When to Wear an Undershirt Under a Dress Shirt

Before tackling the issue of donning an undershirt, let's cover the essentials. First, an undershirt is a base layer, and no one should see it. In other words, displaying your undershirt is the same as showing your underwear: not fashionable. 

A good men's undershirt should be form-fitting and slightly stretchy for your other clothes to conceal completely. Also, it should be light in weight to eliminate visible lines and a heavy appearance.

How Do Undershirts Evolve?

15th Century

Young noblemen began to wear at least part of their shirts exposed by the 15th century, and while there was some backlash at the time, the trend of showing one's shirt to the public eventually gained traction. Even respected men in society began to exhibit more of their ornate shirts, such as exposing collars and cuffs. After that, you wouldn't see much of a shirt other than the cuffs and collars due to overcoats. 

19th Century

At the end of the 19th century, detachable collars and cuffs came into existence.  At the time, what we now refer to as a dress shirt, was categorized as an undershirt! On the other hand, a gentleman would only wear a shirt with no undershirt. On occasion, the poor working class and peasants wore tunics, which evolved into today's sleeveless under shirts. 

If a gentleman were too cold, on the other hand, he would put more overgarments but not a layer underneath. The so-called Union Suit, patented in 1868 in the United States, was an overall type of undergarment. Although women first popularized it, men later adopted it, but it was usually associated with a blue-collar, rural audience rather than the upper crust. 

20th Century

Soldiers wore undergarments to keep their uniforms from grime during the turn of the century, and it was more comfortable to wear the Undershirt in hot conditions merely. In the 1934 film” It Happened One Night,” Clark Gable admitted that he did not wear an undershirt. According to legend, undershirt sales in the United States decreased by 75%.

It appears that undershirt sales did not revive until WWII when soldiers began to wear them as outerwear on their own. While it was first frowned upon, by the 1950s, Hollywood stars such as Marlon Brando and James Dean were wearing them in public, and the T-Shirt as we know it today had become a hit. 

Do You Wear an Undershirt? - The Pros and Cons

An undershirt aims to keep sweat and deodorant stains off your other clothes. In addition, dress shirts have a longer life span since they are kept clean. So instead of washing them every time you wear them, you can wash them every other or three times. It also enhances the appearance of dress shirts and suits by adding an extra layer under a light dress shirt to hide your nipples and chest hair.

Long-sleeved and thermal undershirts keep you extra warm under your dress shirt. This benefit is a great way to make your wardrobe more interchangeable by allowing you to wear identical outfits throughout the year by simply adding the sub-layer. In the summer, you'll probably want to skip the undershirt. Instead, put one on for the rest of the day. 


  • Wearing an undershirt will help you sweat a lot, and your jackets reveal it.
  • Under shirts can help eliminate chafed skin with stiff fronted evening shirts for black tie and white tie, and they are unnoticeable beneath the bib shirt front.
  • An undershirt will keep you warm if you're always cold and need an extra layer of clothing
  • Undershirts can prevent a lot of chest hair from peeking through the shirt's surface.
  • Your dress shirts will inevitably have deodorant stains if you don't wear an undershirt. Although you can erase the stains with Deo-Go, wearing an undershirt is more convenient.
  • Well-cut undershirts are not visible in the collar area even when the top buttons remain unfastened.


  • Traditionally, elegant men did not wear a second layer of underwear beneath their shirts.
  • Not wearing an undershirt should decrease the feeling of confinement that comes with wearing many similarly structured layers.
  • Furthermore, in the summer, the extra layer of fabric is usually unwelcome and, regardless of color, will show through an open-weave shirt.
  • Is it freezing in the winter? Using a heavy-weight shirt fabric instead of an undershirt layer is a great option.
  • Supporters of underwear some say that wearing undershirts is more hygienic, but if you shower regularly and wash your dress shirts after each use, you should be okay.
  • My shirts last a long time in my experience, and I have yet to uncover any proof that wearing an undershirt will extend the life of a dress shirt.
  • Many elegant men I know, such as Clark Gable, G. Bruce Boyer, Fabio Attanasio, and Herbert Stricker, choose not to wear undershirts beneath their dress shirts, but this is a personal choice.

What Are the Types of Undershirts?

Tank Top

This undershirt, often known as "The Wifebeater," is sleeveless so that it won't protect your outer layers from sweat or deodorant stains like other under shirts. Instead, it's best worn as a second layer under a tucked-in outer shirt to keep your nipples hidden.


You can wear the V-neck under practically anything without it being visible. The collar also dips into a "V" at the front of the neck, allowing you to wear an unbuttoned dress shirt or polo without being visible.


This shirt reaches to your neck and lays flat around it. The most common style of undershirt t is the crew neck. It's also where the contemporary t-shirt was born.

Long-sleeved Tee

To keep you warm in the cold of winter or bone-chilling humidity and cold of Fall. You can wear the long-sleeved undershirt in colder climates instead of long thermal underwear.


It's ideal for the guy who is self-conscious about his middle. The compression shirt will subtly mold your form by holding you close and keeping you tucked in. Compression is a beautiful fit whether you work out because it improves blood flow and aids in recovery after a workout.

Undershirts With a Twist

Wick moisture away from the skin and soak up sweat. Check out the undershirt Guy if you sweat a lot. Tug, type "undershirt dude" into Google, and see what comes up. He's provided a wealth of knowledge on the subject.

Why Choose These Fabrics for Men's Undershirts?

The undershirt fabric should be thin and elastic to avoid showing through the outer layer. You have a wide range of excellent choices once again:

100% Cotton

The classic go-to of almost all undershirts remains cotton. Long-lasting and dependable, it's hard to go wrong with this choice. There is even high-grade cotton such as Egyptian or Pima cotton.

Blends That Stretch

There are many materials options if you're looking for an undershirt that conforms to your body: Cotton and synthetic fibers blended is an excellent option.

Merino Wool From Sheep

You can wear this incredible material for up to a week without smelling it. For hotter temperatures, it's also available in lesser weights (sub 190 gsm).

Present-Day Technical Fabrics

They are made with sweatproof or moisture-wicking characteristics in mind.

What Are Some Do's and Don'ts?

Today, undershirts come in various styles, from the conventional sleeveless shirt (often known as a tank top or a wifebeater if white and ribbed) to "performance shirts" that claim to be comfortable. The following sections will go over the specifics of each style. The color and fit of all undershirts are crucial considerations.

Do Not Wear a T-shirt But an Undershirt

It's vital to note that an undershirt and a t-shirt are not the same things. An undershirt is usually thinner and lighter than a regular shirt for layering. In addition, undershirts were traditionally ribbed because a ribbed garment can stretch more and is thus more comfortable. Therefore, if you wish to wear an undergarment, avoid t-shirts since they are too broad, stiff, and thick to fit comfortably beneath a dress shirt.

Don't dress in white or black underwear

Forget about white. In an ideal scenario, your undershirt would be the same color as your skin or a darker shade, such as heather grey. As a result, the outline of the undershirt does not show through the shirt. Even under a white shirt, a skin-colored undershirt will be less noticeable than a plain white T-shirt, especially in the spaces between the skin and the T-shirt around the biceps and collar.

As skin tones vary significantly, finding skin-colored clothes is difficult. Some companies sell heather gray undergarments, which are preferable to white. You can, however, use a white undershirt and an old stage technique.

Do Use Tight-Fitting Underwear

If you wear an undershirt, make sure it's tight-fitting and has small armholes. Otherwise, you might feel claustrophobic and restricted in your movements. It should also be long enough to prevent it from coming untucked.

Avoid sleeveless undershirts

You can find white sleeveless undershirts in almost any place for a reasonable price. They're often 100% cotton or a cotton/poly combination with a delicate ribbed appearance.

Many guys still wear them as an undershirt at work, and some even wear them to the gym because of the enhanced range of motion they provide. Even if you wear a jacket, you can typically see its outline when wearing undershirts, and removing it makes it even more apparent that you are wearing one.

However, if you use undershirts to absorb sweat, this style won't work for you because your armpits aren't entirely covered. It may be a staple in many men's wardrobes, and your grandfather may have worn it religiously, but it falls short in terms of design and usefulness.

Don't Draw Attention to Your Undershirt

When you wear your shirt unbuttoned or the lines underneath your dress shirt show, it's one of the worst style mistakes you can make. Summer shirts with thin fabric make it impossible to hide the undershirt, whereas winter or flannel shirts show the lines of a well-constructed undershirt.

Avoid undershirts with a crew-neck

The crew neck undershirt has a visible high neckline when your dress shirt is buttoned up, but it doesn't look perfect. Deep-Cut V-Neck Undershirts Should Be Worn

If you want to wear undershirts, go for deep-cut V-neck types with flat seams because even if a man's dress shirt is fully buttoned and he's wearing a jacket, you can tell if he's wearing an undershirt underneath it. Also, unless your Undershirt is thin and close-fitting, you will most likely display some rings on your upper arm if you remove your jacket.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Right Fit for an Undershirt?

Your undershirt should be close-fitting with small armholes to avoid wrinkles and absorb sweat beneath your arms. Get one that isn't too tight — it shouldn't be painful.

The optimal fit molds your body as closely as possible without being restrictive. Make sure the neck opening is roughly the same size as your dress shirt collar and that it's long enough to keep tucked in. Bunching about your neck is very annoying: not only does it look unpleasant, but it also irritates you throughout the day.

Your torso will be smoothed out with a well-fitting undershirt, allowing your shirt to lay flat over your body. It can also help to conceal any excess weight you may be carrying.

Is it permissible to wear a T-shirt as an undershirt?

No, in general. T-shirts are thicker and looser than regular shirts, and they will show. When it's cold, and you're wearing many clothes in the winter, it's possible to hide a T-shirt under multiple layers. However, it is more efficient to wear a thermal or long-sleeve undergarment at that stage.

Is It Okay For Me To Wear An Undershirt By Myself?

Today, undershirts in the mass market are tighter than t-shirts and cling to your body. Even if you have the body for it, it appears that you are desperate for attention. It can also throw off your outfit's proportions, making your legs seem disproportionately huge, especially if you match a thin tight top with thicker, looser jeans.

Last but not least, there's no reason to wear an undershirt alone. It is not possible to wear another layer under to absorb sweat.

Is the color of your undershirt important?

Yes, in a nutshell. Wear a close-to-your-skin-toned undershirt. It doesn't have to match your skin color perfectly, but if it does, your undershirt will be highly noticeable beneath your usual shirt. Against deeper skin tones, a dark-gray, brown, or black undershirt blends very well. On the other hand, light-gray, beige, or white undershirts will look best on you if you have a lighter skin tone.

Which is better: cotton blends or pure cotton?

Most men who wear undershirts nowadays prefer a classic crew neck or V-neck style. Plain white shirts are widely available, while solid-colored variations are readily available.

They're typically made of 100% cotton or a poly-cotton blend, comparable to sleeveless shirts, though cotton blends with spandex, viscose, modal, and other materials have recently become popular. These additions make shirts softer or more durable, although they are typically more expensive.

Why Do People Wear Shirts Underneath Their Clothes?

An undershirt is undoubtedly a staple in the wardrobes of men and women worldwide when it comes to fashion and comfort. Why do individuals wear undershirts in the first place?

To provide camouflage when wearing only a t-shirt.

These garments create an opaque layer under sheer or very light clothing that helps disguise underneath. For example, women's bras may show through their clothing if they don't wear an undershirt. In the summer, men who wear very light dress shirts may find that not wearing an undershirt allows their chest hair to come through, making them feel self-conscious.

To Keep Their Chests Warm

In the summer, it's usual to see men wearing button-down shirts with open collars and women wearing loose-fitting blouses with plunging necklines. People tend to wear undershirts in both of these situations to maintain modesty. An undershirt can make even the most basic button-down look more professional and groomed on men. But on the other hand, an undershirt can conceal cleavage, making women feel self-conscious.

To Ensure Sweat Absorption

Nothing is humiliating than a sweat stain on a lovely silk top or a fine cotton dress shirt. Nobody wants to meet clients with huge colors beneath their arms from the heat. Undershirts act as a moisture-absorbent layer, catching sweat before it seeps through to your outerwear. There are dedicated and unique fabrics that absorb moisture, wicking it away from your body, and keep your outerwear dry all at the same time.

To Achieve a Smooth and Consistent Appearance

Both men and women wear fitted undershirts to disguise "lumps and bumps" beneath their apparel. The dreaded "muffin top" affects both men and women, which can be embarrassing for some. Undershirts can assist cover bulges beneath the second layer of clothes, giving any shirt, blouse, or garment a smoother, more uniform appearance.

To Use As an Underwear for Athletics

Many sportswear companies have developed artificial fibers designed to transfer moisture away from your body and help you feel dryer in recent years. These are good for going on a hike, skiing, or rafting, but they are ill-suited as an undershirt for a formal shirt because they frequently come in patterns, bright colors, and always with a contrasting logo that will show through your shirt.

To Make People Feel Good

Finally, people wear undershirts to be comfortable no matter what outerwear they wear. Many materials are stiff or scratchy, which can irritate people with sensitive skin, and many fabrics are stiff or irritating, which might upset them. Undershirts provide a layer of protection, allowing people to wear their preferred outfits without worrying about their comfort.

For more than a century, undergarments have been an essential part of men's wardrobes. Although historically, it was impolite to display your undershirt in public, it's now all part of making a fashion statement. So make sure you choose your clothing correctly – and that they're well-suited for your intended function – whether you're wearing an undershirt to absorb sweat, keep comfortable, or even give disguise under sheer or thin fabrics.

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