Ask Tug: Fitted T-Shirts and the Different Types of Fabrics

american-apparel-fine-jersey-crew-neck-t-shirt-2Hey everyone! Boy, the last few weeks have been really hectic over here at Tug Central.  Thankfully, things are starting to settle back down so we’ll start diving into more great undershirt topics and news now that I have a little bit more time on my hands!

Although this email exchange is from a reader who is looking for t-shirt recommendations (hmm, should I expand my field of expertise?), I thought I’d share it because it surfaces some really good information about different types of cotton that are used in undershirts.

Here’s the email exchange:

hey, i’m glad i found your site.

firstly, i’m curious since asian men wear undershirts that are made of thinner/beater-like cotton, are the undershirts you’re talking about the same way or made of normal t-shirt cotton with the same texture?

I’m looking for an every day casual t-shirt but am having a lot of trouble. the thing is, i have a very large chest compared to my waist and therefore, all the t-shirts i have look boxy and hang off of my chest, like the one in this link.

The normal American Apparel t’s are horrible, so i tried the AA ribbed/fitted ones which were a nice fit but was made of the ribbed beater like cotton and it was more of a muscle shirt.

So I’m just looking for normal every day casual t-shirts that are V shaped, smaller/fitted towards/at the waist. Do you have any recommendations?

I’m also interested in the same thing but with high v-necks.
thanks a lot

My response:

hey m,

thanks for stopping by the site and sending in your question.

when you say “the undershirts you’re talking about”, what are you referring to? can you point me to the AA ribbed undershirts you tried?

regarding your question, there are two undershirt companies that I know of off hand that make fitted, tailored (bottom narrower than the chest) undershirts and it looks like you found one of them already – Tommy John. The other company that makes an tailored undershirt is RibbedTee. They are full undershirts, cut long and tapered at the waist, and are made out of a lightweight/thinner beater-like (ribbed) cotton.

let me know about the above and thanks again for sending in your question.


M’s reply:

hey thanks for the reply,

i meant that there are two types of cotton for tshirts and undershirts right? there’s the normal t-shirt texture and the thinner beater-like (ribbed) cotton. Are all the undershirts you discuss on your site made of the thin lightweight beater-like cotton? Because I see a lot of guys who wear undershirts that are just normal t-shirts.

this is what i tried from AA

the fit was nice, but it was the ribbed, thin cotton and it was too tight. more ideally for a muscle t or workout shirt.

I’m not exactly looking for an undershirt, but a normal t-shirt made of normal t-shirt cotton that I can wear every day with jeans and such. So i don’t want the light, beater-like cotton since my nipples show through even in normal tshirts lol. I just want a normal t-shirt that’s fitted at the waist. Shouldn’t there be a lot of this kind of fitted tshirts?

I ran across this just now,

does it look like what i’m looking for?  thanks a lot


hey m,

sorry for the delay in getting back to you. the last month for me has been totally busy.

to answer your question about types of cotton – actually there are many different types of cotton, although there are just a handful of fabric patterns that you can visibly discern between from a distance. for example, there is the standard jersey-type fabric found on many undershirts like hanes, fruit-of-the-loom (fotl), jockey, 2(x)ist, etc. then there is ribbed material similar to what is found in ribbed tank tops (aka: wifebeaters) and there is also mesh-type fabrics as what is found in some cotton undershirts. hmm, maybe I’ll make a post out of this sometime and provide more detail about fabrics types and fabric surfaces.

also, not all cotton undershirts are made alike, even those that are 100% cotton. they all vary in softness, thickness, stretch-ability, breathability, shrinkage, etc. some manufacturers blend their cotton with other materials like polyester, spandex, nylon, tencel, bamboo, and other natural and synthetic fibers in hopes to create a fabric combinations that help set their undershirts apart from the pack.

so, while some undershirts may look like normal undershirts, they may not just be standard cotton undershirts.

regarding your question about t-shirts, I can’t really recommend anything specific because I really don’t focus my specialty on t-shirts, but rather mostly undershirts. I will say that I have heard many great things about the comfort and fit of american apparel t-shirts. personally, for casual bum-around-the-house use, I wear the lighter, looser t-shirts like breakwater, merona, and cherokee  you can get fairly affordably at Target. I don’t really wear t-shirts as a standard wardrobe item with my jeans because I typically wear short-sleeve button up shirts for my casual out-and-about attire.

good luck in your search. if you have any specific questions about undershirts, definitely send them my way.


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