Maxx in like 2011, and I bought both of them and gave one of them to my friend taylor because I knew she liked them too and there would never be another chance for us to have them

    • Thumb up 2

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      My entire life, between 150 to 180 pounds, my thighs have always touched, always. I never considered such a simple solution as a change in underwear. My mind is blown.

      • Thumb up 2

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        (Which is extremely relevant, as my work uniforms never fit quite properly leaving me tugging up the crotch all damn day and making my coworkers wonder why I keep juggling my junk)

  7. Thumb up 6

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    I would like to officially express endless gratitude/appreciation for all of you brave MoC souls who overcome your fears of buying “men’s” underwear in order to wear said underwear. Few things make me melt faster than seeing masculine underwear on queers.

    It is a very attractive style, & I am thankful to all of you for rocking it.

  8. Thumb up 2

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    I’m thinking about ordering some trunks from AE, but I wear a size 32 in their men’s shorts/pants. The size chart says medium, but anon said in the post they wear a 32 & a small. It’s right on the edge and I don’t want to end up with baggy underwear, so could someone familiar with them tell me how they run? Any other size 32 folks around here?

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      I’m a 32 (though depending on brand and skinniness of pants, sometimes a 33) and I’m pretty sure I’m also a small in AE. The wasteband is a little squeezy, but I prefer squeezy in the waist to baggy in the butt, and I think if I went up to a medium, they wouldn’t achieve the same butt-hugging feel.

      So I’d say you could probably do either one depending on your preferences, but small works for me!

  9. Thumb up 1

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    Can underwear week become a national holiday? These posts are the best. Plus I would really like more excuses to party in my underwear.

    However, on a more directly Autostraddle-y note, any chance of a top-half underwear week to go with it? I know we’ve had posts on chest-wear in the past, but the layout of the market has changes all the time, and I know I for one could certainly use some serious help on that front (haha. puns)/ space to unleash all my bra/binder difficulty feelings!

  10. Thumb up 4

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    >>When it comes to gender presentation, I don’t want to be pigeonholed and my underwear reflects that. When I get dressed, I want my underwear to contradict my skirts; when I get undressed, I want the layers I peel off to be full of surprises and contradictions much like my body, much like myself.>>

    YES THIS AUTOSTRADDLE YOU GET ME

  11. Thumb up 1

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    I just want to put in a plug for Jockey Y-front low-rise briefs. SO COMFY! These are what I wear all the time.
    I wear Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs under skirts, to deal with the thighs rubbing together issue (seriously, this is always an issue, and even was when I was skinnier than I am now. I can’t understand putting up with this.)

  12. Thumb up 1

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    i say it all the time but american eagle low rise trunks are my underwear of choice and i think they are amazing. also topman boxers are really comfy, and think about walking around with ‘topman’ sticking out of your jeans…

  13. Thumb up 1

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    I actually look at the AE briefs ALL the time because the colors and fabric are so appealing but I have one question that I am hoping SOMEBODY can answer…

    I am a fairly average size gal (waist sits at about 28-29) so I know a XS/S would fit in the bum/waist etc but I have always really disliked the look of a lot of extra fabric in the crotch area that some male underwear has?? I just like the underwear to shape my whole body nicely so I can rock a boys underwear but still look sexy doing so. For this reason I stick mainly to little boy briefs because they dont need that extra fabric yet!
    Everyone seems to recommend the AE ones which I want SO bad and when I creep the underwear section and unwrap all the sizes, they seem to be pretty tight in that area, but I can’t 100% tell. Does anyone have any thoughts on my dilemma? Or does everyone recommending these underwear not mind the pouch as much as me?
    Help!

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      I too mind the pouch. I’m the same size as you and have two pairs of AE low rise boxer briefs. They don’t fit comfortably under my skinny jeans/cords/everything so I only wear them around the house. For some reason my solid black pair has less of a pouch than the heathered gray ones, so maybe give those a try.

  14. Thumb up 2

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    AE boxer briefs are the best, best, best! I go in thinking I’m going to get a nice button down and walk out with at least 2 pairs every time. PLUS they update styles all the time. Can’t say enough about these. Seriously, Sugar tested, and approved.

    But also..at A-Camp #1 I bared by undies for the whole camp and those were Urban Outfitters, which are also super comfy.

  15. Thumb up 0

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    i’d like to let american eagle know that this post inspired me to try their boxer briefs ;)
    you guys were right they are pretty sweet!

    (for those of you with size questions, i wear a 30-32 waist in men’s pants, and i got a small and they fit very well)

  16. Thumb up 2

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    “When it comes to gender presentation, I don’t want to be pigeonholed and my underwear reflects that. When I get dressed, I want my underwear to contradict my skirts; when I get undressed, I want the layers I peel off to be full of surprises and contradictions much like my body, much like myself.”

    Today I went to Target and bought Hanes boxer briefs.

    Also a maxi skirt and a pushup bra.

    I plan on wearing all of them at the same time.

  17. Thumb up 1

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    this inspired me to go shopping today. got some Björn Borg ones and they fit real good. also they have a longer leg option. Björn Borg is also perfect for katrinas way of wearing it.or better not wearing anything else.

  18. Thumb up 0

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    Today is tomorrow. I went out and bought myself two pairs of American Eagle Outfitters Athletic Trunk boxer Briefs. Put ‘em in the wash and eagerly ate lunch wondering about how they’d fit. I just pulled them out of the dryer and put them on. My verdict? Damn, these are totally comfortable (even more so because they’re all hot and toasty from the dryer). I got a size small because I usually wear 28/19 in pants. They fit like a charm, even over my soccer playing and biking thighs. In Canada they’re 2 pairs for $25 right now, which is still kinda pricey but so damn comfy that I don’t care.

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    Note on sizing: I’m a 32 waist too, and usually fit a small, but I’ve found that Lucky smalls are teeeensy on me! Way too tight. So! If you, like me, come across a pack of them for crazy cheap one day, make sure you buy a size up.

  20. Thumb up 1

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    This article gave me the last boost of courage that I needed to go out and buy myself some boxer briefs. They are so comfortable, and just knowing I had them on gave me a little extra confidence all day long.

  21. Thumb up 0

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    I like the GAP low rise boxer briefs. I like the patterns which I can’t find in other boxer briefs. I love these as underwear and I don’t consider myself butch at all…I am curvy and a bit heavy, and have always found regular underwear (panties) just doesn’t fit/look right. Boxer briefs forever!!!

  22. Thumb up 1

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    OMG American Eagle Outfitters.

    *flails.*

    So many of my clothes already come from there that perhaps I should look into their collection of underwear designed for and marketed toward male-identified people.

    But for serious, guys. I love American Eagle.

  23. Thumb up 2

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    Today I bought my first pair of boxer-briefs. Habitually, I have purchased underwear in the bright pink ladies section, feeling utterly awkward and out of place. Today, I, weak-kneed, bought two pairs of boxers briefs. I am wearing one pair now. I feel so incredibly weirdly okay with my underwear now. Like, I have never felt so happy with a piece of clothing since I started wearing white t-shirts, instead of camisoles and tank tops, under my button-down shirts.

    Thanks, AS, for the much needed courage boost.

  24. Thumb up 0

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    Great article. I like AE and Gap but I will say my favorite boxer briefs that I’ve found so far come from the Ellen shop (Ellen DeGeneres’ show website). I only have 2 so far because they are $20 a piece, but I always ask for them as gift ideas. SO COMFORTABLE!

  25. Thumb up 0

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    i have to say i fell in deep love with boxers last summer c’:
    i recently bought a pair of penguin boxers (they’re so cute x.x) but sadly they’re super loose at the leg so i cant wear them with the school uniform skirt *sigh* u_u
    this weekend though i making it my mission to go to the mall and get some boxer breifs from american eagle
    i recomend gap’s knit boxers that are for kids (and me) their soo cute ^o^

  26. Thumb up 0

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    I am a tall female. So, “regular” mens boxer briefs do not cut it. They are too short and chafing is not my thighs best friends. Long-leg boxer briefs are rare to find. I have a shit-ton of Hanes X-temp, and two Jockeys. Would anyone know of other ones to check out?

  27. Thumb up 0

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    I just found the most amazing boxer briefs. If someone already commented about these please disregard, I just didn’t have time to read through all of the comments.

    they are so comfortable and they didn’t build in a ton of extra space in the front. any of the mossimo men’s low rise boxer briefs will work, but these striped ones are really cute.

    http://www.target.com/p/men-s-striped-boxer-briefs/-/A-15222395

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