In The Clearing Stands A Boxer


Here’s an update on a post from four years back, in light of a loyal reader who recently emailed asking where to get boxer shorts with numerically sized waists. Can’t say I’d ever heard of that, but I checked in with Mercer & Sons. Sure enough, David Mercer assured me that with stretch in the waistband, custom boxers would be, shall we say, gilding the lily. Or rather, one man’s “junk” is another man’s term for genitals. (OK now I’m starting to ramble.)

Anyway, if the boxes under your Christmas tree don’t have boxers, you can put in a fresh order with Mercer right here. You can get them in pima oxford cloth by special request, but David Mercer says pinpoint oxford is better, saying, “As a longtime fan of two-ply pima oxford shirts and boxers, I have decided that pinpoint, which I feel is a poor cousin to oxford and broadcloth for shirts, actually makes a superior boxer. A cloth waistband is the only way to achieve specific waist size. But unlike most with elastic waistbands, ours is covered, and since covered, we make then in pinpoint oxford, which is less bulky than heavy oxford. It also really smooths out to be almost silky over time.”

And for those wondering if Mercer will introduce a slim-fit shirt, David says, “No slim-fit model; we are on this side of the pond, after all. Ours is Y-shaped and not T-shaped like a scarecrow and the scarecrows who wear them. Small chest, tiny armholes and tight fit works well for those who sell them because they wear out in 1/4 of the time ours do. We offer a tuck at the hem (2″, 4″ or 6″) which removes some of the extra there and tapers up 10-11 inches. We can also match , e.g., a 16 collar with a 15 1/2 body, or a 15 or even a 4 1/2 body. Each (half) body size down reduces the chest and waist by 2″ and the shoulder/yoke by 1/2″. We tell customers to make sure they allow enough for the shoulder or the shirt will not work and will make a nice rag. And we recommend they err on the side of too big rather than too small. Many who say they will only wear the scarecrow style, like the Brooks Regent or Milano, have given us a try and been converted.”

“Sunny and bright here in teens with new snow,” he added, by way of season’s greetings. “Kris Kringle time. No slim-fits for that boy.” — CC

31 Comments on "In The Clearing Stands A Boxer"

  1. Sally from Silver Spring MD | August 5, 2014 at 4:47 pm |

    Wow! I’m sitting here drinking iced coffee, listening to Al Green, and binge-reading your blog. I should mention that I am a woman who typically has no interest in men’s style blogs. But yours has a certain something. It’s smart, readable, not overwhelming…I love it! Keep up the excellent work!

    Here’s to you!!

  2. A.E.W. Mason | August 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm |

    You mean WOMEN can read this blog?!?! Harrumph, harrumph….. I had to Google “Al Green.” Anyone else?

  3. Then of course there is always the jockey vs. boxer conundrum:

  4. Sally from Silver Spring MD | August 5, 2014 at 10:13 pm |

    A.E.W Mason – Ooops! Sorry…didn’t mean to step on any toes… *backs away slowly, quietly closing door behind her* 🙂

  5. For boxers a nice 16 oz. Donegal Tweed is the way to go.

  6. @A.E.W. Mason,

    I too had to Google “Al Green”.
    I also had to Google “Vanilla Ice” the other day.

  7. Waldo Walters | August 6, 2014 at 12:27 am |

    Pinpoint is too shiny for shirts. Doesn’t breathe especially well either.

    I figured that last link in CC’s post was going to be Nelly’s video for Hot In Herre, in which he might well be wearing those boxers.

  8. Dutch Uncle | August 6, 2014 at 12:57 am |

    There is no jockey/briefs vs. boxer conundrum.

    Boxers are as much an essential part of the traditional ivy league gentleman’s wardrobe as oxford shirts, rep ties, and navy blazers.

  9. Straight Arrow | August 6, 2014 at 1:04 am |

    @Waldo Walters:

    My experience has been that pinpoint loses its initial sheen, that it has a far more dressy appearance, and that’s its weight is less suffocating than regular oxford cloth.

  10. Waldo Walters | August 6, 2014 at 1:37 am |

    You can get Oxford cloth in lighter weights, SA. Less trad but more comfy.

  11. MuggleBorn | August 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm |

    “There is no jockey/briefs vs. boxer conundrum.

    Boxers are as much an essential part of the traditional ivy league gentleman’s wardrobe as oxford shirts, rep ties, and navy blazers.”

    It is up to us to keep close tabs on other’s undergarment preference to ensure that the blood remains pure.

  12. A.E.W. Mason | August 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm |

    My Dear Sally,

    You do know that I’m kidding (well, not about Al Green) and poking fun at myself. No, no, good woman, to quote E.M. Forster, “Women improve every conversation.”. I assure you my toes are fully intact. Please come back. I’ll even nominate you to the membership committee.



  13. Isn’t Al Green considered classic make-out music? There may actually be a woman out there who gets all hot and bothered looking at trad.

  14. Cranky Yankee | August 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm |

    If readers are Googling Al Green and Vanilla Ice, some of them probably missed the headline reference ‘In The Clearing Stands A Boxer’.

    It’s a line from the Simon & Garfunkel song ‘The Boxer’ which was a single and was released on ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. It was also covered by Emmylou Harris (Roses in the Snow) and Bob Dylan (Self Portrait).

  15. At age 17 I went from thinking my parents’ record collection was square and started thinking it cool.

    They no longer listened to it, after all.

  16. One of my favorite memories is of seeing S&G live on the Old Friends tour in Paris at whatever that stadium is, 50,000 French people singing along to “The Boxer”. I was also most likely wearing boxers at the time

  17. Sally from Silver Spring MD | August 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm |

    To The Very Kind AEWM:

    I would be honored to accept your membership nomination! (I was still listening outside the door). I promise not to be a pest. It’s great to see people who are not, in the words of my idol Letitia Baldridge, “dressing as though they were going to dig a ditch.”

    Most sincerely,
    Sally Ingram

    p.s. Google “al green grits” for the REAL story on Al Green.

  18. AEWM & Sally
    I’m having a Brown University and Pembroke College flashback with your exchanges. Good news, all turned out very well!!

  19. @Cranky Yankee

    I can assure you that I did get the Simon and Garfunkel reference.
    Al Green and Vanilla Ice are hardly in the same category.

  20. A.E.W. Mason | August 7, 2014 at 1:45 am |

    Miss Ingram,

    So pleased to see you back. I’ll investigate your suggested references in due course.


    @M Arthur

    I’ve no doubt it turned out wonderfully well….

  21. Cranky Yankee | August 7, 2014 at 5:30 am |

    I was speaking generally, OldSchool. That’s why I said, “…some of them…” to A.E.W. Mason’s, “Anyone else?” Nothing personal.

  22. Once again I am infuriated by the ignorance concerning slim fit shirts. It’s a question of proportion not dogma.
    A shirt has to correspond to the actual body size and shape of it’s wearer.
    E.g. I’m a 36R chest, 30 waist with a 15.5 neck. I can wrap myself about twice with a “traditional” cut shirt with a 15.5 neck. Thus I wear the Milano fit which has a similar proportion on my frame as a “traditional” cut has on fuller frames.
    It’s a shame that Mr. Mercer, who runs a fantastic business, adheres to such a narrow view concerning the matter.

    disclaimer: If you’re not slim, you absolutely should not wear slim fit shirts.

  23. Tulip Smuggler | December 23, 2018 at 5:50 pm |

    @ Anon

    Here’s hoping Sally from Silver Spring is still around and can advise you.

  24. @SSS
    No man or woman should have to listen to the great Al Green alone. It’s almost masochism.

    I saw one of the Rev’s early returns to secular music at New Orleans Jazz Fest. He was backed up by a kinda rag-tag band of Memphis high school kids. It didn’t matter. He garnered huge cheers every time he hit one of the signature notes, but the crowd went into a stunned silence when he dared to cover “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay.” He nailed it.

  25. In 1919, Jack Dempsey started wearing those shorts that came to be known as Boxers. After many years of wearing Brooks Oxford cloth boxers, I now buy packages of three by Polo at Century 21 on the Upper West for $20, I think. Good enough for me in the setting sun of my rodeo.

  26. Old School Tie | December 24, 2018 at 3:49 am |

    Well, back in the 80s and 90s a blue OCBD plus chinos plus college tie was THE de facto uniform of young hodpital doctors in Britain, especially the London medical schools, and the holy grail was to obtain that perfectly billowy appearance at the back. Slim shirts were for people who wore shiny suits, skinny ties and played on the arcade machine at the taxi office or wherever. I have always found slim shirts to be redolent of a lady’s blouse with their darting and nipped-in waists. Classis fit shirts are hardly like tents, are they? Perhaps it is down to morphology and extreme ectomorphs possibly look better in something proportionally slimmer. Maybe there is an argument for a slimmer fit in those cases. A size M classic RL fits me like a glove, not quite enough billow but hey-ho. As measured, chest 41 inches, neck 16 inches, waist 32 inches.

  27. Reactionary Trad | December 24, 2018 at 7:20 am |

    Mr. Mercer is a man of principle.
    There are plenty of gigolo-fit shirts available from other makers/sources.

  28. Huntington Mead | December 24, 2018 at 10:04 am |

    There is no such thing as a slim-fit Ivy League OCBD.
    If it’s slim-fit, it’s not Ivy League.

  29. @Anon
    Please consider some of Ivy’s key elements: un-darted, single-vent, sack jackets; high-rise, full-cut pants; and, yes, roomy OCBD’s. Now think about the resulting silhouette. Nothing “corresponds” to the body.

    By all means, wear your Milan shirts if you think the Madisons are too billowy, though you should consider how a skinny shirt works with a roomy jacket. It could be that Ivy is not “right” for you at all and a modern, semi-Italian style might be better.

    Are you all better now? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  30. “Nothing “corresponds” to the body.”

    Well…except for the most essential aspect of the whole “thing”, the entire premise of the style, the raison d’etre of the look:

    The Natural Shoulder

    Brooks shirts of yore had extremely high armholes, the chest on a sack jacket was always very shallow (read: trim); the pants were worn higher but plain front so necessarily fit slimmer through the seat than pleated trousers, they usually had a tapered leg, the lapels were proportional as opposed to being overly wide or super skinny compared to the 50s and 60s fashions…

    The whole point of the look was that it corresponded to the body and flattered nearly every shape when it was worn correctly.

    Can we please retire the descriptor “gigolo-fit”? So incredibly un-witty that it’s cringeworthy.

  31. John Burtis | July 10, 2020 at 1:11 pm |

    Mercer & Son shirts and boxers are the best additions to any man’s wardrobe. A gentleman above waxes poetic about lighter weight boxers being the thing to wear. Sadly, in my dotage, I’ve found that thin “ness” equates to a less longer life, unless you are speaking about human size and the 78 pounds I shed over six years and the importance of thin “ness” in fine fillies. Raise a cup to David and Maggie Mercer, you won’t go wrong!

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