What material is best for men’s underwear

We can all agree, that the majority of guys buy the first pair of underwear they see. But does it really matter? In this post, I will explain why fabric choice is a big deal when it comes to briefs and undergarments, as well as what material is best for men’s underwear.

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the history of underwear

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What is underwear used for?

There are several reasons why people wear underwear. They prevent perspiration and other body fluids and excretions from staining outer clothing. Underwear also serves as a protective barrier between your body and outerwear to reduce odor and provide warmth in colder weather.

Tommy Hilfiger Men's Cotton Classics Brief Multipack, Large

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The history of underwear

The loincloth is the first recorded form of underwear. In warmer weather, it was probably the only clothing worn. During colder weather, it was worn under clothing to provide additional warmth.

The loincloth was initially crafted as a single strip of cloth that passed between the legs and around the waist. The first loincloths were estimated to have been used over 7000 years ago and were probably made from wool and linen. [1]Rushton, Susie (22 January 2008). “A brief history of pants: Why men’s smalls have always been a subject of concern”The Independent (Extra). London. pp. 2–5.

During the Middle Ages, Western men’s underwear grew looser fitting. The loincloth was replaced by braies, which were loose, trouser-like garments that were laced or wrapped around the waist and legs at around mid-calf. Braies were usually fitted with a front flap buttoned or tied closed.

As we move to the 20th century, the mass-produced underwear industry was thriving. It was during this time the Hanes company rose to prominence as a leading manufacturer of union suits, which remained popular until the 1930s.

Today, boxer-briefs are the most popular underwear style for men. They provide the best middle ground between comfort and support.

Types of underwear

types of mens underwear

The most popular styles of men’s underwear are:

Types of material


Fruit of the Loom mens Tag-free Cotton Briefs, 9 Pack - White, Medium US

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The most popular material used for underwear is cotton. The soft and breathable fibers of 100% cotton make it ideal for underwear. Cotton is a natural material with excellent breathability and is hypoallergenic.

Cotton Jersey

Tommy John Men's Cool Cotton Trunks - 3 Pack - Comfortable Breathable Soft Underwear for Men (Iron Grey, XX-Large)

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Cotton jersey is a stretchy, silky cotton fabric with a single-knit construction. Jersey has natural elasticity without the use of stretch fibers like elastane because of the way it is knit.

Lyocell Jersey

wirarpa Men's Breathable Micro Modal Trunk Underwear Covered Waistband Microfiber Underpants Short Leg Solid Color, Medium

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Lyocell is a rayon fabric manufactured by dissolving cellulose or wood pulp and spinning it in an innovative way. It can be found in a wide range of products, including denim, towels, lyocell sheets, and other bedding.


LILYSILK 4PACK Silk Boxers Mens Breathable Real Mulberry Underwear 6A Grade Royal Shorts Combo Pack, Silk Sleep Lounge Bottoms Black+Blue+Red+Grey XL

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Silk is made from the silk worm’s cocoon. Although numerous insects generate silk, the Bombyx mori, or mulberry silk moth, is the most commonly used filament in the commercial silk business. The silkworm eats mulberry leaves before attaching them to a mulberry tree and spinning a silk cocoon.

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adidas Men's Sport Performance Mesh Boxer Brief Underwear (3-Pack), Black/Onix Grey/Black, X-Large

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Knitting is a technique used in the textile industry to create mesh materials. Fabric mesh is made by loosely weaving threads or fibers together to create a grid effect. The holes are caused by the looseness of the fabric. Larger open gaps in the fabric are created by looser knits.

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Comfneat Men's Sport Boxer Briefs Performance Underwear with Fly 4-Pack (Blue/Blue Grey 4-Pack, M)

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Polyester is a lightweight and breathable fabric that is commonly used in training gear and activewear. Is polyester, however, truly breathable? Yes, polyester is breathable; it’s light and water-resistant, so moisture from your skin evaporates rather than seeping into the fabric.

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wirarpa Men's Underwear 4 Pack Modal Microfiber Briefs No Fly Covered Waistband Silky Touch Underpants Assorted, Small

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Modal is a form of rayon that combines organic and synthetic components to create a “semi-synthetic” textile. It’s become the go-to fabric in the athleisure wear segment, replacing traditional cotton and viscose.

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Fruit of the Loom Men's Micro-Stretch Long Leg Boxer Briefs, assorted, X-Large - Pack of 5

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Nylon is created by a two-step chemical and manufacturing process that begins with the creation of the fiber’s strong polymers and ends with the binding of those polymers to form a lasting fiber. The phrase is often used to refer to a wide spectrum of polyamides, or synthetic polymers, and covers a wide range of goods that are often quite distinct.

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Cotton will never be replaced as a top material used for underwear. However, other materials, such as polyester and modal are gaining market share due to their softness, form-fitting, and moisture-wicking qualities.

As body shaping undergarments continue to rise in popularity, so will the use of synthetic materials that offer better performance and fit.

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1 Rushton, Susie (22 January 2008). “A brief history of pants: Why men’s smalls have always been a subject of concern”The Independent (Extra). London. pp. 2–5.

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