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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Straight Out of the Top Drawer

by Jefferson Hack

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Telegraph UK Website ScreenshotHe has made his mark as an original and edgy commentator on style and culture. Now, in his fortnightly column on men’s fashion, Jefferson Hack reveals how a pair of Savile Row seamsters accidentally 'converted’ him to designer boxer shorts. Most men don't have a clue about luxury underwear. They live in a world of M & S multipacks, unaware that finely woven cotton briefs and silk boxer shorts exist. There is such a thing as knicker nirvana and, if you'll excuse the image, it's right under your nose.

My introduction to luxury underwear was by accident rather than design, when I was having my first ever set of measurements taken at Gieves & Hawkes (020 7434 2001, www.gievesandhawkes.com).

Two gentlemen were taking care of me - one making notes and holding pins; the other wielding a tape measure and wrapping it around my waist, ever so careful not to make physical contact.

I was standing still, legs shoulder-width apart, when my mind started wandering: deadlines, dinner, dancing, that kind of thing.

"Now, sir. Please could you remove your trousers so we may measure your inside leg?" asked the tailor kindly.

Without a thought, I unbuckled my jeans and calmly tugged them over my hips. As I was about to step out of them, a stereo gasp from the tailors either side of me filled the room. I looked down and realized that I had gone commando that morning. Quickly, I yanked them back up.

"Ooh, sir," said one of the seamsters, practically fanning his flushed cheeks, "I think we have something for you.

"He hurried off, returning with a boxed pair of fine white shorts made from two-fold, high-weave cotton, with mother-of-pearl buttons on the fly.

I took them to the dressing room, changed, and returned to be measured. In true British style, we carried on as if nothing had happened. I left the store still wearing the boxers; I think they were relieved to "gift" me a pair.

Like travelling first class, once you've experienced the comfort zone there is no turning back. The next day I ordered seven pairs, one for each day of the week.

Like Tom Ford - who famously wears nothing under his trousers - I prefer to go commando. But now when I'm wearing my three-piece or am out on the town, I work myself into some first-rate, high-end boxers.

The Rolls-Royce of men's underwear is made by Zimmerli of Switzerland (www.zimmerliofswitzerland.com), a 135-year-old company specializing in the finest fibre production and meticulous finishing. Its classic light-blue cotton boxer (£25 from www.iwantpants.com) is a must-have for a man's third drawer.

The Aston Martin DB of boxer shorts is the pinstripe kind in herringbone silk from Brioni (020 7491 7700; www.brioni.com).

James Bond has been wearing the suits by this Italian fashion house since 1995's GoldenEye. I doubt Daniel Craig went commando in Casino Royale, but I'd advise him to take advantage of the sponsorship deal and grab a pair or 10 of the £100 undershorts before he checks out of the franchise.

Vintage Skivvies Tie Side Drawers

When it comes to new-trend boxers, I have discovered Tie Sides by Vintage Skivvies (www.vintageskivvies.com).

Originally produced in the 1940s for US soldiers, these elastic-free boxers are made in black and blue plaid, have a three-button fly and a hip-hugging cut, and are sold online for $25 a pair.

They also have a cool "surfer meets media mogul" look that suits me to a tee.




A commendation also goes to the Hermès cotton boxer (www.hermes.com), from £170, which comes with a cotton button-bag.

Definitely the chicest underwear to travel with. When it comes to that time-honoured debate, "Boxers or briefs?", most men have a preference.

I have little time for briefs, apart from the American Apparel range (www.americanapparel.co.uk). Its retro, no-logo Y-fronts in bright block colours are available in London, Brighton and Glasgow.

Just as Nick Kamen's appearance in the Levi's launderette ad in 1985 sparked the revival of cotton boxers, David Beckham has been doing his bit to spearhead the resurrection of the brief.

His appearance this month in the fashion magazine W, for which he posed naked but for a pair of white budgie- smugglers, chimes with an auspicious anniversary. It is 25 years since Calvin Klein turned men into walking advertisements with the introduction of the branded waistband. Klein later claimed: "We made underwear sexy, something fun.

"Following the actor Mark Wahlberg and the footballer Freddie Ljungberg on to hoardings wearing only their Calvins is the Blood Diamond actor Djimon Hounsou, the poster boy for the latest range, Calvin Klein Steel. Available from £17 at Selfridges and Calvin Klein stores (stockists: 020 7290 5900), the tight-hugging "gripper" brief, in man-made micro-fibres, is no doubt useful for high- stress activities such as squash, rugby and diamond smuggling.

Me, I'm all or nothing, delusional and full of grandiose desires. As the boys at Gieves & Hawkes explain: "When it comes to luxury, subtle tailoring doesn't have to be visible."

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Author: Eric Baird
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1 comments on article "Straight Out of the Top Drawer"

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john martin

10/21/2013 4:58 PM

I thought i had nice underwear when i was spending around 40 - 50 now i realise I'm in the BMW or the Mercedes and not the Aston or Rolls, That must have been rather embarrassing with the tailors but hey you scored for some free underwear.

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