T-Shirt vs Undershirt – Is Your Underwear Showing?
Round 1: FIGHT!
This isn’t one of those posts.
Because these two are TOO DIFFERENT.
T-shirt vs. undershirt is like apples vs. oranges.
So if you think they’re interchangeable – or if you don’t even know how to tell the difference – you’d better read on.
But I have to warn you… you may find out you’ve been walking around in your underwear.
This article is brought to you by ESNTLS – the new clothing line by my good friend Jose Zuniga of Teaching Men’s Fashion, one of the top men’s style YouTubers out there. He’s making basic, stylish essentials – including
ESNTLS’ new website launches Friday July 6th at 10 AM EST – and they sell out FAST (under a week). Don’t miss out – their tees make a great Father’s day gift.
First let’s get clear on the differences between t-shirts and undershirts. Then we’ll talk about when and how each one should be worn. There’s almost no overlap. The ONLY time it doesn’t matter which you wear… is when it doesn’t matter WHAT you wear.
1. What Is An Undershirt?
An undershirt is not a shirt – it’s underwear. ‘Undershirt’ means ‘under your shirt’ just like ‘underpants’ means ‘under your pants’. And like your underpants, your undershirt shouldn’t be visible.
Because undershirts aren’t designed to be looked at, they usually come in plain white or a light gray. They’re also made with a thinner fabric, usually cotton or microfiber, which tends to look uncomfortably sheer and clingy as an outer layer.
Your undershirt’s main purpose is to serve as a sweat rag. It absorbs sweat and keeps your outer clothing dry. It can also keep you warm in winter.
2. T-Shirt Vs Undershirt – What’s The Difference?
A t-shirt is an actual shirt – not something that goes under your shirt. T-shirts come in more colors (since they’re meant to be worn when people are looking.) If you look at t-shirt vs undershirt fabric you’ll also see that t-shirts are thicker.
Despite what some of you guys think, I don’t advocate wearing a suit or even a collared shirt all the time. T-shirts are a great choice for casual outfits. And they’re surprisingly versatile: they can be dressed up as well as down. More on that in a bit.
3. When To Wear A T-Shirt
It goes without saying that t-shirts are for warm weather and casual occasions. But what exactly is casual enough for a t-shirt?
- Business casual or smart casual dress code (if you don’t know what the dress code is at work, it’s probably this): no t-shirts. Your workplace might be more relaxed, but unless you see multiple other men in the office wearing them, don’t do it. This holds true on casual Friday too.
- On a date: best to wear a buttoned shirt or at least a polo, especially if it’s a first or dinner date.
- ‘Casual attire’ or ‘casual’ dress code: T-shirts are welcome, but they should be plain, well-fitted, and preferably topped with a jacket. (Note that ‘dress casual’ means business casual. It’s not a casual way of saying ‘dress casually’.)
- Clubbing or hanging out with friends: T-shirts are fine.
4. When It’s OK To Wear An Undershirt
Other than ‘under your shirt’? There ARE a few times when undershirts as an outer layer are okay.
Wearing an undershirt to bed or for work around the house or yard is classically masculine. Military men stripping to their undershirts for hard physical work was actually the origin of the T-shirt.
The other time you can wear an undershirt on the outside is whenever your appearance doesn’t matter. In which case go ahead and wear your underpants on the outside too.
5. Crew Neck Vs. V Neck T-Shirts
The V-neck is a great look because it accentuates the chest. It’ll make you look more muscular. It also elongates the neck – so it’s a better choice for shorter guys with shorter necks.
Tall and long-necked guys should stick with a crew neck. I’d also recommend a crew neck if you have a lot of chest hair.
6. Avoid These T-Shirt Mistakes
If you’ve been around here for a while you’ll know that I object to graphic tees because they make you look like a kid. The giant logo trend? Same deal. And while I love humor – jokes that are written on your chest get old fast. (Especially offensive ones… are you 12?)
Loud colors or patterns also have a little too much kid appeal for a grown man. Stick to solid understated colors like white, gray, black, blue, or green.
Finally – bin it if it’s torn or stained. Especially under the armpits. (That’s what undershirts are for… and yes, you can wear one under a tee.)
7. How To Wear A T-Shirt For Casual Style
You can dress a t-shirt up with a blazer or sports jacket, khakis or chinos, and some casual dress shoes like loafers or double monks (in brown – black is too formal.) Or in hotter weather pair it with linen trousers and maybe an open short-sleeve button-up over the top.
Dress a t-shirt down with jeans and sneakers, but make sure your jeans are well-fitted, dark, and not ripped or faded. Make sure the sneakers are in good shape too. In hotter weather try khaki shorts and sandals (no socks) and finish the look with a nice canvas, webbing, or braided leather belt.
I love ESNTLS
They have great customer service with a 24hr response time, worldwide shipping, and FREE shipping if you’re in the US. Their new website launches Friday July 6th at 10 AM EST and they will sell out FAST –