Differences between underwear in the USA vs Europe

Published April 5th 2013 by Juliet


When travelling abroad, one of the most noticeable differences between the USA and other countries is how they perceive and market male underwear. In the United States, male underwear is utilitarian, and frankly, unimaginative. American men hide their tackle, while European men proudly accentuate it. Male underwear that is readily available in the USA at places like Walmart, Target, or even Nordstrom’s, is made from very heavy fabrics that will mask any telltale bulges. The construction of these undergarments is reinforced, with pouches that squash the goods, making them uncomfortable for the average man. European male underwear is shaped to fit the masculine physique and uses fabrics that are softer, lighter weight and feels better against intimate parts of the male body.

The difference in the treatment of male underwear doesn’t stop there. Male underwear that is sold in the USA is usually relegated to the back of the store, and is almost always boxed so it is quite impossible to see or feel the fabric and design. In Europe, especially France, the Netherlands, and Germany, many shops exist that specialize just in men's undergarments. These shops tend to be very well designed and visually attractive. There will be at least one or two male models wearing the underwear so that patrons can see the fit of the product. These shops are found in mainstream areas of the bigger cities. In the USA, if a man is interested in his underwear, it is often assumed that he is not masculine enough.  Not so in other parts of the world, specifically Europe.


The great majority of European men take pride in what's under their clothes and will spend time and money to look good.

There are a handful of stores throughout the US that follow the European model for selling men's underwear. I've been to several, including ones in Portland, Seattle, and New York. Many of them are struggling financially as they fight against the mainstream ideology that it is somehow wrong for men to buy pleasing underwear. I think that the majority of men (and their girlfriends/wives) are stuck in the historically puritanical realm that men’s underwear = naughty sex, impure thoughts, and possibly illegal thoughts as well. And, no, I don't think that will change anytime soon.

Here at BodyAware, we know we cannot change the world, but we can change men’s underwear, one pair at a time.


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robby.l on March 22nd 2016

I'm a Belgian guy and here in Belgium (Europe) people are more liberal about underwear for men. as a kid i noticed my dad had jockstraps, but he did not do any sports. I'm not say that nobody cares if you wear sexy underwear. people just think its normal. now what I've noticed is that some websites sell men's lingerie as cross dress wear or as fetish wear i have a feeling that this is kind of counterproductive towards selling sexy underwear for men to straight men. the idea that sexy undergarments are only for crossdressers or for people and their fetish hobbies is just completely wrong in my opinion. thats what i think about it.

Carlos Michael on March 18th 2016

I agree with Michael (English man). I prefer full-cut briefs as well, quite happy with Stafford (J.C. Penney), Jockey, ExOfficio, and Hanes - all classic style, old school briefs. To even further cause shock, I have been and still am happy wearing white briefs, although I do own several pieces in assorted colors. I was never one to bow to peer pressure, although I must admit that briefs were the underwear of choice or worn by most males during my adolescent, teen, and college years. Boxer-briefs had not yet hit the market by the time I completed my education. Even if they had, I would not have changed because I have always maintained that if I am happy with it, I will continue with it. As for my brother males, if what you wear makes you happy, that is all that matters to me. (www.nopantscharlie.com)

The_Polish_Guy on March 9th 2016

Since I come from Poland I know that they only wear briefs, thongs, trunks etc. and they are afraid to walk around the house in their underwear because they don't care. Here in America if you wear thongs or Calvin Klein briefs you are teased that you are gay or something. People have to understand that they have the style of THEIR native country and they shouldn't be judged. Just a little message to go out there.

Michael on December 2nd 2015

As an English Man, i think that underwear fashions have been dictated by peer pressure during adolescence. Kids frightened of being teased wear boxers just so they get a peaceful life. When really, it shouldn't matter what underwear we as individuals choose to wear. I prefer full cut briefs, i order my underwear from USA, usually Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and Joe Boxer (all briefs). I find them so comfortable and i am happy with the look of them too. I really don't care what anybody else thinks about my underwear because it is my choice not theirs. I think if more people took that stance, you would see the likes of briefs selling lots more in the UK, however saying this, there must still be lots of people wearing them, because all the stores still sell them. As for thongs, they are just ridiculous in every way.

John Tinhof on September 22nd 2015

Really like your stuff John17228

Texas Dude on September 28th 2013

It is a sad statement that American men have been so brainwashed and buy into fear of being called gay for wearing any underwear that is smaller than greatgrandma's old bloomers! I started wearing bikinis nearly 50 years ago when you had to order then through magazines. Today's hip fashions, colors, and styles have liberated men who have the balls to wear what they like to wear and enjoy being seen in. I never give a second thought as to what anyone other than myself thinks about my inner wardrobe. It is what I like and they don't pay my bills! If I wanted to look like the typical American man I would easily pass as a sheep. For that I would go back to New Zealand and blend in with the other woolies. A few years ago I went on a 4 month long vacation that took me around the world. I purchased lace bikinis and thongs as underwear. They were light, not hot to wear in equatorial regions, easy to wash, and quick to dry (ideal if you are hoping from hostel to hostel in a new country every few days. I came back to America and gave my well used gear to friends who were just then venturing away from "Tidy Whities." I have worn thin, sheer, lace, fishnet, and other innovative garments for many years and would never consider wearing cotton or wool unless in far northern countries except during the coldest winter months!

UpNorth on September 16th 2013

Some US brand names like Jockey are finally coming around and making "performance" underwear in fabrics other than lumpy cotton. I have several pair, and while not cheap, they definitely are not optimal. They still have LOTS of restriction to them rather than support and they still double up on fabric thickness where they could do with far less. I'm still convincing my wife that women shouldn't have all the soft fabrics and shapely styles. I will know I've won the battle when she buys me something from BA!

K.K on July 26th 2013

I have been purchasing most of the more 'conservative' styles that are still flattering and form fitting. There is nothing better than pulling on a pair of briefs that are made to the shape of a man, as opposed to a pair of briefs that are made to suppress and constrict a man. I was always a little anxious for anyone to see that I do wear the formed and supportive briefs as well as thongs and strings just because of what is currently socially acceptable. However when my girlfriend recently saw me in the hold-all tactel brief she was all over me. And no, I do not work for BA. But wish I did because I spend so much here. I gotta say, I have not been disappointed yet.

RM on June 14th 2013

I enjoy BA Gear and my wife likes it on me. She loves the feel and the look of your men's lingerie.... Sadly in America, men seem to be relegated to lonely place full of mishapen cotton, baggy bulging cotton underwear, baggy Capri length cargo shorts and baggy ugly brown or tan cotton t-shirts. It was much more fun in the 80's with athletic cut tanks, shorter shorts and less of the misguided masculine overtone in our dress. Sadly there is a lot of dsicrimination from women in what guys can wear. A woman can wear a tank top to the office and feel it is appropriate for business. Heaven forbid a guy wear a nice tanktop to even the grocery store lests he be classified as trailer park trash. I shave my legs for biking sometimes and I have heard many nice comments, but I have also received weird stares and have gotten comments "Men are supposed to have hair" (???? Sexist). Guys are slowly moving into this realm of having fun with their bodies, but they just aren't entirely sure yet.. I am longing for the day when we can do/wear what we want and not take heat from others.

Yme on June 11th 2013

R.H. well said, I must agree with your comments especially the "support pouch" for me, it seems more natural when you can find something that fits comfortably and covers the lay of the land. Though far from a show off, but I'm all for comfort and support, each to his own. Bodyaware with a vision.

Angela Merchan on June 8th 2013

This article is dead on. To any guy out there still rocking the baggy boxers or fruit of the loom briefs you need to get over the social stigma because the same way you get turned on by sexy undergarments women do too. Hiding your goods behind unflattering underwear every day is as unpleasant as finding out a girl only wears granny panties. Most girls are too shy to admit it, but trust me, if you showed up wearing a pair of form fitting undies she'd start to pay more attention to what's "important". Luckily for me, I was able to knock some sense into my boyfriend and although at first he was hesitant he soon realized they not only looked better on him, but also fit better and more comfortably.

R. H. on May 5th 2013

Francois,Very funny I read the same article as you and see nothing about calling Europeans fems for having a more sophisticated taste in mens fashionable Underware,also I see you attacking Andrew Christian for producing a support Pouch brief claiming one will look like they have a beak between their legs,You Sound like the typical American with name calling like marble bags,grape Holders or what ever foolish names one can come up with when a man isn't Wearing the standard boxer shorts that almost all American women expect Them to wear,while its alright for women to have bras to support breasts god forbid if one should design briefs to support a mans testicles,last I checked All men have testicles,but heaven help the guy that sports a swimsuit that Shows any signs of his manhood,never mind that a man my want to tan more Than have his body as only American women have this right,Board shorts are the Requirement and anything less would be highly offensive and vulgar. I love How guys like you know all about Andrew C,Bodyaware and all other pioneers of mens fashionable underware but have nothing good to say,What brings you Here?.Just looking,curious? It's all marketing technique to sell?? My hat goes off to any designers for trying to bring a better supportive sensual and sexy alternative choice to mens undergarments.I would also like to make a special thanks to Bodyaware for bringing the sexiest underwear on the planet for men, my wife loves your line,And I love your line. Thank you.

Matt on April 26th 2013

I don’t think the point of this was to say that europeans are more “fem.” It is saying that they are less sexually repressed. I’m also not sure if you have been to Walmart or Target but Calvin Klein and Armani underwear are not available there. This article is referring to Hanes or Fruit of the Loom underwear. Try a pain on sometime u will understand the article then. They are incredibly uncomfortable.

Francois L. on April 11th 2013

That's so not true... I'm French and German currently living in the US and most guys wear the same Calvin Klein or Armani weather in Europe or US. Stop making us Europeans look like we are always more fem' than the americans. And by the way, I would not get caught dead with a huge pouch like Andrew Christian does. You look like you have a beak in between your legs. No need for push up either... it's all marketing technic to sell!