The Great Underwear Paradigm Shift or I See London, I See France…

by Chas August

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my pal Robert for a few days in his ski cabin up in British Columbia. In the morning we both came into the kitchen wearing skivvies and tee-shirts, only his looked sexy! I’m not sure I’ve ever actually had that thought about any guy I was looking at in real life – hey fella, your underwear is really sexy. And, because that censor that lives inside of us keeping us from blurting out every fool thought that comes to mind is defective in me, I said something like “Damn, that underwear is really sexy! What kind is it?”

Turns out, his underwear is, in fact, notable, made in Vancouver, by a company named MyPakage . He found it in a store up in Whistler and got a couple of pairs. The underwear has a built-in a 3-dimensional internal pouch for a guy’s package, hence the name, that feels good to the wearer and kinda emphasizes his male-ness, in a good way. And the fabric feels soft as silk (it’s 95% Modal – a type of rayon). It’s also not cheap – about 10-15 times more than I pay for the bargain brand underwear at Target.

To understand why I’m writing about some guy’s undies you need to have a bit of history about me and my underwear. There were 5 kids in my family of origin and my parents didn’t have a lot of money, so stuff like kids underwear was bought on-sale at EJ Korvette’s or Kresge’s (big, low-price, low-service, suburban discount stores in the 1950’s and 60’s). I wore BVD white briefs (sometimes called “Jockey Shorts”) and white undershirts just like my Dad, my brothers, and all my friends. Old guys wore boxer shorts. Really old guys wore tight-fitting knee-length flannel “drawers.”

Designer underwear became all the rage in the 1970s and as soon as the big underwear manufacturers started offering inexpensive versions of Calvin Kleins, I started wearing patterned and brightly colored “bikini briefs.” They worked better with my hip-hugger, bell bottom jeans, and looked sexier than those old “tidy-whities” of my childhood.

Sometime in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s boxer shorts began making a comeback. I tried a pair of “Joe Boxers” but I didn’t like the feeling of my junk just dangling, unfettered. Also, with boxers that had any kind of “fly” front, sooner or later part of me would be uncomfortably poking through. And with boxers without a fly, it seemed a real challenge to gather all that leg fabric out of the way to pee standing up.

I stayed with those bikini briefs until I began to notice that it was getting more and more difficult to find underwear I liked in Target or WalMart. Unfortunately for me, young guys stopped wearing bikini briefs sometime around the first decade of this century (the aughts? the naughts? the naughties?). A lot of guys started wearing something called a “boxer brief” – shaped like boxer shorts but tight-fitting like jockey shorts. I blame David Duchovny and “Californication.” He spent about half of every show getting into bed with some naked babe or getting out of bed with some naked babe or wandering around undressed in his cool Venice Beach home, and he was almost always wearing a pair of black boxer-briefs, and he/they looked good.

Last year, in a fit of not wanting to look like some old guy (like those old guys in boxers in the locker rooms of my youth), I bought several different styles of inexpensive, Hanes boxer briefs at Target. I’ve been trying to get used to them, but I haven’t felt completely satisfied. And, sadly, I don’t look anything like David Duchovny. Oh well.

So, there I am in Canada, looking at Robert’s fancy underwear and then looking at my practical underwear. And he’s going on and on about how great these shorts feel and how much he likes the “engineering,” and on impulse, I go online, ignore the price, and order up 2 pair for me.

Just like that, I’m breaking a lifelong pattern. The pattern of wearing clothing that is more affordable than comfortable. The pattern of buying underwear that is more functional than fashionable. I’m thinking “Buying this underwear shouldn’t be such a big deal, it’s just underwear.” I’m also thinking ”This is too much to spend.” I have the thought “I’m not the kind of guy who wears expensive, sexy underwear.” I have the thought that what I’m doing is somehow unmasculine – girls buy lingerie, men buy cotton skivvies. And, finally, I have a really loud thought, that I deserve to wear clothing that looks good and feels good and helps me feel sexy! I deserve to wear whatever underwear, or anything else, that I choose to wear. And that thought seems radical!

Today I bagged up all the old bikini briefs and cheap Hanes boxer briefs and gave ‘em to Goodwill. My underwear drawer is now full of various pairs of premium-priced boxer-briefs in wonderfully soft fabrics. I still don’t look much like David Duchovny, but my nether regions, and the rest of me, are very happy.

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One thought on “The Great Underwear Paradigm Shift or I See London, I See France…

  1. Love the article, and the simplicity of how clothing, even underwear can move our self image in a different direction. There is an interesting parallel with clothing, health and relationships. What we wear, how we feel and who we have in our lives all make up a package effecting our emotional health. For a long time, I was focused on how I looked, what I wore. Then, severe failing health shifted my attention to caring for my body. Four major operations in two years, and now 90 percent recovered (subtract 10 percent for age, lol), my body is no longer in constant pain. Then, letting go of negative relationships and building new ones, and the entire sense of self starts to improve. I love the timing of your article. Why? I’ve recently giving to Goodwill about half all my old clothes. While no longer wearing designer jeans, a new pair of Levi’s from Target look a lot better on me, and feel better hen too tight, uncomfortable and outdated Desels. But I’d not thought much about those old, so soft and comfy boxer shorts. I might now have thought about it until now, but they are faded and getting worn out too. My “junk” seems to be happy swinging happily in the air of a nice pair of boxers, but I think it’s about time to retire those old ones with some nice new ones. I’ll probably have to wash then a dozen times to get that comfy feeling, but you know, the thought of nice, new and not faded boxers sounds pretty good. Looks like a trip to Target is in order. Shoot, I might even pick up my step and add a little swagger to my step. The moral of this story? Your package deserves to be surrounded my nice clothes, just as your body and your life with good friends….. Jack

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