The Oxonian Dandy: Underwear

Dante O'Keefe has on some very special pants and wants to tell you about them

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Often, the primary concern for the dandy when assembling his portfolio of garments is choosing the article which will be on the exterior – what I like to call ‘the display accoutre’. Indeed, in past weeks I have often focused on these very items – the shirts to complete the white tie, the blazer to make the garden-party ensemble, or the hat to perfect the outfit. And, for starting out on the road to fashion eminence, it’s important to build a base of items which are individual and which teeter on the precipice of the ridiculous clothing escarpment. However, any outfit which has any ambitions for dazzling must be underpinned and built on a solid set of stock clothes. Think of your plain t-shirts, your socks, and, indeed, you underwear. With t-shirts there comes a time for something inconspicuous (if you were attempting some other feat with an outfit, say, perhaps, if trying to draw attention to a jacket which you’d accessorised with a sequin and faux-stoat lined hood) and for something a little more daring. However, a separate issue should probably be dedicated to the subject. With hosiery, on the other hand, a conscious effort should always be made to explore the unusual (though, at that, socks, like with t-shirts, ought to have their own discussion dedicated to them – they’re a tricky beast to tame.)

Underwear falls into an entirely unique category of clothing. No other article can claim that it always ought to be worn. There’s always an opportunity for pant: not a day goes by when a gent is not in need of a pair of boxers – unless, of course, you’ve just bought yourself a delightful pair of PJs and are in the mood for a lazy day. The knack of underwear selection is to have the day’s scenarios anticipated pre-emptively. Who’s going to see your pants? How will they react? How do you want them to react?

If you’re feeling confident about the outcomes of a late-night episode on the town, you’re going to need something special. Then, of course, you need to think about the observer: if you’ve got someone particular in mind who’s going to see you in your ‘penultimates’, you can cater to their supposed predilections. On the other hand, if you’re in the dark about who’s going to see your undies, you’re going to have to take a punt on the pants. It would be sensible to really set free any conservative underwear considerations you have: attack the problem head-on by donning a set of nice loose-cut black boxers with red roses and white vines, perhaps with a mother-of-pearl stud in place of a button on the fly. Florals, it’s worth noting, work really well – thistles, pansies, or (perhaps somewhat hubristically) forgetmenots. There are some who think retro or childish boxers have a boyish charm to them – not I however. I couldn’t imagine how miffed I’d be to come across someone with purple alien briefs. My final tip, however, is to stick to boxers. I’m aware many are set in their ways with briefs, but a boxer has many an advantage. Besides the freedom they offer, you can have a top conversation with any other boxer man about the sides of dressage, and you can keep all your sized secrets quite safe – a consideration to be well noted if returning from a cold, diminishing night!

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