Ask Tug: No Mans Land at Chest Size 41 – What Size Undershirt Do You Choose?

Not sure if you have this problem, but I find it a little difficult to find the right sized undershirt. There’s such a wide variety of undershirts to choose from nowadays and while manufacturers are generally cutting their shirts to standard and predictable sizes, the new fabric blends that are being used combined with the varying levels of shrinkage they each have make it challenging for us guys to pick the right size.

Here’s an email from a reader that has the same dilemma as I do regarding his build and finding a proper fitting undershirt:

I love your website and you are a great source of info. Here is my dilemma – I am a size 41 chest which leaves me right in the middle of most mediums (38-40) and larges (42-44).  Like you, I need undershirts that are larger mediums or smaller larges.

When choosing a non stretchy material, do you try the medium first? If it is not stretchy  then my guess is that you try a fitted larger size first?

I always use the boxy Hanes or FOTL and after seeing your site, I realize that I have many more to choose from in the stretch material kind and fitted kind. I was hoping you could shed some light on how you purchase new shirts as to the sizing so as to limit the hassle of returning and getting the next size.

Thanks, J

My Response:

Hey J,

Thanks for the email and your support! Glad you like the site.

I feel your pain! Being my size at 5’9″ and 175 lbs, picking out the right sized undershirt (or shirt for that matter) is really tough. They can be either too tight, too loose, too short, or too long.

You’re exactly right — if I were to consider buying an undershirt that was not stretchy, I would likely error on the side of buying a large first. Primarily, that’s because even if it’s a little too big, I likely can still wear it on some occasions, like bumming around the house. If it’s too tight, I just won’t wear it and then the undershirt will simply go into my undershirt wasteland pile (actually it’s a drawer because Mrs. Tug would never let me get away with leaving a pile of clothes on the floor!).

To be completely honest, I pretty much stick to fitted, light-weight stretchy undershirts for my everyday use. The great news is that there are tons of options nowadays when it comes to buying stretchy undershirts. Many of these types of undershirts get their stretch from material blends that include some percentage of spandex/elastane (lycra), nylon, polyester, modal, bamboo, pima cotton or other similar synthetic materials. There are also other stretchy undershirts made out of 100% cotton, such as the ribbed material used in the very popular tank top undershirts (aka. “wife beater”) widely available from nearly every major undershirt manufacturer, including Hanes and FoTL.

Picking out the right sized stretchy undershirt is tricky too. About half of my fitted, stretchy undershirts are medium and the rest are large and they all fit me great.

If I were you, I’d suggest starting off buying a large. Then, if you find the fit is a little too loose for your own personal fit preference, size down to a medium the next time!

Good luck with your search and feel free to write me back if you have any other questions.

J’s reply:

Thanks for the quick reply. Can you share which brand of shirts fit you in a medium and which ones in a large? We have very similar builds. If you dont want to share all of that, how about just from shirts from RibbedTee? Which of those fit you best? I am torn between medium and large and classic fit and enhanced fit. That is 4 combinations that I need to try so maybe you could share which combo fits you best from RibbedTees.

My contribution can be this: “George” brand undershirts sold at Walmart do fit me good. I use a medium and I am 5-8 165 lbs.  They are made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex. They are sold in 2 packs for about $10. The black/grey shirts are perfect. The white ones dont fit me as good since they seem to run larger. The white ones also show armpit stains after only  a couple of months. But so far, so good for the grey and black shirts by George sold at Walmart.

Thanks again,

My Response:

Hey J,
Thanks for the info about the George brand undershirts from Walmart. I am finding many of the 95/5 cotton/spandex blend products very comfortable, so I’ll have to pass by Walmart soon and pick up a pack of Georges to try them out.

Considering the number of undershirts I have, it would be a little tough to go through all of them and record the sizes, but I just might do that some day as an exercise that I can share in a future post!

As for RibbedTee, at your height and weight, I would definitely recommend a medium classic fit. I wear the large classic fit, but have the medium classic fit as well (in heather grey & white) and they fit great too. The RibbedTee undershirts are cut long, so at 5’8″ they will be probably be 1″-2″ inches longer than you’re used to, but I always prefer an undershirt that’s a little longer so it will stay tucked over  one that is too short.

Keep me posted on your progress!

1 thought on “Ask Tug: No Mans Land at Chest Size 41 – What Size Undershirt Do You Choose?”

  1. Hey Tug,
    I just found your website – It’s perfect! Nice work!
    Question for you… I have a really hard time finding the right undershirt. The best one I have found is the George brand at walmart and now I can’t find those anymore. I’m about 6’3” and 210 lbs and usually by XL’s. I like relaxed fit (not the old school box style but not compression either) with at least about 8% spandex. My current supply is running low and need to buy about 12 or so… any suggestions??



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