The ABCs of Kinds of Underwear for Men (and Other Terminology You Should Know)

Let’s face it: a lot of guys really don’t think twice about their underwear. But you should! Most of us wear underwear every day, and the history of men’s underwear is surprisingly interesting. 

Today, we’re going to learn a little history, a little terminology, and a lot about the different kinds of underwear for men that exist. Consider this your all-inclusive underwear dictionary! We’ll even include some etymology, which, while you don’t need it to buy men’s underwear, you may be able to bring up these interesting linguistic facts at parties when there’s a lull in the conversation. 

Are you ready to dive into the ABCs of Underwear for Men? Let’s go!

The ABCs of Underwear for Men

Anatomical Isolation Pouch: Whether you wear boxers, briefs, boxer briefs, or something different, your underwear will typically have a built-in pouch. The technical name for this pouch is the “anatomical isolation pouch.” Interesting, right?

Boxers: By this point, you probably know what boxers are, but did you know WHY they’re called that? The boxer style of underwear was literally created for boxers, by the boxing company, Everlast. 

Boxers have been around since 1925, then briefs were invented in 1935 to offer more support. Boxer briefs came around a few years later, blending the two styles into a supportive, high-coverage silhouette.

(If you’d like to learn more about the subtle differences between a boxer, a boxer brief, and a brief, we have a more detailed explanation about men’s underwear styles here.)

Britches: A lot of people think “britches” or “breeches” refer to underwear, but these words are actually different terms for trousers (AKA pants.) We learned that while doing the research for this article, so we thought we’d include it.

Cotton: A fluffy, white fiber that’s comfortable to wear. Often combined with synthetic fabrics to form stretch cotton.

Elastane: One of the synthetics we frequently add to cotton to make it stretchier.

Jock straps: By this time, you might know that a jock strap is a supportive style of underwear that offers minimal coverage, with only straps holding it on in the back and sides. However, what you might not know is why they’re called jock straps. It’s because of bicycles: specifically, old-timey ones that had one big front wheel and one small back wheel. These early bikes were called “penny farthings,” and the folks who rode them were called “bicycle jockeys”…and apparently, they wore jock straps, which is where the “jock” comes from.

Loincloths: The loincloth was the first form men’s underwear took. Depending on the culture it came from, a loincloth can look different and function differently. The word “loincloth” encompasses anything from a single piece of fabric worn at the waist, to a slightly more elaborate style that’s strategically twisted to provide support. 

Microfiber: One of our favorite fabrics. Microfiber is renowned for being ultra soft because it’s made of tiny fibers, hence the name. People even use microfiber towels to wipe down their cars because it’s gentle and won’t scratch the paint. That same softness makes microfiber underwear a must-have for men.

Nylon: A synthetic material that was invented as an alternative to silk. It’s soft and stretchy.

Pima cotton: A specific kind of cotton that has longer fibers and is even softer than regular cotton.

Supima cotton: Even more specific than Pima cotton, Supima means it’s an extra-long staple cotton. This is the gold standard of cotton, and you can find it in several of our products, including this shaper tank for men!

As you can see, the difference between cotton, Pima cotton, and Supima cotton is subtle, but there are some important distinctions that must be made when discussing these materials.

Union suits: The union suit is a one-piece garment that serves as underwear for both the top and the bottom simultaneously. It’s a similar style to long johns, except in addition to long legs, a union suit also has long arms. Back in the 1700s, when the union suit was invented, it was considered to be the ultimate way to keep warm, covered, and modest.

Did you learn something today? We hope our nerdy knowledge of undergarments has come in handy. Now that you’re armed with vocabulary about men’s underwear…

Shop Underwear for Men Online

We’re not just the experts in underwear vocabulary – we’re also the experts in underwear technology. Our designs are engineered for comfort and support and include our high-tech signature fabrics that keep you feeling cool, wicking moisture away from the body and allowing both absolute airflow and a full range of motion.

Looking for underwear with an ergonomically designed anatomical isolation pouch? Leo has got you covered (quite literally.) Our pouches were designed with the help of real doctors, so they offer real support and protection you won’t find with any other brand. 

So, what are you waiting for? Put your underwear knowledge to the test. Shop Leo’s trunks, briefs, and boxer briefs for men and you’ll be able to feel the difference our expert craftsmanship makes. 

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