Did you know that the undershirt is the reason we now have t-shirts? What was once issued by the US Navy to its crew to wear under their uniform is also the reason we now have deep V-necks for men.

But what is the humble undershirt for? No it isn’t just a style statement, it’s actually there to absorb sweat. Yep, the undershirt is a workhorse. Back in the day when men wore suits and shirts, they needed the undershirt to absorb the sweat so it wouldn’t stain your expensive shirt.

Nowadays not all men wear undershirts – especially in warmer climates. I would urge you to check out the different styles and materials that undershirts come in and pick one that will allow you remain cool in warmer climates while still absorbing sweat underneath… because it’s during the warmer climates that you sweat the most. How ironic that one would forgo the sweat-absorber in a climate that produces the most sweat.

So what kinds of undershirts are there?

Cotton Tank Top

A Gent's Guide To Undershirts

Perhaps best (or worst) popularized by Britney Spears’ ex husband Kevin Federline, back when he was still a dancer and had a nice body. They are best worn inside your shirt, no matter how tempted you are to wear it as a stand-alone t-shirt. Think of Kevin Federline and just say no.

The upside to this top is that it’s cheap and you can buy them in bunches.

The downside is that it doesn’t really absorb a lot of sweat. The armholes are too large to absorb anything around the armpits. At best it absorbs sweat around the back. So it’s best suited for men who sweat very minimally.

Crew Neck

A Gent's Guide To Undershirts

This is what Don Draper uses as his undershirt. A well fitted, white, cotton, crew neck – the original undershirt. These make great undershirts and are also stylish to wear on their own with a pair of jeans (especially if you have a good body to show off).

The downside is, because of the t-shirt’s round collar, if you do decide to wear the crew neck under your suit, you’re going to have to button up all the way. Some of the t-shirts come with a slightly larger collar so you’re able to undo a shirt button. But if you want to go for the more casual, no tie look, then I’d suggest the V-neck t-shirt.

V- Neck

This is the more modern take on the undershirt. Its V-neck allows you to leave a few buttons undone on your shirt, depending on how deep the V-neck is. Remember not to let the undershirt show from under your shirt. It’s an undershirt and should remain so. So if you plan to have 2 buttons undone, remember to find the appropriate V-neck.

This style also looks great as a stand-alone t-shirt worn with a pair of jeans. When wearing as-is, don’t go overboard and opt for the deep-neck.

Now with spring and summer rolling around, we hope our little guide here will prepare you for the upcoming heat and sweat stains that come with it.


  1. Cotton tank top + Can of Stella Artois = Wifebeater