Seriously, Your Mom Still Picks Out Your Underwear?

A new poll out from U.K. retailer Debenhams casts a dim light on the personal purchasing habits of the men of that country. According to the poll, British guys typically count on their mums to buy their underwear until they’re 19. After that, they finally catch on and realize they should pick it out on their own, the better to woo young women, who generally start picking out their own “knickers” when they’re about 13.

After they turn 19, guys go on a shopping spree, apparently to make up for lost time and replace those charming undies selected by mom.

“Our research shows that you can tell when a man is looking for a partner by the number of new underpants they buy for themselves,” said Debenhams Head of Men’s Accessories Buying, Rob Faucherand. “If he buys more than 31 pairs every year then he’s either still trying desperately to impress the woman in his life — or else she’s not The One.”

After they turn 23, men basically stop buying underwear altogether, presumably because they’re leaving it to girlfriends or wives — or have gone back to mom (if there’s another reason, we don’t want to know). Midlife crises fuel a brief bulge in sales for guys in their late 30s, who slink back to their spouses after a couple of years, and stop picking out their own underwear for the rest of their lives.

If he lets you buy his underpants, you’re The One [Reuters]

(Photo: midorisyu)


Edit Your Comment

  1. dangerp says:

    Silly brits

  2. Mackinstyle says:

    Guys have like three options, which makes it very easy to just say which kind we want. Girls have like 300 choices, with an entirely new set of 300 choices the next month.

    Aside from the womanly stuff, the children, the suffrage, etc. It seems consistently more fun to be a chick. I could write an essay on this… They have just so much choice with EVERYTHING!

    • Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

      @Mackinstyle: Double-edged sword. Just because there five million options of frilly bits of lacy nothings doesn’t mean that they’re comfortable, easy to clean or remotely affordable. And believe me, I frickin’ love my frilly bits of lacy nothings. However, television has managed to ruin this for chicks, too. Guys seem to take it as a matter of course that we’re always supposed to be wearing the good undies. After all, the girls on the teevee, in Maxim and everywhere else are wearing them all the time. Once a guy is willing to spend $40 on a Victoria’s Secret push-up bra plus another $15 for the matching thong, then he gets to see them more often. Yes. Seriously. That’s what the good underwear costs, guys. They don’t come in a 3-pack for $10.

      If anything, we’re at an extreme underwear disadvantage. Great choice, but high (and expensive) expectations.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @Cogito Ergo Bibo: after ruining many pairs of expensive frilly lacy things in the wash, either washing machine or hand wash [yes, i have poked holes in some of them while hand washing and i barely have fingernails] and dating more than one guy who actually preferred the basic cotton ones instead of the lacy ones… i gave up except for super special occasions.
        and it is sooo much easier on the budget.
        some of the 3 for $10 ones are pretty cute too, in neat patterns and colors. hanes for her isn’t bad at all in my opinion

        • Mackinstyle says:

          @catastrophegirl: This is leaving the realm of the consumerist, so last comment: We need more women like you. Cute white or black cotton ones work great; especially with a fun spry personality.

          I just complain that girls have a billion more clothing choices in general.

        • cookandcritic says:

          @catastrophegirl: I love the new Hanes undies with the “No Ride-Up” gaurantee :)

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @Cogito Ergo Bibo: HEAR HEAR!!! I wear the comfy ones because, well, they’re comfy. I’ve never heard any complaints, mostly because in the heat of the moment they’re off before there can be a fashion show.

        Once I slim down a bit more, I’ll probably spend some bucks on the pretties.

    • mythago says:

      @Mackinstyle: “Aside from the womanly stuff, the children, the suffrage, etc.” — well, yes, Mrs. Lincoln, but other than that, how was the play?

      Seriously, if you want to trade the not having to work twice as hard to be though half as good, having periods, being expected to do a second shift and all the other “asides” for more colorful underwear choices, I’ll swap you yesterday.

    • BytheSea says:

      @Mackinstyle: And a judgement or a stigma to go with each choice.

  3. morlo says:

    In other words guys hate shopping and women like buying underwear.

  4. squidbait says:

    What a “load”. The real reason guys don’t buy underwear till 19 is because if someone else is buying it for you, that’s more money in your pocket! You only buy it when you absolutely have to.

    Here’s a tip for the young men out there. Never, ever buy white underwear.

  5. trujunglist says:

    do all of you guys buy 31 pairs of underwear a year? this is a serious question. because I don’t, and i consider myself pretty serious about personal hygiene. maybe that’s the key to NOT buying 31 pairs a year actually…

    • ngoandy says:


      I buy a half dozen or so pairs a year.

      You must be buying cheap underwear to afford/need 31 pairs.

    • MikeM_inMD says:

      @trujunglist: A dozen or so to allow for extra pairs on weekends if I get very sweaty doing yard work. It also gives room for delayed laundry days.

    • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

      @trujunglist: I’m nearly thrity and I think I’ve only bought underwear once in my life and it was because all mine were dirty and I knew I wasn’t going to have time to do laundry before work the next day. Other than that it’s all come from girlfriends or my mother.

      I also take the Jerry Seinfeld approach and wear mine till they literally disintegrate. I have boxers that date back to last century, as long as the elastic still works and there are no holes in the crotch I say keep on truckin.

  6. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    “Midlife crises fuel a brief bulge in sales”

    I see what you did there.

  7. SilverBlade2k says:

    I don’t even wear underwear at all. Commando all the way!

  8. shepd says:

    After 19, isn’t that soon to be the job of the wife?

    I know I’ve managed to avoid buying any underwear EVER in my life, and I’m 31. I don’t know if that’s sad, or lucky. :)

  9. JGKojak says:

    Yeah, so we buy undies and wear them for 10 years?

    No one wants a woman who is gonna judge a man on what kind of underwear he has.

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I love how much interesting information you can learn from clothing purchasing habits, in particular in relation to economic factors. For example: You can determine the overall state of the economy on the length of women’s skirts.

  11. hexychick says:

    Clearly they did not consider the men in MY life when they made that 31 pairs a year comment. Men wear underwear until it’s falls apart at the seams. I have seriously witnessed my boyfriend (and those of the past) wear holey underwear being held together by fibers. And don’t dare try to throw that nasty pair out in front of them or you’ll start a war. I have to be stealthy and steal them from the laundry when it’s my turn, let the dog get to them, or just buy new pairs. The last time the man got new undies was Valentine’s day two years ago and he has purchased a pair since.

  12. uncle moe says:

    i’m 29. my mom has bought me a 4-pack of hanes boxers and 6 pack of socks every single christmas for as long as i can remember.

    works out great for me and i recycle the old pairs into shop rags.

  13. B says:

    My Uncle has never bought his own underwear, and he’s in his 50s.

  14. NewsBunny says:

    I love buying my husband boxer shorts. They have to be cool, though. Monkeys are an important theme in underpants. They always come first. Then there’s dork underwear, like ‘Twilight Zone’ or ‘Star Trek’ themed. Then there’s cute, like with St. Bernards on it or cats or Santa Claus at the beach or…

    He also purchases his own. But I take great glee in picking some up every Xmas and B-day.

  15. afdude says:

    Well…my mom ironed my clothes for me until I was 18…so I mean if they offer…

  16. Meteor62 says:

    Let us not forget George Costanza. His goal in life was to own 365 pair of underwear so he only had to resort to doing a load once a year. Brilliant.

  17. Shoelace says:

    @Digitizer: Don’t worry about that son. And no matter what, you’re still my baby boy.

  18. consumerfan says:

    @diasdiem: Must be. Worse, in a month with 31 days, you have to wear a used pair whilst you do the laundry.

  19. Mackinstyle says:

    @diasdiem: Almost as hilarious as the bit where the lie detector explodes when Homer is using it.

    Sears Catalog is too classy for me. I usually just walk quickly past the lingerie section at the Wal-Mart, look over at the fun stuff, but in order to not get caught, I pretend like I’m looking back and forth for a friend, as I keep walking. Bulletproof.

  20. dragonfire81 says:

    @diasdiem: I love that clip. :D

  21. pjfranke says:

    @consumerfan: Used pair? That’s what swimtrunks are for!

    That, or the old reliable, “freeballing”.

  22. coren says:

    @consumerfan: Not if you do laundry on a 30 day cycle?

  23. morlo says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: If you view the underwear as a commodity, you might as well let mom pick them up with the groceries. If you bother to go to the store, however, you want the optimum underwear in an acceptable price/quality ratio. However, even sizing is impossible to determine since brands differ, let alone whether they ride up, are too thin, support inadequately, wear out quickly, etc. The only solution is to buy one of each for field tests, but that is a waste of money. Meanwhile you are standing there with a blank look on your face, staring at labels with male models flexing their abs…

  24. jezebelseven says:

    @temporaryerror: If you use the main in order form, yes… but most people who shop via catalog shop via the phone sales staff. Which, speaking from experience, can be especially awkward if they’re not willing to admit they’re shopping for themselves.

  25. jezebelseven says:

    @jezebelseven: *MAIL-in order form. That is.

  26. XTC46 says:

    @mythago: Every.Single.Girl.I.Know. likes shopping for underwear. Now, the difference is their idea of cute is not typically the same as what a guy wants to see them in, but i have no complaints about my girlfriends choice, nor the choice of any previous girlfriend.

  27. lihtox says:

    @mythago: Shopping for clothes is harder for women in general, because there are more choices, their body shapes vary more drastically (so clothes are harder to size), they feel more social pressure to look good, and so forth. Not that some women don’t enjoy shopping, but I think we men see the extra time women spend shopping and think “It takes them so much longer, they must really enjoy it!”

  28. Rukhzai says:

    @mythago: Actually, on more than one occasion I’ve found myself being dragged along with my fiancee and her cousins as they enthusiastically unload handfuls of underwear coupons at Victoria’s Secret.

    The first time it was all awkward and embarrassing, but then I realized that if I simply offered to hold their coupons and wallets while they browsed, I could play the role of Sugardaddy to three beautiful women in an underwear store. I almost look forward to these trips now, just so I can cast boastful looks at passing guys.

  29. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    @diasdiem: Why yes! (no, not really, but you totally got the vibe I was going for!!)

  30. subtlefrog says:

    @catastrophegirl: Or the jungle print. Imagine my surprise when the Irish lad I brought home dropped trou and was wearing a jungle print banana hammock.

    Not a thing happened that night. Not.a.thing. Other than my laughter and his humiliation and my earning a definitive place in hell, if such a place exists.

  31. P_Smith says:

    @SacraBos: I’m sure you intended to say:

    “They’ve experienced pain and bought jewelry.”

  32. lchen says:

    @P_Smith: after the gym i understand, and if your job leaves you sweaty at the end of the day, maybe.
    my husband never buys any clothing or even shoes on his own. i basically took over buying his clothing from his mother. his underwear could have no elastic left and it wouldn’t occur to him to buy any.
    you sir deserve a gold star for hygiene and shopping.

  33. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    @catastrophegirl: Women seem to think ahead a lot more about underwear on dates, which is weird, because women’s underwear for the most part can’t be too awful and guys probably don’t care what the underwear is as long as it’s coming off, but men’s underwear comes in sooooooo many varieties of appalling and women take a little more finessing, I think ….

  34. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: Your comments will never be the same for me again. LOL

  35. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    @MikeM_inMD: Forget about refusing to wear them, he’d probably refuse to even touch them. He is, shall we say, rather particular about his man panties.

  36. MostlyHarmless says:

    @subtlefrog: Okay, so whats left? No whites, not leopard print, no jungle print… Those are out. Whats a safe bet?

  37. hairyseaword says:

    @Blueskylaw: you’re so euro!

  38. ktetch says:

    @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: Bloody well do! Not our fault you let a rabidly religious wingnut write your dictionary for you, but at least he knew his market and simplified the words while he was at it!

    Anyway, time to dunk my hobnobs in my PG-tips, before I go back to cleaning the mess Ida made yesterday.

  39. Green Goth Brit Chick - AlternatEve says:

    @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: Nah, I just find it amusing. I would use this as a free pass to make “Yank” digs but I think I’ll refrain ;)

  40. mk says:

    @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: An american woman married to a well endowed brit resents, and totally refutes, that remark

  41. rosvicl says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: Every single girl you know??

    You need to meet more women, I think. I know few if any women who like shopping for underwear. Even the ones who like pretty colors or lace, and can find them in their size, don’t like the shopping part. As for those of us who are lucky if the store has one style of bra that fits us, well, if I get that lucky I take six, go to the register, and hope I’m done for a good long while. Underpants are easier: three-packs of basic cotton at the drugstore.

    As someone else said, when I get into bed with someone, I’m not doing a fashion show, and they’re more interested in the actual person in there than in the undergarments.