Can “All-Gender” Underwear Really Be Comfortable for All Genders?

Jodi Jaecks and Emily Jensen in PLAY OUT Wired Briefs.
Jodi Jaecks and Emily Jensen in Play Out Wired Briefs.

Photo by Candace Doyal for Play Out

Are you ever frustrated that the underwear that actually fits your body’s shape isn’t gendered the way you would want it to be? Panties too feminine for your taste? Boxers or briefs too masculine? If you’re not into society’s stereotypes for how you should dress your body, the limited underwear market is enough to make some of us want to go naked in protest. But since going commando isn’t sustainable over the long term, which to compromise: style or fit?

Forget about that. Play Out underwear operates on the principle that you deserve a choice of stylish non-gendered print to stretch across your buns, in a cut that fits your body, whatever its parts may be. The first run of undies are being sold in small, medium, and large, but Play Out says larger sizes are high on its to-do list.

Play Out announced their first products with a very striking photo shoot. The photos retain all the expected appeal, even though the models’ genders—and anatomy—are indeterminate (until you read the full story). The campaign is brilliant, because not assuming sex or gender is how the world is supposed to work.  

When Play Out contacted me about reviewing their product, I was a bit skeptical at first. How can a company really make comfortable “all genders” underwear? After all, the primary purpose of underwear is to cover and contain one’s crotch and butthole. Any underwear claiming suitability for “all genders” would need to accommodate different parts on different people. I wondered how these underoos would simultaneously suit all the “innies” and the “outies” of the world to an equitable degree of comfort for all concerned.

Melanie Testa in Play Out Plexus Briefs.
Melanie Testa in Play Out Plexus Briefs.

Photo by Nomi Ellenson for Play Out

In truth, Play Out doesn’t claim to solve the “one-shape-fits-all” problem. Rather, they offer slightly different configurations for different body types. I received two styles: trunks and boxer briefs. The trunks offer a bit more physical space in the front, but both cuts are offered in the same set of prints. The Play Out representative informed me that each cut has been designed to be as comfortable as possible for everyone, which I found intriguing. I was eager to test them out.

I knew that giving an honest review of the fit would be tricky, since I pointedly prefer privacy pertaining to my pelvic portion. Luckily, I have an intimate partner whose zone of secrets is laid out differently than mine, so between the two of us, we were able to give a fair and balanced review without revealing our individual genital status. Here’s what we thought about the fit.

A coin flip decided that “outie” would go first.

The perky penis participant decided the trunks were wonderful. The playful pouch contained and accentuated our accoutrements in a way that made us feel sexy (but we happen to be comfortable with our anatomy … dysphoric penis-havers may find the trunks a little upsetting in this regard). The boxer-briefs were also comfortable: We spent a night out on the town in them and never even noticed they were there. That might not sound like much, but trust us: This is the ideal situation for penis-having “panty” wearers.

A night of lounging on the couch in nothing but our underwear revealed the boxer-briefs to be less perfect than the trunks. There was a little extra tightness in the back and leg holes as a consequence of the “extra” mass stretching out the fabric in front. The boxer-briefs were somewhere between OK and good, whereas the trunks can only be described as awesome.

The velvety vulva volunteer found the trunks comfortable, but on our body, the extra flap of fabric in the front served no purpose. It didn’t affect the feeling of wearing them, but we decided it looked a little silly in the mirror. The boxer-briefs, on the other hand, were a splendid second skin to satisfy our sensuality. With no penile cargo  in the front compartment, there was plenty of Play Out’s supima cotton, micro-modal, and Spandex blend fabric to go around.

The material is something special. We each found that even with the respective pairs we preferred less, the texture of the fabric on our skin was still divine. Even on a hot summer night, these non-binary undies never got sweaty or gross, as underwear sometimes can. I was so impressed with how breathable they felt that I even (don’t judge me) wore one pair two days in a row without washing, just to see what would happen: Everything turned out better than expected.

If you’re not into “sexy” things (maybe because you’re ace, which is awesome), you’ll still dig how incredibly comfortable they are. These underwear don’t sexualize you as their primary function … but if you do happen to sexually appreciate flattering cuts of underwear on whichever bodies you prefer, then you’re going to love Play Out’s line on yourself and your partners.

I find my partner irresistible in general, especially au naturel, but when the clothes first come off, the underwear’s out, and the tushy-wiggling begins, Play Out’s comfy unmentionables are mentionably enticing. They offer all the sexiness of well-fitting underwear on your beloved’s bod, without simultaneously stabbing you in the brain with the rusty binary fork of masc versus femme, as mainstream underwear do.

It’s nice not to have to think about gender while we’re just trying to have some sex, because gender and sex are actually dichotomous.

Innies or outies, whether you’re changing them or keeping them, deserve to be clothed comfortably. So it’s nice to finally have underwear options that won’t call you nasty names “boy” and “girl” based on your fit.