When I’m wearing a dress shirt, what is the best kind of shirt to wear underneath? I usually just wear one of my white T-shirts but I’m starting to think that’s not the best choice.

Good for you! I’m glad you’re second-guessing your current undershirt selection. The white T-shirt seems to be the default choice for most men, and that’s unfortunate, because it also happens to be the poorest choice. White is visible under light-colored dress shirts (see below), and that crew neck collar peeking out from underneath is NOT a good look.

image courtesy of http://www.veritasimage.com/

white undershirt + light-colored dress shirt = no no

I usually go undershirt-free, since that double layer feels so restrictive to me. Then again, I’m not overly sweaty like some dudes I know. Undershirts provide these sweaty males an extra layer of protection. If you must wear an undershirt under that button-up, choose a lightweight, form-fitting, heather gray v-neck.

Why gray, instead of say, white?
Well… this is why:

Looks like a man bra

Heather gray (basically a light gray) blends better with your skin tone and is virtually invisible underneath. Have you ever noticed how that white undershirt shows through a white or light-colored dress shirt? Won’t happen with a gray undershirt.

Why lightweight?
Avoid the excess bulk that comes with heavier shirts and stick with a lightweight v-neck. It’s easier to bear and looks more natural underneath your button-up as it keeps the drape natural.

Why form-fitting?
I’m not suggesting anything super snug, but a more fitted version aids in the invisibility of the undershirt. Also it won’t bunch or create extra bulk when tucking in your shirt.

A great second alternative is a heather gray A-shirt. Both options fit the bill, so it really just depends on the wearer’s preference.

Gray A-shirt from Gap; Jaspe Jersey V-neck from J.Crew

In conclusion, throw one of these gray numbers on the next time you get dressed. Like I always point out, the little details in a man’s wardrobe can make the biggest difference.

By the way, in an upcoming article written for Primer Magazine, I discuss several other no no’s men often commit. The article is coming soon! In case you missed the previous articles, check them out by clicking here.

Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well

Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.

19 Responses

  1. wkl on

    there's a new kid on the block for undershirts. i just showroom modeled for this line Tommy John and the undershirts are amazing. I don't wear undershirts but they had me model their “nude” color under a very thin white button down (Ralph Lauren Purple Label) and you couldn't tell I had a shirt on under it. It's a modal cotton and is cut long and in a v-shape so it never comes untucked. Its obviously not meant to be worn as a regular tshirt because it is so long – and who would wear a skin colored tshirt anyway LOL.

    check em out if you're an undershirt wearer.



  2. Schmidty - Man Vs. Style on

    Great call on the gray shirt.

    I am not an undershirt wearer myself, simply for the fact that I dont sweat much either.

    I think the worst thing, and perhaps saddest, is that I see a lot of men wearing a white undershirt to “look good”, because they think it tends to a “laid back” style… I hope everyone that does it will one day read this post :-).

  3. Barron on

    Great point! I neglected to mention that in this article. I don't understand where the t-shirt-under-button-up came to signify casual or laid back… I think it just looks sloppy.

    Thanks for the comment.

  4. JohnnyL on

    That J Crew v-neck is about $36 when not on sale. Way too pricey. I was surprised that the usual brands (Jockey, Hanes, etc) did not sell heather grey v-necks. I did find some at a reasonable $19 at American Apparel. Fine knit, fits nice, comfortable. Wearing one today and it really is invisible. Also Ribbed T's has a v-neck for $20.50.

  5. Barron on

    Hey Johnny,

    I love the American Apparel version; their quality is right for the price, just like you mentioned. I do agree the J.Crew v-neck is pricey, but if a guy can grab one (or a few) on sale, then it's definitely worth it. I don't ever really shop there unless I get stuff on sale because it's a little above my price range for the pieces I would normally pick up. Luckily for me, the girlfriend works there, so I get crazy good deals. :]

    Thanks for the comment, and for pointing out some other good places to pick up gray v-necks.

  6. Danojb1881 on

    What about buying dress shirts that arent see through?? I always keep my eye on macys, every now and again they will put a large selection of shirts out for 60-75% off and i pick up michael korrs, calvin klein, alfani, etc for sometimes as low as $8 no more than $25. Then i make sure to wear a v-neck under them and you can see it.

    • Barron on

      Yeah, Macy’s always has a great selection when they have a big clearance. How see-through are they? I haven’t really noticed a problem with that. It might just be the material (like lightweight or summer shirts tend to be thinner) or the color. If you’re worried about showing through your shirt you might have to stick with the heavier-weight oxfords, etc.

  7. Peachstate100 on

    Can you suggest any white shirts that are thick enough not to need an undershirts.  I don’t need an undershirt for sweat, I only need one for nippleage

    • Barron on

      I’m pretty sure every guy deals with that same problem. The most common “thick” shirt you can probably find is of the oxford cloth variety, but even then, you may deal with that same issue. I don’t let it bother me though, it’s not like everyone doesn’t have the same two nipples you have.

      • Brian Chaput on

        I work with mostly women and can assure you that they are not impressed with men who do not where a t-shirt with light colors. I find it distasteful as well when a guy approaches me saying here are my nipples, hairy chest (or back) and armpit hair.
        Buy St. Johns Bay performance T. at JCP in late summer/early fall when reduced to 5.00, which is less then the Hanes or FTL packages of 3 that a still to sheer. They are thick enough to shield but not so thick that you feel constrained or weighed down.

  8. JL on

    Nobody should wear an undershirt Wear you can see the collar. I’m from the UK and NOBODY does this because it’s looks a bit Uptight and rednecky. See it all the time in USA but think it looks awful!

  9. Duder on

    In the UK I can’t seem to find a vest that is low cut enough at the neck to that it doesn’t show when wearing a shirt with the top unbuttoned, unless I only leave the neck (top button) unbuttoned which looks weird 

  10. shootingstars on

    i dont like undershirts because they are really restricting and uncomfortable to wear under a dress shirt. no matter what color, they can be seen through any dress shirt i wear. When i was in high school i once wore an undershirt under my white school shirt and some kids teased me for wearing it. After that i did not wear undershirts because they were uncomfortable and people can see your wearing them underneath. Undershirts seem pointless to me.