It was the decade when...
Men's underwear got all cute n' stuff!
Underwear used to be so easy. It should be easy, after all, the whole point of the garment is that it's meant not to be seen. The design of underwear ought to be entirely utilitarian. Pure function. When buying underwear two questions should be asked: 1. Does it hold my junk? 2. Is it cheap?
Of course, things aren't so simple. Not in a capitalist, fashion conscious society where every thing you eat, wear, use or play with - essentially anything purchasable - says something important about you.
Info about someone's underwear drawer can be the key to deciphering their personality. After all, it was through his predilection for boxer briefs that Will Truman's laundry companion deduced he was homo on the sitcom Will & Grace. "The homosexual is the leading exponent of the underpant hybrid." said Will in explanation. Sing it Sister. But of course, the significance of any particular style of underwear is always contextually linked to the era in which it is worn. The popularity of the boxer short in the 90's perfectly suited the slacker aesthetic that dominated the alt-pop culture of that decade; constriction of any sort was not a trademark of the era. Baggy clothes, torn jeans, loose undies - it all went together. Just try to imagine Kurt Cobain in tighty-whities. Might as well try to imagine Elton John in something tasteful.
In some ways, the dichotomy between boxers and briefs make a man's undie preference even more profound than a women's. And let's not even talk about going commando; those people are freaks.
In the AUGHTS a new underwear trend took hold. Gone were the loose, carefree days of boxer dominance. Boxer-briefs made a small foothold in the early part of the decade, as the aforementioned Will & Grace reference attests, but it was the brief, the sperm killer itself, that made a startling comeback in the Aughts. Let it be known, these were not your dad's assembly-line white briefs bought in a bulk pack at K-Mart with some generic muscly, headless torso modeling on the package, NO! Briefs were now to be purchased one at a time, in boutique fashion chains, and, most important of all, in many pretty-pretty colors. If an advertisement did show a model sporting the chromatic couture he was likely not muscular, had acne, and was a good 20 lbs underweight.
So what's the appeal of this apparel? Only the same appeal that a super-duper big box of crayons has to a ten year old; how transfixing the difference between rust and amber! The panoply of totally superfluous options - each pair is actually exactly the same in style and material - puts the consumer in a crisis: having just one color would be deeply unsatisfying. After all, are you always in a red mood? Do I feel Fuchsia today? The only way out of this neurotic predicament is to purchase the whole rainbow. Even more recently the trend has been shifting from solid colors to elaborate patterned undies, some with superheroes on them. And yes, I am talking about underwear for adult men.
So, in brief, (yuck, yuck): Boxers? Tres uncouth. Boxer-Briefs? If you must homos. Tightie-Whities? Whatever floats your boat grandpa, if your boat can still float that is. Colored and/or patterned briefs? Welcome to the 21st Century!
You AUGHT to remember...