The last days of the Y Front

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 12, 2016, 3:13 PM GMT+0

New research into underwear choices reveals that only the over-60s still prefer the traditional tighty-whities, while there's a dramatic mismatch between what each gender prefers and what people actually wear

Asked what underwear they wear the majority of the time, men tend to prefer the freeing experience of loose fitting boxers - 38% of men choose these. After that, preference is fairly split between tight fitting boxers on 25% and briefs – the classic “tighty whities” –­ on 27%.

Preferences differ drastically between age groups. The preferred underpant of men moves from tight boxers among the youngest, through the middle aged group for whom baggy boxers are the most popular, through to the over 60s who still go for Y-fronts.

A further 2% of men are going commando – wearing no underwear whatsoever. And 3% of men mysteriously opted for “Other” underwear than boxers, briefs or none. The mind boggles.

Women are more united, with the majority (52%) preferring briefs. Of the other options, habits are almost evenly divided between bikinis (11%), shorts (10%) and thongs (8%).

Women are progressively more likely to wear briefs as they get older, with 39% of 18-24 year olds going up to 64% of over 60s. Outside of briefs, broader fashion trends are evident. Brazilian underwear is a favourite among 14% of 18-24 year olds but much less popular among older groups, and 25-39 year olds are much more likely to wear thongs than any other styles.

What women want

If you think that underwear choice is, or should, be determined by what looks most attractive to the opposite sex, then men and women are seriously out of sync.

Women prefer men to be wearing tight fitting boxers by far. At 42%, they are more than twice as popular as the next choice – loose fitting boxers. But just 25% of men are wearing them. This problem is particularly acute among the 18-24 age group, with 61% percent of women this age preferring tight boxers, but only 38% of young men wearing them.

There is a similar mismatch the other way around. Whilst bikinis, thongs or French underwear are the favoured choice of 41-47% of men up to the age of 59, they are only worn by 25-28% of women in those age groups. Briefs are the favoured choice for men over 60, but at 21% they are still severely mismatched with the 64% of women over 60 wearing them.

Match of the Day

Having the time or inclination to match a bra and knickers in the morning is rare, the survey confirms. Just one in five (19%) of women always or often match their underwear in the morning, against 49% who rarely or never do.

Ladies do get progressively more likely to match their bra and knickers the older they get, however, with women who are 60 or older being seven points more likely to always or often match their underwear than those aged 18-24 (22% vs 15%). Women in London are also more likely to match up their underwear (26%), as are women who are separated or divorced (30% and 33% respectively).

Meanwhile, Gary Lineker has promised to present Match of the Day in his underpants after he predicted that Leicester City would not win the Premier League last season. YouGov can reveal that, based on Lineker’s age (55), social grade (ABC1) and the location of his home (London), he is most likely to be wearing a pair of loose fitting boxers.

This evening we will find out whether or not Mr Lineker is typical of his demographic.