Know Your Undershirt.

Posted on August 4, 2009 in Basic Fit Lessons, Casual, Fit Lesson, How to Wear a Sport Coat with Jeans., Popular, Shirts, Tips.

A little secret guys: your undershirt is important. This ranks as one of the most common complaints by women about a guy’s attire.

I know you may be saying: “Pffft. Chicks are crazy. It’s just an undershirt. Why are they complaining?” And the simple answer is: because you can see it.

Your undershirt should only be visible while wearing a casual outfit. If you are wearing something marginally professional/dressy, your undershirt should not be seen. If I see another guy with a dress shirt on and 5″ of plain white tee below the collar, I’m going on a rampage. This is an old man look and isn’t the least bit stylish.

But fret no more, here are some tips to prevent you from looking like a grandpa.

The Collar
Your old Walmart Hanes white tshirts aren’t going to cut it anymore. Not because there’s anything inherently wrong with them (they actually look very nice under the right circumstances), but as undershirts their shelf-life is very short. This is because the collar begins to wrinkle and looks horribly sloppy when you’ve got a decent shirt over it.

Your collar for your undershirt should be crisp and have a nice band to it. The elastic should still retain all of it’s stretch (insert yo mama joke here).

Look at the collar of some of your “good” tshirts, the going out ones. Odds are the collars are nice and formed. Well, so should your undershirt.

If you want to mix it up with a bit more of a modern/minimal look, go with a clean v-neck. If the band show (see below if not), you want it to be a little bit higher, because any v-neck that dips too low (and can still be seen) looks very awkward.

Can I wear an undershirt with a pattern/decal on it?

Get designated shirts that you use just as undershirts. You’re not in college any more.

To immediately spruce up an outfit, try adding in a colored undershirt. It doesn’t necessarily have to match your overshirt: you get some leeway because your outfit is inherently casual (don’t try this with a dressier shirt).

If it’s summer time, try a summery color (lighter, brighter, more colorful), and if it’s colder out, something more muted (darker, earthy). It’ll be a nice contrast to what you’ve got on, and adds an interesting element to your outfit.

An undershirt should fit you very snugly. This helps with the moisture wicking, and doesn’t add any additional bulk to your already perfectly fitting overshirt. Tight in the arm holes, and snug around your chest and waist. Simple.


The above being said, it is acceptable (and looks very cool), to go sans-undershirt. Now, most guys sweat. A lot. So this option doesn’t seem that appealing. But, what you can do is at least have the illusion that you aren’t wearing one, so you still have that carefree look, but without the accompanying pit stains.

Two options: a deep v-neck, and a beater. If you go with a v-neck, go with a deeper V so it doesn’t show. If you wear the beater, make sure the top of the neck goes low enough that you don’t see it. 2(x)ist makes some that are cut deeper.

*Note: your undershirt should not show through the actual fabric of your shirt. Meaning, you don’t want to see the outline of your beater through the shirt you’re wearing on top. This looks immediately trashy. It’s tough, because some of the warmer weather shirts are thin, and will show anything that is underneath. In this case, I’d go with a nice quality v-neck (lesser of two evils). Here’s one by American Apparel, that is cut a bit deeper so that it shouldn’t peak out under most button downs.

Photo credit: American Apparel.

Photo credit: American Apparel.

Here are some other good options.

Photo credit: American Apparel.

Photo credit: American Apparel.

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters.

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters.

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters.

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters.

Here are others that follow the same rules as above, and aren’t terribly expensive (check them out during sales, you usually can pick up quite a few for not a lot of $$). Old Navy, Target and Gap.

4 Responses to “Know Your Undershirt.”

  1. Marcus says:

    One useful trick for preventing your undershirts from showing under thinner shirts is to go with a grey v-neck. They are harder to find than they once were but well worth the effort.

  2. Lee B says:

    right on your description of snug fit. the guys who never wear them are trying to wear loose fitting bulky T’s, don’t know any better. tight fit on arms and chest keeps you cool

  3. IPv6Freely says:

    I’ve just started wearing tighter undershirts that are 95% cotton, 5% spandex. This lets them hug you a bit closer without losing their shape through the day. They also tend to wick moisture away a bit better. Worth the additional cost.

  4. Rod says:

    Made changes without saying anything. My girl thanks you.

What do you think?