Styles: Tee or Undershirt?

Most readers here apparently know that revealing your undershirt is regarded as a bit awkward. But the lines have blurred in contemporary fashion. High-performance athletic apparel is functional “undershirts,” but are also manufactured in chic cuts with designer designs, in the assumption that they’ll be dressed like the topmost layer. Actors in notable motion pictures routinely walk around in light knit tees and nothing more on their upper physique — remember Robert Downey Jr. in all the recent Iron Man films or Daniel Craig in Skyfall. So what should you be dressing as an undershirt, and what can you carry as a lightweight outer layer on sunny days?

White Cotton Tank Tops

Meet the lowest bar in the style stairway — the white cotton tank top. These are surely undershirts. They shouldn’t make an impression as your external layer. In fact, they shouldn’t make an impression at all, except when you’re wearing and undressing. Keep them tucked in and have your shirts buttoned high enough that the scoop neckline isn’t noticeable. You can get these for about as low as clothing comes — maybe $10-15 for a set of three at brick and mortar stores. The flip side of t is that they’re not really all that helpful. Most have armholes formed much too large (to make sure the apparel fits as many men as possible.) Suggesting that you don’t have any underarm protection at all. It’ll absorb up a little sweat on your back, and that’s about it. These are really only helpful for those who don’t sweat a whole lot, or for guys who want to dress very short-sleeved and low-necked summertime shirts.

Crew Neck Tees

The original T-shirt fashion began as an undershirt but became an ubiquitous youth apparel by the 1950s. You can go both ways with yours — it’s not very classy to go around in just a white tee, but if it’s closely-fitted and you’re in great shape, the appearance can work. (If it’s a light-colored tee, be sure the armpits aren’t dirtied. Mostly, though, these are also great as undershirts. They provide excellent sweat stability, especially if they’re hung close in the chest and below the arms. The significant limitation of the classic crew-neck style is its raised neckline. If you’re thinking of donning a dress shirt or similar button-fronted shirt. You’ll need to have it buttoned up all the way to conceal a crew-neck undershirt. Depending on the length of the T-shirt and the cut of the formal shirt. You may even get undershirts that can only be worn with a buttoned collar and neckwear, which are of clearly limited use.

V-Neck Tees

Substituting the crew neck with a V-neck is the simple solution for guys who want to wear a shirt with one or two buttons left open. The depth of the V-shape can differ. But most are made so that you can wear at least one fastener (besides the collar button) of a standard dress shirt open without revealing your undershirt. These are a more practical choice for undershirt purposes, and maintain the same excellent absorbency of the Tee style. Still, they’re even more informal (we might go so far as to declare tacky) when noticeable. Please don’t wear them as a prominent layer, at least not in plain white or heather gray. If you must have a remarkable V-neck T-shirt, wear it as a brightly-colored layer.