The Compass  /  Style  /  Undershirts – Your Stealth Fighter Against Poor Style

Undershirts – Your Stealth Fighter Against Poor Style

best undershirts for men

Undershirts are like Major League Baseball games, many young men just aren’t into them. If you’ve resisted this workhorse of the stylish man’s wardrobe, we’re out to change your mind about undershirts.

Undershirts are, seemingly, a web of contradictions. How could adding a layer that keeps you warm during the winter help you out in the summer? How could something that isn’t meant to be seen help you look better when you wear it? If you haven’t adopted undershirts yet, they can seem paradoxical, but we’ll unravel the secrets of the tucked inside of the undershirt to show you why they are truly a super-garment (and why you ought to wear them).

Paradox 1: The Hotter It Gets The More You Need Layers

Job number one for an undershirt is sweat management. Any decent one soaks up sweat. At a minimum, this protects the back of your shirt from getting sweaty. Better undershirts wick sweat away from your body. They’re like an NBA Towel Boy (those kids at the end of the court who wipe the floor when the ball is at the other end of the court), their main purpose is to move sweat. (And avoid getting run over by Tyler Hansbrough. See the video below.)

When your undershirt wicks, it keeps moisture away from your body, allowing it to evaporate faster. That helps keep you cool and keeps your dress shirts dry. The result, no river of sweat running down the back of your dress shirts and no sweaty pits.Of course, there are other practical uses for undershirts. In the transitional seasons, when it’s cool but not quite cold, an undershirt helps keep the chill off without you having to add outer layers.

Paradox 2: Nobody Sees It But It Makes You Look Better

You know that “crisp, white dress shirt” you’re always reading about in publications like this one? If you don’t wear an undershirt beneath it, it won’t look so crisp. That’s because the stark white of that shirt is probably getting muted by your skin. A white undershirt will reflect light and act like bleach for your shirt, and make your white shirt look truly white.


An undershirt can also keep a thick chest forest or, worse yet, unsightly back hair from showing through your shirt. It can even hide ink on the tatted up gent looking to make an understated impression (say, for a job interview). Alas, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a specific type of undershirts: man-girdles or, as we like to call them, mirdles. Rather than trying to artificially tailor yourself to your clothes, we recommend going the natural route and, of course, custom tailored clothing. And one other unfortunate undershirt look to avoid: the poor man’s ascot. If you’re going to wear an open neck dress shirt, make sure your undershirt’s a V-neck. Undershirts should be like NFL side judges, if they’re doing their job well, nobody should even notice that they’re there (yes, for those of you keeping track, we have now referenced all three major American sports in one article).

Our Four Faves: Undershirt Options for Every Guy

Best Value Option


Yes, you can get a cheaper undershirt in a 3-pack at the drug store, but for a quality garment that wicks sweat, there’s no beating these.


Available in: crew neck, v neck, and tank
86% polyester, 14% spandex

Best Natural-Fabric Option

Flint and Tinder Undershirt $19.50

These all-cotton undershirts take the cake
when it comes to softness and feel.


Available in: crew neck and v neck
100% American long staple cotton
available in: black and white

Best Luxury/Performance Option

Mack Weldon Undershirt $32.00

These undershirts stretch but don’t shrink, wick sweat and feel great
despite a heavy dose of synthetic fabric.


Available in crew neck and v-neck
47.5% long staple cotton,
47.5% modal, 5% lycra

Best Sustainably-Made Option

Mr.Davis Undershirt $24.00

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option that still has a buttery soft feel, look no further than these bamboo undershirts.


Available in: v-neck and crew neck
available in: tone and white
96% sustainable bamboo viscose and 4% spandex

Like Drake, Style Starts at the Bottom

Strip back the layers on a truly stylish man and you’re likely to find an undershirt, because style starts at the bottom layer. The unsung heroes of many a stylish man’s wardrobes, undershirts are true workhorses.
Did we convince you to give them a try?
Put undershirts to work for you and tell us how you like them in the comments below.

Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on Tumblr

Like What You See? There's More.

We'll send you style advice and intel for the modern man.

21 thoughts on “Undershirts – Your Stealth Fighter Against Poor Style”

  1. James says:

    Does anyone have any suggestions for acquiring quality undershirts in Canada? Would a three pack from Wal-Mart be worth acquiring? This article has really sold me on the topic, but unfortunately none of the suggestions are available in Canada (at least without paying truly exorbitant shipping).

  2. Jovan says:

    Where’s RibbedTee? 😉

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Another contender arises!

      Here’s a link for those who are curious.

    2. Jason says:

      I’m a fan of RibbedTee personally. They are a little more expensive side in my opinion for undershirts, but their customer service was great when one started to come apart they sent me two more for free without any questions. Can’t beat that!

      1. Black Lapel says:

        Sucks that it started to come apart, but glad to see it was handled well, Jason. Count another one in the Ribbed Tee camp.

  3. Brian says:

    One disagreement: crew neck. Seeing a white crew neck t-shirt peak out of the top of a dress shirt like a gopher out of a hole, or Mr. Wilson from Home Improvement peering over the fence, reminds me of socks with birkenstocks. Awful look. Either go V neck or button up all the way.

    I wear Hanes tagless slim fit V-necks. Fit like a glove and last a long time. Also, Michael Jordan personally rips the tag off each of them (see commercials). 3 packs are $12 or so.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re on the same page about a crew neck under an open-collared shirt, Brian (see the end of Paradox #2). The undershirt should truly be a “stealth” fighter. But for those who wear ties more often than not, a crew neck covers the top of the chest nicely.

      As for MJ personally ripping off the tags, that’s some serious customer service, right there!

  4. Eric S. says:

    I share your frustration Ricardo! I too hate that my undershirts can be too short for tucking after the first wash. But all in all, I love the article and is something the younger gents need to get behind. I was especially impressed to hear the part about wearing v-necks with open collared button downs. I’ve been doing this for a few years now thinking it looked good; who knew it was also functional! Besides, I wear an undershirt under my t-shirts for crying out loud!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Undershirts under T-shirts! LOL. What’s next undershirts under your undershirts? (We kid, but it’s all love, Eric.)

      Sounds like you’ve been with the program on undershirts from day one. Hopefully we gave you a few things to think about when it comes to fit and fabric. Let us know if you give any of the above a try.

  5. Christian says:

    How to avoid stains coming from deodorants?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Two words, Christian (well…one word and one syllable): Deo-go. Your undershirts will protect your dress shirts and Deo-go will protect your undershirts.

      1. Christian says:

        Thanks for the advice, i’ve switched to gray or black undershirts due to underarm stains but now i’ll give a try to Deo-go.

        Any advice for non-white undershirts?

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Sure thing, Christian.

          The Mr. Davis shirt comes in a “Tone” color that works well for the guy who wants the undershirt to look more like his skin. Of course, if you’re dark-skinned or pale this option may not work for you, but it’ll likely be closer to your skin tone than white.

          1. David says:

            I just got the Mr. Davis V-Neck in Tone (2 for $36) and it does not show under your lighter dress shirts which is nice. The v-neck is deep enough that it does not show when your shirt is unbuttoned.

            I also have some Tommy John undershirts. Both brands are long, fit well, do not bunch and do not come untucked.

            If the Mr. Davis hold up in the wash, they will be my go to undershirt.

            I have never tried Deo-go, but OxiClean Gel Sticks always works for me.

          2. Black Lapel says:

            Glad we could help, David. No fabric muffin tops for you!

            And thanks for the rec. on the OxiClean. We’ll check out the sticks.

  6. DJ says:

    I was excited when I saw this in my email, but I need a muscle shirt style undershirt (not a WB). The sleeves on a short sleeve undershirt ride up on me to the shoulders. I am a 6′ tall and 189 lb avid mtn and road biker. I sweat a lot and have to wear an undershirt. Was hoping you would offer that style.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      As their name suggests, muscle shirts are for showing off muscles at the gym. We don’t recommend wearing them as undershirts. If sleeve length is a problem that’s a sign of a poor fit. Sizing up may help, though it may cause other problems (like too much fabric at the waist causing a muffin top).

      The Mack Weldon shirt we showed above has a longer sleeve and a slim mid-section that might be just what the doctor ordered.

  7. Ricardo says:

    OK… so I hate most undershirts because:

    a) They’re too freakin’ short. This drives me INSANE. NUCLEAR INSANE!
    b) They start long enough, but after shrinking, end up at (a).
    c) They’re too baggy. So I buy a size under to get a tight fit, and then (b) and (a) happen.
    d) They stick to the outer clothes, bunching them up. Looks better without them.

    Of course, I’ve never tried a premium undershirt, but I need to wear one. Too sweaty to get away with it.

    Out of the ones above… which are the best for the situations about?

    Another thing… tank tops. I know it’s a no-no for a white shirt, but for a dark shirt or a polo they work well. Sometimes I find v-necks still show if the collar is undone, as I don’t always wear a tie. This is the case for polo’s mostly. While I’ve found tank-tops to be a better fit than most V/Crew necks (length-wise), I find the ribs and the material also bunch up shirts.

    So what’s the perfect freaking shirt?

    a) Long enough to cover my knees (this is frustration speaking, not seriously that long)
    b) Won’t shrink (actually, I don’t care if it shrinks horizontally, just not VERTICALLY)
    c) Won’t stick to the outer clothes
    d) Has a tight fit so I don’t have lumps and bags under my shirt.

    Kind of sounds like the Mack’s above would be like this… but I’d want to know before spending $32 a shirt to have to chuck them.

    1. Brian says:

      Great points Ricardo. You’re right, the Mack Weldon undershirts should fit you nicely:
      a) Longer length, so they stay tucked in
      b) Minimal shrinkage – They call it “18-hour Jersey” because the fabric sits unrolled for 18 hours before it’s cut. This way it can naturally expand and breathe before it’s cut into the shirt, instead of changing shape after.
      c) Slim fit – designed to fit close, but not tight.
      d) The cotton + modal blend keeps these smooth for months of constant wear

      I’ve had a dozen for 18 months and they hold up very well.

    2. Black Lapel says:

      Brian’s points about the Mack Weldon shirt are all good ones. We can attest to them all. It is an investment in your style, but it’s not a risky investment. We say go for it.

      As for the V-neck thing, the Mr. Davis shirt has a deeper V-neck than others. So if that’s an issue for you, you may want to deprive a few pandas of a meal (they’re all pretty fat anyway) and get a bamboo undershirt from Mr. Davis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *