Why more men than ever are secretly going commando

You've had a long day at the office wearing a fitted suit, you get home, and decide to freeball for the evening.

For some men, like entrepreneur Ahmad Elhawi, it's all about comfort.

"Being locked up in a suit all day isn't fun. Men don't have many options for business attire and there's not a lot of ventilation happening in a suit. I like to go home and put a pair of shorts on and let things go a bit. There's no better feeling than fresh air moving through the legs."

But an alarming number of men are now going commando in public – not just in the comfort of their own home. What's behind it – exhibitionism, laziness or relaxation?

The phrase

Going commando is a phrase that exudes nonchalant authority. Like many peculiarly creative terms, it has a disputed etymology - from Vietnam war soldiers increasing ventilation to a euphemism for British prostitutes in WW II, called "Piccadilly Commandos." Wherever it comes from, we all know it means one cheeky thing.

And if Sharon Stone can do it on film, then why can't men do it down at the shops? For some, though, it's more than just convenience and comfort. It's peacocking.

Too sexy for my pants

Eugene Lee, Head Chef at Brisbane's Indriya Restaurant, goes commando three times a week and always on Sundays: "There's something about Sundays that makes you want to be sexy."

He ditches the underwear in public to be defiant: "I'm a rebel. I especially likely to go commando during flights and dining at restaurants – I'm quite cheeky when I want to be (excuse the pun!)."

On a slightly more serious note, for Lee, this is about creativity and freedom from society's imposed constraints. He's expressing himself, not repressing himself:

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"There's nothing more liberating. It's a feeling of empowerment and liberation. As a highly creative chef, I deliver dishes which completely redefine people's culinary expectations. I re-invent classics by deconstructing them. That flows to other areas of my life. Excellence doesn't come from being boring. It comes from pushing boundaries and being quirky."

"It saves on my washing"

At least according to Toby Quinn, founder of sports app KRUNK.com. He goes commando every second Friday for a very specific reason of convenience: "I own 13 pairs of underwear so I only need to wash once a fortnight! Who has time to do washing?" he laughs.

A four word mantra also encapsulates his attitude: "No wedgies, no problems."

Styling it up

Stylist Alarna Hope says men going commando is fine "when it's hot and you just want to be a little more free – but choose your occasions wisely." She adds: "Fashion rules are meant to be broken so that personal style can develop. Besides, women have been going commando for years – let the guys have some fun with it!"

She offered some top tips to style up your daring ditching of the under-dacks: "Avoid light colours or a fabric that shows sweat. If you're wearing shorts, it's best to be aware that if you're on a balcony, people below may be able to see more than they planned to."

How widespread is the trend?

It's impossible to know how many men are letting it all hang loose, and it's possible Australian attitudes are more characteristically laid back than countries with less beaches and Budgie Smugglers.

But every man I interviewed for the piece admitted that they didn't talk openly about going commando to their friends or colleagues. The soft stigma means many more men might be doing it than we first imagined.

As for the sticklers who insist on the gentlemen's etiquette of always wearing underpants, Toby Quinn has a parting shot for them:

"Try it for yourself and you'll understand. But it's not for the feint-hearted."

Are you a secret commando? Dob yourself in in the comments section below.

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