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Table of Contents
- Google Results on Men’s Underwear Preferences
- My Instagram Polls for Fun
- What do we truly know about men’s underwear preferences?
With over seven billion humans walking around the planet, I believe someone somewhere has already performed whatever crazy idea I develop. Take writing a men’s underwear blog as an example. When I first started, my husband and I thought – and my therapist! – I was the only guy weird enough to enjoy writing about men’s underwear. It turns out plenty of other guys – and girls! – love talking about men’s underwear. Then again, who doesn’t enjoy telling the world about their amazing new pair of undies?
Yet, I have not discovered a fantastic resource that has data on what guys prefer in their underwear. Not just the cliché “boxer or briefs” question. Specific, detailed questions on what guys look for when purchasing and wearing underwear. I know many companies have this data, yet they do not share this data with the public because they are also running a business. As a genuinely curious person, I find the lack of public data disappointing.
I wonder if other guys wear high-quality boxer briefs from Tani too?
Google Results on Men’s Underwear Preferences
Before going further, let’s examine the public data. While there isn’t that much data, it is a start, and some of it is pretty interesting to read.
Back when The Underwear Expert was on Kickstarter in 2014 (yeah!), they polled 45,000 readers on their underwear preferences. Keep in mind that The Underwear Expert’s readership probably would have been gay-leaning at the time. While gay guys have some of the best taste in underwear – it’s true – gay guys also are a small subset of the universe of guys. Hence, some of the results don’t represent the entire men’s underwear market. Nonetheless, here are the key findings:
- 27% of respondents preferred briefs to only 22% preferring boxer briefs, followed by 17% for jockstraps and 15% for trunks. I believe the guys responding to this poll were ahead of the curve. It wasn’t until last year, 2021, that briefs picked up momentum as mainstream men’s underwear again.
- 80% of respondents purchase underwear at least once per year, with 30% even claiming once per month. Of course, if you are reading The Underwear Expert, you are already into underwear so no surprise that 30% bought underwear monthly.
- At the time of the poll – November 2014 – only 9% of respondents bought underwear through Amazon. My hunch is that this number is far higher today.
- Black and blue were the most popular colors – with each color favorited by around 20% of respondents – followed by red and green. Blue is my favorite color and makes up a large portion of my underwear collection, although I am adding red pairs to spice it up.
Going back to my take that this survey focused more on gay guys, “Ron” notes in the comments section of the blog post summed up my feelings quite well:
I have to agree with Ben. I suspect that the readership of this site skews towards gay, fashion-aware, and upmarket. There are a whole lot of men out there whose wives go to Target and pick up the first multipack of their husband’s preferred style. I’d be willing to bet that for Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, white briefs and boxer shorts are an absolute majority of their sales.Ron, January 15, 2015, Comments Section
To further illustrate the lack of public data regarding men’s underwear preferences, I did not find this 2016 underwear poll on The Huffington Post or AskMen’s website. No, I found it on fellow blogger BosGuy’s website. Despite being conducted two years later, I believe this poll reflects the male underwear universe better than The Underwear Expert’s poll.
The HP/AM poll notes that 58% of respondents wore boxer briefs, with only 22% stating they wore briefs. Only 2% said they wore thongs. Considering that boxer briefs have long been men’s preferred underwear since the late 2000s, 58% preferring boxer briefs is more reasonable than only 27% a la The Underwear Expert.
More interesting about this pole were the other two questions it asked. When asked what type of underwear “makes you feel more like a man,” 43% stated boxers, while 40% selected briefs. I am shocked that 40% favored briefs, especially back in 2016. Today and into the next few years, I can envision 40% of guys choosing briefs with briefs’ surge in popularity. In 2016? Not so much. Also interesting that although 40% stated briefs made them feel like a man, only 22% wore briefs. I am curious to know why there is such a significant difference.
Who feels more like a man?
The last question HP/AM asked was, “Do you wear underwear to feel sexy?” Sadly, 54% of respondents said no. I want to cry. :'( Guys, no reason not to feel sexy and confident by wearing a pair of fantastic underwear. And today, with so many brands developing new styles of men’s underwear, it is both easy and inexpensive to wear sexy underwear proudly.
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YouGov’s August 2016 survey focused on British men and found that overall, 37% of respondents preferred boxer shorts (“loose boxers”), 27% preferred briefs, and 25% wanted boxer briefs (“tight boxers”). I love comparisons, and with YouGov and HP/AM polling men in the same year, these two polls directly compare underwear differences across the Atlantic Ocean. While the numbers for boxer briefs are all over the place, it is striking how consistent the numbers for briefs are across the past three polls: around 1/4 of respondents always preferred briefs.
YouGov adds a nice touch and breaks down these results by age group. The results are clear: younger guys prefer boxer briefs to briefs, and older guys prefer briefs to boxer briefs. This split by age group isn’t surprising for a poll performed in 2016. Today and over the next few years, I feel younger guys will shift more towards briefs following my 40-year underwear cycle analysis. Also, note that when YouGov asked women what they prefer men to wear, women far desired boxer briefs to briefs by a four to one margin. Briefs get an unfair bad rap!
I want to call out one sentence of the blog post: “And 3% of men mysteriously opted for “Other” underwear than boxers, briefs or none. The mind boggles.” That the blog post writer can’t imagine men’s underwear styles other than boxers or briefs – such as jockstraps – is another sign of the stuffiness of men’s underwear. Granted, in 2016, men’s underwear hadn’t quite blossomed into what it is today. Nonetheless, I want a world where men’s underwear is just as essential and discussed as women’s underwear. I feel the momentum building, and I am very excited about the future of men’s underwear!
For my American readers, Brits strangely call underwear pants and pants trousers. Hence, British underwear company Bang & Strike published an underwear survey called “Pants Survey.” I’m not sure why Brits call underwear pants, but considering how hot Bang & Strike’s underwear models are, I’ll let it slide.
While the publication date is unknown, the Bang & Strike poll is very informative. I especially like how Bang & Strike separated the results by sexual orientation, as I believe gay and straight guys do not view men’s underwear the same way (on average, ok!). Here are the key results:
- Around 45% of straight guys responding to the poll preferred boxers, compared to 50-60% of gay and bi men preferring briefs. This makes sense to me, although, as I mentioned earlier, I believe all guys are moving towards shorter styles. Thus, if the same poll was taken today, I believe a higher number of straight guys would prefer briefs.
- 92% of respondents bought their own underwear. Contrast this finding with Ron’s comment above from The Underwear Expert poll noting his belief that men’s female spouses purchase their underwear. I believe the truth is in the middle.
- 20% of male respondents note they go wearing the same pair of underwear for more than two days. I believe it. Especially now, with many working from home, there is less of a need for showering every day. I have gotten lazy in this department, switching to showering every other day. Better for the environment, maybe even better for your health!
- Finally, Bang & Strike noted that respondents stated the average price paid for a pair of underwear was £5 to £10 (around $7 to $14). I believe good men’s underwear starts in the $10-$15 price bracket, so the poll sounds about right.
Hunk Underwear published the results of their 2020 poll regarding men’s underwear. Like Bang & Strike, Hunk has some real hotties modeling their underwear. Unlike Bang & Strike, Hunk is out and proud in showing they cater to gay guys: one of the poll questions is, what do you prefer seeing on other guys? Let’s get to their results:
- Starting with what guys prefer to see on other guys, briefs won with 43% of the vote. Jockstraps and boxer briefs were nearly tied, each with around 20% of the vote. For me, trunks are the hottest on other guys, followed by briefs and boxer briefs equally as hot.
- Respondents preferred briefs slightly more for day-to-day wear than boxer briefs, 43% vs. 36%, respectively.
- Yet for gym wear, while briefs still beat boxer briefs – 34% to 27% – jockstraps were quite popular with 19% of the vote. I don’t find that unexpected since jockstraps are associated with a gym environment. I could never wear a jockstrap in public – at least at the moment – however, I know several guys that do so.
- What I found surprising about the gym wear question was that 11% of respondents stated they go commando at the gym. I feel like the gym is when you most want to wear underwear, between being in close proximity to others and moving your body in all different ways. And 6% admitted to wearing boxer shorts; watch my YouTube video on the right with my opinion on boxer shorts at the gym.
Hunk’s remaining questions are unique and exactly the type of data I seek!
- Hunk notes that 83% of respondents stated that underwear is sexually exciting, with 73% of these guys noting that “underwear accentuates the male body.” Honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
- Around 65% of respondents said they spend less than $20 per pair of underwear, while 6% spent more than $30. I agree with this. I find that $15-$20 is the sweet spot of men’s underwear while spending more than $30 means you are committed to some high-class underwear. Not that it is wrong to spend more than $30 per pair, although generally, I find waiting for sales on these higher-end brands pays off (it certainly has for me!).
- I loved that Hunk asked what the most important factor in purchasing new underwear is. 33% stated color and design, while 22% went with brand and 20% went with comfort. For me, comfort is my top factor, followed by color and design. I don’t care which brand I buy purely for the brand name. Instead, I tend to buy a lot of the same brands because they make comfortable and appealing underwear.
- Finally, Hunk notes that only 6% of respondents stated they don’t buy underwear at least once yearly. I’m not upset by this. Good pairs of undies will last for years if you buy high-quality underwear and treat it well. Plenty of my underwear collection is a few years old yet still performing well.
Metro – a British tabloid – surveyed 2,000 people in Manchester, England, about men’s underwear. The poll was straightforward: what kind of pants (underwear) do guys wear? Surprisingly, 51% stated that they preferred tighty-whities compared to only 26% preferring boxer briefs. YouGov’s 2016 poll shows that older British men overwhelmingly prefer briefs. At the same time, younger guys are trending towards shorter styles, such as trunks and briefs. Thus, results might be pretty accurate across the male British population.
Frigo’s Poll of Underwear Issues Men Face
Frigo is an underwear startup from a couple of years ago, and instead of the usual “boxers or briefs” type questions, Frigo asked about underwear problems men face. I love this poll because it gets to the heart of the same problem I see: guys don’t know they can wear better underwear.
The highlight here is that 75% of guys responding to this poll state they have at least one issue with their underwear. For example, guys noted in this poll that sweating was the #1 problem they faced. Presumably, this means guys get too hot with their underwear. Unbreathable underwear is an easy fix! You can find your ideal pair of underwear, especially by reading my guides.
Wear bamboo or modal underwear for everyday wear and at home, and choose moisture-wicking microfiber blends for sports and outdoor activities. If you plan your entire underwear drawer based on what you like and know, then you’ll always have comfortable underwear.
My Instagram Polls
Although I found the polls above, the results are all over the place. And other than the “boxers or briefs” question, only Hunk’s and Bank & Strike’s polls asked innovative questions. I want to know how guys choose their underwear and what problems men face. Yet, it wasn’t until recently that I realized I could poll guys directly through social media.
Since then, I have created several Instagram story polls asking various questions. Flip through my polls so far below and let me know your thoughts in the comment section. And if you want to partake in the fun, follow me on Instagram @mensunderwearguide.
What do we truly know about men’s underwear preferences?
After examining all of these polls, what can we conclude? Not particularly much, unfortunately. One theme across all votes is the death of boxer shorts. I have written previously about my experiences as a millennial growing up in a world of boxer shorts. Twenty years later, boxer shorts are dead. Even look at the Instagram poll above in which I asked what “boxers” mean. Half – half! – of all respondents thought they meant boxer briefs. My high school self – and my high school friends – wouldn’t even recognize boxer briefs!
As an analytical person who believes in Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” I find the most accurate of all polls is the market. How have men’s underwear companies catered to changing underwear preferences? What are the marketing trends in men’s underwear? For example, let’s say we want to know if guys are purchasing more or fewer briefs today. We need to look at men’s underwear companies and see if they are selling more or fewer briefs:
- American Eagle – a popular clothing company for teens and college students – started selling briefs a couple of years ago. Yet in January 2022, they stopped, only to resume again in May 2022. (My Instagram followers heard about this first – see my Instagram polls above.)
- On the other hand, other popular underwear companies such as Bn3th, Saxx, and Shinesty, all have started selling briefs.
- My conclusion: Briefs are becoming more popular, however, American Eagle’s halt may mean younger men aren’t sticking with the trend. [Update May 2022: American Eagle sells limited styles of briefs again.]
We can do the same for any trend we want to examine: prices, colors, fabrics, fly type, etc. However, it is almost impossible for me to perform data analysis on this topic without cold, hard purchase data. I have to resort to anecdotal evidence, primarily by reviewing company websites. Nonetheless, this kind of research is still essential and provides valuable data.
As such, I’ll end this blog post on one shining example of public data research answering the “boxers or briefs” question. Amazon.com, the largest U.S. retailer, sells many men’s underwear. I typed “men’s underwear” into the search bar – in an incognito window to prevent skewed results – and saw what came up. Fifty pairs of underwear appeared on the first page, not including sponsored results. How did they break down? 30 boxer briefs (60%), 10 briefs (20%), seven boxer shorts (14%), and three trunks (6%).
Based on the results above, do I believe that around 60% of men wear boxer briefs? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think. Amazon’s high-powered computers aren’t dumb; they listen when buyers speak. Because ultimately, money talks, even when discussing men’s underwear.
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