Wearing Undershirts In Summer – Should You Do It or Not?

Now that it’s heating up, there have been a lot more questions about wearing undershirts in summer.

A discussion about wearing undershirts in summer
The Art of Manliness

The questions range from whether or not it’s practical to wear undershirts during hotter months to which are the best undershirts to wear under certain shirts.

Here’s a forum discussion I was involved with recently, over at The Art of Manliness, regarding wearing undershirts in summer:

The Question

Hello, everyone!

I think I am not the only one who suffers from those awful armpit sweat stains from sweat in summer.

Some deal with them using antiperspirants.

Although I use deodorant, I don’t want to use antiperspirant.

The undershirt seems like a solution for me.

So, is it appropriate to wear an undershirt in summer under a shirt, a polo, a T-shirt?

It gets pretty hot in our places (45C/110F), won’t I heat-up more?

What other undershirt recommendations can you give?

Thanks in advance.

Tug’s Advice Regarding Wearing Undershirts in Summer

Hey Evgeniy!

Well my friend, that is a great question about wearing undershirts in summer – the hottest months of the year – and is something I actually addressed recently in the following article on my site:

Is Wearing an Undershirt in Hot Sticky Weather A Good Idea??

So, be sure to check out that article to learn more about wearing undershirts during summer.

The Rules of Wearing Undershirts

Here are some other undershirt wearing rules to consider.

It is definitely appropriate to wear an undershirt under button shirts, polos, and t-shirts, but here are my top 7 rules:

Rule 1 – When Wearing A Tie

Button-up dress shirt with a tie: crew neck undershirt

Rule 2 – When Wearing An Open Collar

Button-up dress shirt without a tie: v-neck undershirt

Rule 3 – When Wearing a Polo

Polo: v-neck undershirt (since you generally wear the collar open on a polo)

Rule 5 – When Wearing a T-Shirt

T-shirt: crew neck undershirt or tank top undershirt

Rule 6 – When Wearing White or Light Colored Dress Shirts

If your button-up shirts are light colored or semi-transparent, consider wearing a neutral-colored undershirt like light grey, heather grey or flesh tone.

They won’t show through as much as white undershirts will because they reflect less light.

To see articles here on my site related to neutral-colored undershirts, please click here.

Rule 7 – The Exceptions

In any of the above cases, you could opt to wear a tank top since those will generally wear cooler than full undershirts.

Since you seem to need the underarm sweat protection, a tank top (a-shirt) might not be right for you.

But, a tank top undershirt might work for someone else who doesn’t sweat as much in that area.

Additional Information

If your undershirt is to loose/bulky or heavy/thick, you’ll generally feel warmer and slightly uncomfortable.

So, it’s best to go with a undershirt that is lighter and either close or form-fitting. 

Be sure to check out my article about lightweight undershirts, where I’ve compiled a list of the lightest undershirts I have found to date.

There are plenty of those to choose from nowadays so be sure to look through the options. Many of which you’ll find on my website.

  • Fabric: Best to stick with cotton or a modal (i.e. viscose, rayon, bamboo, Tencel) blend.

Cotton breathes really well and modal absorbs more than cotton.

Stay away from polyester, nylon, or anything “moisture wicking” as those will be more prone to transport wetness to your outer shirt more quickly.

CORRECTION: Nylon is very absorbent, and dries faster than cotton.

If you do get pit stains your shirts or undershirts, you can clean them with products like Deo-Go or raise stain remover.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Best, Tug

Wearing Undershirts in Summer or Not?

Here’s something that was forwarded to me today from Jill Haney’s Image Rules column over at the Cincinnati.com

QUESTION: I don’t like to wear undershirts in warm weather because it just makes me hot and uncomfortable.

My wife thinks it’s gross to not wear an undershirt.

What are your thoughts?

Jill’s Answer

I must agree with your wife.

My preference is that men should wear undershirts with their dress shirts as it provides for a crisp, clean look.

I like to joke that if you look like an Abercrombie model, have no chest hair, and don’t perspire than it is ok to go without.

Very few men fit into that category.

Research shows that on average we produce 2 cups of sweat per day. That’s pretty gross, especially if it is seeping through our clothes.

Remember the old saying: “Never let ’em see you sweat.”

Mike Schwarz, the founder of ribbedtee.com undershirts, offers a number of reasons why undershirts are a must in every professional man’s wardrobe.

“While it might not be apparent, wearing undershirts in summer months or in hotter/more humid climates can be a huge help.

First, undershirts provide an additional layer of protection between you and your clothing.

Not only will they help keep sweat from reaching your outer clothing, but they will also help protect your outer shirts from body oils, odor, and underarm perspiration stains.”

Schwarz adds that wearing an undershirt allows you to wear your dress shirt more than once between washings, thus saving you money and extending the life of your clothes.

The key is to find lightweight undershirts that are either form-fitting or have a slimmer cut.

“Wearing undershirts that are too thick or too bulky will wind up making you feel warm and uncomfortable,” he says.

Try it, and let me know.

With the right undershirt, you can stay cool while still looking fresh and crisp.


9 thoughts on “Wearing Undershirts In Summer – Should You Do It or Not?”

  1. Today i wore a dress shirt and i had my plan white pocket t-shirt underneath and my dress shirt had a sweat stain. How can that b possible when im wearing and undershirt underneath?????

    • hey raman! thanks for your question. sweat-through is very possible when wearing a standard tee or undershirt if you perspire more or if your antiperspirant is not effective.

      your possible solutions include:
      1. stronger antiperspirant like certain dry, klima, or sweat block
      2. wearing an undershirt that provides more underarm protection. these undershirts are usually referred to as sweat-through resistant undershirts or hyperhidrosis undershirts and include the following brands: kleinerts, silverback apparel, sweatshield undershirts, sutran, feelu, and the latest to launch thompson tee.

      if you search my site for any of those undershirts listed, you’ll find additional information on them.

      hope the information is helpful!

  2. Hey just a question here, I always wear undershirts under my tshirts. Sometimes though, a little bit of the collar of the undershirt will show like a little in front or on the sides. Is this bad? I wear crew neck undershirts. My question I guess is, does it look bad to others? Thanks!

    • hey derek, thanks for stopping by and posting your question!

      the “purists” (i.e. style consultants or fashion advisers) will tell you that no undershirt should ever show. but, if done in a stylish manner, you can probably get away with it. some of us (me included) don’t really care what the purists say and do what we feel comfortable with.

      personally speaking, i wore a lot of tank tops this summer (because it was hot) and have now switched over to v-necks since the weather has started to mellow out. because of this, my undershirt collar won’t generally show.

      under a t-shirt, you can get away with wearing a tank top. assuming you need/want the underarm protection, v-neck or crew neck undershirts would be the best options. if you’re going to stick with crew, and if it shows a little, just make sure your undershirt collar is clean and crisp – no ratty collars should be showing.

      hope that helps!

  3. In backcountry/mountaineering/hiking circles you hear pretty often that cotton can kill, because it’s so good at stripping body heat when it gets wet. Even in 50 degree weather a wet cotton shirt can be a big problem. That same effect rocks in the summer. I’ve worn the same seersucker shirt with and without an undershirt in hot weather, and with an undershirt it’s cooler.

    I wear an undershirt no matter what shirt I’m wearing. Style may dictate otherwise, but I’d rather be comfortable.

    • hey steve, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      there has been some discussion here about the potential problems wearing cotton undershirts during cold/wet outdoor activities. seems to make sense, and i would likely stay away from wearing moisture-absorbing fabrics if i thought i’d been in such a circumstance, but generally speaking, i don’t find myself in those situations.

      it’s been some time since i’ve worn a seersucker shirt, but one of my most favorite summer shirts is my 100% linen white short sleeve button up shirt, and it reminds a little of the seersucker shirts i had some time ago.

      interesting to hear that you feel cooler wearing an undershirt underneath your seersucker shirt than when not wearing one, considering the breathable nature of the fabric, but i appreciate you sharing that piece of data.

      i wonder what a linen or seersucker lightweight undershirt would be like?

  4. i always wear an undershirt under t-shirts and polos and do need underarm protection but my problem is that all of my undershirts’ sleeves are longer than my t-shirts so i’m always tugging the undershirt’s sleeves in and my search for an undershirt with short sleeves but not a tank have failed. any brand/models suggestions?

    • hey cy, good to hear from you and thanks for sending in your question. i received a similar question from a reader not too long ago and this is what i told him:

      off the top of my head, the shortest sleeved fitted undershirts are: jockey seamfree (medium, 7″, before washing), alfani stretch (large, 7″, after washing), ribbed tee classic fit & micromodal (medium, 7″, after washing). i have to get to my undershirt inventory to check into the other fitted ones like the micromodal ck undershirt, so i’ll have to get back to you with more intel.

      the shortest sleeved slim fitting undershirts (not fitted, but not box cut) are: campbellsville apparel 100% poly t-shirt (medium, 5.75″, after washing), retro fit from ribbed tee (medium, 6″, after washing), and jockey classic streamlined fit (7.5″ after washing).

      keep this in mind: if the side shoulder/strap length is too long for your shoulder, the sleeves will appear longer than they actually are. so you need to be sure the undershirt fits you properly in the shoulders (squarely) so the sleeves have less of a chance to peak out.

      you might also want to check out the gusseted muscle shirts from matthew petit. the gussets are supposed to provide underarm protection and since there are no sleeves, you won’t have to worry about them peaking out from underneath your polos!

      let me know what you decide to try out and what you think of them.


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