Good morning, readers, and welcome to Day 1 of our First Annual MPB Guy Week.
Please do not confuse Guy Week with Man Month. Brilliantly talented Shelley is offering four weeks of substance; I am offering one week of fluff. There's a huge difference but I hope you will support us both.
And now, speaking of support...
WAIT -- I haven't told you: GUESS who I saw at the Chelsea flea market yesterday morning. If you guessed Catherine Deneuve, you'd be CORRECT!!! OMG, you guys, I couldn't believe it -- there she was perusing a pile of vintage linens not two feet in front of me. It was all I could do not to break into a chorus of "Watch What Happens." Obviously I'm not the type who would ever intrude on a celebrity's privacy or snap a photo or anything -- I hate when people do that to me -- but it did give me a thrill and I just had to tell you about it. She looked great considering Belle de jour has seen a lot of jours, let's face it, but I should talk, right?
And now back to Guy Week.
Friends, men have lost a lot over the last few decades: steady union jobs, wages that could support an entire family, the respect of their children, sock garters, and so much more, BUT what we've gained is the widest selection of mens underwear ever before offered in the history of mankind!
Check out the underwear section of even your local Army Navy and you'll be confronted by a gazillion varieties of mens scanties all featuring soft-porn-inspired photos of the kind of men none of us are likely ever to see wearing them.
The history books want to lay responsibility for all this at the feet of Calvin Klein, who raised a lot of eyebrows -- among other things -- in the early Eighties with this advertising campaign for what now look like rather staid white briefs but back then seemed scandalous.
In those days the only photos most of us had seen of men in their underwear were in the Sears catalog, all air-brushed to a Ken doll smoothness. Unless you read something like After Dark magazine, of course, in which case you'd seen a lot more of everything -- this was not porn, btw.
Most long-time MPB readers have already seen me in my underwear, but with increased public attention has come greater modesty, so moving forward I'm unlikely to pose in anything less than a Singer 66 treadle (plus I don't want to violate BurdaStyle's morals clause). But then, this isn't about me in my tighty-whiteys. It's about you, you men out there, and you women who love them and buy underwear for them. You need guidance and support -- or rather, he needs support and you need guidance.
So let's get down to business.
Friends, there are two kinds of men. The ones that need a lot of support and the ones that need a little. I won't tell you which kind I am but given my quick wit and big personality you can probably guess. Believe me when I say I see this as a blessing -- I can wear anything...or nothing at all. Think Jane Birkin.
Like most little boys, I grew up wearing white Y-front briefs, and it wasn't until I was in my late Twenties that I ever considered anything else. The preppy boom in the early Eighties brought back the popularity of the cotton boxer but I really didn't wear boxers until considerably later than that. It just seemed like a lot of fabric to have to stuff into your Levi's. By this time briefs had gotten as brief as they could go; it made sense that the pendulum would swing the other way (as it were).
Y-front briefs (or just briefs without the Y-front) were still something special for my late baby boomer generation; boxers were what one's father wore.
When briefs were introduced, they were initially all about support and fitness, not sex appeal.
Obviously, knit fabric is going to hold things in more snugly than woven fabric. The question is: how much "support" does one truly need in a pair of underwear? This is not a brassiere; most men don't want to lift and separate -- just the opposite. Needless to say, underwear will neither make you fit nor keep you fit. But it should fit, on you and into your pants.
I wear both briefs and boxers (not at the same time of course) but my sense is that today most younger guys (under 30) wear boxers only, based on what I see in the locker room and glimpse on the neighborhood sagger guys -- which is ironic, because the only time you really look good in briefs is when you're young.
Now I'm sure many of you younger readers are wanting to ask, Peter, how about sperm count? Don't briefs make you less fertile? I truly believe this sperm count/tight underwear myth was perpetrated by some desperate advertising copy writer on the Brooks Brothers account. I simply refuse to believe that underwear affects sperm count. Anyway it's not like there aren't enough people in the world.
As a home sewer, one of my very first projects was a pair of boxers and I initially had high hopes of making Y-front briefs with McCall's 3438 but I never did.
If you'd like to see what's possible, however, check out Brian of BrianSews' pubic, I mean public underwear gallery. NSFW and please don't loiter inappropriately. Creative, no?
I did make these vintage boxers, however.
I really haven't made any underwear since. Frankly, underwear is one of those things I'm not very fussy about. I don't like the really cheap Dollar Store stuff and I don't find brands like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom very soft. To be honest, all my best underwear comes from the thrift store and before you say Ewww, a lot of guys will buy the wrong size and then give it all away unworn -- or practically. I may be a scavenger but do I have my standards; I don't think I've bought new underwear in a store for four or five years.
My, how time flies! It's time to wrap things up.
But wait -- how about thongs?
Friends, the less said about thongs the better. They are tacky, tacky, tacky, and I hope that doesn't sound judgmental. Please memorize either (or both) of these simple rhymes: A thong is always wrong, and/or the somewhat more pointed, No thongs for shlongs.
You won't make the thong mistake ever again.
Last and least: the dance belt.
This is a photo of a dance belt seen from the back. Do not put this on backwards as it will lift and separate.
Obviously, a dance belt is a thong for a male dancer. It keeps everything in place and avoids VPL. These generally come in S, M, L, etc. and go by waist size. They have Spandex in them so they stretch but can sometimes run skimpy and should not be put in the dryer. If you're buying one for yourself or someone else, call the store and ask about sizing. They come in padded and non-padded. The padded ones are more for ballet, where you might only wear a leotard over it, or for those who like to live large.
In closing, I ask you: men, do you agree with what I have written? If not, please share your underwear preferences and explain them to us (keep it clean). Do you find it difficult to find the comfort and/or support you need throughout your daily activities? What kind of activities are we talking about (he he)?
Women with men in their lives: what kind of underwear do they wear? Do they let you buy it for them? Have they ever criticized your choices or styles, colors, or prints? Have you ever dropped off a pile of practically new, unworn rejects at your local Salvation Army and can you alert me next time you do?
Any more underwear-related comments/questions? Please phrase requests for advice, Dear Peter....
Have a great day everybody and don't forget to change your --- you know!
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!