underwear has come a long way since the days of Michael Jordan and Marky Mark: fancy elastic, fine materials, and a lot of other nice things you wouldn't think were totally necessary for something so simple.
And in many ways things have stayed the same: Every man has his favorite kind of undergarment, and every man has probably worn it for a very long time. But we can all agree that, every once in a while, you need to refresh the top drawer. Boxer briefs being the preferred style of underwear around these, uh, parts, we tried on a bunch of pairs. Herewith, some options:
The whole Marky Mark thing is a thing of the past, but Calvin Klein still makes some of the simplest, best underwear in the world. Their basic briefs sit low on the waist — just below the waist of your jeans, where they should — and high on the thigh — you know, for comfort. This helps to explain why 2012 marks Calvin Klein Underwear's 30th anniversary.
Micro Modal Trunk ($26) by Calvin Klein
The Strong and Sturdy
The good people at Tommy Hilfiger cut a more traditional silhouette — a bit longer in the leg for extra coverage — and use a cotton/elastane mix to provide a little pushback from the fabric. They won't wear out as quickly as your regular old boxers, is what we're saying.
Boxer brief ($25) by Tommy Hilfiger, tommy.com
The Really Strong and Sturdy
The jersey on Jack Wills boxers is surprisingly hefty, which isn't at all a bad thing. As much as a barely-there pair of underwear can be nice, sometimes it's good to have a strong pair, too, especially as winter approaches.
Hosington jersey boxers ($24.50) by Jack Wills, jackwills.com
Best Budget Pair
Elastic waistband, sure, but elasticized leg openings? Boxer briefs from Gap will shadow your every move — perfect for those without such muscular legs and/or with tighter pants — and at a great price, too.
Solid boxer briefs ($12.50) by Gap, gap.com
(See also: The complete guide to suits: 57 rules of style)
The Undressed Man's Best Friend
Plaid is pretty standard on boxer shorts, but a good plaid is hard to find on a pair of briefs. It's a thin plaid, but G-Star offers a roomy fit and a good look and she'll like 'em, too.
3301 Harding ($30) by G-Star, g-star.com
The James Bond
The Brits wear Sunspel — even the Brit. There is a kind of obsessive attention to fabric at the brand, and in this, their most modern and fitted brief, the Egyptian cotton counteracts any rigidness from your pants. Also: colors. Nice colors.
Low-waist trunk ($35) by Sunspel, sunspel.com
Best High-end Pair
And the Germans, it turns out, know how to make undergarments. Schiesser does, anyway, and has since 1875. The cut is just so, the fabric breaths but feels sturdy, and the button-front pouch keeps everything in place.
Cotton boxer brief ($60) by Schiesser, mrporter.com
The Soft Pack
Etiquette Clothiers are a new brand on a mission to redefine basics. And boxers are pretty basic. Unless they're this soft — like downy-supima-cotton soft.
Luxury trunk ($54) by Etiquette Clothiers, etiquetteclothiers
These here trunks from Paul Smith aren't "designed" so much as they're engineered. They're trim, but they don't bunch up (thanks to that four-button front). Nice striped detailing up at the hem, too.
Four-button trunks ($65) by Paul Smith, scoopnyc.com
A three-pack of Hanes, of course, is still just as suitable as it was for Michael Jordan 20 years ago. They still have the best elastic in the game, and sometimes, well, you just want your underwear to stay on, to last, and some things never change.
Mid-leg boxer briefs ($13 for 3) by Hanes, hanes.com
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