Boxers vs Briefs – The Ultimate Guide

The age old debate. Boxers v’s Briefs. Which is best & what’s the difference between them?

One of the most beautiful things about life is that no two people are the same. The combination of nature and nurture create individuals who very rarely like exactly the same things. Some people like bacon and eggs for breakfast, others a croissant, while for some – a coffee and cigarette do the business. The same can be said for underwear.

Choosing the right pair- whether it is to suit your style, anatomy or activity, is hugely important. It really can make or break your day. Luckily, when it comes to underwear, there is an almost overwhelming choice to suit every imaginable shape, size or occasion. And in this galaxy of undergarments there are two staples: the boxer short and the male brief.

Historically speaking, both are relatively new creations. While people were wearing underwear in roman and egyptian times, they consisted of pieces of fabric cut into shorts. There were also ‘pants’- named after an italian named Pantalone- which, similar to long johns, stopped at the ankle rather than the knee and were worn under trousers. 

And this is pretty much how it was until sometime in 1925. First came the boxer, soon followed by briefs. Original pairs were simple in design, mostly cotton and mostly white.

And so now this brings us to the question every modern man will face at some point: I am man. I wear underwear. Should I choose boxers or briefs? Is there even a difference?

What’s The Difference Between Boxers & Briefs?

The main difference between boxers and briefs is the length. Briefs stop at the top of the thigh area, while boxers can vary in length from about mid thigh to just above the knee.

Fabrics for both can include all cotton, cotton/polyester blends, jersey knits, satin, silk, and new hybrids like Tencell.

Boxer Shorts

In 1925, Everlast founder Jacob Golomb created an elasticated short to replace the leather bound shorts worn by boxers. They were designed to allow the athletes ease of movement and unhindered leg movement.

The common design for boxers is a panel seat with two seams running on the outer edges. The majority have a fly on the front, with either buttons, a metal fastener, or overlapping fabrics for the ‘open fly’. (Great in an emergency dash!) Boxers are rarely made from stretchy material, and have a generous panel of loosely fitting fabric at the rear.

In 1985, briefs were outselling boxers 4 to 1. A shocking defeat for the athletically inspired undergarments. However, their sales picked up over the next few decades. More fashionable prints were produced, as well as some attention grabbing ads which shifted consumer trends towards the more ‘masculine’ and loose fitting boxer


1935 was the year that classic briefs were first popularised among consumers. They were inspired by a photo the designer received from France of a man wearing form fitting swimwear. They were originally called ‘jockeys’, based on the fact they offered the same support as jockstraps. Within 3 months, 30,000 pairs were sold, and soon enough, shops were selling over 3,000 pairs a week! They first made it to the UK in 1938, were they known as Y-fronts.

Classic briefs are form fitting underwear that are cut to the thigh. They were known as y-fronts due to the y-shaped exit hole at the front. They come in a variety of cuts and key benefits include a supportive pouch and nothing but essential fabric. Similar to boxers, the 1960s saw a rise in fashionable briefs and an ever growing range of exciting styles.

Sales of briefs have undulated throughout history. Their peak period was in 1985, when they had a 25% share of the underwear market. Women were among the key driving forces, purchasing fashionable items for their men- mostly for aesthetic reasons.

The 90-2000s saw a decline in brief sales vs boxers, however, sales of briefs are back on the rise as people look for something different and more form fitting to wear under tailored clothes.

Briefs Vs Boxers – The Pros and Cons

Aside from cut, there are a number of key differences in boxers vs briefs. Both are great it’s all about finding the right pair for the moment.

Boxers – The Pros and Cons


  • Loose fitting and comfortable, boxers are ideal for men who like space from their underwear
  • Generous air flow makes it easier for men to keep the right temperature
  • The flys allow for easy access, whether your hand or someone else’s
  • Can improve fertility by keeping the testicles at an adequate temperature


  • Offer little support to the genital areas
  •  The loose fitting fabric can bunch and become visible under tighter or tailored clothing
  • Some flies are poorly built and can make access tricky

Briefs – The Pros and cons


  • A well designed cup or pouch can offer great support to the genital area
  • The minimal design fits smoothly and discretely under tailored clothes
  • Fashionable designs can really spice things up down under
  • Snug fit


  • The lack of fly can be inconvenient
  • Takes confidence to wear them- they can be quite revealing!
  • Can lead to teasing by other males
  • Can look awful on the wrong person
  • The lack of easy access fly can be irritating

In conclusion, the underwear you wear is totally down to you. What are you doing? Where are you going? What else are you wearing? Who are you wearing them for? It is these questions that should shape your choice. There is no doubt boxers and briefs are different, but when it comes down to it, both have their advantages whether for practical or aesthetic purposes. And if you still can’t decide who is your winner in boxers vs briefs, you can opt for boxer briefs – a best of both worlds solution.

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