In praise of pants

// 22 January 2008

Whoever knew that men’s underpants were so important? I certainly didn’t until I read this highly entertaining article in The Independent this morning.

Apparently, for the first time in ages, women aren’t purchasing the majority of men’s pants (hooray!) and men themselves are becoming more exacting consumers. But despite variations in the size of men’s tackles, there are no plans to adopt a “cup size” scheme:

There is one delicate area of pant advancement where men are not yet ready to go – universal package sizing. Stretch fit, says Ruth Steven, marketing manager at Jockey, is currently essential because the same waist measurement must fit a great variety of crotch dimensions. “There are no actual pouch sizes, as there are with women’s bra cup sizes. We have discussed it, but I don’t think it will happen. Men are a bit shyer than women. Can you imagine having to ask for a double-A size?'”

Quite. Unlike breast size, with penis size bigger is nearly always regarded as better, and being on the small side is a cause for serious embarrassment. The big difference is that with breasts, everybody can see what size they are and judge you accordingly as either “frigid” or a “nasty slut” if you fall outside of average. It’s a good thing that men’s penises aren’t on display because they’d go through hell if they were. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, pants.

I once bought my last boyfriend a pair of Superman Y-fronts and was highly amused when he actually wore them on quite a regular basis. And where I live in North London, there is a ridiculous fashion for young men to wear baggy pants so low their entire arse is hanging out, so you can’t help but see their pants (usually tartan print boxers for some reason. I mean, if you’re going to have your boxers hanging out, surely Calvin Klein is the way to go?) Other than that, I’ve never given men’s pants much thought. I certainly don’t have any “aesthetic preferences”. Generally, if I’ve got to the point where I can see a man’s pants, I’m much more interested in their contents. This makes me wonder why women’s lingerie is considered so important for impressing men. Are men really that bothered by it? If a woman is posing in lingerie I can understand a preference for it to be of the sexy kind, but surely in real life, if the average guy has a real half naked woman in his bed, he couldn’t give a toss whether she’s wearing a full-cup or a balconette bra.

But what made me decide to actually blog this was the revelation that according to Jockey, the average British woman will spend £20,350 on underwear in her life, compared to just £1,200 for men. That is A LOT of money. I don’t really understand how the “average woman” could manage to spend so much on smalls. Assuming that she lives to the age of 80, that’s £254 a year. I don’t even spend half that, even though I wear quite expensive bras (not through choice really, it’s just that the only manufacturers that produce bras in my size are the upmarket ones). I’m not quite sure where Jockey got that information from, and what type of women they surveyed, but it doesn’t ring true for me.

Be warned though, this article definitely strays into Too Much Information territory with some of the celebrity interviews. There is the hilarious revelation that Blur, instead of making crazy M&M-related celebrity demands, used to request a new pair of M&S pants every day when they were on tour, but there’s also the following from Paul Daniels:

I wear whatever Debbie buys me: a vast mixture of Y-fronts and boxers, whatever’s on top of the pile, and different brands. I don’t have a favourite, or a lucky pair – what’s inside is lucky, and that’s me.


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