Ask Tug: Is wearing an undershirt still acceptable?

Here’s another question from an Uncrate.com user who was wondering if it was still acceptable to wear undershirts.

I generally wear undershirts at all times. Is that still acceptable? Also, what is the best undershirt (tee, not tank)?

Here’s my response:

Mike,

Without a doubt, it’s completely ok to wear an undershirt.

There’s no hard fast rule as to what style of undershirt to wear, but if you don’t mind them showing, a nice clean, crisp, and well maintained crew neck undershirt will always look great.

If you prefer them not to show, go with a lower cut crew or opt for his cousin, the v-neck undershirt.

There are so many different undershirts available, it’s hard to say exactly what would be the best undershirt for your particular body size, shape and style. Either visit your local Macys or check out the available options at freshpair.com or barenecessities.com.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to drop me a line directly.

Best,
Tug

I also found some of the other responses pretty helpful, although one of the readers who answered [CaptainHook] doesn’t really seem to be a big undershirt supporter:

Best Answer So Far
Posted by Captain Hook at 7:28 PM on May 12, 2009

It’s acceptable, but it really shouldn’t be. At the risk of sounding like an elitist asshole, they look a bit low class. For a rule of thumb, if you can tell you’re wearing an undershirt underneath, ditch the undershirt.

Undershirts were worn so that you could wear shirts more than once before washing. If you live somewhere where it’s stupid hot, and you’re going to pit out your shirt, then the undershirt is at least understandable. But, in the age of air-conditioned everything, cheap dry cleaning, and shirts you can throw in the washing machine, there’s no need for them.

If you find your shirts are not comfortable enough to wear without one, get some new shirts. You can buy cheap dress shirts that are made out of good fabric, but they usually don’t fit well. If you buy them at Nordstrom’s they’ll tailor them for you for free. If you buy elsewhere, you can have any seamstress take in an inch or two off each side for ~$5, which will give any shirt a more tailored, custom-fit look.

Steven Sposato | May 12, 2009 7:08 PM
I think it’s acceptable, just know what to wear and when. Where a tank under a shirt because a tee may make you look bulky (unless that’s what you’re going for. If you have a dress shirt or anything that buttons down, go with a CLEAN tee underneath. Piece of advice…if you can see your undershirt (not a bad thing don’t worry), buy a few different colors so you can make the rest of your outfit. The way the undershirt will look like “part of the outfit.”

Ben | May 12, 2009 7:25 PM
It is generally acceptable to wear an undershirt, but on some occasions, it is inappropriate to have the undershirt visible. If you use common knowledge, you should be fine. My favorite brand of undershirts is definitely Hanes They are incredibly comfortable, they have an amazing fit, and they also look great on their own.

Johnny Amarantos | May 12, 2009 7:29 PM
I’m the same way, I always wear a tee. I’ve gone through a bunch of brands like, Hanes, Fruit of the Loomb, and some other random ones. I always loved a greek brand called Minerva, but the only time I could get them is when visiting Family and I haven’t been in years. Anyway, I finally discovered Nordstrom’s own undershirts, and have to say that they are great. Been wearing them for about a year now and some of the first ones I bought still haven’t started to pill. Give them a shot, you won’t regret it!
Nordstrom

Johnny Amarantos | May 12, 2009 7:39 PM
Forgot to mention that they are tagged, but the tag is so soft you never feel it. Also, they don’t become half the size after washing them, which is what happened when I tried Jockey. The length and fit seems just right.

Joe Nguyen | May 12, 2009 9:12 PM
I wear Hanes Perfect-T as undershirts and that only issue I have with them is that after a couple washes it turns into a tube top….

Michael Underell | May 13, 2009 12:25 AM
I rock two shirts almost everyday! I own 5-6 white shirts and the majority of them are from Banana Republic. They’re great.

Michael | May 13, 2009 8:17 AM
Absolutely OK to wear an undershirt – in fact, I think it’s compulsory when wearing a button-up shirt. You might get away without one with a polo-style shirt. I also second/third/fourth that Hanes Perfect Tees are the best, irrespective of price.

Kurt Roach | May 13, 2009 8:50 AM
Undershirts can always be worn…As long as they aren’t worn out. There’s nothing worse than a greasy, sweat-stained, stretched out, neck line on an undershirt. It happens all the time to the best of undershirts, so know when to throw. If your not going to be able to allow yourself to toss that Ralph Lauren undershirt your thinking about buying, then don’t spend the extra money and go for something cheaper. All undershirts wear out. It may take 3 months or 3 years, depending on how much you sweat, how much you wear them, etc. Oh, and always check for pit stains, too. You never know when that over-shirt might need to come off-like when Toby from HR tells you that your “Assk me about my butt” shirt is inappropriate for casual Friday. If there are any noticeable signs of wear, go ahead and toss it in the Trash

Troy H | May 13, 2009 9:39 AM
I pretty much only wear undershirts beneath my dress shirts Monday – Thursday. When wearing polos or casual shirts, I ditch the undershirt. The best undershirt I have found so far are from Brooks Brothers

jdparker22 | May 13, 2009 11:02 AM
Undershirts are always fine, as long as you don’t have one on that comes up too high on the neck, dirty, or some weird pattern or color that doesn’t match. One thing I am seeing more of is instead of a tee a shallow v-neck which I personally feel looks pretty sharp. Banana Republic makes a good one, http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=&vid=&pid=637911&scid=637911002

Adam Hauser | May 13, 2009 12:59 PM
Undershirts are always appropriate, and I would be hesitant to be in any business situation not wearing one for fear of showing an underarm watering hole. When wearing a button down, a polo, or any other nice dress shirts, I see an undershirt as mandatory. I have always made employees of mine wear them, as a nice complimentary colored undershirt with a good collar is much more pleasing then a guy showing his chest carpet to the world. For white tees, Hanes does make one of the best with varying specs like length, width, and even types of collars. For better undershirts, and more options when it comes to colors, JDParker is absolutely correct, Banana Republic is outstanding. They can be pricey, but with good care will last a very long time!

Mike Moya | May 13, 2009 7:32 PM
They may be a bit more pricey than some other brands, but American Apparel is what I usually wear for an undershirt. I live in South Texas and unless you enjoy having a moist shirt showing then it’s a necessity. A 3-pack of black and/or heather grey and that should cover just about any wardrobe situation.

Allan | May 15, 2009 12:27 AM
I may sound a bit old fashioned but an undershirt is called an undershirt for a reason and shouldn’t be worn alone. Although some people believe it is okay for it to be seen, I disagree, I also disagree with showing the waistband of your underwear – it’s sort of the same thing.
When wearing an open collared shirt I wear a v-neck undershirt. Crew-neck undershirts are for crew-neck shirts or when layering when you want a casual look, but I would recommend a solid color or printed tee instead. I wear a crew-neck undershirt instead of a v-neck when wearing a tie so the lines of the undershirt do not show.

I like 2x-ist undershirts because of the slim fit and the quality of the fabric. Hanes are good quality shirts but a little thicker/heavier than 2x-ist.
http://www.2xist.com/collection.asp

babs1602 | May 15, 2009 5:59 PM
I wear undershirts and I like 2(x)ist as well, however if you want the best undershirts and money is not a problem, or if you’re like me and money can be a problem but you want at least one of the best undershirts for special occasions, go with Hanro. They are unbelievably comfortable, cool and downright luxurious.
http://www.hanro.com/

David | May 18, 2009 5:30 PM
Captain Hook is right…if the undershirt is visible, you run the risk of looking tacky and/or low class. I wear a button-down shirt every day to work and always go sans undershirt. If you must wear one for whatever reason (i.e. you’ll be somewhere where it’s hot and you’ll be sweating) just wear a undershirt with a deep v-neck. For a good, inexpensive option, Hanes (tagless) will be fine. No need to spend unnecessary coin on what’s essentially a disposable item.

1 thought on “Ask Tug: Is wearing an undershirt still acceptable?”

  1. i always plain white tshirt, especially the vintage ones that you could buy at Ebay. Jockey classic or Munsingwear plain white. Love them

    Reply

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