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Should men wear undershirts? If so, what types of undershirts are best?

Man wearing undershirt

I wear undershirts every day so you know my answer.  Yes, men CAN wear undershirts.  I’m not going to say “should” because it’s not entirely necessary.  There are both advantages and disadvantages to wearing undershirts.

Why I wear an undershirt?

I wear an undershirt for two reasons:

  1. Delay pit stains: If I didn’t wear undershirts I’d go through my shirts much faster with pit stains.  Once I get pit stains, the shirt is done.  I prefer delaying that as long as possible. I don’t sweat profusely but I know pit stains materialize because I get them on my undershirts… which tells me they’re doing their job.
  2. Need to wash it less often: I don’t wash my shirts (or pants for that matter) after each time I wear it.  I wash my shirts not often at all and that’s because I wear undershirts which protects them from reeking of body odor.  Eventually, I do wash all my shirts but it’s after a few wears.

What are the best undershirts to wear?  6 Features I look for

My favorite undershirts have the following six features:

  1. short-sleeved (not tank-tops): I only wear undershirts with shortsleeves to protect from pit stains. I don’t wear tank-style undershirts.
  2. V-neck: I have crew neck undershirts but I only resort to them when I run out of V-neck (I need to buy more V-neck undershirts because this does happen every few weeks).  I much, much prefer the V-neck undershirt so the undershirt doesn’t show above the top button of button-up-and-down shirts (I wear collared, button-up and down shirts often).
  3. Thin material: I prefer undershirts that don’t look like I’m wearing undershirts. Thick undershirts can add bulk to my appearance making my clothing appear as if it doesn’t fit very well.
  4. Tight-fitting: tight-fitting is a must so that it doesn’t bunch up or add bulk to my appearance. I like my clothing to fit well which means I don’t want my undershirts hampering the fit of my shirts.  The tighter the fit the better.
  5. Long: Long undershirts is an absolute must because I like tucking them into my pants.  I hate it when they untuck. It looks bad. It’s uncomfortable. I always buy the long sizing.
  6. Silky smooth: I also prefer silky smooth undershirt material because it’s comfortable.

Here’s my favorite undershirt:

Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch V-Neck, Classic Fit T-Shirt, Men's (3-pack) (White or Black) (White, Large)

Source: Amazon

The above is a Calvin Klein fitted long V-neck undershirt. I have quite a few of these (and writing this reminds me that I need to buy more). They’re fairly thin material, tight-fitting have a V-neck and are long.  They’re reasonably priced as well.

If you sweat profusely, you can spend more for sweatproof undershirts. Here’s an example:

Sweatproof Undershirt for Men, V-Neck, White, Sweat Pads (Small)

Source: Amazon

Reasons for not wearing an undershirt

The only reasons I wear an undershirt is to protect my shirts and avoid having to wash them as often.  If you have a healthy clothing budget and don’t mind washing your shirts often, there’s no reason to wear an undershirt.  Other than these two reasons, there really are no benefits for men to wear an undershirt.

I never wear tank-style undershirts because…

Man wearing a tank-top style undershirt

I never wear tank-style undershirts because they completely defeat the purpose. They don’t protect from pit stains. I see no point in the tank-style undershirts (for me).

Let’s get specific…FAQ

Generally speaking, there are exceptions to when and what type of undershirt I wear. For example, I don’t wear undershirts with t-shirts. Sometimes I wear colorful undershirts with certain types of shirts.  Here are some undershirt FAQ.

Should men wear undershirts under a white dress shirt?

Yes, I always wear a tight-fitting, V-neck, long white undershirt under a white a dress shirt.  White dress shirts stain very quickly.  I spend a lot of money on my white dress shirts so I prefer to keep them for as long as possible. I recognize that the undershirt can compromise the fit and the undershirt may be seen under the white dress shirt but those cons don’t outweigh the pros.

Should guys wear undershirts under non-white button-down shirts?

Again, yes it’s a good idea if you want to prevent stains in your shirt.  I typically wear a white undershirt which can’t be seen under a colorful button-down shirt.

Should you wear an undershirt under a t-shirt?

This is the one instance where I don’t wear an undershirt and it explains why I go through t-shirts quickly.  I like my t-shirts to fit nicely and because they are somewhat form-fitting, an undershirt compromises the look.

Should men wear undershirts under polos?

Yes, again, if you wish to protect your polo shirt from stains, an undershirt is a good idea. If you get a long, V-neck, tight-fitting undershirt, it won’t be noticed.  I don’t care for crew-neck undershirts under polo because I don’t think it looks good with the neck of the undershirt showing above the top button.

What about sweaters… should you wear an undershirt with a sweater?

In this case I wear undershirts for comfort as much as protecting the sweater from stains.  Sweaters can be itchy. Undershirts prevent me getting itchy.

Is okay to wear non-white undershirts?

In some cases, yes, it’s good and can be fashionable by going for the layered look. In this case I prefer a crew neck undershirt so that the undershirt peaks through.  Consider a navy undershirt with a denim button-down shirt… that looks very cool.  Or a colored undershirt with a colorful plaid button-down shirt.  A slightly different shade of the same henley-colored shirt can look good as well.