Style :: Fashion

My Adventures in Undergear: A Style Odyssey

by Steve Weinstein
Contributor
Friday Jul 15, 2011
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Underwear that’s fun to wear. That’s my motto. You know that your mother told always to wear clean underwear because you never know when you’ll be in an accident. Or, as that stand-in for gay men everywhere, Margo Channing said in the film "All About Eve" to her driver (a propos of an accident), "Karen and I are wearing long underwear."

Look, if an accident -- unhappy or happy -- comes your way, you do not want to be caught wearing a Union Suit. Listen to your mother!

When I wake up and go into the closet, the daily question is, "Do I feel lucky? And if that happens, will I be (un)dressed to kill?" In other words, always wear underwear as though you’re going to meet some enchanted stranger across a crowded room. Because when you get him home, the underwear is what’s going to seal the deal.

Look, you and I both know that there’s that key moment when the jeans come off and you’re both standing there, looking at each other. The foreplay is about to begin. You’re keeping the underwear on because that hint of cloth is the key to the treasure and you both want to prolong the mystery just a little bit longer.

I also happen to agree with our august former president, Bill Clinton: definitely a briefs, not boxers guy. I could never figure out that reverse sexiness that found neckties and saggy boxers exciting. Not to mention the slacks stain from the inevitable mantra "no matter how you jump and dance, the last few drops end in your pants."

It’s also worth noting that in the past few years, underwear has come out of the closet, as it were. Where once it was purely functional for the reason above, today, it has become fashionable on its own. It’s hardly unusual to see men parading around in designer underwear. Exhibit A: The famous Naked Cowboy, who has been entertaining tourists for years in Times Square. Except, of course, that he’s not naked but wearing white briefs.

As for swim suits, I have been a huge fan of Undergear for years. The reason is simple: price. When I look at articles that quote swimsuit prices in three figures, I have to laugh. It’s a yard’s worth of cloth! And when it comes to bathing suits, it ain’t the book cover, it’s the pages inside that count.

Undergear’s bathing suits are stylish, sexy and, above all, inexpensive. It’s fun to walk through the chic, hip clothing stores in my Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood or in Chelsea and then look at similar items in Undergear, usually for a fraction of the cost.

So with all this in mind, I recently got several pieces from the catalog or, of course, online, although I strongly suggest you sign up for the catalog for the coffee table-book quality models and photographs.

Here are the results when the items were taken out for, shall we say, a test drive.


Karma Squarecut Swimsuit

Okay, let’s get this out of the way early: This photograph is not me. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d be sitting chez Geffen: I remember when David Geffen was dating an Undergear model, which is the gay equivalent of a Victoria’s Secret model.

That said, this swimsuit made me feel as sexy as any of these guys (or even Geffen’s tricks). Square cuts can be iffy: too long, and they resemble board shorts, which I detest (lousy tan lines, and as sexy as Bermuda shorts). Too short, and they look slutty.

These are perfectly cut. The pouch is comfortable and accentuates the positive without being cheap looking. Above all, the material is thick, which means it doesn’t become transparent. I wore these to a house party on Fire Island and they were a hit.


Tulio Chevron Bikini

Because this one is only in the "hard copy" catalog, I used myself as a model, if only to show how much these bathing suits flatter a real human being who doesn’t exist on lettuce leaves and Marlboro Lights.

What makes this swimsuit so damned sexy? Is it the lace, which you can really draw out undoing? (It works!) I think it’s the incredible cut.

Much more flattering than a "Speedo" cut, this rides up enough on the sides so that it encases those pesky love handles, while flattering both sides. It’s also in a thick material, so -- surprise! -- it’s really practical for serious swimming.


Extreme Gator Trunk

Whew! This is part of the "Extreme Gator" collection. There are two patterns that totally work for sexy underwear: camouflage and animal skins. (Prints that do not work: vintage cars, circus clowns, dog breeds.)

This is cut pretty far up the backside. That totally worked for me and really worked for my, um, friend. The alligator print is in black and the material is not too stretchy.


Belted Mini-Trunk

True story: If you’re an "I Love Lucy" fan (how not?), you know every episode by heart. In one, Lucy bets Ricky he’ll lose his temper before she buys a hat. I made a similar bet with my partner, who was a total opera queen: He couldn’t see an opera before I bought a new bathing suit.

I lost.

I saw a black squarecut in the Undergear catalog I had to have. "Why are you buying another black swimsuit?" my friend asked me. "You’ve already got three."

My answer: "But this one has a belt!"

This is a pair of stretchy, high-riding square cut underwear with a belt. I got it in black. Do I really have to say anymore?


Extreme Collection Sheer Brief

Undergear considers this part of its "Extreme Collection," but it’s more sexy than extreme. This is probably not something you’re going to wear to your corporate day job. This is what you put on when you’re expecting company and you want to look your best.

These are sheer. That means that they accentuate the positive. "Minimal back" means what it says -- but this is not a thong; rather, it’s a more generous, and hence, sexier. I got these in black, because black hides a multitude of sins. These are lot of fun when someone is pulling up on the sides.

The material is super-stretchy. It hangs wonderfully on the sides, with a thin (but not string!) line going from pouch (which is generously given plenty of material) to the back.

If you’re worried about that surreptitious smart phone photo of you appearing on the Internet, wear these, because you’ll look great.


Doreanse Mesh Brief

I admit that sometimes Undergear’s nomenclature baffles me. Who or what is a "doreanse"? Well, as Romeo -- who knew a thing or two about seduction -- said, you can call it a stinkweed, but it still smells like a rose.

I don’t know why these are called "Doreanse," but they work. Why? Because the mesh part does not include the crotch.


Shape Enhancer Body Brief

I admit that I got these as a curiosity item. "Shape enhancer" underwear is all the rage these days for men. This pair has padding both front and back.

I’d like to think that I don’t need any "enhancing" in either direction. But, that said, if you feel that you need a give a little extra "oomph" to your front- or backside, these are perfect.

They can also work as everyday underwear. I do have one complaint, however: Wouldn’t it be nice to see one of these actually modeled on someone who, you know, needed it? None of the models wearing "shape enhancers" (and Undergear is hardly alone in this) do not need any enhancing to their shape.


Body Tech Heaven Maximizer Bikini

I may have saved the best for last.

The great thing about sexy underwear is that they make you feel sexy. (Women understand this way better than most men.) These feel amazing. The material is stretchy but soft.

There is mesh on the sides and back but, again, the pouch is left covered. Best of all, the sides ride up on the thigh, although the entire groin and backside is covered. The last time I checked these were on sale for $12.99, which is nothing short of phenomenal.


Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).

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