The Jockstrap Double Standard: Why Modern Men Should Wear Sexy Underwear

A Yoga favorite.  Cocksox Jockstrap CX21N, $22

A Yoga favorite. Cocksox Jockstrap CX21N, $22

2 hours ago, I asked myself “shouldn’t I be using Google Incognito?” I had been doing research for this article, and though I’m on my own computer, in my own home, I could imagine some future situation in which a search history of “sexy men’s jockstraps japan” might land me in awkward waters.

And then–call it an internal philosophical debate, or call it writer’s procrastination–I spent minutes vacillating about whether, on principle, the security of hiding behind Google Incognito was worth the admission of such cowardice.

Why should this subject be embarrassing, anyway?  After all, I work in the underwear industry.  I design women’s lingerie all day long.  Colleagues discuss the sexiness of transparent lace, women’s empowerment through corsetry, and the sales figures of pleasure toys–and these feel like totally normal subjects.

But when it comes to men’s underthings, we can’t quite keep a straight face.  As a culture we’ve arrived at a place of stony unflappability when it comes to female exposure and sexuality.  A popup window of a woman in a g-string?  Big whoop.  Another socialite sex tape on YouTube?  I’d rather organize my silverware drawer.  But a man in a g-string still makes us giggle and squirm like hens at an obligatory bachelorette party.  We are unused to equating male sexuality with skin show, and the unfamiliarity of the display gives us pause.  By “we,” I mean the heteronormative majority that defines our images and comprises most underwear shoppers.

I started musing on this after a recent yoga class at my gym in New York.  My very fit teacher was about to demonstrate a handstand, and as he prepared to kick his legs up, his shirt fell up around his head, exposing his back.  And there it was: a wide elastic strap across his low hips, with the word “COCKSOX” boldly repeated on it.  Below the band, where one would expect underwear fabric, there was only skin, followed by the waistband of his low-slung clingy sweatpants.

I stifled an unyogic giggle.  It felt shocking and ridiculous for a yoga instructor to be wearing a visible fashion jockstrap.  But why?  We women spend a lot of attention and money on alluring/athletic sports bras and athletic wear.  Is this a double standard to the detriment of male lingerie expression?  And, aside from the solemn matters of heteronormative cultural dominance, gender inequality and hampered personal expression, isn’t it kind of awesome to imagine a world in which men as well as women walk around in sexy underwear?  Straight girls, are you with me?

I’m not trying to start a revolution here.  That may be beyond the purview of this blog post.  But I thought I’d at least share some sexy men’s underwear currently on the market, and challenge you readers out there to think about who you would like to see in it.  I also surveyed a few male friends about their underwear experiences and preferences.  It’s not exactly a scientific survey, but I do put a lot of stock in their opinions as fashion professionals and general men-about-town.

Cocksox, the brand that started this article rolling in my mind, offers a fun online shopping experience and a good range of styles.  They fall into the category of fashion forward everyday (as opposed to novelty) and there is a focus on comfort and fabric performance in addition to style.  The savvy shopper can browse by category, price, fabric color, style, and pouch.  “Style” includes among accessible silhouettes, like “boxer” and “brief,” less transparent ideas, like “slingshot” and “trunk.”  Shopping by pouch will lead you to the bewildering choices of “original,” “snug,” “contour,” and “natural.”  I say “bewildering” because the classifications of each style under its respective pouch header did not seem entirely intuitive. Even the natural pouch is quite shaping, and how is it different from contour?

On each product page on the Cocksox site, a shopper is invited to get to know the item by viewing a “meet and greet” video, sort of like speed-dating for unmentionables.  On it, photos of the underwear on a model from different angles are punctuated with helpful selling points like “backless backside lets your buns feel the sun!” and “Cocksox pouch keeps your ‘boys’ under control.”  Like I said, fun.  Top choice of New York yoga teachers.

Cocksox Original Pouch Waistband Brief CXA03N $25.17

Cocksox Original Pouch Waistband Brief CXA03N $25.17

Another brand that’s difficult not to recognize from street ads if you’ve ever found yourself in the Chelsea district of New York is 2(X)IST.  Their aesthetic is starker and less cheeky than Cocksox, and they offer a broader range, from a plain cotton boxer brief to a straptastic conundrum of an underpant. They show an exalting attitude toward underwear, which I applaud: “Underwear.  It’s the first thing on and the last thing off, so make your Underwear count.  Available in a number of favorite silhouettes, our signature pairs feature premium fabrics and a contoured fit that lasts all day long.”

A friend of mine bought the No Show Trunk, which he expected to be stylish and practical.  Instead, he reported that it was so compressing as to be unsupportive.  Counterintuitive.  Also, he reported feeling like a rectangle.

2(X)IST No Show Trunk, 2 for $36

2(X)IST No Show Trunk, 2 for $36

There’s also a section of shapewear, including this Dual Lifting Brief.  Dying to know how it performs–any volunteers out there willing to try, and report back?  For the sake of research?

2(X)IST Dual Lifting Brief, $24

2(X)IST Dual Lifting Brief, $24

Another fashionable male friend of mine responded to a random underwear text message without batting an eye and with a clear, preformed point of view.  He prefers the practicality of a traditional fly construction, which precludes most shaping seams in the pouch.  The previous images in this article feature seamed pouches that serve to create shape, which is a departure from traditional underwear construction.  He mentioned a brand he just picked up on a trip to Tokyo, Roial.  Of course he buys his underwear in Japan.

I can see the Japanese sensibility in this pair from Roial, with its visual play on traditional men’s plaid, but translated into a printed knit jersey.  It also quirkily features trompe l’oile printed fly buttons, and the playful pseudo-authenticity of “CALIFORNIA” blazed big on the waistband.

Roial Men's Boxer Brief, 2940 yen

Roial Men’s Boxer Brief, 2940 yen

It reminded me of an underwear brand I saw and loved on my own trip to Japan, Body Wild.  Suspended in their storefront was a mannequin wearing a men’s brief with an all around jeans trompe l’oile.  I wish I could find a place to buy it here in the US, but I guess for me it must remain memory.

Body Wild men's boxer brief.  A snapshot I took in Tokyo.

Body Wild men’s boxer brief. A snapshot I took in Tokyo.

I would love to hear from you.  Please share your own men’s underwear thoughts and dreams

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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32 Comments

  1. Tim
    06/03/14 at 3:14

    I, as a male, have become tired of the same old in a 7 pack and have searched for something a bit more exciting. I do have a few jockstraps, none of the brands that you mentioned, but I prefer them for sport and do like the “exposed” feel. Also, I would direct you to “Body Aware” and “XDress”, the former having a lot of new styles in mens lingerie, the latter taking it to the next step…

    • 07/03/14 at 11:25

      Thanks for your brand recommendations and comments! Maybe I’ll do a follow up and take a look at more brands.

  2. Evija
    06/03/14 at 3:25

    oooh no, no Cocksocks please, that looks like nightmare stuff. I wonder if it’s even remotely comfortable?
    also, I really envy men they get nice camo boxers for a fraction of the price. And they’re insanely comfy.

    • 07/03/14 at 11:25

      I wonder the same. We need someone with first hand experience to write in about the comfort of cocksox!

      • j
        26/04/14 at 10:34

        I thought this was great article, as a straight male I enjoy wearing sexy underwear. I think it adds a little fun going to the underwear drawer and throughout the day for that matter. I think it only fair that we wear something sexy for the ladies. I know once I tried them , I would never buy anything else !!

  3. Annmarie
    06/03/14 at 4:36

    Aha… my all time favorite subjects, all in one: Female, Male, Lingerie, Perceptions, Expectations, etc….
    So first, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m a bigender person. That means someone who toggles between female and male identity and also enjoys each side of his/her personality (as well as some times getting frustrated you were not born as the person you want to be, but lets leave that for another time…). And just so you know, “bigender” doesn’t necessarily mean “bisexual”. It may correspond. But then again, it may not.

    As for the article itself… I agree that there are certainly different expectations as to how women and men should dress up, both outer and underwear. And as a bio male- so sorry if I disappointed anyone yet hope I triggered many others- I’d like to point that both of the “Cocksox” images seem to be doctored, something like the male underwear version of an extreme push up bra. And I suspect those images give bio-males, even part-time-women-wanna-be like myself, the equivalent uncomfortable feeling of bio-females when they see female models body parts suspected as altered one way or the other.

    Regardless, I am extremely grateful for the one and only Lola Haze who wrote this piece, and also for her NOT going incognito.
    And despite our seemingly “inclusive” era there is still a lot more acceptance we can do in terms of gender, sexuality, race, and attire in order to better appreciate and understand each other.
    And yet I would like to point to the lack of such tolerance as it appeared in a major liberal publication, aka The New York Times, few weeks ago. The writer, seemingly a “humorist” liberal woman, ended up dumping this French guy- can someone explain to me why American women are so infatuated with French and Italian guys? God, it’s almost like the infatuation American men have with Swedish and Asian women…- only because he was wearing a certain type of underwear.
    Don’t believe me? Here is the oh-so-funny article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/fashion/a-fantasy-found-in-the-morgue.html?ref=joycewadler
    Now just imagine a man, bio male, writing about dumping his girlfriend because of her underwear style. I’m sure it would have been considered as “sexist”, and rightfully so. But lets leave it for another time, shall we?

    • Laura Brasinha
      06/03/14 at 6:10

      Wow! I liked the article a lot, but your comment is gold! Love to hear that perspective :)

    • 07/03/14 at 11:24

      Hi Annmarie,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your comments on this article and others. After reading your comment, I texted a friend (a man who had helped me research this article) about how happy and proud I was to be having this conversation with you, someone who is deeply thoughtful about and cares personally about these subjects. I really appreciate your point(s) of view, and am especially interested in bio males’ perspectives when faced with heavily airbrushed images which may dance the line between product shots and erotica. We are accustomed to being women-centric in our conversations about media and idealized body images — but of course that’s only one story. I also appreciated your comments about that article in the Times. I agree; I don’t like that the writer assumes that there is something inherently off-putting and laughable about a man in leopard underwear, and that she implicates us, the readers, in this assumption.

    • 07/03/14 at 11:37

      Also, Annmarie, if you’d like to be in touch, I would be interested in your opinion for a future article. You can reach out at laura at thelingerieaddict.com Thanks!

      • Annmarie
        07/03/14 at 15:35

        Just replied, Cora also has my contact info in case the need arises…

    • 09/03/14 at 6:36

      hi there – loved your comment! being a bisexual woman myself, i love finding unique points of view on lingerie.
      i’m not at all sure the Cocksox photos are doctored, though. the brand’s signature pouch has a support band that goes behind the scrotum, purposely creating the push-up-bra look. not to mention that the men really seem to be enjoying the photo shoots! (that’s one huge advantage men have in lingerie modeling – paying your boobs a little attention won’t magically fill out your brassiere. if only…)

  4. Rachel
    06/03/14 at 13:46

    I saw this on Pinterest, and left a comment on my re-pin, but I figured I’d leave the same comment here: I’m not sure about this…. i love how cheeky the name is, and i’m sure it’s very comfortable (in spite of how it looks quite uncomfortable to me, as a woman), but it seems these would present a very unflattering profile under a pair of pants. Maybe I”m wrong, but they appear too structured looking to look nice, even under jeans. I’d love to see a model with these in a variety of pants, just to see how they look.

    That said, let me stress I think men as as entitled to sexy underthings as ladies are, but even some of “our” most impractical looking bras/panties/corsets/whatever don’t make a significant ripple in our clothing, that design looks like it might. I”m all for my fella wearing these around the house, though ;)

    • 07/03/14 at 11:29

      As a designer of lingerie and ready-to-wear, I pay a lot of attention to what undergarments DO as well as how they look. The utility of a designed object is part of why it’s designed and why it’s consumed. So I appreciate your comments about whether these shaping undergarments could be worn under regular pants day-to-day. Each of the brands offers a range of shaping elements, so I imagine some with less shaping would be fine under pants, and the more projectile ones would be more suited to being worn on their own. It’s the same with certain bras and women’s lingerie, as you pointed out.

  5. Benjamin
    06/03/14 at 14:53

    In my opinion, as a male, I don’t find most of the sexy mens underware out there pleasing. Either you wear kind of normal briefs or boxers or over the board sexy things like cocksox stuff. The cocksoxs underware does push the male features to much, so I would feel ridiculous in it, and secondly everything with spraps on doesn’t fit to a male body, especially not to the bold ones of the product pictures.
    Personally I feel sad, because I would like to present me in a sexy way. Especially materialwise mens underware lacks veriaty and I think there would be a market for other kinds of underware. Funnily I found that, with my slim and little muscled body, womans briefs or boxers, can look very good shapewise. Because it’s not really made for that use, it’s doesn’t look like a Bag wrapping the bottom parts, while it still accents them. Also if they’re not that high waisted, they reveal the nice part just above the penis. Secondly womans underware knows to feature the butt in the best ways, while I feel mens underware, which does it, is mostly of the cocksox category.
    So yeah, I’m still searching for sexy underware that would fit my taste.

    • 07/03/14 at 11:32

      Hi Benjamin,
      Thanks for writing. I am interested in writing further about men who wear underwear that is either designed for women or designed to suggest womenswear. For some, it’s a matter of play or identity, and for some it’s for practicality. If you would like to respond more fully so your thoughts can be included in a future article, please feel free to email me at laura at thelingerieaddict dot com.

      • Anon
        09/03/14 at 11:26

        I would be interested in an article about women’s underwear for men

        I like the feel of the material and often find the cut far more comfortable than men’s underwear, I wear satin and some lace everyday. Unfortunately society will not accept this I am not a CD, gay, bi just what society would call a normal heterosexual male.

        I am happily married and have now worn ladies underwear nearly as long as I did men’s. I do wear camisoles and chemise’s in the winter months but do not wear Bra, stockings or anything else that some do, I just like the feel of the material.

      • Durr
        09/03/14 at 12:56

        I am a heterosexual male who likes to wear womens’ underwear. Womens’ underwear is a lot sexier than mens. I also enjoy wearing other types of lingerie. There are a lot of men who enjoy wearing womens’ underwear and lingerie. I would like to see todays society accept men wearing womens’ lingerie. Since the Austrailian lingerie company Hommes Mystere came out with a lingerie line for men, will manufacturers start to change their perspective of men wearing womens’ lingerie?

  6. 06/03/14 at 16:55

    I loved reading this post. I’ve always felt like nice/interesting/sexy men’s lingerie is a woefully untapped market, at least in the US. I’ve seen other brands from Japan (unfortunately, I don’t remember their names) aside from the ones you posted that approached men’s lingerie from a more style-oriented angle, but it doesn’t seem to be very common over here (though maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.)

    • 07/03/14 at 11:33

      Hi Catherine,
      Yes, Japan does have a ton of cool men’s underwear! Generally I’ve found the focus on design and tongue-in-cheek sensibility. Less prevalent is the strappy sort like Cocksox. If you do come up with any favorite brands, please share!
      Thanks

  7. Dana
    06/03/14 at 23:07

    I love this article! I have battled with many male friends over the years about the importance of sexy looking underwear. My own observations come down to a few things. Men don’t want to be laughed at by their partners, men don’t want their egos or sexuality to be called into question by their peers. One of my personal favorite fun men’s brands is Ginch Gonch. I’ve bought them for partners in the past who have loved them!

    • 07/03/14 at 11:36

      Hi Dana,
      Agreed about the emotional complexity of people wearing sexy underwear for partners. We all want our partners to love the look, but sometimes wearing it puts us at our most vulnerable if we get a reaction different from what we expect. I think that vulnerability is part of the intimacy of wearing lingerie — both for men and women. Thanks for writing, and thanks for the brand rec!

  8. 07/03/14 at 14:53

    Great article! In my mind, sexy is more a function of the attitude and confidence of the wearer rather than the garment being worn. I am personally a fan of the Hanro Micro Touch boxer brief but even the least sexy and most ridiculed item of male underwear, the ubiquitous tighty-whitie, can be made fun and sexy; just think Tom Cruise in “Risky Business”. Sexy is an inside job and this applies to both men and women.

  9. 07/03/14 at 16:14

    I have to admit that I personally don’t like the aesthetic of cocksox (that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be sold, because obviously that yoga teacher was rocking them!). However, the Roial Boxer Briefs look pretty awesome but I know I’d never convince my husband to buy higher end underwear. It’s a struggle just to get him to replace super old holey ones. I’d love to give him some geeky ones with superheros or Star Trek themes but even though he likes shirts with them on it, he just won’t buy underwear like that because he’d say “what’s the point?”.

  10. Bo
    08/03/14 at 16:54

    As a guy, I am more than happy to wear sexy stuff for the women I date. To be honest, I wear satin boxers most of the time anyway but if there is something in particular that she wants, I am more than happy to oblige.. I especially like going with her and picking things for both of us. Unlike some men, I am not afraid to go into a lingerie store by myself(most men who go in, just kind of stand in the middle of the aisle as far from the merchandise as possible, afraid to touch any of it). I feel that if I want her to wear something, then I should be willing to buy it for her. And the same holds true for her. But as I said, it is always more fun to shop together.

  11. Durr
    09/03/14 at 12:42

    I am a heterosexual male who likes to wear womens underwear. Womens underwear is a lot sexier than mens. I also enjoy wearing other types of womens’ lingerie. There are a lot of men who enjoy wearing womens’ underwear and lingerie. I would like to seetodays society accept men wearing lingerie. Since the Austrailian lingerie company Hommes Mystere came out with a lingerie line for men, will manfacturers start to change their perspective of men wearing womens’ lingerie?

  12. DRJP
    09/03/14 at 15:50

    Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. As a man who had always wanted to wear something other than briefs or boxer briefs and still feel sexy for my wife it was very difficult to find underwear. I am luckily blessed that my wife is an adventures soul and she bought me my first pair of panties. Over the past 7 years panties have been my staple for me only occasionally wearing mens underwear. I’m am glad to see that more companies are attempting to make mens underwear functional and sexy. Brands I have tried most recently are HOM and Bruno Banni. Both are European based brands but I do like them and they have a sexy look to them. Good luck to all those who are confident enough to be sexy for their partner.

  13. Zach
    09/03/14 at 16:44

    As a man who has occasionally been teased, by both men and women, about his European style underwear I personally don’t understand many peoples aversion to anything that offers less coverage than oversized boxers. But I also don’t understand why men in this country don’t buy properly fitting clothes, both of which probably point to the fact that in this country we don’t like the male form. I am of the opinion that both men and women should stop shaming men into baggy jeans and oversized tee shirts, and embrace the allure of the male body. (Come on people, stop judging me for wearing a speedo to the beach, I don’t go to the gym everyday for fun.). As a side note, I also believe we should also embrace the allure of the average female body (not the photoshopped, surgically altered form that seems to be all the rage…but I will save that conversation for another day).

  14. Alan
    15/03/14 at 11:35

    One site that supports men who like Lingerie, is Her Room.
    They have a complete section for men.

    http://www.herroom.com/Lingerie-For-Men.aspx

    Just thougt I

  15. Drew
    17/03/14 at 16:35

    I appreciate this article, but there needs to be more…. I would love to have ‘sexy’ underwear, but I have an extremely hard time finding any in my size.. (I wear a ‘normal’ XXL, 44-46″ waist).

    I’m tired of these new brands that have very nice, sexy underwear–only to look at an XXL and have it be 40-42 or even smaller (2xist’s XXL is 37-39″!!!). About the only ‘sexy’ thing I can get is a form-fitting trunk (from some vendors). I can’t get much else, which is annoying…

  16. James
    21/03/14 at 21:52

    I wear cocksox. Mostly the swimwear as I have found it to be very comfortable and gets looks at the beach/pool/yoga class. The swimwear can also double as underwear, but I usually go commando for that. Do you really need someone to try the Dual Lifting Brief?

  17. Tom
    11/06/14 at 15:27

    Guys need actually study what’s out there, w/o regard to whether it’s labeled for women or men. Vanity Fair, Hanes, Maidenform all make underwear that fit men – at least, me – perfectly. BTW, can we drop that silly word “panties” from our dictionary?

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