Review: Sean Daly loves Birchbox Man, hates saggy boxers
Editor's note -- Sean Daly, the Tampa Bay Times' pop music critic and self-described "roiling sea of uncertainty" was at his desk a couple days ago pulling out a pair of powder blue boxer shorts and holding them in the air with great concern. Knowing Sean for as long as I have, I was like, "yawn," until I realized he was pulling said shorties out of a Birchbox, the OG beauty sample grab bag (box?). Turns out, Sean is a subscriber to Birchbox Man, and of course, we had to have a review. Here's Sean's take on the plethora of bro oils and boxers he gets from Birchbox once a month. Enjoy. And follow our Deal Diva for Day at @seandalypoplife, if you dare. -- Stephanie
I like the underpants the best.
Comfy, secure, but, most importantly, timely: Whenever I’m running low on unmentionables (I despise laundry), Birchbox Man, the dudecentric spinoff of the monthly beauty products subscription service, always seems to ship me fresh undies. I’m telling you, it’s those magical nick-of-time ’wears, especially ones from Bread & Boxers, that keep my love for Birchbox burning.
It was a girlfriend who first got me hooked on the New York-based company: For $10 a month, she’d receive this cute lil’ rectangle in the mail chockful of random, whimsically wrapped beauty samples. I immediately developed severe Birchbox jealousy. It was weird, not unlike the raging envy I had in fourth grade for the kid whose dad worked at McDonald’s. Free Filet-O-Fish?! WHY IS MY LIFE SO EMPTY?
Anyway, I had little use for the contents of her lady-based Birchbox, for those wee packets of Curl Keeper or the various balms and eyelid removers or whatever that delighted her. And I totally saw the manipulative side of Birchbox. Tantalize ’em with trial sizes from various companies then lure ’em into ponying for full-size. No wonder the savvy Birchbox, an enabler for makeup junkies, is valued at some $485 million with more than 800,000 subscribers. It’s a seductive concept, and there’s now a brick-and-mortar store in NYC’s Soho neighborhood, and several competitors, including Ipsy, have also entered the fray.
But when I found out they had launched a Birchbox for men, I rabidly wanted in for myriad reasons. I have a subscription to GQ, which doesn’t mean I’m fashion-minded (Charlie Sheen was my style guru until someone told me “no”), but there’s a part of me that longs to be. It’s not unlike my interest in hockey or vegetables; it comes and goes. I try not to put too much pressure on Fashion Sean. However, Frugal Sean, the guy who wants to beat the system, was also intrigued. I figured I could live off of Birchbox samples AND smell nice!
As a surprise, my then-girlfriend ordered me a trial run of the male version, which is $20 a month, but usually justifies the gender cost bump with a big ticket item among the handful of samples. For instance, those Bread & Boxers white briefs run $18 a pair. That’s not a sample; that’s a steal! Snug, soft, flattering. Have I said too much?
Anyway, those things are awesome.
Not-so-awesome are the crinkly, baggy Grover boxers ($18) that arrived in my last box. They look like something provided to an 87-year-old man while he’s having his prostate checked in the hospital. That said, I’m wearing them now — ’cause, you know, laundry — and made a covert trip to the newspaper men’s room to check the brand. I’ll give you another chance, Grover. I do love dem undies.
The drawback of Birchbox Man, however, is that I now have 37 vials of beard oil littering my bathroom sink. In related news: I have neither a beard nor the capacity to grow one. But despite that repeated shot to my masculinity, I do feel prettier these days thanks to Birchbox. I feel like I’m being allowed a peek into a fantastical new world where I don’t belong, like graduate school or LA Fitness. I’m in love with products by uber-cool English Laundry — the style line launched by British designer Christopher Wicks — especially the pomade (“medium hold with high shine”), which makes my thick, swoopy ’do even thicker and swoopier.
Although my guy friends will no doubt drag me into the woods and pummel me for this: I also really like the Bombas ankle socks ($9), elastically sturdy, often bright orange. Birchbox Man has sent Bombas a few times. Other cool gets have included designer playing cards, those hipster Field Notes books (I adore funky notebooks) and a satchel for my growing collection of unnecessary beard oils. Birchbox Man usually tries to keep it relatively manly; they get me.
Of course, when the English Laundry pomade runs out and the Bombas go limp, I probably won’t actually buy the real full-size deal. I’m not being cheap; it’s just not the arrangement we have. I’ll simply wait for the Birchbox gods to bestow their gifts. After all, there are few joys in life greater than surprise underpants.