Q and Answer: How to Avoid Having Your Undershirt Show
David writes: I’m preparing for a wedding in July and already have a nice suit, so that’s covered. The problem is the shirt. I bought an all cotton white dress shirt from Brooks Brothers, and while the fabric is nice, it’s a bit see through. Since this will be for a summer wedding, I’ll need to wear an undershirt (as it’ll be very hot), but I hate being able to see the outline of it through my dress shirt. Is this a common problem and is there anything I can do?
It is unfortunately a common problem, but only really with white dress shirts. If you switch to light blue, the issue is almost guaranteed to go away, but sometimes the occasion that calls for a very dressy white shirt. Like that wedding you’ll be attending, for example. 
Luckily, there are some things you can do. 
Wear a grey undershirt: The easiest solution is to switch from white undershirts to heathered grey. Heathered grey reflects less light than white, so it shows through a bit less as well. This does depend on a number of factors (such as how translucent your dress shirt is), but generally speaking, this is your best bet. You can also try the various lines for beige undershirts on the market, which are designed to match your skin tone more closely. These are available from Albert Kreuz, Sloane Men, and Mr. Davis. 
Avoid deep necklines: Next, avoid undershirts with deep necklines, such as the one you see above. Those are great if you plan on wearing your shirt with the first button or two unbuttoned, but if you’re wearing a coat and tie, a standard crewneck or v-neck will be less conspicuous. 
Keep your jacket on: Typically, when an undershirt shows through, it’s at the sleeves. The solution? Simply keep your jacket on. If you have to take your jacket off - depending on the situation and circumstances - you can try rolling up your sleeves. This will reduce the area of your dress shirt without an undershirt underneath, which in turn will make that line across your bicep less noticeable. 
Get a thicker dress shirt: Of course, you can just get a thicker shirt. The reason why your undershirt shows is because your dress shirt is made from a finely woven material (somewhat ironically, this is common in both low- and high-end dress shirts). Try something made from a thicker, tighter weave instead, such as a good, heavy twill. The trade off is that these will feel stiffer and wear a bit warmer, but on the upside, they’ll be less translucent. A more breathable shirt, on the other hand, will be more see-through, but it might feel more comfortable on a really hot day. Which is right for you will depend on your preferences. 
Don’t wear an undershirt: Lastly, consider why you’re wearing an undershirt in the first place. Many men wear them as a first defense against underarm staining. As Jesse noted in our grooming episode, however, that staining isn’t actually a result from sweat, but rather the aluminum in antiperspirant. Switch to deodorant, and you might not need to wear an undershirt at all.
(Photo via Sloane Men)

Q and Answer: How to Avoid Having Your Undershirt Show

David writes: I’m preparing for a wedding in July and already have a nice suit, so that’s covered. The problem is the shirt. I bought an all cotton white dress shirt from Brooks Brothers, and while the fabric is nice, it’s a bit see through. Since this will be for a summer wedding, I’ll need to wear an undershirt (as it’ll be very hot), but I hate being able to see the outline of it through my dress shirt. Is this a common problem and is there anything I can do?

It is unfortunately a common problem, but only really with white dress shirts. If you switch to light blue, the issue is almost guaranteed to go away, but sometimes the occasion that calls for a very dressy white shirt. Like that wedding you’ll be attending, for example. 

Luckily, there are some things you can do. 

  • Wear a grey undershirt: The easiest solution is to switch from white undershirts to heathered grey. Heathered grey reflects less light than white, so it shows through a bit less as well. This does depend on a number of factors (such as how translucent your dress shirt is), but generally speaking, this is your best bet. You can also try the various lines for beige undershirts on the market, which are designed to match your skin tone more closely. These are available from Albert Kreuz, Sloane Men, and Mr. Davis
  • Avoid deep necklines: Next, avoid undershirts with deep necklines, such as the one you see above. Those are great if you plan on wearing your shirt with the first button or two unbuttoned, but if you’re wearing a coat and tie, a standard crewneck or v-neck will be less conspicuous. 
  • Keep your jacket on: Typically, when an undershirt shows through, it’s at the sleeves. The solution? Simply keep your jacket on. If you have to take your jacket off - depending on the situation and circumstances - you can try rolling up your sleeves. This will reduce the area of your dress shirt without an undershirt underneath, which in turn will make that line across your bicep less noticeable. 
  • Get a thicker dress shirt: Of course, you can just get a thicker shirt. The reason why your undershirt shows is because your dress shirt is made from a finely woven material (somewhat ironically, this is common in both low- and high-end dress shirts). Try something made from a thicker, tighter weave instead, such as a good, heavy twill. The trade off is that these will feel stiffer and wear a bit warmer, but on the upside, they’ll be less translucent. A more breathable shirt, on the other hand, will be more see-through, but it might feel more comfortable on a really hot day. Which is right for you will depend on your preferences. 
  • Don’t wear an undershirt: Lastly, consider why you’re wearing an undershirt in the first place. Many men wear them as a first defense against underarm staining. As Jesse noted in our grooming episode, however, that staining isn’t actually a result from sweat, but rather the aluminum in antiperspirant. Switch to deodorant, and you might not need to wear an undershirt at all.

(Photo via Sloane Men)

We Got It For Free: UnderFit Undershirts
Ben Brockland over at Underfit Shirts emailed me last January to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of his undershirts. I said sure, why not, so long as I’d be able to take my time with it. The main problem with undershirts, from my experience, is that they typically don’t last very long.
The reason is simple. Cotton, unlike animal hair, doesn’t have a natural “spring back” quality to it, so the collar is prone to being stretched out and the waist is likely to lose shape. Plus, even if you hang dry all your clothes like I do, the length will inevitably shrink, making the shirt increasingly harder to tuck in.  
I’ve gone through a number of brands, mostly on the low- to mid-end of the market. 2(x)ist's most basic model is a good go-to, and can be found pretty affordably through Sierra Trading Post if you use one of their DealFlyer coupons. Those last for about a year for about a year before needing to be thrown out. Fruit of a Loom is more affordable, but also only lasts for about a year, and the v-neck is a bit high. Undershirts from The Gap and Brooks Brothers go for a bit longer, but they’re more expensive. 
It’s Not Cotton
Underfit is a bit different in that instead of being pure cotton, it’s a 57-38-5 blend of micro modal, Tencel, and Lycra. Modal is a type of rayon, a semi-synthetic cellulose fiber taken from beech trees. Its main advantage is that it’s silky soft and resistant to shrinking or being pulled out of shape. Its disadvantage is that it pills easily. I have a Tommy John undershirt, for example, made from a 90-10 micro modal, spandex blend. It feels amazing against the skin, but pills with every wear.
Tencel, like modal, is a also a rayon fabric, but is said to have the added advantage of being able to absorb sweat easily. It supposedly brings perspiration to the surface and allows it to evaporate, thus letting the wearer to stay odor free a bit longer. Lastly, Lycra, as I’m sure everyone knows, is a type of spandex valued for its elasticity.
Performance
I had a few reservations going in. First, I was concerned this would wear much warmer because of the materials used, but was surprised to find I didn’t notice any difference, even on hot days. And over the course of seven months, I haven’t seen any pilling, despite the predominance of modal. Most importantly, it hasn’t lost any shape. Whereas most of my undershirts would be starting to stretch out around the collar just about now, this Underfit seems pretty much the same as the day it came.
There are some other nice points. It fits very close to the body, which makes it more comfortable and attractive to wear. The length is plenty long to tuck in and the v-neck is just deep enough to allow me to unbutton the second button on all my shirts. Like Ledbury’s, my shirts have a slightly lowered second button, which I think makes for a more attractive collar line. Even with the lower second button undone, my undershirt never shows.
Recommended?
Naturally, there’s always a catch. Underfit’s shirts are pretty expensive at $25 a piece. Though I’ve found mine to fare much better, you can get 2(x)ist shirts for about $5 a piece at Sierra Trading Post if you wait for a DealFlyer coupon. Those only last for about a year, but Underfit would have to last five in order to make it equal in value. I obviously couldn’t ask the company to wait five years before I did a review, but based on how well it’s held up in the last seven months – as well as how much more comfortable and better fitting it’s been – I’m pretty impressed.
Still, $25 for an undershirt is a lot, and it would be up to you to figure out if buying something like this is a priority. Personally, I think if you already have all the shirts, pants, jackets, and shoes you need, it might be nice to upgrade your undergarments. I liked mine so much that I purchased thirteen more, so I’d have two weeks worth of these undershirts for my regular rotation. If the price doesn’t dissuade you, and you’re looking for a really nice undershirt, I think really nice ones can be found here. 

We Got It For Free: UnderFit Undershirts

Ben Brockland over at Underfit Shirts emailed me last January to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of his undershirts. I said sure, why not, so long as I’d be able to take my time with it. The main problem with undershirts, from my experience, is that they typically don’t last very long.

The reason is simple. Cotton, unlike animal hair, doesn’t have a natural “spring back” quality to it, so the collar is prone to being stretched out and the waist is likely to lose shape. Plus, even if you hang dry all your clothes like I do, the length will inevitably shrink, making the shirt increasingly harder to tuck in.  

I’ve gone through a number of brands, mostly on the low- to mid-end of the market. 2(x)ist's most basic model is a good go-to, and can be found pretty affordably through Sierra Trading Post if you use one of their DealFlyer coupons. Those last for about a year for about a year before needing to be thrown out. Fruit of a Loom is more affordable, but also only lasts for about a year, and the v-neck is a bit high. Undershirts from The Gap and Brooks Brothers go for a bit longer, but they’re more expensive. 

It’s Not Cotton

Underfit is a bit different in that instead of being pure cotton, it’s a 57-38-5 blend of micro modal, Tencel, and Lycra. Modal is a type of rayon, a semi-synthetic cellulose fiber taken from beech trees. Its main advantage is that it’s silky soft and resistant to shrinking or being pulled out of shape. Its disadvantage is that it pills easily. I have a Tommy John undershirt, for example, made from a 90-10 micro modal, spandex blend. It feels amazing against the skin, but pills with every wear.

Tencel, like modal, is a also a rayon fabric, but is said to have the added advantage of being able to absorb sweat easily. It supposedly brings perspiration to the surface and allows it to evaporate, thus letting the wearer to stay odor free a bit longer. Lastly, Lycra, as I’m sure everyone knows, is a type of spandex valued for its elasticity.

Performance

I had a few reservations going in. First, I was concerned this would wear much warmer because of the materials used, but was surprised to find I didn’t notice any difference, even on hot days. And over the course of seven months, I haven’t seen any pilling, despite the predominance of modal. Most importantly, it hasn’t lost any shape. Whereas most of my undershirts would be starting to stretch out around the collar just about now, this Underfit seems pretty much the same as the day it came.

There are some other nice points. It fits very close to the body, which makes it more comfortable and attractive to wear. The length is plenty long to tuck in and the v-neck is just deep enough to allow me to unbutton the second button on all my shirts. Like Ledbury’s, my shirts have a slightly lowered second button, which I think makes for a more attractive collar line. Even with the lower second button undone, my undershirt never shows.

Recommended?

Naturally, there’s always a catch. Underfit’s shirts are pretty expensive at $25 a piece. Though I’ve found mine to fare much better, you can get 2(x)ist shirts for about $5 a piece at Sierra Trading Post if you wait for a DealFlyer coupon. Those only last for about a year, but Underfit would have to last five in order to make it equal in value. I obviously couldn’t ask the company to wait five years before I did a review, but based on how well it’s held up in the last seven months – as well as how much more comfortable and better fitting it’s been – I’m pretty impressed.

Still, $25 for an undershirt is a lot, and it would be up to you to figure out if buying something like this is a priority. Personally, I think if you already have all the shirts, pants, jackets, and shoes you need, it might be nice to upgrade your undergarments. I liked mine so much that I purchased thirteen more, so I’d have two weeks worth of these undershirts for my regular rotation. If the price doesn’t dissuade you, and you’re looking for a really nice undershirt, I think really nice ones can be found here. 

It’s On Sale

To celebrate their new store opening on 5th Avenue in New York City, Uniqlo is offering a pretty big discount on some of their most popular items. Cashmere sweaters are $59.90, Heattech long sleeve shirts are $12.90, and their Japanese denim jeans are $9.90. The prices online don’t all reflect these sale prices, but the offer is indeed going on. Note that I have no personal experience with any of these, but a few trusted friends of mine in NYC have said these items are pretty good. A search on StyleForum yields the same opinion. 

Uniqlo doesn’t have an e-commerce store, so if you’re outside of NYC, try using Suddenlee. You can see how their service works by watching this video. There has been some confusion as to whether they’ll ship outside of the Northeast, but I’ve confirmed with them that they indeed do. To get them to give you the Uniqlo discount, just enter the prices above and you’ll only be charged that amount. 

Uniqlo’s offer ends tomorrow. 

Q and Answer: Should I Wear an Undershirt?
Ryan asks: I try to at least wear button-up shirts the majority of the days, the problem I have, however, is whether or not to wear a white t-shirt underneath of them, or to wear a v-neck so it’s hidden, or none at all. Any help would be much appreciated.
The matter of whether to wear an undershirt is one of personal choice. Wearing an undershirt will extend the life of your shirts, and may help absorb sweat that would otherwise be absorbed by your shirt. Some sweatier men prefer to wear them at all times for this reason. With an undershirt, you’ll generally be warmer. In cool weather, this is great. In warmer weather, it might not be. Again: personal preference.
One mistake you should never make is to show your white undershirt. Take a look above, at the guy who’s artificially inseminating a glass of wine. Not cool. If your shirt collar is open, we should see your neck, not your undershirt. Undershirts are underwear, and shouldn’t be seen. If your collar is open, go v-neck or go without.
Of course, a colored undershirt can be worn as a contrast layering piece under a casual shirt. This is particularly useful when the shirt on top is actually a casual shirt for layering, like a flannel in early Autumn. This look is easy to mess up, though. One false move and you start looking like a guy in a television commercial for breakfast cereal.

Q and Answer: Should I Wear an Undershirt?

Ryan asks: I try to at least wear button-up shirts the majority of the days, the problem I have, however, is whether or not to wear a white t-shirt underneath of them, or to wear a v-neck so it’s hidden, or none at all. Any help would be much appreciated.

The matter of whether to wear an undershirt is one of personal choice. Wearing an undershirt will extend the life of your shirts, and may help absorb sweat that would otherwise be absorbed by your shirt. Some sweatier men prefer to wear them at all times for this reason. With an undershirt, you’ll generally be warmer. In cool weather, this is great. In warmer weather, it might not be. Again: personal preference.

One mistake you should never make is to show your white undershirt. Take a look above, at the guy who’s artificially inseminating a glass of wine. Not cool. If your shirt collar is open, we should see your neck, not your undershirt. Undershirts are underwear, and shouldn’t be seen. If your collar is open, go v-neck or go without.

Of course, a colored undershirt can be worn as a contrast layering piece under a casual shirt. This is particularly useful when the shirt on top is actually a casual shirt for layering, like a flannel in early Autumn. This look is easy to mess up, though. One false move and you start looking like a guy in a television commercial for breakfast cereal.

We Got It For Free
Our longtime advertisers RibbedTee sent us their latest product a couple months ago - a modal blend undershirt from their new MicroModal line. I’ve been wearing it regularly since, and here’s a full report.
Like the classic synthetic rayon, modal is a naturally-based man-made fabric - it’s made from beech trees. It’s a lot like cotton, but more absorbent and much softer. The RibbedTee shirts are a 50/50 modal / pima cotton blend.
The result is an extremely soft undershirt - probably the softest I’ve ever worn. I’d compare its softness to ultra-fine cotton - an equivalently soft all-cotton undershirt would run you $75 or $100. The shirt is lightweight, and like all of RibbedTees products, it’s designed specifically to be an undershirt - it fits close to the body and long enough to always stay tucked. That’s a big bonus if, like me, you’re always ending up with undershirts that are cut to be worn on the outside and shrink above your waist over time.
This remarkable softness does come with a bit of a cost. Each shirt is $29, which is far from a crazy price, but isn’t four-for-$10 at Target. The synthetic content also lead the shirt to start pilling slightly after the first couple wears. Since it’s an undershirt, this isn’t a huge issue, but it might not ultimately be as durable as all-cotton. Additionally, I feel most comfortable in the shirt during cooler weather, when its slightly slick feel seems comforting rather than close.
So: thanks to RibbedTee for sending along the softest undershirt I’ve ever worn.

We Got It For Free

Our longtime advertisers RibbedTee sent us their latest product a couple months ago - a modal blend undershirt from their new MicroModal line. I’ve been wearing it regularly since, and here’s a full report.

Like the classic synthetic rayon, modal is a naturally-based man-made fabric - it’s made from beech trees. It’s a lot like cotton, but more absorbent and much softer. The RibbedTee shirts are a 50/50 modal / pima cotton blend.

The result is an extremely soft undershirt - probably the softest I’ve ever worn. I’d compare its softness to ultra-fine cotton - an equivalently soft all-cotton undershirt would run you $75 or $100. The shirt is lightweight, and like all of RibbedTees products, it’s designed specifically to be an undershirt - it fits close to the body and long enough to always stay tucked. That’s a big bonus if, like me, you’re always ending up with undershirts that are cut to be worn on the outside and shrink above your waist over time.

This remarkable softness does come with a bit of a cost. Each shirt is $29, which is far from a crazy price, but isn’t four-for-$10 at Target. The synthetic content also lead the shirt to start pilling slightly after the first couple wears. Since it’s an undershirt, this isn’t a huge issue, but it might not ultimately be as durable as all-cotton. Additionally, I feel most comfortable in the shirt during cooler weather, when its slightly slick feel seems comforting rather than close.

So: thanks to RibbedTee for sending along the softest undershirt I’ve ever worn.

Q and Answer: Undershirts
Chris writes: I’ve worn Hanes undershirts for years (crewneck), and the most recent purchase has been a disappointment. They seem several inches shorter and continually come untucked. It doesn’t help that I’m 6′0″ and weigh 130lbs. (where’s the small & tall clothing?). I was wondering if you could weigh-in on undershirts. I’m thinking it’s time to graduate to shirts a little nicer in quality than Hanes, and I’m looking for opinions.
First of all: I’m sincerely not trying to be a jerk or anything, but you’re six feet tall and weigh 130 pounds?  Man alive.  There was a time when I could literally see me ribs, and I weighed 155.  You’re going to have a hard time finding something for a frame that out-of-the-norm.
One of the big problems with undershirts is that most of them are manufactured under license - Calvin Klein doesn’t make Calvin Klein undershirts.  Even those that aren’t, such as those made by undershirt-specific manufacturers, are often made in second-rate overseas factories and are wildly inconsistent.
The other is that they’re rarely long enough to be worn as undershirts.  Many, after washing, barely reach the beltline… and if you buy your normal size, they tend to balloon around the body in an exceedingly unflattering way.
You should be looking for undershirts that fit your body tightly but comfortably, are soft and are durable.  You should also be wearing v-necks any time you are wearing an open collar.
So, given those goals, what are your options?
Well, we got a few free undershirts from our blog sponsor RibbedTee.com, and have been happy with them.  They’re ribbed, which you may or may not like, but that helps keep their shape.  They’re also long enough.  There are cheaper options, and softer jersey options, but RibbedTee.com is certainly worth considering.
If you’re looking for a heavier shirt, the Kirkland-branded shirts at Costco are of excellent quality, and very inexpensive.  The sizing is traditional-ish, but the jersey is soft enough and very heavy in weight.  They’re cheap, too - about $12 for a three pack, last time we bought them.
Lately, when I’m not wearing my RibbedTee freebies, I wear mostly Alternative Apparel.  They’re not as long as I’d like, but they’re not bad in that department, and they’re fantastically soft.  The “basic” model is plenty soft, no need to spend the extra for the “perfect” model.  I usually wear the aa1023 - basic v-neck, though it looks like they only sell it wholesale at the AA site.  You can give them a call and I’m sure they’ll help you find them, or sign up for a wholesale account.  American Apparel, which is a little longer and a little less soft, is also an option.
There are a few options if you’re looking for “tall” sized shirts.  Stafford, a house brand at JC Penney, offers tall shirts for a very reasonable price.  I’d usually wear a large, but would size down to a medium tall if I were buying Stafford.  The same applies to Lands’ End, which offers tall sizes for undershirts as well, and have very solid and consistent quality.
If you’ve found the perfect undershirt, let us know by email - contact@putthison.com.

Q and Answer: Undershirts

Chris writes: I’ve worn Hanes undershirts for years (crewneck), and the most recent purchase has been a disappointment. They seem several inches shorter and continually come untucked. It doesn’t help that I’m 6′0″ and weigh 130lbs. (where’s the small & tall clothing?).

I was wondering if you could weigh-in on undershirts. I’m thinking it’s time to graduate to shirts a little nicer in quality than Hanes, and I’m looking for opinions.

First of all: I’m sincerely not trying to be a jerk or anything, but you’re six feet tall and weigh 130 pounds?  Man alive.  There was a time when I could literally see me ribs, and I weighed 155.  You’re going to have a hard time finding something for a frame that out-of-the-norm.

One of the big problems with undershirts is that most of them are manufactured under license - Calvin Klein doesn’t make Calvin Klein undershirts.  Even those that aren’t, such as those made by undershirt-specific manufacturers, are often made in second-rate overseas factories and are wildly inconsistent.

The other is that they’re rarely long enough to be worn as undershirts.  Many, after washing, barely reach the beltline… and if you buy your normal size, they tend to balloon around the body in an exceedingly unflattering way.

You should be looking for undershirts that fit your body tightly but comfortably, are soft and are durable.  You should also be wearing v-necks any time you are wearing an open collar.

So, given those goals, what are your options?

Well, we got a few free undershirts from our blog sponsor RibbedTee.com, and have been happy with them.  They’re ribbed, which you may or may not like, but that helps keep their shape.  They’re also long enough.  There are cheaper options, and softer jersey options, but RibbedTee.com is certainly worth considering.

If you’re looking for a heavier shirt, the Kirkland-branded shirts at Costco are of excellent quality, and very inexpensive.  The sizing is traditional-ish, but the jersey is soft enough and very heavy in weight.  They’re cheap, too - about $12 for a three pack, last time we bought them.

Lately, when I’m not wearing my RibbedTee freebies, I wear mostly Alternative Apparel.  They’re not as long as I’d like, but they’re not bad in that department, and they’re fantastically soft.  The “basic” model is plenty soft, no need to spend the extra for the “perfect” model.  I usually wear the aa1023 - basic v-neck, though it looks like they only sell it wholesale at the AA site.  You can give them a call and I’m sure they’ll help you find them, or sign up for a wholesale account.  American Apparel, which is a little longer and a little less soft, is also an option.

There are a few options if you’re looking for “tall” sized shirts.  Stafford, a house brand at JC Penney, offers tall shirts for a very reasonable price.  I’d usually wear a large, but would size down to a medium tall if I were buying Stafford.  The same applies to Lands’ End, which offers tall sizes for undershirts as well, and have very solid and consistent quality.

If you’ve found the perfect undershirt, let us know by email - contact@putthison.com.

Eight Days of Style
Reader Lucy wrote to us to ask that we suggest eight super-basic, affordable Hanukkah gifts for her boyfriend “to replace his stained light-wash jeans and Nine Inch Nails t-shirts.”  We’ll offer one choice for each day the oil burned.
Above: a pack of plain white t-shirts by Kirkland, house brand of Costco.  About ten bucks for six shirts.  Nice heavy cotton, a little on the beefy side, if you’re not too tall, consider sizing down.  (If you’re classy, we like Alternative Apparel, but if you’re thrifty, these will do well.)

Eight Days of Style

Reader Lucy wrote to us to ask that we suggest eight super-basic, affordable Hanukkah gifts for her boyfriend “to replace his stained light-wash jeans and Nine Inch Nails t-shirts.”  We’ll offer one choice for each day the oil burned.

Above: a pack of plain white t-shirts by Kirkland, house brand of Costco.  About ten bucks for six shirts.  Nice heavy cotton, a little on the beefy side, if you’re not too tall, consider sizing down.  (If you’re classy, we like Alternative Apparel, but if you’re thrifty, these will do well.)