Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Undershirt

Moments before sipping his road-side lassi in India,  Plum observed that "when you least want to wear it, is precisely when it is needed."  He was speaking of course, about wearing the undershirt during summer.  That sip of lassi gave him dysentery, and within two weeks his belt was finding the notches of a horribly acquired smaller waist.

It seems crazy, but Plum was right.  Summer is when the undershirt is needed.  I am NOT talking about trotting around town in your white undergarments, but wearing an undershirt UNDER your button-down shirt.  Sweat as you may, your dress shirt will not stick to your torso.

The best kinds are white V-neck models in extra-long.  This ensures that if your tie comes off and the top button is opened up, the undershirt remains hidden.  The extra-long's length keeps it tucked throughout movement.

Yes, technically, I am displaying my undergarment on a blog.  Forgive me, Mother.

Now, to be graphic, you will know that the length is right if (while untucked) the bottom seam covers (just barely) your bow and stern parts.

I am categorically condemning the wearing of V-neck T-shirts with nothing on top of them.  It looks terrible.  Really terrible.  I am curious as to what proportion of men who wear ties regularly also wear undershirts.  I wear them year-round when I'm wearing a jacket and tie, but always when it's VERY HOT.  Sweating through your shirt is a terrible look.  You will also find that thinner white dress shirts look whiter when you wear an undershirt, as your skin-tone is concealed underneath.  White dress shirts over a bare tanned torso tend to make the shirt's seams stand out as whiter than the rest of the shirt.  It's not a show-stopper, but it's something I just never do with a jacket and tie.

The longest lasting ones I've found were from Nordstrom, and their extra length is perfect for a tall guy like me.  As a young businessman, I used to take the cable car from Nob Hill to the bottom of Powell to ritualistically make the packet-of-three purchase once every year at Nordstrom.  Now, I order them online.

Once more, so that there is no confusion, I am only endorsing the wearing of undershirts as undershirts, fully concealed by a cotton button-down shirt under a jacket.

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  1. Replies
    1. Amen! Unless you were talking about beach houses.

  2. I have been wearing undershirts year-round since I was a youngster. Mother always made sure I had a crisp white undershirt for each day as well as a fresh handkerchief for my pocket. Even though I now live in a tropical country, I find wearing an undershirt even more useful because it helps to hide excessive perspiration. I'd feel nekkid without one.

  3. Crewnecks are the better option - the "v" can sometimes till be seen under a white shirt even when the collar is buttoned. Besides, wearing a T Shirt and still exposing chest hair etc. is guido territory. LBF, living in S. California, is not aware of, or has forgotten, the realities of 90+ degree heat with 90+ percentage humidity. T Shirts under dress shirts are de riguer in the SE - especially this time of year.

  4. I could not agree with you more - on all points.

  5. Anon wrote: "exposing chest hair etc. is guido territory."

    Says you!

  6. Ah, dysentery. I lost 35 pounds to that Mango Lassi-- N block market GK1, for those on the road.

    I use crewnecks, v-necks often don't sit right on me. I used a hell of a lot of them in the sweltering summer sun of Delhi, 3 or 4 a day. I do wear t-shirts without overshirts though: good for bicycling on a hot day, with fresh shirts in my shoulder bag for when I've reached my destination.

  7. Agreed on all counts except for the categorical condemnation of the wearing of V-neck T-shirts with nothing on top of them.

    There are a few, *very* few combinations of situation, physique, and color where this works. I'd say about 1% of those who attempt this make it work.

    I agree with the spirit of your rule, but dispute the letter.


  8. Everyone knows that guidos wax their chests. Thus no chest hair to display. Haven't you ever seen "The Jersey Shore"

    I prefer tank tops as my undershirt of choice, but only in the winter as insulation. I also like plain white t-shirts and jeans. I guess that labels me as a philistine, but I'll own it.

    I can't believe the t-shirt post was more controversial than the disliking the olympics post. People look at me like I'm a red communist when I say I'm not really looking forward to the olympics.

  9. If I'm wearing a jacket and tie, I'm wearing an undershirt.

    If not, I'll likely skip the undershirt and leave two buttons open on a hot day. But then again, I am an actual "guido"

    Ya Mutha,

  10. Minor point: old wool/cotton blend shirts require undershirt.

    Also, I wonder what if you put undershirt under a non-white dress shirt, if anything it will maker the respective color whiter?

  11. Minor point: old wool/cotton blend shirts require undershirts.

    Also I wonder what will happen if you put undershirt under a non-white dress shirt, if anything it will make the respective color whiter?

  12. Without fail my husband will wear an undershirt under everything - even a golf shirt!

  13. I agree that undershirts are vital. But the best ones are stretchy with elastane in them; these give without untucking. The non-stretch ones, in my experience, move with you and move with your overshirt and contribute to pulling your overshirt up and out of your pants. As everyone knows, the resultant untucked feeling is wretched indeed.

  14. Prefer not to wear them. Do not wear them with madras when I am out and about on casual outings.

    In the office? I wear them. Especially now, since in Japan, schools do not have central air, and so I have to teach. I use deodorant and anti-perspirant, but to protect my shirts from the sweat (island nation, humidity is terrible) and keep from looking disgusting, I have to. I wear crew necks, though. Either I am wearing a tie or I have only he top unbuttoned. I will never open two buttons in the classroom or the teachers' lounge. How uncouth.


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