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I don’t like my underwear. I don’t hate them either, but I couldn’t feel more meh toward something I wear 23/7/365. They are the Jason Bateman of underwear: Maybe at one point I felt genuine affection toward them, but now they’re nothing but average, if not disappointing, background noise.
Hanes is the brand I wear most frequently, but I’ve tried many without finding my one true match. MeUndies? More like get them away from MeUndies. Jockey has been selling its signature drawers since 1935, but it was the only pair that I knew immediately wasn’t for me. NBA star Dwyane Wade did a collection with Naked — I’ll actually wear this underwear, but it’s at the bottom of my drawer as a last resort. Tommy John’s will get the job done too, but I don’t feel any better about them than I do my Hanes and at $34 a pair, they cost considerably more.
When I first tried on Mack Weldon’s underwear, I thought I had reached my own Mount Doom, where I would banish the rest of my underwear to the fiery pit of hell then go on to lead an angst-free life. It felt like I was wearing the cool side of the pillow for the first 30 minutes of my initial test-drive, but the MW underwear kept riding up in all sorts of uncomfortable ways. It was crushing to feel like I’d found a connection only to be let down as the relationship matured.
I was out of luck, so I did what everyone does when we’re looking for love — I went digital. I put out a survey to my coworkers at Vox Media and my Facebook friends to see how other men felt about their underwear. I asked guys to rate their underwear along with the style and brand they wear. 50 responded, so nowhere near scientific, but the survey was really an excuse to find dudes who were just as unhappy as I was and then write some scathing open letters to underwear companies. But the results just made me feel like the last guy at the bar.
I gave survey respondents four options to describe how they felt about their underwear: love it and would highly rec, like it, it’s fine, and don’t like it. Almost half of guys surveyed (44.7 percent) reported that they like their underwear. 29.8 percent love their underwear, no one is torturing themselves with pairs they actively dislike, and only a quarter of guys feel fine — which is what I would have answered — about their drawers. That means three-quarters of men have found undies they feel above average about.
Looking at this graph, I am a little offended, tbh. What do these guys know that I don’t, and why did no one tell me? I drilled down into the results to try and parse out what I’m doing wrong. An overwhelming majority of the men I surveyed, 76.6 percent of them, wear boxer briefs. Me too, so at least I’m doing something right.
Okay, so what’s being worn by the group that claims it would “highly rec” their underwear? The results were a little all over the place. A point for something called Bjorn Borg, which I’m pretty sure is a piece of Ikea furniture and not an underwear brand (it turns out it’s actually a former tennis player); a single shoutout for Saxx (nice); 2(x)ist got in there; one guy mentioned Calvin Klein and its famous waistband; and some liar wrote down MeUndies. There was a single brand that the “love it” responses clustered around, though: Uniqlo.
I was a little taken aback that I hadn’t already considered this, since roughly 90 percent of my wardrobe is from the Japanese brand. I hurried to the store and bought a pair of black Uniqlo Supima Cotton Boxer Briefs ($5.90). They were sleek, and I can imagine wearing them while performing the 2017 version of Tom Cruise’s famous Risky Business scene, which is sitting on your couch in your underwear and a “Bernie Would Have Won” T-shirt while getting angry at Twitter.
So far, so good. I put them on and it started out fine enough. To return to the romance equivalent, it’s easy in the beginning, when you can list siblings and talk about jobs — the real test comes later.
I was hopeful this pair and I would go the distance since it received such glowing reviews from my colleagues. But a couple hours in, and the same problems sprang up. Trying to describe the discomfort finally makes me pity the people who have to write product copy for underwear (Tommy John has a “contour pouch,” and the bullet underneath reads “Nestles the boys”). I’ll simply say that the situation wasn’t ideal.
I had one more Hail Mary option. See, this whole time, I’d been harboring a secret fear that maybe I was just a moron buying the wrong size, so I bought both a medium and large from Uniqlo. The medium failed me first, so I moved onto the large. It was pleasantly looser than the smaller pair, but where the medium’s cuff slowly grated away at my thighs all day, the large wasn’t tight enough; it quickly lost its grip and rode up on me.
I give up. I seem to have thighs that underwear companies have never encountered before, which I choose to take as a compliment. Apparently, underwear companies, it’s not you, it’s me.