Imagine a cool, fairly attractive man. Let’s say he’s a prototypical hipster.
He could come in any shape or size or style. He could be the selvage denim type who appears ready for rugged wilderness despite driving a Prius. He could be the black wearing minimalist who suggests exoticism via espresso adoration. He could be the street wear obsessed sneaker dude who loves his Thrasher tee having never read the magazine. These are cool guys! They are modern, hipw men who are attempting to put a spell on you by projecting the type of man they want you to think they are.
These performances of self are a beautiful thing, as adorable as they are laughable. Regardless of if you are attracted or repulsed by these hyper-performative men, one thing can break them for you: their underwear. This has happened so many times where I see this man, engage with him, and, then—with the lift of an arm to reveal midriff or a bend to hike up a shirt—their underwear is revealed, illustrating that these men are just dummy figureheads for lost causes: they’re wearing kid underwear.
No, they aren’t wearing cartoon stamped boy undies but they’re wearing underwear that announces “Hanes” or “Fruit Of The Loom” or “Jockey” or “Joe Boxer” on the band. These are suburban hallmarks, a statement that a mother bought them their skivs. This is an illustration that taste begins and ends at the exterior.
Yes, this is a petty, obnoxious observation based in gay entitlement: I am aware. But this comes at the hopes of bettering your man by making something as discreet as underwear even more discreet by side-stepping potential judging. Thus, a call to action: buy your man some good underwear. Upgrade his undies! Take his downstairs upstairs by buying him briefs that aren’t going to embarrass him without his knowing.
This is a fairly easy prospect as niche underwear is such a thing now, from Special Delivery to Me Undies to Grover offering affordable enough good wears. There is no excuse for an adult to still be getting their Hanes on them. Thus, some tips on buying underwear for yourself or your man that will shield them from any embarrassment—and none of this requires a lot of money either.
No names, please.
This is the most important rule: if it has a name on the band and would be revealed unintentionally, look elsewhere. Underwear should be barely seen and never heard. This isn’t a commercial. If you’re showing off your brand name instead of your goods, your priorities are skewed and should be recalibrated. Opt for simplicity and minimalism by a simple, unbranded band. It’s the easiest, most important rule of thumb.
Opt for not-white.
Dark underwear does a better job of attracting less attention for myriad reasons. First, they blend in better with belts and waistlines of pants (unless you are wearing white or khaki bottoms). Second, as underwear ages and starts piling, black underwear doesn’t show this. Yes, bright, white underwear is the mark of the super clean but, really, just go for dark. It’ll save you the trouble in the future as I’d argue the Hanes/Fruit wearer isn’t always considering the look of his underwear to begin with. And you know what they say about black underwear…
Don’t fret over color, though.
Regardless, color really doesn’t matter—and you should have fun down there. So, go crazy! Go for something bright and bold, suggesting something about your sexuality by a flashy glance. This is an easy way to seem fun even if you aren’t.
Be careful with patterns.
If you want a pattern, go minimal and never, never, never wear anything that is in reference to a movie or something nerdy. This just reveals yourself as a man-child. If your man has cartoon or similar novelty underwear, this is worse than basic brand name: get rid of them. Immediately.
Get him an underwear box.
For the tough to change, gift him an underwear subscription box. Grover has a great deal with Birchbox for the boxer lover and Me Undies has a very simple monthly underwear drop-off. These are both very simple ways to upgrade one’s underwear collection.
Calvin is fine.
Yeah, yeah, yeah: Calvin Klein. The brand always has and always will be “in.” If there is any “name” to boast on your tag, it’s Calvin. You will get a pass with these—if they are the classics instead of the gaudy Bieber undies. Might I suggest these via Need Supply, if you’re looking.
Go to Target.
Surprise: Target has great, off-brand underwear that are excellent decoys for fancy underwear. They’re inexpensive, decent quality, and highly discreet. Brands like Mossimo and Merona are great and won’t rat out what you’re wearing.
Don’t be fooled by off-brands, though.
A danger from Target and similar department stores: don’t be wooed by off-brands like Evolve and Gildan. They’re not Hanes or Fruit Of The Loom but they are recognizable enough that someone would “know where they came from.” That’s the whole point of this: to have underwear that is without baggage. You can buy underwear from Target, yes, but you don’t want to yell that out. Underwear needs to go under the radar: discreetness is key—and off-brands will rat you out.
And go exotic for cheap.
There are so many places to look for great underwear served with high quality and a cheap price. A quick rundown: H&M for discreet and fancy, Uniqlo for basic and pizazz, Muji for minimalist, and American Apparel for a new take on classic.
Boxer briefs over boxers or briefs.
This is all preference, yes, but boxers will never not remind me of bros from high school who were attempting to seem like they were too masc for underwear. Briefs? A little boy. This is all to say: grow up. Get over yourself. Go for sleek snugness instead of “coverage.” (Granted, I am biased: I adore a good pair of boxer briefs.)
If all else fails, some big brands offer tagless.
If your man is too brand loyal to these bad underwear brands, know this: most of these bad brands do offer quieter versions of themselves. Hanes, for example, has a near-nameless offering. Fancy, right? Not really but they give the same styles without the branded proclamations. Wear them—and wear them well!