While in the ancient years, undershirts were worn as very light, thin tunics to add a layer under heavier cloth and armour, and couldn’t be imagined showing off and displaying it to the public eye, today the rules are somewhat different. You can barely tell apart an undershirt from a standard T-shirt and when it comes t layering it under your suit, a dress shirt or maybe a sweater, it can become quite confusing which type and colour of undershirt you should wear and if at all. If you’ve been looking for the answer to those and some other questions regarding the rules of wearing an undershirt – we’ve got you covered. 

Know your colour

Choose the undershirt that matches your skin as close as possible. You don’t want it to be in an actively contrasting colour because that will make it too visible under the dress shirt. Some of the colours to consider are black, brown or a dark grey if you have a darker skin tone. For lighter skin tones, white, beige and a light grey undershirt will be the best choice. Even though a white undershirt will go under a white dress shirt, if your skin tone is too fair, the undershirt might be too visible. That’s why you should always look in the mirror and check whether it’s showing too much or not. If the shirt you’re wearing is too lightweight, you may look much better without an undershirt.

V-Neck, Crew neck or a tank top?

Men’s undershirt styles are rather diverse. From tank tops to V-necks and crow necks, it’s sometimes challenging to pick out the right undershirt to look great under your men’s suits you wear to the office or under a simple dress shirt. A tank top doesn’t serve much of a purpose, other than hiding the nipples. It won’t absorb much sweat and often, you can see the lines through a dress shirt, which makes it the least appropriate choice. A V-neck undershirt, however, won’t show under the shirt, even when you have the top shirt button undone. A crew-neck undershirt is the most common undershirt that will look great under a shirt when you need to wear a tie. However, if you plan to take the tie off, avoid a crew neck undershirt.

The best fit for you

To be able to prevent wrinkles and absorb sweat, an undershirt should be close-fitting with small armholes. However, avoid too tight undershirts because they can become uncomfortable. As long as it’s conformed to your body but doesn’t feel constricted, you’ve got the right fit. Your undershirt should be long enough so you can tuck it in your trousers, while the neck opening should be the same size as a dress shirt collar. Pay attention when trying it on, if it bunches around your neck. If it does, you’ve got the wrong fit that will only annoy you throughout the day. The point of an undershirt is to smooth out the torso, not create a bunch of fabric around your midriff. 

Wearing an undershirt alone – yes or no?

While undershirts are very similar to regular t-shirts, they should not be worn on their own. They are tighter than t-shirts and will look like you’re asking for too much attention if you don’t layer them up with a shirt. What’s more, your outfit can look very disproportional if your torso looks too slim in comparison to the loose jeans you’ll be wearing. Also, you’ll need an extra layer underneath to absorb sweat, and if you wear an undershirt alone, you won’t be able to get that extra layer

Final thoughts

The basic rules to remember about wearing an undershirt include picking the undershirt to match your skin tone and the style that won’t make your dress shirt look dingy or overdresses. Do not wear an undershirt alone, but always layer it up with an extra piece of clothing to get the perfect outfit combo.

In this article

Join the Conversation