A Guide to Types of Men's Underwear

From trunks to boxers, boxer briefs and more

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Mack Weldon, Neiman Marcus, Allbirds, Pair of Thieves

Let's put on our infomercial voice for a second. You think you know men's underwear but do you really know men's underwear. Sure you have your favorites that you buy over and over again (maybe you're a go-to briefs guy or perhaps you're somebody who prefers a good ole pair of trunks), but are you familiar with all the different types of men's underwear? If you aren't already, consider this your official introductory guide that you can refer back to the next time you're shopping for a new pair. Not only are certain types of men's underwear an automatic when it comes to premium comfort, but they are one of the final components in an optimal self-care. Think about it—what's better than a nice hot shower with your favorite body wash finished off by an incredible smelling fragrance, a cozy bathrobe, and a comfortable pair of tighty whiteys? Sounds so soulful don't you agree (Jay-Z voice)?

You may not know where to begin when it comes to expanding your underwear tastes, and that's precisely why we're here to help. Whether it's the standard boxer (Mack Weldon's 18-Hour Jersey Knit Boxer ($32, $21.99) for example) or a more breathable boxer brief (Bombas Men's Cotton Modal Blend Boxer Brief, $28), we've got you covered with some options and a full breakdown to all of the types of men's underwear. Scroll down to check them out below.

RELATED: The 22 Best Men’s Winter Pants You Can Shop Right Now

What are the main types of men's underwear?

Here are the main types of men's underwear at a glance:

  • Boxers
  • Boxer Briefs
  • Briefs
  • Trunks
  • Thongs
  • Bikini Cut
  • Long Underwear

1. Boxers

L.L. Bean

Will start with the handy dandy boxers, which have been around since, well, forever really. Also commonly referred to as boxer shorts due to their inseam length, boxers have been around since 1944. Their ultimate purpose you ask? To keep you comfortable by promoting free-flowing movements and airflow. Over the decades, boxers have quickly become one of the most popular underwear types for men. They also work well with a number of pants options as they don't bunch or show underwear lines/markings. However, you do have to keep in mind the overall fit of certain pants types as an awkward fit could cause the underwear to bunch up (which obviously is a no bueno).

Check out some boxer brief selections below.

Boxers Shorts to Shop

2. Boxer Briefs


In short, boxer briefs are essentially a shorter version of boxer shorts. While you can attribute the rise of boxer briefs in the 1990s to Calvin Klein, boxer briefs have technically been around much longer than that as men have been altering boxer shorts since basically the inception of the boxer short. From an official standpoint, however, the 1990s is recognized as the start of the brief. What separates boxer briefs from shorts is that briefs still keep the longer length of boxer shorts, but are more slim-fitting and "tight" in their construction. Due to their tight-fitting nature, boxer briefs work great for taller men that are on the slim/muscular side due to the way they fit. That said, the boxer brief isn't just limited to that demographic as they can work for everyone. It's just a matter of personal preference.

Check out some boxer brief selections below.

Boxer Briefs to Shop

3. Briefs

Mack Weldon

Men's briefs are basically modern man essential in popular culture (think a good percentage of the men's underwear ads you've seen over the course of your life). Described as being form-fitting with the material of the underwear extending ever-so-slightly into the thigh area, briefs are responsible for covering the area between the waist and top of the legs/thighs. Briefs are also responsible for keeping your manly parts secure, which is why they are the designated choice for athletes and workout enthusiasts. While briefs can come in a variety of different cuts, they'll always be identifiable by how they sit at the top of the leg (and the label on the package/item you're looking at of course).

If there's any one pair of underwear that's pretty much automatically guaranteed to be a perfect fit, it's briefs—which is why they are great investment. Check out some great brief selections below.

Briefs to Shop

4. Trunks


While similar to boxer briefs in their cut, styling, and fit, the major difference between boxer briefs and trunks are within the support each one offers. Boxer briefs are known for their slightly longer legs and looser crotch area, whereas trunks feature a shorter inseam and an overall tighter fit. The choice between whether or not to get boxer briefs or trunks comes down to how you personally like your underwear to fit. If you need a looser crotch region than boxer briefs are the way to go. On the flip side, if you prefer a tighter crotch region, then trunks are probably the best option for you.

You can view some of our top selections below.

Trunks to Shop

5. Thongs

Neiman Marcus

Some call them thongs, other's call them jockstraps, and some choose to refer to them as g-strings. While thongs, jockstraps, and g-strings are in the same family with many similarities, there are some subtle difference between them. Thongs are renowned for their super thin almost flimsy-like appearance. While thongs are designed to give you plenty of support, there's still some that maintain the support given from thongs still aren't good enough. If that's the case with you, then a jockstrap might work. Jockstraps are more of an "athletic thong" so to speak as it comes with a stronger built-in undergarment supporter that holds your man area in place. You could also opt for g-string in that regard as g-strings also have that built-in undergarment supporter. The only difference is that g-strings have a very flimsy/thin string in the back area of the underwear. Just something to keep in mind as you browse.

Check out some selections below.

Men's Thongs to Shop

6. Bikini Cut

Mack Weldon

Bikini briefs aka the bikini cut underwear is an undergarment that gives you full protection in the front and back, and is defined by its high cut in the thigh area. While there's also similarities between bikini briefs and briefs, the former differs from the latter as they are cut in a more low-rise style that offers up a "sexier" look. Simply put, bikini briefs reveal a lot more than traditional briefs so they have to be acquired taste fashion wise. Some guys like bikini briefs whereas it isn't the personal style taste of others. If you fall into the category of liking bikini briefs, we've selected a few of our favorite options for you to check out below.

Bikini Cut Briefs to Shop

6. Long Underwear

Mack Weldon

The name is pretty much self-explanatory here. Long underwear aka long johns are underwear with long legs and sleeves that can be worn during the wintertime for extra warmth. There are definitely elements of long underwear that are similar to pajama pants, so you definitely don't need to wear pajama pants over top (unless you want to of course). Otherwise, long johns get the job done during the winter season in terms giving you an underwear option that also technically qualifies as lounge pants.

Check out some of our favorites below.

Long Underwear to Shop

Things to consider when picking the right underwear type:

Here are some things to keep in mind when picking out an underwear type:

Activity/use: When shopping for an underwear type, you should first consider you're primary use for the underwear you're selecting. Are you picking out pairs for work? Are you looking for underwear that you can lounge around or sleep in? Is underwear you can workout in your target? These are all questions to keep in mind when picking out an underwear type.

Colors: Underwear can come in many different colors from neutral beige and browns all the way to neon colors. The color choice is something that is up to you and completely dependent upon your personality and what you plan on wearing the underwear with. Black, white and gray are the most traditional and formal colors.

Body shape: Certain body shapes and types work better with certain types of underwear. For example, taller/longer body types tend to work great with boxer briefs. That's not to say that there's specific body types that don't work with different types of underwear at all, but sometimes certain body shapes fit better with a specific underwear type as opposed to others.

FAQs about underwear types for men:

Here are some frequently asked questions about underwear types for men:

What type of underwear is best for men?

As we just mentioned, there's no one set underwear that is the best for men as different types work for different body shapes. There's also the matter of personal preferences as well. That said, we've found that boxer briefs are universally the best and most common option for men to prefer and buy when it comes to underwear.

What is the most comfortable type of men's underwear?

Again, the word comfort is subjective here as some men prefer their underwear tight (meaning loose underwear is uncomfortable for them), whereas other guys like their underwear on the looser/non-tight end. Comfort can also be dependent on the material the underwear is made with, which comes down to a matter of how the brand has their products made. In our opinion, boxer briefs are the most comfortable because they meet in the middle between tight and loose.

What style of underwear do most men wear?

Briefs and boxer briefs have consistently remained the most popular style of underwear for men to wear, with the latter gaining a surge in popularity in the 1990s that continues to this day. According to a Grand View Research report from 2022, boxer briefs are currently the most popular type of underwear.

RELATED: 18 Types of Suits For Men: A Guide to Styles, Jackets and Brands

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