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An Ode to Cotton Undies, the King of Normcore Intimates

From Jane Birkin to ‘Risky Business,’ cotton underwear is the effortlessly sexy staple we need more of.
Cotton Undies including calvin klein and tom ford and skims
Composite by VICE Staff

We like to think that we’re equally equipped for all of life’s precious moments, whether they require us to fall asleep on a plane, find the right vibrator, or cop a pair of undies for every possible scenario; our chainmail bikini is at the ready for the Renn Faire, and many a customizable rhinestone thong has been the talk of White Elephant parties past. Novelty intimates aside, we also can’t forget our ride or dies: cotton underwear. 

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Cotton underwear is not only more breathable and durable than most synthetic fibers, but it can be really sexy. Lacy thongs-this; Minion thongs-that—have you seen Jane Birkin wear cotton underwear in Projection Privée? Not only is it sexy, but it’s effortless. There’s a nonchalance to a pair of classic cotton boxer briefs or high-cut undies that’s irresistible; they’re ready for Risky Business, a day at the office, or a morning spent lounging poolside. 

In an ode to this king of normcore undergarments, we’ve whittled down a list of all our favorite cotton banana hammocks, boxers, and boy shorts; we’ve scoped every pair of Calvin Klein’s bikini-cut cotton undies and Tom Ford briefs to give you the sets that will go the extra mile, wherever is you’re going. 

The best men’s cotton boxers

This trio of classic cotton Calvin Klein boxers has earned a 4.6-star average rating on Amazon from over 14,400 reviews. “These boxers are great to wear instead of shorts; times have changed,” one fan writes, while another review says the briefs are so comfy, that “[It] probably took about a sequoia tree for each boxer brief.” (It doesn’t.) “But it's comfy, so if the government is going to try to stop CK, I'll be the first one in the front lines battling for your right to put what you want on your underwear.” 


$19.99 at Amazon

$19.99 at Amazon
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On days when we cosplay as a hot nepotism bébé who wakes up around noon on the Amalfi Coast (so, most days), we slip into our Sunspel briefs and greet the sun. The luxury British brand makes meticulously crafted wardrobe essentials and undergarments, such as this set of quality boxer briefs. Cop the 100% cotton, made in Portugal jawn while it’s 34% off at SSENSE


$50$33 at SSENSE

$50$33 at SSENSE

The best men’s cotton briefs

Fruit of the Loom is a classic for a reason—over 52,600 over them, in fact, which is how many reviewers have left in-depth commentary on this bundle of nine men’s cotton briefs. The set has accumulated a 4.7-star average rating from masses, who praise the briefs’ ability to support their junk without ever feeling constricting.


$13.29 at Amazon

$13.29 at Amazon

Tom Ford is the master of sexy intimates, no doubt about that. Have you seen the former Gucci designer’s $14,000 lacquered chrome bra? Ex Machina levels of horny, mate. Anyways. This pair of cotton jersey stretch briefs isn’t cheap, but you deserve to walk around feeling empowered by your dapper drawers. 


$90 at Nordstrom

$90 at Nordstrom

The best women’s classic bikini cotton underwear

The bikini cut is like the potato bread of the underwear world: deceptively simple, and undeniably perfect with pretty much everything; this trio of Calvin Klein’s take on the classic is one my favorites because it can contain my pads and bloating during periods, but doesn’t leave lines when I wear thin white pants. My ride or die, basically.  


$19.93 at Amazon

$19.93 at Amazon
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Leave it to Skims to take the classic bikini cut, and say, “Perfect. But what if we made the sides a little sexier? What if we just made them… strings?” 


$18 at Skims

$18 at Skims

It’s colorways we simp for over at Everlane, which usually range from charred-log to mossy tree. This set of high rise cotton bikini undies gives us the best of both worlds (high rise; bikini cut) and four earthy colorways.


$15 at Everlane

$15 at Everlane

The best women’s high-waisted cotton underwear

Knickey is slowly but surely becoming the king of organic and ethically sourced cotton undies. The high-rise brief boasts a 4.8-star average rating from over 1,700 reviews. “Not flimsy, [made from] breathable and soft cotton,” one reviewer writes, “[they give] full coverage. I’ve pretty much replaced all my underwear with Knickey at this point.”


$17 at Knickey

$17 at Knickey

The higher the thong, the closer to God. This pair from Skims is all about blending the practical (a breezy, ribbed cotton material) with the sexy (that cut) to give us what we’ve wanted all along from our knickers: comfort and versatility. “[It’s] very flattering with the wide waistband,” one reviewer writes, “[it’s] wide, but is very soft—I don't notice that it is there when I'm wearing it.”


$20 at Skims

$20 at Skims

The best women’s cotton boy shorts and briefs

These Calvin boxers make us feel just like Mark Wawa pre-workout. They have a 4.6-star average rating from over 3,300 reviews on Amazon, with users writing, “[These are the] best boy shorts ever! Lasted 2 years with no tearing and constant use!”


$14 at Amazon

$14 at Amazon
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The meteoric rise of Parade undies is damn well-deserved. Not only has the brand given us a better range of sizes (XS-3XL) than many intimates brands, but it’s turned-out collaborations and campaigns with the likes of Juicy Couture and Chloe Cherry. Parade’s FreeFlex cotton boxer is one of the most seamless, comfy pairs of women’s boxers we’ve had the pleasure of wearing. “I wear [them] all the time, to bed and just to chill,” one reviewer writes.


$22 at Parade

$22 at Parade

“Buy these!” one reviewer writes about these Skims’ boy shorts, “[They’re] full coverage, no-ride undies. Super soft and comfy.” Say less—at this point, we’d let Skims design our Band-Aids and napkins. (Everything, really.) 


$22 at Skims

$22 at Skims

No, I enjoy the fruits of your loom.


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.