Believe the Hype: A Review of Play Out Underwear
Disclosure: These items were sent to me free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
I've talked before about my love of Play Out Underwear's marketing strategies and company ethos. As a brand, Play Out has decided to cater to the queer community and they never looked back. They hire queer models and models of color for their runway shows. They design products meant to be gender-neutral and make queer music videos. They did an amazing photoshoot with queer breast cancer survivors. So after nearly a year of getting stoked about their business practices, I was a little anxious to be reviewing Play Out's underwear. What if it turned out that after I'd experienced all this hype, I didn't like the product?
Luckily, the folks at Play Out are making a product that lives up to the brand image. In other words: I shouldn't have worried.
Play Out offers two basic cuts of underwear: a short and very form-fitting boxer brief, and a slightly longer and looser trunk. Their goal here is to move away from making underwear “for men” or “for women” while still having different styles available for people with different needs. I’m a fan of the boxer brief because to me it reads as more androgynous, rather than overtly masculine. So that’s what I’m reviewing: the boxer brief, in the Arteries print.
The first thing I noticed was how soft the elastic waistband was. Frequently waistbands are the worst part of the boxer brief experience: they dig in oddly, sometimes leaving red marks, and are rarely as comfortable as the rest of the boxer material. The Play Out waistband has an almost velvety texture and is soft on the skin. I’m into it, and wondering why more underwear doesn’t have this. I recently talked about future tech in underwear, but comfortable elastic feels like a much greater innovation.
The rest of the fabric is excellent as well: lightweight and breathable, a blend of micromodal, cotton, and spandex. Both materials held up well to washing and drying. My one complaint is that the micromodal material is lightweight enough that it rolls up on my legs rather than lying flat. For science, I tried putting on some pants in this 90-degree heat to see if the boxer briefs would still roll up under pants. The answer is yes, there is some rollage, but unless your pants are skintight, the roll isn’t visible. These are still some of the most comfortable androgynous underwear I've tried: well-fitting and well-made.
There are one or two things I'd like to see more of from Play Out as they expand. For example, I'd hope for a larger size range: their boxer brief sizes stop at women's 16 (around a 34" waist) and their trunk sizes stop at 39" waists. Small companies often need a while to expand their size ranges, so this isn't surprising, but bigger queer and androgynous folks are notoriously underserved in the underwear market so this would be a great next step toward accessibility. I'd also love to see more prints and styles, even if only for a limited time, like the one below (a collaboration with All Girl Skate Jam). With such simple classic cuts for the underwear itself, special edition prints could make the difference between "this is pretty excellent underwear" and "I must have it in every print available."
As it stands now, Play Out is pushing a lot of boundaries in the lingerie world in ways that I like, with queer ad campaigns, butch and androgynous models, and an open attitude toward gender expression. And they're making great underwear at the same time. It's a real pleasure to see a company that makes a simple product, but makes it well and markets it thoughtfully. Rock on, Play Out.