Wear an Undershirt Under Linen Shirts: The Rules?

Curious of whether or not it’s “proper” to wear an undershirt under linen shirts? Well, you are not alone.

In fact, one of my readers wrote to me seeking advice regarding the dilemma.


Enjoyed reading some of your posts.

One question I had that I didn’t see on your site is should I wear a t-shirt under a white long sleeve linen shirt.

I just bought the white linen shirt, but noticed it is a bit thin and you can see slight skin tone through the shirt.

Didn’t know if it’s best to go without an undershirt, if that’s normally done with these type of shirts, or wear an undershirt even though the shirt lines are very visible.

Thanks Tug!


Should You Wear An Undershirt Under Linen Shirts?

Heya Jon,

Good to hear from you buddy and thanks for stopping by my site!

You know, your question about wearing an undershirt under a white linen shirt (long or short sleeve) is a good one, and long debated.

First off, if you’re going to look like this guy (below) if you don’t wear an undershirt, wear an undershirt no matter what!

invisible undershirt should be worn here

If the linen shirt is not that transparent, then I think you have some options.

The Alternative Choices

Go sans undershirt.

If you’re comfortable doing that and you don’t sweat too much, go without an undershirt.

Wear a netural colored undershirt (aka invisible undershirt).

It looks almost similar to your skin and becomes nearly invisible under the linen shirt.

For example, you can choose a neutral colored undershirt, like heather grey or tan/nude beige.

The practical undershirt choice with an open collar is a v-neck, but I wear tank tops a lot in hotter months since most of my sweating occurs on my back and some on my chest.

Even though I sweat some in my underarm area, it’s not quite enough for me to worry about it. As such, I stick with a fitted tank top undershirt.

Another option could be a milk-colored or grey lightweight Henley undershirt.

I’ve not tried this, but I’m curious how it would look under a linen shirt. The button collar on the Henley might look stylish underneath, but I’d have to see it to make a more informed decision

Pick up a contrast colored t-shirt.

Like navy blue or possibly the same color as your pants.

If you did this, it would look more like a stylistic choice, and you could get away with a crew neck undershirt or v-neck undershirt.

For more color selection, you might need to look at t-shirts versus undershirts.

I know Uniqlo and American Apparel have about every color t-shirt you could ever want.

A NU-V undershirt.

Such an undershirt might look OK, but as with the Henley undershirt idea, I’d have to see it to be more certain.

So, what do you think?

Do any of the above recommendations feel like they’d work for you?

Jon’s Response

Thanks Tug!

Thankfully it’s not not as transparent as that picture.

It’s a linen Cubavera shirt that doesn’t show any bodily details, but does add a slight fleshy undertone to the white shirt.

I’m inclined to go with your first recommendation and ditch the shirt, but my wife thought it needed an undershirt.

I’m just not a fan of seeing the lines of the undershirt.

So sounds like I could probably go either way.


Article Resource Links about T-shirt under Linen Shirt

Check out the following links / websites for more information about wearing undershirts under linen shirts.

5 thoughts on “Wear an Undershirt Under Linen Shirts: The Rules?”

  1. I always wear an undershirt underneath all shirts except my t shirts which I only wear around the house in and out while there or working outside on some things. I would rather have them seeing my undershirt outline than what I just looked at. Besides, the linen shirts I own are not quite that transparent. I guess that I might forgo the undershirt under a linen shirt only if I were on a beach resort on vacation somewhere and then the matter of no undershirt would not come in to play I would think.

    • heya chris!

      for me, wearing an undershirt is more about smoothing and sweat-through prevention on the back. but i do agree with you in the respect that i really don’t care if someone sees my undershirt outline in general.

      if i can make it more inconspicuous like by wearing a heather grey undershirt with a deeper v-neck under a lighter-colored outer shirt, then i’m happy to do it.

      but under linen, i generally wear one of my ribbed tank tops — either white or black. and while you can see a faint hint of my tank top outline, i feel it’s a lot more appropriate than seeing my nips or me sweating through the back of my linen shirt on a hot day.

      though, if i’m just bumming around the house or heading to the beach, i don’t see any benefit in wearing an undershirt under a linen button up shirt (:

      • I like to wear a thin cotton undershirt under a linen shirt even while bumming around the house because otherwise on cool east coast summer nights (like these days), I actually feel cold in just one linen layer.

        It’s worse if you step out when it is still warm, sweat a tiny bit, and then lounge back in the cooler indoors.

        The thin misty layer of loose linen flapping around is like an AC blowing with a vengeance trying to flash-freeze occupants. (I also happen to be rather skinny and awful at retaining heat.)

  2. In this situation, I think a tank top / a-shirt would make more sense. I don’t like the look of a t-shirt and it’s half-sleeve visible underneath.

    • heya scott, thanks for stopping by and posting your thoughts about wearing undershirts under linen shirts!

      in this case, i do agree with you. i’m really ok with wearing a tank top undershirt under linen. i think it’s a pretty reasonable choice (:


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