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Boxers vs Briefs vs Boxer Briefs: How to Choose The Right Style

While men’s underwear may seem straightforward at first glance, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best style of underwear for any occasion. If you’re struggling to decide between boxers vs briefs vs boxer briefs, it’s important not to toss a coin and leave your decision up to random chance.

To help you quickly decide which style best suits your wants and needs, we address each option and compare their comfortability, functionality and appearance.

What are Boxers?

Boxers, also known as boxer shorts, are a style of men’s underwear known for their elastic waistband and loosely fitting fabric. While they don’t tend to hold anything in place, their looseness makes them a great option for breathability and free movement. Guys’ boxers are a classic that can be worn for any occasion, though they don’t tend to be preferred for high-intensity activities due to their loose fit.

What are Briefs?

Briefs are a short, tighter underwear style worn by men and women alike. One of the most classic styles of men’s briefs are the notorious “tighty-whities”. They aren’t to be mistaken for boxer briefs, which tend to cover much more of the leg than briefs do. Briefs are also highly versatile, coming in styles that offer various levels of coverage as well as different types of fits.

What are Boxer Briefs?

Boxer briefs are a style of men’s underwear that blends the snugness of briefs with the thigh coverage of boxers. Unlike both boxers and briefs, boxer briefs cover the inner thighs and tend to stretch easily to allow for leg movement. Recent years have seen the evolution of boxer briefs to better meet men’s comfort needs, as in our Hammock Pouch Boxer Brief.

Boxers vs Briefs vs Boxer Briefs

A graphic comparing boxers, boxer briefs and briefs by snugness, support, breathability and coverage level

Now that we’ve introduced all three styles of men’s underwear, let’s compare them using three essential factors – comfort, function and appearance.

Comfort

If there’s one quality that matters most when it comes to choosing the right underwear, it’s comfort. You shouldn’t have to tug at your underwear all day to keep it in place, and it shouldn’t be squeezing you so tightly that you lose circulation in your legs. Let’s dive into how each style makes your body feel.

Boxers

Boxers certainly have their pros and cons in the realm of comfort. If you’re looking for excellent breathability, this is the style for you. Boxers are made of loose fabric that leaves plenty of space for your sensitive areas to stay cool.

That said, with freedom comes a little risk. Boxers can leave you feeling vulnerable as your privates are not very supported or protected by loose fabric. While this is fine for leisurely activity, it can pose an issue for higher intensity activities like sports and workouts.

Boxers are also the most likely of the three styles to get bunched up, requiring you to frequently pull down on the fabric to keep it in place.

Briefs

On the other end of the comfort spectrum are briefs. No matter the activity, you can feel confident that your boys won’t be in pain from excessive movement when sporting this style.

Of course, since briefs offer a tighter fit, warmer days can introduce some discomfort into the mix. If you anticipate sweat getting in the way of comfort while wearing briefs, you’ll want to invest in a pair made from anti-microbial fabric that won’t smell or soak up sweat like our 360 Sport Brief.

Boxer Briefs

To balance the deficiencies of boxers and briefs, boxer briefs come to the rescue. This style offers great support while also providing enough space for your sensitive zone to breathe.

If comfort is your number one priority, nothing beats our Second Skin Hammock Pouch Boxer Brief.

Function

A man wearing only white trunks while holding a cup of coffee and looking pensively out a window

While it’s crucial to feel good in your underwear, we don’t necessarily throw on a pair just to feel comfortable. Underwear serves some very important functional purposes, from adding a layer of protection between your skin and your clothes to holding everything in place.

Boxers

While boxers can be a really comfortable option, they tend to lack some important functional qualities. While they do add an important layer of protection between your skin and your clothes, boxer fabric tends to be thinner than other options which means it’s more likely for your pants and shorts to soil quickly.

Boxers also tend to be much baggier than other options – fly and all. While this can be convenient when nature calls, it increases the possibility of accidental exposure – a situation no guy wants to find himself in.

That said, our Cool Cotton Relaxed Fit Boxer is made with a moisture-wicking fabric thick enough to provide plenty of protection and the ideal loose-but-not-too-loose fit to keep you feeling relaxed, secure and covered.

Briefs

As we’ve already mentioned, briefs are great for providing your package with the utmost support. However, they also offer the least coverage of all three underwear types, which means plenty of thigh exposure and the potential for chafing.

If you go for briefs, it’s important to choose a material that is easy on your skin and to be aware of what outer layer you’re wearing. Skinny jeans, for example, are more likely to cause thigh chafing than a pair of silky joggers.

Boxer Briefs

Once again, boxer briefs are the innovative solution to the issues encountered with boxers and briefs, allowing minimal chafing and excellent coverage to live together in harmony.

While they offer thigh coverage and up-close support, they still provide enough space between your body and the fabric to keep chafing under control. Our Apollo collection takes the functionality of boxer briefs to the next level, providing the utmost durability, breathability and softness with the help of innovative drirelease® fabric. 

Appearance

While underwear was originally designed for utility above all else, everybody wants to look good in their underwear. Let’s explore how each style stacks up when it comes to visual appeal.

Boxers

Boxers do a great job at covering your thighs and offering extra padding, just like a pair of loosely fitting shorts would. This style works great for slightly more top-heavy body types, as it makes your lower body look bigger, improving bodily proportionality.

That said, boxers can pose some stylistic challenges for people with a skinnier body type, as the baggier look can feel a bit sloppy and the large space between leg and fabric may appear awkward. It never hurts to try on a pair in the mirror and see how confident you feel!

Briefs

Briefs leave very little up to the imagination, revealing the entire thigh and only covering what needs to be covered to maintain a degree of modesty. For this reason, briefs tend to look best on people with very physically fit bodies.

That said, don’t let this discourage you from trying on a pair. What matters most is your own confidence level and how good you feel in them.

Boxer Briefs

By now, you probably know the drill–boxer briefs take the cake by resolving the issues posed by boxers and briefs. This style works for men of every body type, providing plenty of coverage while still nicely defining your legs and drawing positive attention. Thanks to boxer briefs, anyone can feel confident in their underwear!

Considerations When Choosing Boxers vs Briefs vs Boxer Briefs

A man wearing gray shorts and a blue-green T-shirt and practicing lunges in his home, using his couch for foot support]

While the qualities of the underwear types themselves are critical considerations when deciding what to wear, there are some external factors that are equally deserving of consideration before pulling the trigger on one style over another.

Activity

Are you dressing for the gym, work, a relaxing day at home or an evening out? While boxer briefs are likely appropriate for all of these activities, you shouldn’t wear loose boxers to the gym – too much risk of exposing yourself to the person across from you when bench pressing.

In the same vein, snug briefs probably aren’t the move if you’re just planning to sit back and watch a movie. Consider the risks and comfort levels of each style for whatever activity you have planned – you won’t regret it.

Body Type

Does showing a little extra skin make you look and feel confident, or does your body look best with a little more coverage? Generally, leaner guys tend to pull off boxer briefs better than they do loose boxers, and more top-heavy guys tend to look great in boxers compared to tight briefs.

Of course, no underwear style should be gatekept by certain body types. What matters most is that you can look in the mirror and appreciate what you’ve got!

Weather

Briefs may be your favorite style of underwear until things start to heat up. Sweat doesn’t feel too good when confined in an already warm space. Likewise, boxers may feel great until it starts snowing and the loose fabric provides little to no heat retention.

Don’t be afraid to have a different go-to underwear style for every type of weather – you don’t have to show undying loyalty to just one! Prepare yourself for warm days by exploring our Apollo offerings, which use drirelease® fabric to keep your skin up to 7°F cooler than cotton.

FAQs: Boxers vs Briefs vs Boxer Briefs

A man wearing only gray boxer briefs facing a stove as he cooks something in a skillet

If you have more questions about these three underwear styles, you aren’t alone. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about boxers, briefs and boxer briefs.

Can Girls Wear Boxers?

Yes! Women can absolutely wear boxers and any other style of underwear traditionally labeled as “men’s underwear”. Women who wear boxers tend to find men’s underwear styles comfier and less prone to chafing than panties. Many women wear boxers and boxer briefs to bed, as they make great pajama bottoms.

What Size Boxer Briefs Should I Wear?

The size of your boxer briefs should closely match your waist size. If you wear size 32x34 pants, you should aim for size 32, or size Medium underwear. For the most accurate measurement, check out our underwear size chart.

How Should Boxer Briefs Fit? 

If you’re wondering how to wear boxer briefs correctly, you’re not alone. Boxer briefs are supposed to fit snugly, but they aren’t supposed to feel constricting. A good test of boxer brief comfort is to try sitting, jumping and stretching in them to make sure that any activity will feel comfortable. If something doesn’t feel right, you may need to adjust your size or try a different style.

What’s the Difference Between Trunks and Boxer Briefs?

Due to the similarities between boxer briefs vs trunks, it’s normal to be a bit confused about what sets them apart. Simply put, trunks are shorter and squarer than boxer briefs, which tend to be longer and more rectangular in shape.

Should I Wear Boxers or Briefs?

Whether it’s better to wear boxers or briefs depends on several factors, from weather to body type to occasion. For exercise and cooler weather, briefs and boxer briefs are certainly better than boxers. On the other hand, for warmer weather and lazy days around the house, boxers are probably preferable to briefs.

Why Do Guys Wear Briefs?

Since briefs tend to be considered less fashionable than boxer briefs, you may be wondering why briefs would ever be a man’s first choice. The primary appeal of briefs is that they provide plenty of support with minimal extra fabric. For guys with an active lifestyle who don’t like the feeling of extra fabric on their thighs, briefs are often a favorite.

While this post has compared three supremely popular underwear options, there are even more types of men’s underwear to explore. If you’re preparing to buy your next pair, remember that you never have to sacrifice style for comfort – our Second Skin collection provides both!