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The Red/Yellow/Green Guide to Underwear

  • Bianca Monica
The Red/Yellow/Green Guide to Underwear

Advice from Kempt’s resident possessor of two X chromosomes and undergarment authority, Bianca Monica.

My underwear are meticulously folded and organized, in a drawer, by style and color. They’re washed separately from everything else. On date nights, I take no chances. I buy new ones. They’re chosen after at least an hour of browsing. What number date is this? How many errands am I running today? Is it actually Tuesday?

These are the things my underwear and I think about.

And yet, I sometimes get the feeling that you, gentlemen, aren’t putting in that same effort. Even though your entire romantic future may rest on it.

So we put together this Red/Yellow/Green guide on how to approach your drawers.

A 24-Hour Underwear Exclusive


For all the obsessing over sartorial minutiae that happens on the Internet, one of the most important elements of our daily wardrobe doesn’t get much attention: underwear.

And that’s a damn shame.

So today we set out to right that wrong. And you’ve got 24 hours to do the same.

Because our esteemed colleagues at UrbanDaddy and the maestros of underthings at MeUndies are teaming up to get you back on track in the boxer/brief department with three ridiculously comfortable pairs for half off the retail price.

What you need to know: these underwear are designed in Los Angeles and made from the highest quality modal sourced from the high Alps of Austria. It’s ultrasoft. And it never rises. And... well, it’s perfect.

The Exclusive MeUndies x UrbanDaddy Three-Pack is only available for the next 24 hours. So you’ll need to act fast.

You can figure out what you’re wearing over them later.

Use code UD33 to pick up the three-pack.

Boxer Shorts for the Boxer-Brief Era

  • Najib Benouar

The dawning of the age of the boxer-brief basically put an end to the centuries-old underwear debate...

But we might have to reconsider after seeing this new collection of trim, lightweight cotton boxer shorts from newcomers Burtonwode—made in the UK and recently landed in British webshop Glass Boutique.

The five-panel construction is designed to stop any unwanted bunching, and the slim cut mimics the fit of the ubiquitous boxer-brief but gives you a little more breathing room (a precious commodity during this steamy time of year). There aren’t any smiley face prints, but you can opt for an all-over print of purple Einstein busts. Not to mention, they come in some handsome packaging.

More looks after the jump.»

Natalie Wood Has Kidnapped Your Dog

Natalie Woodvia LIFE

”Country Gentleman Copy” Doesn’t Exactly Roll Off The Tongue: Lauren Bans pulls down the definitive Hipster Cop interview. Apparently he’s a big Ralph Lauren fan. [GQ]

Behind The Undershirt: Simon Crompton’s humorously named “Underwear Project” proceeds with an in-depth look at Sunspel. [Permanent Style]

Reasons to Learn to Drive Stick: The 1967 Maserati Mistral Coupe is an extremely handsome car. That is all. [Driven]

Blades of Steel: A guide to the deadly art of knife-throwing. You should assume your enemies have already read it. [Art of Manliness]

The Under Layer

Underwear doesn’t get a lot of play in the menswear blogodome, but from a comfort perspective, it’s one of the most important things you’ll put on all day. And as winter steps up, a stash of soft undershirts can be every bit as important as a winter coat.

As of today, you’ll have a new place to get them.

It’s a London marque called Under (get it?), an up-and-coming underwear brand arriving on e-commerce today. They caught our attention with feather-soft cotton and a preference for faded, heathered primary colors. The result is the kind of undergarment that looks like it’s spent the last hundred years in a deadstock warehouse.

Hopefully one of these days, they’ll get around to making a union suit.

Round Two


We might be in the boxer brief era of underwear trends at the moment, but that’s no reason a gentleman can’t get adventurous.

For instance, these mini-stripe boxers from Jake Joseph might be worth defying a few trends. They’re designed after classic dress pants, with two snap-buttons to fasten at the waistline and single-needle stitching throughout.

The fabric is what you’re used to in a summerweight dress shirt, but more importantly, you won’t find any of the blousiness or excess fabric that dogged 90s-era boxers. These are high-cropped and trim in the legs—a boxer short for a boxer-brief era.

Evan Rachel Wood is Setting the Esquire Logo on Fire

The Old Guard: The Times surveys the economic footprint of workwear, as seen by Allen Edmonds, Alden, and a flock of other newly revitalized stateside shoe shops. Trend or not, they’re still some handsome shoes. [NYTimes]

While Supplies Last: It is time for you to buy a pocket square made from a flour sack. [Fine and Dandy]

The New Bar: Proper return etiquette now involves gushing praise and a whimsical drawing. [You Have Broken the Internet]

In Brief: Fantastic Man and The White Briefs have come together to make some pretty awesome trad underwear. If that’s your thing. [Cool Hunting]

Going Under


Most of our winter gear tends to be bulky outer layers, but it may be time to revisit one of the unsung heroes of the ski set: the long john.

And thanks to Uniqlo’s heat-tech gear, they may be a bit slimmer than you remember. The latest models use special weaves to stay dry, trap in heat, and generally protect your bottom half. We’d opt for a non-waffled pair to preserve the drape of your trousers, but don’t be surprised if these trunks are thinner than you remember. We always knew technology was good for something…

The New World


This handy graphic is from the WSJ’s latest dispatch on the state of men’s underwear in America, and it should bring you more or less up to date on your options.

Back in the day, the hip style used to alternate generations: Bogey’s boxers gave way to Kerouac’s briefs, and so on and so on through Risky Business. A few more options might give way to a bit of anxiety, but more options are almost always better. And in the end, it’s between you and whoever’s likely to see you out of trou.

You’ll be fine as long as you stay away from the one on the right.

Breakaway Diplomacy


For all our differences, there are some things that transcend culture. And apparently edible panties are one of those things.

Der Spiegel just posted a surprisingly racy dispatch (via BlackBook) on the best places to find saucy lingerie in Damascus. (Usually alongside the laundry soap, it seems.) The piece goes on at length trying to explain why lacy underthings appeal to the Muslim world, but the answer is surprisingly familiar: they’re sexy.

More interesting is the fact that Syrian panty artisans have cornered the region’s unmentionables market. The differences from country to country are eye-opening to say the least. The piece tracks down Hassan Nasser from Damascus’ Rose Underwear for the following gem:

Jordanian women, he says, are respectable and practical-minded and prefer to buy cotton, while Saudi Arabian women like to feel covered up even in bed and hence prefer semi-transparent but long negligees… "I tell you, Palestinian women are the most interesting. They want sexy stuff—the saucier the better."

Good to know.

The Underclass


Bad news today for lovers of apparel and basic human hygiene: it looks like sales of men’s underwear have taken a downward turn.

You might think of underwear as one of the more basic purchases in the world of style, but Americans are on track to spend more $110 million fewer on undergarments this year than last. Boxers are hit hardest, with a 3.5% decline from last year, but briefs shed their share of sales as well.

It’s puzzling, since the two styles tend to balance each other—briefs do better as boxers do worse, and vice versa. Clearly the economy’s playing a role, but we wonder if there’s another force at work.

Could the union suit be staging a comeback?

Holidays in Hell

  • Jared Paul Stern


*Photographed by our fearless lensman, Patrick McMullan.*

Publicists in these parts will do pretty much anything to garner attention for their clients; the invention of pseudo-holidays seems to be a tactic they teach in flack school for extra credit. Of course, the attempts vary in success.

The other day we were entreated to celebrate National Root Beer Float Day—despite the obvious paradox inherent in celebrating something to do with nonalcoholic drinks. Shortly after that we were informed of the imminent approach of National Underwear Day—sorry, make that the Sixth Annual National Underwear Day—presented by online unmentionables outlet

More on our reporter's journalistic endeavors»