With the undershirt having been around since the middle ages, you’d think that it’d be on its way out by now.
However, the undershirt is one of those essential pieces that has not only withstood the test of time but has evolved to include different styles, different cuts, and different features.
But is an undershirt appropriate to wear underneath any shirt, or are they only supposed to be worn underneath your white dress shirt or other light colored dress shirt?
In this article, we take a look at how to navigate your wardrobe when it comes to undershirts, so you can understand the why and how behind this essential piece of underwear (yes, an undershirt is considered underwear).
What is an Undershirt?
Once upon a time, clothing was nowhere near as comfortable as it is today.
In response to both the rough material and to reduce the need to constantly wash outerwear, undergarments were created.
The undershirt is one such undergarment, with the original not being a far cry from what it is today in terms of its purpose.
The undershirt has seen its share of changes over the years, with the union suit being invented in the 19th century to protect outerwear from body odor and sweat.
Later during WW1, soldiers would strip down to just their undershirts to keep cool on warm days and then use them as an extra layer to keep warm on cold days.
We then saw the t-shirt style undershirt become popular after movie stars James Dean and Marlon Brando began wearing them as a standalone fashion statement, which morphed into the modern-day t-shirt.
Now, undershirts have made their own permanent way into our everyday fashion routine, as a way to not only extend the life of our clothing but to help keep you dry and comfortable no matter the weather.
Why You Should Wear an Undershirt
While there are certainly reasons and situations why and when you should not wear an undershirt, the benefits of wearing an undershirt tend to outweigh the negatives.
Let’s look at why one would opt to wear an undershirt and the many benefits that come with them.
To Trap Sweat
Of course, the most common reason for wearing an undershirt has always been to trap sweat.
An undershirt forms a protective layer between your skin and the rest of your clothing and is usually made of thin cotton material to best soak up excess sweat and body odor.
Those who aren’t familiar with the benefits of undershirts may think that adding an extra layer will make you sweat more instead of less, when in fact, having this extra layer will make a big difference in keeping you cool.
To Prevent Deodorant Stains
We’ve all taken off our t-shirt or dress shirt at the end of the day, only to notice a highly obvious deodorant stain. Caused by aluminum in your deodorant, they’re usually yellow and can be difficult to remove from clothing, especially when built up over time.
Odds are, you’d much rather have deodorant stains on your undershirt than your expensive white dress shirt.
Plus, you’re going to need to wash your white dress shirt less often, which will only help with the longevity of its life.
To Mask Chest Hair
While some of us have no problem revealing our chest hair for all to see, some aren’t crazy about dark chest hair poking out from between our shirt buttons or just being more visible through your shirt due to the lack of an extra base layer.
On top of masking chest hair, undershirts can hide other things that you’re not keen on the world seeing too – and by that, we mean man boobs and prominent nipples.
To Provide an Extra Layer
While undershirts are great for keeping you cool and soaking up excess sweat, they can also provide an extra layer of warmth.
If you live where there’s cold weather or are just spending time in a colder than usual climate, then an undershirt can be incredibly useful in providing you with a little extra insulation.
Finally, wearing an undershirt is a good idea because, well, it’s invisible. If you get an undershirt in the right color and cut, that is.
Generally, if you’re wearing a nice dress shirt, you don’t want anyone but you to know what’s stopping your sweat and deodorant marks from messing up your shirt.
Getting an undershirt in the right cut and color will allow your undershirt to remain virtually invisible underneath whatever shirt you decide to wear it with, making it an incredibly useful little weapon to have.
When to Wear an Undershirt
Now that we’ve established that the undershirt is here to stay, the question remains – should I wear an undershirt, and are they absolutely necessary?
Of course, there’s no definite rule about when you should wear an undershirt and whether or not you need to wear one.
This ultimately comes down to your personal preference and whether or not you’re dealing with copious amounts of sweat stains.
It also depends on whether or not you’re willing to pay money to have those sweat stains constantly laundered out of your clothing.
You’re probably here because you want our recommendation on when you should wear an undershirt, so we’re going to tell you.
We’d recommend that you wear an undershirt underneath a dress shirt, especially if you’re wearing one for a nerve-wracking event that you do not want to see visible sweat stains show through.
If you’ve noticed that you’re excessively sweating regularly and don’t want to ruin your clothes, then we’d also recommend regularly wearing an undershirt.
Of course, an undershirt shouldn’t be worn on every occasion where you might be excessively sweating, which we’ll get to in a little bit.
You can also consider a compression shirt in place of an undershirt if you’re looking for an immediate chest slimming appearance.
These are ideal if you’re looking to reduce the appearance of the chest and stomach fat underneath your clothing (which includes man boobs and beer bellies).
Can I Wear an Undershirt Under a T Shirt?
Wearing an undershirt underneath your t-shirt can extend the life of your t-shirt by preventing the armpit areas from becoming both stained and stiff from sweat and deodorant staining. Plus, you won’t have to wash your t-shirts as often since your undershirt will soak it all up.
It’s important to make sure that you’re wearing the right style undershirt underneath your t-shirt, as you do not want your undershirt to be visible.
This means that you cannot wear a crewneck undershirt underneath a V-neck t-shirt and that you should opt for a tank top style or sleeveless undershirt to avoid the sleeves making an appearance.
Is it Ok to Not Wear an Undershirt?
This is largely a personal preference. However, depending on body chemistry and personal style, you may want to wear an undershirt to help protect your nice dress shirts and outer shirt from armpit sweat stains.
A men’s undershirt can also give you additional coverage if your dress shirt is made of lighter, more see-through material.
It is more than okay not to wear an undershirt if you don’t enjoy the feeling of an extra base layer underneath your shirt.
When you’re about to hit the gym or are spending time on a swelteringly hot beach, then not wearing a men’s undershirt is not only okay but is advised.
While an undershirt is meant to soak up excess sweat from simply going about your daily business, it’s not going to do much good if you’re participating in an activity where you’re actively sweating.
It’s also okay not to wear a men’s undershirt if you’re wearing a shirt like a tank top, which has no hope of remaining invisible.
Fashion choices are always about personal preference.
Do you need to wear an undershirt? Of course not. Would wearing a good undershirt protect your clothing from deodorant stains, excess underarm sweat, and excessive washing? Absolutely.
Check out the rest of our blog if you’re looking for more fashion advice that you probably wouldn’t ask your friends.