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.
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.
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.