4 Common Types of Men’s Underwear: Which is Right for You?

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Jan 14, 2021

I went 27 years wearing terrible underwear. 

Well, actually, the Huggies I wore when I was 18 months old were pretty dope. 

But I spent a ton of time buying bargain basement boxer briefs that knotted, crumpled, and twisted. And then I saw the light. 

You have to get the right type of underwear for your body type. 

We’re going to cover the major types of men’s underwear, and which you should get depending on your body type. So let’s get into it.

The 4 Most Common Types of Men’s Underwear

Boxer-Briefs

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Boxer-briefs are the most popular type of men’s underwear. They’re my favorite, too, for a few good reasons:

They’re the best middle ground between comfort and support. The snug fit offers support enough to take care of tough days at the gym and long commutes, while the extra coverage in the legs ensures they’re not bunching up. 

Of course, the key to a comfortable pair of boxer briefs is finding a brand that doesn’t use cut-rate materials. If the thighs don’t stay in place, you’re in for a rough time. 

One of the best new brands I’ve discovered for underwear is Tommy John. Their boxer briefs have extra long legs, which helps keep them in place even during leg day. 

They have a few different fabric options: Cool Cotton is excellent for workouts, and their Second Skin is super soft and a great match for everyday wear. 

Tommy John Cool Cotton Underwear

Tommy John's Cool Cotton underwear are a good choice if you're an active guy who wears the same boxer briefs for your workouts. The fabric breathes a bit more than the Second Skin from Tommy John but has all the same excellent design features.

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Briefs

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According to this study, a lot of guys still wear briefs. This style offers the most support for your boys, though many also find them uncomfortable. 

In my view, cheap briefs are a great way to subtly provoke annoyance and rage within yourself. I have no science to back me up here, but I’d wager that 90% of road rage is experienced by folks wearing briefs. 

The cheap-o stuff tends to dig into your groin and cause discomfort throughout the day. If you’re committed to briefs and aren’t willing to change, then I recommend dropping a little extra coin and choosing a brand that prioritizes comfort without sacrificing support. 

Trunks

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You can think of trunks as a middle ground between boxer briefs and briefs. They have the same support level as either, but they have reduced thigh coverage compared to boxer briefs. 

They’re a great option if you don’t want those underwear lines to show through your slacks, and guys with muscular thighs will boost their Greek god status with them.

If you’re thinking that trunks offer the best of both worlds, there is one drawback: if you have bulkier thighs, the shorter legs often roll up and can cause as much discomfort as briefs. For those gents, I recommend a long-legged boxer brief.

Boxers

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If you love freedom, but you’re not bold enough to go commando, boxers are the pick for you. This style offers the most breathability, but also offers zero support for the gang. 

If you’ve ever done jumping jacks with just a pair of boxers and workout shorts, you’ll remember your nuggets slapping together like one of those Newton’s Cradle desktop toys: not nice. 

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Still, it’s a good idea to keep around at least one or two pairs of boxers for those rainy days when you wake up, turn on The Mandalorian, and sit on the couch until you’re covered in a fine coat of grease. What I mean is: they’re excellent for lounging. 

Again, if you choose cut-rate, you might as well be lounging in old burlap. It’s great if you’re trying to purge yourself of worldly comfort as a spiritual exercise, but it’s bad if you want to relax. 

I’m the type who goes all out when it comes to lounging. If that’s you too, then you’ll love these relaxed fit Second Skin boxers from Tommy John

They’re righteously soft, and you can pair them with Tommy John’s lineup of loungewear. I don’t really operate in the middle ground—I wear jeans Monday through Saturday, even at home. But on Sunday, I throw on these Tommy John’s Second Skin loungewear and it feels fantastic. 


Boxers vs Briefs vs Boxer Briefs

Tommy John Boxer Briefs vs Trunks 1

The old debate is boxers vs briefs. But we’re throwing boxer briefs into the equation, too. 

When deciding which you should get, it’s important to note what your typical day looks like. 

Do you have a long commute? Head straight to the gym after work? Or do you work from your couch?

For active guys who move a lot throughout the day, boxers aren’t a great option. They’re too loose and don’t offer any support. It may not be so bad for commuting, but when you get to the gym, a lack of support can cause a lot of problems (see the gif above). 

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So if your day is physically demanding, either choose boxer briefs or briefs. 

In my opinion, briefs are unnecessarily constricting. While I like the amount of support they offer, I get the same effect from boxer briefs. 

For the matchup of boxers vs briefs vs boxer briefs, the latter wins hands down. 

Whether you’re relaxing or you’re just taking a breather in between sets of squats, high quality boxer briefs offer coverage, support, and plenty of comfort. 

Which Underwear Style Works for Your Body Type?

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While my preferred style of underwear is the boxer brief, not everyone has the same body type, and different cuts work for different folks. 

Ectomorph, or Skinny

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Also known as “hardgainers,” guys with ectomorph body types have a more difficult time putting on weight. 

If that sounds like you, try trunks. They offer the same level of support and comfort as boxer briefs, but the shortened thigh shows off more leg and will help it look more muscular. 

Muscular, or Upside Down Triangle

Inverted triangle male body type

If you’ve got broad shoulders and a narrow waist, this is your body type. Your best-fitting underwear are either the trunk or boxer brief. 

Because your legs are still on the skinny side (I’m not accusing you of skipping leg day—no, you’re not that kind of guy), you may benefit from the shorter length of the trunk. However, if you don’t have trouble growing your thighs, check out boxer briefs. 

Athletic, or Square

Rectangle male body type

This is my body type, and it’s yours too if your shoulders and hips are the same width. You typically have larger thighs, so you should stay away from trunks. They tend to bunch up, no matter how good they are. 

I prefer long legged boxer briefs. These Cool Cotton boxer briefs from Tommy John land about three inches above my knee, and it’s a very comfortable experience. I don’t have a large selection of compression shorts for the gym, and these are excellent stand-ins when I’m doing upper body exercise or just have a long day running around town. 

Tommy John Cool Cotton Underwear

Tommy John's Cool Cotton underwear are a good choice if you're an active guy who wears the same boxer briefs for your workouts. The fabric breathes a bit more than the Second Skin from Tommy John but has all the same excellent design features.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Endomorph, or Husky

I still recommend long leg boxer briefs for the huskier gents, though a few pairs of boxers are also handy. 

Wear the boxer briefs on your more active days, but on the days where you’re not hitting the gym or running errands, swap out to boxers for more breathability and comfort. 

Tommy John Second Skin Underwear

This micro-modal blend fits snug without becoming restrictive and it's seriously soft. Tommy John's boxer briefs and trunks are available in this proprietary fabric.

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If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Which is Right For You?

I know you’re wondering: what about thongs? 

They’re an option, but you need to have a thick spray-tan, cover yourself in oil, get nice and dehydrated, and stand in front of a large audience. 

Otherwise, you’re best suited with one of the standards. But don’t worry, it’s a good place to be. 

My top recommendation for underwear type is the boxer brief, and one of my new favorite brands is Tommy John. The longer legs on their Cool Cotton boxer brief have been a revelation for me as they stay put on my larger thighs. 

Tommy John Cool Cotton Underwear

Tommy John's Cool Cotton underwear are a good choice if you're an active guy who wears the same boxer briefs for your workouts. The fabric breathes a bit more than the Second Skin from Tommy John but has all the same excellent design features.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

So which of these underwear types sound right to you? 

FAQs

Is it better for a man to wear boxers or briefs?

Boxers offer freedom, but no support. Briefs offer support, but no freedom. Boxer briefs are the best of both worlds.

Are trunks longer than boxer briefs?

Trunks are shorter than boxer briefs, usually by two or three inches.

Why do my boxer briefs ride up?

Low quality boxer briefs have cheap materials that wear-out quickly. If your boxer briefs are riding up often, the elastic is likely shot. Spending a little extra on underwear might seem ridiculous at first, but you’ll get so much more value from each pair if you invest in great brands.