Underwear says a lot about a person. In his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, Warhol said, “I would rather watch somebody buy their underwear than read a book they wrote.” Underwear, he suggests, is a reflection of character. Personally, I don’t wear underwear because mine are always dirty, and when I do they’re the crappy £1 kind they sell at Primark. But there you go — I guess that says something about me.
Based on this theory, to get the down-low on a guy, all you have to do is check out his undies. Boxers or briefs, designer or generic, clean or cummy, newly bought or tattered, bought by himself or by his mom — these things all signify something. Recently, I dated a guy who folded his underwear. On paper he was everything I ever wanted: beautiful, unstable, brilliant, self-destructive. In reality, he did things like point out if my eyeliner was asymmetrical and vacuum my bed. Not surprisingly, the underwear-folder turned out to be a control freak. I should have seen it coming.
I’ve always had a thing for guys who wear boxers. I like to be surprised, you know? To me, boxers symbolize a quiet confidence. If a guy’s underwear is too tiny I just feel like I’m being sent mixed messages. Boxer briefs can seem a bit arrogant. American Apparel Y-fronts are a little trendy. Jock straps are too gay. Unwashed suggest a gross-tasting dick. And so on.
So, in an effort to learn more about the beautiful and intricate science that is the male undergarment, I recently took some photographs of boys in their most intimate attire. Anything in the name of journalism. With this information in mind, please take from these images what you will.
Bunny, 21, writer, and Armin, 22, philosophy student
Bunny and Armin are best friends. Bunny is my housemate and I know for a fact when I asked him to pose for these pictures that he had no underwear on. Armin had a pair of generic black boxers on. They were being really finicky about what underwear they wanted to wear in the photos. In the end, they went through my pyjama drawer and chose these matching American Apparel Women’s Jersey Booty Shorts. They were really excited about their underwear matching.
Andy, 22, art student
What kind of underwear do you normally wear?
Andy: Normally boxer shorts, although I never really think about it that much.
Where do you buy your underwear?
Primark, markets, anywhere that’s cheap.
Do you consider what girls might like when choosing underpants?
I have, yeah. I have nicer pairs for when I go on dates.
How often do you change?
Four or five times a week.
Robbie, 22, photographer
My friend Robbie showed up for the shoot in these women’s lacy control pants. I thought this was a bit odd. When I asked him about his choice, he said: “Some days you want to feel the breeze, other days you just want everything to stay in the right place.” I guess that makes sense.
Dev, 24, musician
What kind of underwear do you normally wear?
Dev: Boxer briefs, because they’re the most comfortable. I can’t wear loose underwear. I hate it. It makes me feel so weird. What’s the point in wearing underwear if it’s loose? You might as well just not wear it.
Do you ever think about what girls might like?
No, never, actually. Because I only wear pretty generic boxer briefs, I pretty much think I can wear any pair and it would be OK. Plus, I feel like most girls don’t even look anyway.
Edgar, 20, music journalist
The purple thigh highs were my idea, but he didn’t argue.
George, 20, PR
Where did you get the underwear you’re wearing now?
George: My mum bought them for me from Marks & Spencer about a year ago.
What sort of underwear do you prefer?
I have some fruity colour bits and pieces that I like. It’s good to add a bit of colour to the downstairs region, you know?
How often do you change your underpants?
Every day, if I can.
“I can’t remember ever buying a pair of underwear. I don’t even know where the few pairs of underwear that I own came from. I think I probably just stole them from friends.”
Twiggy, 20, DJ
What are you wearing?
Twiggy: Emporio Armani boxers. They were a Christmas present from my girlfriend.
Does you girlfriend always buy your underwear?
Sometimes. I have a really colourful underwear drawer and most of my pants are really wacky. She bought me these because she wanted me to own some nice, normal boxers.
I guess. I sort of just wear whatever. Actually, that’s not true: I prefer boxers. Briefs are too tight.
Stella, 23, fashion student
This is a girl, obviously. I met her at a bar and thought she was really hot. I told her about my photos of guys in their underpants, and she said that she liked to wear boys’ boxers because she thought they were both comfortable and sexy. I agreed.