Should A Gentleman Wear An Undershirt?

July 10, 2014 | By | 12 Replies More

Slate.com’s Brandos vs. Gables article by Troy Patterson, covering the undershirt wearing topic has caused a bit of a stir.

Here’s the question posed by the reader:

I live in a hot, humid climate where even an office drone like me is apt to sweat through his shirt when walking from his air-conditioned car to his air-conditioned office. That’s why I find undershirts to be essential.

A discreetly colored, properly worn V-neck should be invisible under one’s shirt, but I’ve heard some people claim that the very act of wearing an undershirt is “tacky” and “uncouth.”

I try very hard to fool people into not noticing how tacky I am: Are my undershirts giving me away?

troy-patterson-slate-author

Troy Patterson: Slate.com

Troy compares the undershirt wearers (Brandos) with those that do not (Gables).

He goes on to explain that the Brandos can articulate all the valid reasons why one should don an undershirt, and Gables struggle to justify their non-wearing preference.

In the end, Patterson’s recommendation to the reader is to not care what others think. Keep the undershirt out of sight, and everyone else will keep the issue out of mind.

What’s surprising, is that a non-polarizing suggestion of keeping your undershirt out of sight and ignoring what others think has generated a considerable amount of comment and discussion.

In the one day since the article has been published, 256 comments have been posted, 812 facebook shares, 112 tweets, and 138 are “listening” (watching the article for more discussions).

Either Troy’s position is truly innovative, or Slate.com readers have a lot of time on their hands.

Guess I’ll go jump in on the discussion!

Feature image credit: Living the College Life

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Category: News

About the Author ()

Tug is the world's undershirt expert. He is also one of the most knowledgeable individuals on sweat management solutions, men's shapewear, grooming, and new fabric technologies. Got a question? Visit Tug's contact page and hit him up.

Comments (12)

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  1. Christian

    says:

    I *never* leave the house without a properly situated (and hidden) undershirt beneath my outer shirt unless I’m wearing a casual T-shirt. I don’t usually need a barrier for odor / sweat; it’s more I like the idea of a liner between my body and my shirt. I wear underwear for basically the same reasons, so why not?

    • Tug says:

      heya christian!

      i’m pretty much the same as you with regard to wearing undershirts — though i’m not as concerned about my undershirt collar line showing nearly as much as other people.

      today i’m wearing a white crew neck gildan undershirt with a short sleeve button up shirt, with the collar open, which exposes the white crew neck collar line. i’m not doing it because i want the undershirt collar line to show, i’m doing it because i’m testing out the gildan crew neck undershirt, and i don’t wear ties — pretty much ever. so, i’m sacrificing a little style so i can let the world know about my thoughts of the gildan premium undershirts (:

      i mostly wear undershirts as a liner as well, but since i do sweat a little on my back and underarms in hotter months, i use the undershirt as a protective layer. mostly v-neck or tank top, almost never crew neck undershirts, unless i’m testing something a brand sent me!

  2. Chris says:

    I mirror the sentiment of the guy you lead off with. I am a chronic underarm sweater, and it stains the pits of my shirts in record time. Thus, undershirts are essential for me!

  3. Just a G

    says:

    Yes it serves as a liner to your shirt, light oils in the skin will not be transferred to the stylish shirt. You do wear stylish shirts, HUH ?

    • Tug says:

      well every once in a while i wear something stylish (: but i pretty much always wear some form of undershirt when i get dressed to go out for the day or evening.

  4. Peter

    says:

    Dear Tug,

    You don’t consider persons like the Englishman Simon Crompton, who claims undershirts are American, or Mr Jeffers, the Pennsylvania blogger of Fashionable Young Gentleman, who was never interested in undershirts. Please clarify the connection between keeping secret and concern for what somebody else thinks about me.

    • Tug says:

      hi peter,

      i don’t think there really is any connection between the two, but more specifically, there’s really no secret to keep.

      there are some people who believe that undershirts should not be seen, and undershirt wearers that seem to care what those people, or any people, think about that subject matter.

      each individual has to determine whether or not they should be concerned what other people think. if they do, then they will have to manage that unnecessary burned (my opinion) however they seem fit.

  5. Extraterrestial

    says:

    Troy Patterson according to the photo belongs to the blacks or mixed race, ask any black about difference between black and white sweat. Blacks in Europe are convinced their sweat and smell is different from whites. The issue of sweat is not just sociological, i.e. kind of employment, but racial.

  6. Getting it straight

    says:

    In other words, the undershirt wearer’s motive for wearing an undershirt is cosmetic, aesthetic – he hopes the undershirt will absorb his sweat and thus prevent sweat marks appearing where they can be seen by other persons. He doesn’t want other persons to see his sweat marks because he considers this ugly and anyone whose sweat is visible is less developed, less courteous than someone who does not sweat, i.e. whose sweat is unperceptible to the eye and nose.

    • Tug says:

      heya peter,

      happy to clarify some things for you (:

      from an aesthetic perspective, some individuals believe an undershirt is underwear, and as such, should not be seen. the debate, for the most part, really is whether or not the neckline of the predominantly used white undershirts should be visible to the outside world.

      in other words, if any part of my undershirt collar line is visible, either blatantly with crew/round neck or more discretely with a v-neck, is that un-gentlemanly like, uncouth, or fashionably inappropriate.

      most people in the “style” business, believe an undershirt should not be seen at all. others are fine with an exposed collar, like the military or people with tattoos or chest hair that they want unexposed to outside individuals.

      there are methods to keep the undershirt hidden, especially in an open collar situation. the main method is to wear a v-neck undershirt that is deep enough to stay hidden when the top shirt’s top one or two buttons are undone. the other way is to wear a neutral colored undershirt like heather grey or tone, as those colors reflect less light and are less visible under lighter colored over-shirts.

      regarding the visible sweat mark issue, from my experience, this is more about embarrassment than anything else. meaning, people aren’t concerned if sweat marks show because of style-reasons, they are because it simply embarrasses them.

      does that help clarify things?

  7. Confused

    says:

    Correction: keeping something secret

  8. Confused

    says:

    Your article is difficult to understand because you seem to connect something some secret (here wearing an undershirt, implying that an undershirt can be worn in such a way that nobody can see it) and being of the attitude that one’s own thinking is more important than what others think (about one). Would you mind clarifying what you mean?

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