Calvin Klein is an inescapable juggernaut in the underwear world. Simultaneously sexy and practical, Calvin Klein has carved out a unique niche, and positions itself somewhere between being a luxury underwear and a daily wear brand.
Their #MyCalvins campaign consistently draws significant traffic on social media, especially after the 2019 campaign which featured Shawn Mendes as their headlining briefs-wearer. Shawn's thirst trap aside, an important question remains: does Calvin Klein underwear live up to the hype?
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For this review, I wanted to try some middle-of-the-road Calvin Kleins. As mentioned, they tend to straddle the line of being a luxury underwear versus being an everyday-wear pair of undies. As a result, they have some pairs that are quite pricey and some that are pretty inexpensive.
I happened to find a pair of their classic low rise men's brief on sale at Marshall's earlier this week and decided they'd be a great fit, both for my body and for this review. I'm a briefs guy, so that's definitely the cut that I wanted to try out so that cut preference isn't too much of a deciding factor in my review.
The classic low rise brief retails on Amazon for a whopping $48-70 for a 4-pack, but I found them at Marshall's for about $12 for a 4-pack. That's a pretty significant price-difference, so I do want to go ahead and say that price won't be discussed in-depth in this review. For the sake of the review, I'll assume that you'll be able to find them at a retailer for around the same price point as I was able to, but please note that these can be significantly more expensive depending upon where you find them. The discrepancy in prices between Amazon and Marshall's ranges from $3 per pair to up to $17.50 per pair, so you'll have to use your own discretion to decide how much you're comfortable spending.
The name of this style, as mentioned, is the classic low rise brief, and I would say that that describes their style pretty well.
They're pretty plain overall, very much fitting to the idea of a classic brief. They have a pretty high cut on the hip, a thin waist band with a subtle logo wrapping all the way around, and a fly in the front. The ones that I bought are pretty monochromatic, not offering anything striking or high-contrast outside of the Calvin Klein logo stitched into the waistband. While minimalist design can be sexy in some situations (such as with Atelier Traditionnel), these aren't so much minimalistic as they are simple.
As simple as these are, they don't get many points for style. This pair definitely falls into the daily-wear side of Calvin Klein's men's underwear line, and they're not the kind of briefs you'd be reaching for for a romantic evening or if you're wanting to feel particularly sexy on any given day. These just look like something you'd wear to the gym or have handy to wear under your work clothes when everything is business as usual.
Perhaps the most stand-out feature of these style-wise is that when the name says they're low rise, they mean low rise. These sit well below my natural hip and slightly below where I typically wear my pants. So, if you're wearing pants or shorts with a coarse waist or if you have a belt on, these might not be the most comfortable since you're going to have non-underwear fabric rubbing directly against your skin.
As previously mentioned, these have a very low waist and a pretty high hip, so you're going to look very leggy in them. If you're like me in the photo above, your dog may even judge you for the amount of leg that you show when you're wearing these.
Joking aside, these fit pretty well. They're true to size, so if you wear a medium in most brands, a medium in Calvin Klein classic low rise briefs will fit you. What I particularly like about the fit is that they fit quite tight against the contours of your body without being restrictive. That's something that a lot of brands struggle with as pairs that make the booty look good often make the junk feel like it's being constricted. With these Calvin Kleins, that's not the case. I'm happy with their fit on my butt and legs, but there's still enough room up front, and I suspect that this is largely due to the fact that these have a fly on them. Often, more fashion-focused brief lack a functioning fly, which ultimately results in there being less fabric up front, which can be restrictive or uncomfortable after a while. Having a fly also means that there's a double layer of cotton upfront, so you're less likely to have issues with VPL (visible penis line).
These are pretty practical undies. They're soft enough to be comfortable, but they're not luxuriously soft since they're made from a pretty standard cotton blend. On top of that, the stitching and construction feels pretty good on these. They don't seem like they're likely to tear or go threadbare anytime soon, and there aren't any pronounced seams that would get uncomfortable after a while.
That being said, while they get points for doing the basics, there's nothing about these that really makes them stand out in terms of quality. I think a more supple fabric or a higher thread count cotton would really have benefitted these and made them feel more like a fashionable brief. Their color looks to hold decently well, as well, but again, they don't seem to be very vibrantly dyed to begin with, and they look somewhat muted even fresh out of the package. By contrast, something like a modal or MicroModal blend brief typically has a very rich color and a subtle sheen to it, even if they're a black or navy; these are very flat and dim.
Overall, there's nothing bad to say about these briefs: they do what briefs are supposed to do, and I wouldn't have any problems wearing them for an entire day.
At the same time, there's nothing about them that I would consider to be a major standout. They're the kind of underwear you put on and just kind of feel meh about.
I had hoped that wearing a pair of Calvin Kleins would make me feel more like Shawn Mendes, but no such luck.
Since there's nothing that bad about these, but also nothing that great about them, I give them a score of 3 briefs out of 5.