Slips vs Briefs: What’s the Difference?

We have long argued that there is no difference in the pant world between men’s briefs and men's slips. Indeed, we would be tempted to say that the latter are an Americanism that have no place in the lexicon of British pant wearing.

Forgive us if that sounds harsh and a touch jingoistic. It’s not meant to be, some of our best friends are American: hello Tommy, Ralph and Calvin as well, of course, as the teams at Saxx and Jockey. More there is something about the word that just doesn’t ring true, along the lines of fanny packs and up the wazoo (look them up if you don’t know).

On this side of the pond a slip is worn by women as an undergarment, is an unintentional slide, a mistake, or even a person who is young and slight: a slip of a lad. They are not pants…

And as the Pantsman points out: “The brief is such a perfect name for this style of pants, we don’t need any other word.” Quite.

In short, there is no difference between slips and briefs. In terms of men's underwear, 'slips' is an American term for 'briefs', which is the most widely used name to describe short, tight men's underwear. In the UK, slips are worn by women only and briefs are worn by men.

So what are briefs exactly?

Briefs are, as the name implies, short, tight pants. Their main characteristics are; a waistband that sits below the hips, a leg cut to sit above the thigh, a pouch to cradle your privates, and enough cloth to cover your rear.

Made of either cotton or modal - fibres with nature wicking properties that take away moisture, reducing chafing, and that help combat unwanted odours - briefs also contain a touch of elastane to add some stretch. This means they sit taught across front and rear - keeping everything in place and adding definition.

Who wears briefs?

Judging by the demand on Pants & Socks we reckon there are quite a lot of blokes out there who like to wear briefs. And we can understand why.

Of course, there is a no-nonsense guy out there who wants pants to do a job. Period. That is: keep his bits in place, cover his backside and keep his trousers clean on the inside. Briefs do that without any of the “fuss” you might get from other pants.

But there are others out there who are actively choosing to wear briefs for the benefits that they bring:

The tight spot 

Briefs are particularly good for guys who like to wear tight trousers, skinny jeans and the like. The high cut on the leg means that there is no fabric-bunching at the thigh, which is not a good look and can be very uncomfortable, while the lower waistband sits at the trouser waist (not everyone wants to show off their pants brand).

Best briefs for tight trousers:

The sports nut

Briefs are compact, which means they don’t get in the way when you are being active. They don’t bunch around the thigh and that reduces the potential for chafing. Indeed, the high cut on the leg allows for greater freedom of movement, while the pouch stops everything flapping about. The more eagle-eyed sports fans will notice that a lot of footballers wear briefs under their shorts (or else the brief style is built in).

Best for Sport:

The gym regular

For the guy who goes to the gym a lot, the the benefits are legion. Naturally, some are similar to the reasons given by sportsmen: the higher cut on the leg allows freedom of movement, there is less chance of chafing, and the lower waistband is generally less obtrusive. But perhaps most importantly for the work to kings, briefs will show off your body to best effect, without revealing everything.

Best for gyms:

The heavy thigh guy

Whether you are woking out, cycling or just built that way, briefs are good for men with bigger thighs. The higher cut enhances the leg and are more comfortable than long-legged boxers, which can be a bit tight or can have a tendency to ride up with wear.

Best for bigger thighs:

The python

Yes. If you are well endowed then the brief is probably the one for you … with more stretch around the pouch than other pants, briefs will cradle you bits and keep them in place. There will be less chance of it flapping around.

Best for the well-endowed:

Everyone should own a couple of pairs of briefs

It could be argued that briefs have had quite a bit of bad press over the years, especially once the big brash boxer brief came in and became the pants of choice for a generation. For many, briefs have been associated with the “tighty-whities” that so many had to wear when they were kids at school. Nobody, it would seem, wanted to wear the same pants that they wore when they were little. 

But today’s briefs are a step beyond the pants of our youth. This is underwear that has been designed for performance: the element of stretch that has been added to the fabric to improve the fit and add comfort as well as definition; the pouch that keeps everything in place, no matter the size; and the firm, elasticated waistband that sits, unobtrusively below the hips and doesn’t slip down. 

Even if you are a fan of another type of pants, we recommend you own two or three pairs of briefs as well, even if you only wear them for kickabouts and work-outs...or just want to show your body off.