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Accepting the brief


Until quite recently, I thought there were two types of male underwear.

There were Y-fronts and boxer shorts.

Wearing the Y-front (or brief or tighty-whitey) was unacceptable undergarment practice. It was allowable for schoolboys but, beyond adolescence, was worn only by the unreservedly uncool and the unpleasantly unkempt. While sport could excuse a temporary indulging, no self-respecting man could wear a pair. As a result, the Y-front was the underwear of choice for comic characters. The equivalent of Bridget Jones granny pants was, perhaps, the Y-fronts sported by Hugh Grants grotesque Welsh housemate, Spike, in Notting Hill (1999); or Toms Cruises Y-front and sock-clad lip-syncing dance in 1983s Risky Business.

So I only ever wore boxers. And nearly all of those were checked cotton from a generic highstreet store. I suspect my experience was the same as most.

But then the brief got hip. Well, it sat just below the hip, had a fashionable brand emblazoned upon the thick elastic, and looked darned good just above some low-rise bootcut jeans.

In case you're a beginner, here is what you're looking for. Mid-rise and low-rise briefs sit two or three inches below the waist with an elasticated band, still have that Y-shaped front, but extend a few inches down, covering the top of the thighs. The boxer brief goes even further down the leg, and is reckoned by many women to be the sexiest available. You can get these briefs in white cotton, sure, but fashionable labels make them available in other colours, designs and fabrics including silk and, dare I say it, spandex. So briefs still hug your groin and offer the support and comfort missing from some boxer short experiences, but they are now acceptable in fact, the trendiest available. reckons that, in addition to looking great (and making men look great), they're a solid choice for jobs that require sitting down all day (briefs are less likely to ride up than other types of underwear) or for physical activities. So there you have it: briefs are back.

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