Men’s Socks & Underwear Buying Guid

What a man wears underneath is as important as what he wears on top. This men’s socks and underwear buying guide covers everything from briefs and boxers to dress socks and work socks.

Men’s Socks & Underwear 101

Though largely out of sight, socks and underwear are the building blocks of a successful outfit. A good pair of socks complements a wardrobe and sometimes adds a touch of dramatic flair. The best underwear for any occasion is one that keeps you cool and comfortable. At the gym, you want briefs with added support and specialized fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin. At home, silky boxers offer the perfect combination of breathability and expressive patterns for relaxing in style. Socks should keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter and comfortable when you're working hard or working out. It's important to get the right socks and underwear for the season and the activity. 

Types of Underwear


Men’s Briefs

Briefs are the classic underwear distinguished by a prominent elastic waistband and y-shaped front fly. This underwear style offers excellent support with minimal seams. Briefs generally cover everything from the waist to the upper thigh. Some tighter-fitting models have a contoured pouch for added room and comfort. Briefs are a popular choice for performing physical activities as they're breathable and provide a snug fit without being constrictive.

Men’s Boxer Shorts

Stay cool and relaxed in a pair of boxer shorts, the loosest and most breathable type of men’s underwear. Boxer shorts, often simply called boxers, fit like a small pair of shorts. Designed with an elastic waist and button fly, they're a comfortable choice in looser fitting pants, like suit pants, and a good alternative to pajamas during the hot summer months. Boxer shorts can also add a little variety to an underwear drawer. It's easy to find boxer shorts decorated with fun patterns or popular characters from television and movies. 

Men’s Boxer Briefs

Boxer briefs combine the comfort of boxer shorts with the snug fit of briefs. Just like briefs, they provide enhanced support during physical activities, but they also offer more coverage like boxer shorts. Boxer briefs are a popular choice with men because they’re suitable for almost any outfit or activity. When you put them on in the morning, you'll feel confident and ready for whatever lies ahead.

Types of Socks


Men’s Athletic Socks

Designed for performance, athletic socks are breathable and often made from the latest fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. The result is a cooler, more comfortable fit during workouts and physical play. Specialized athletic socks come in styles and materials appropriate for the activity, be it a classic pair of ankle socks for the gym or the latest in synthetic blends for running a marathon. Whatever style you choose, athletic socks should hug a man’s feet perfectly and never bunch up or fall down.

Men’s Dress Socks

Dress socks are an essential part of a man's outfit. Depending on the individual's personal style and the occasion, they can serve as a muted accent piece or make a strong style statement. As a rule, dress socks should match the pants, but interesting patterns and bold colours can create a fashionable look. Always have a few different pairs of dress socks as matches for each pair of pants in your wardrobe. That way, you’ll have extra choices when getting dressed. All dress socks should be at least crew cut, meaning they extend to the mid-calf to hide any bare skin.

Men’s Work Socks

The right pair of work socks keep a man comfortable and warm, letting him focus on the job instead of sore or cold feet. Work socks are usually rougher than other kinds of socks, so pick a snug fit to reduce friction that could lead to blisters. When buying work socks, look for crew cuts for added lower leg protection and cushion support to encourage blood flow and keep feet from getting sore from standing for long periods. For performing manual labour, heavier work socks provide protection and last longer.

Men’s Socks & Underwear Buying Tips:

• In general, cotton underwear is better for warmer weather and a wool blend or Lycra is best in cold weather
• Choose mid- or low-rise briefs to wear with low-rise jeans
• White socks are only appropriate in casual settings and during physical activities like sports
• Novelty socks can be fun at casual parties or holidays, but keep them away from formal events and the workplace
• Socks that reduce odour and wick moisture are best for the gym
• Wool socks offer a balance of breathability and insulation, making them a good year-round choice
• A liner sock made from a wicking material can be worn under a wool sock to retain heat on especially cold days


Underwear Fabric +

Cotton, Lycra, spandex, nylon and silk are some of the more common materials used to make men's underwear. Look for a material that suits the outfit and situation. For stressful boardroom presentations and physical activities, choose durable synthetic materials that wick moisture away from the body. Soft materials like cotton or silk are the best choices for lounging around at home, where comfort is king.

Underwear Waistbands +

A firm elastic waistband is the key to proper fitting underwear. Most underwear types have a sewn-on waistband, but some boxers come with the elastic band sewn into the underwear itself. With either choice, the waistband should be snug but not constricting and made with soft materials to maximize comfort and reduce friction on the skin.

Flies and Pouches +

A fly provides convenience and comfort, while also contributing to the look of a man’s underwear. Button flies, often found on boxers, are a classic gentleman's style. A horizontal fly supplies increased airflow in tighter-fitting underwear. Briefs and boxer briefs feature a distinguishing pouch that offers added support during physical activities.

Underwear Height +

The waistband on men's underwear should be even with or sit just below the waist. Briefs and boxer briefs come in high-, mid- or low-rise fits. Choose a cut that feels comfortable and matches the style of pant. For example, pair low-rise underwear with low-rise jeans. Boxers usually sit on the waist, so wear them with high-rise pant cuts.

Sock Fabric +

Socks are almost invisible with the right fabric, covertly helping a man’s feet stay comfy and at the perfect temperature no matter the season. In the hot summer months, look for lighter material like cotton to maximize coolness. Thick wool socks are perfect for the winter. For running, hiking or exercising, consider a synthetic material, like acrylic or polyester, to wick moisture away and help prevent blisters. At the office, a sheer material like silk can give an outfit a consistent look.

Sock Length +

A sock’s length is important for both comfort and style. Ankle socks are great in hot summer weather when working out or relaxing in a pair of shorts. When wearing pants, socks should be long enough to cover any skin that could be exposed while sitting. This means wearing either crew-style socks, which reaches to the mid-calf, or full-knee socks, which are popular for formal occasions and staying warm in the cold outdoors.

Sole Reinforcement +

Added fabric in the sole and heel help socks stand up to rigorous activities. In addition, a pair of socks with a sole reinforcement offers extra comfort exactly where it's needed. If you find your socks are wearing out early in the sole or heel or if you spend long periods standing, look for pairs with a sole reinforcement.

Diabetic Socks +

Diabetic socks are non-binding and use non-elastic materials to encourage blood flow and reduce the chance of foot ulcers. Diabetic socks often have funnel openings to hug the leg without being too restricting. Always consult your physician when buying socks for someone with diabetes to ensure you buy the right product.

Sock Seams +

A man’s socks need to be comfortable in many different shoes. Since shoes vary in fit, look for socks with inverted seams or no seams at all. That way, they're more likely to suit a wider variety of shoes. For specialized activities like sports, choose socks with reinforced seams for increased strength and durability.

Sock Weight +

A sock’s weight, or thickness, is key for keeping feet at the perfect temperature, no matter the activity or accompanying footwear. Often, a sock’s material will dictate its weight, and some materials should be thicker to take advantage of their benefits. For example, cotton and wool socks are more comfortable and warmer when they’re thicker. Acrylic and other synthetic materials should be thinner to be breathable and wick away moisture more effectively.

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Washing Tips:

• Always follow the manufacturer's directions for care and cleaning
• Air drying is a gentler and more affordable alternative to tumble dryers and can help socks and underwear last longer
• Keep clothes out of direct UV light to help the colours last longer
• Cold water can keep dyed fabrics brighter for longer
• Always wash underwear and socks with like colours
• Never use fabric softener or bleach on nylon or polyester fabrics
• Socks and underwear rarely need ironing
• The direct heat of an iron can damage the fabric of socks and underwear
• Always losing socks in the wash? Keep pairs together in a lingerie bag or with safety pins or office clamps
• Turn socks and underwear inside out before washing to reduce abrasion
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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