I Will Almost Always Wear an Undershirt, With Only One Exception

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Yesterday I ran across an article on the WSJ about wearing an undershirt under a dress shirt. The article goes into a couple anecdotal examples,  covers pros and cons of  using and not using an undershirt, and even gets Tim Gunn to weigh in on the subject. It is truly an interesting article; though at first glance it may come off as trivial.

“A visible undershirt is considered a fashion faux pas. ‘It’s an undergarment,’ said Tim Gunn, the fastidiously dressed Project Runway co-host and mentor. ‘You look a little more polished if we don’t see it,’ says Mr. Gunn.”

While I would normally follow Tim Gunn’s advice on almost anything to do with fashion and related topics, I’ll have to politely disagree with the distinguished designer and fashion consultant. I almost always wear an undershirt under button down shirts and even some collared pullovers. I’ve done this ever since I was a teen because my mother had always insisted wearing an undershirt protects the dress shirt from underarm stains and absorbs sweat—giving the dress shirt a bit more longevity. Also, and more importantly, I’ve also always worn an undershirt under a button down because it was part of the regulation “charlie” uniform, pictured above, when I was in the Marine Corps.

The only exception I have regarding wearing an undershirt under a button down is when I’m wearing a summertime linen shirt that is intended to keep one cool in the warm weather. Though I often pair an undershirt with a linen button down in the spring and autumn seasons for added warmth. I’ll also wear socks and sandals in these same seasons, much to my wife’s horror; but that’s another story.

One must take note that I’m referring to undershirts and not t-shirts. T-shirts are not undershirts and vice versa. A t-shirt is something one wears singularly, is worn for all to see, and often has some kind of design or iconography printed onto the garment. It is because of the design and/or iconography I never wear a t-shirt under a button down. The design has the potential to show through the fabric and look juvenile and tacky as shit. An undershirt is underwear and normally comes in four colors: black, white, gray, and sometimes blue. I stick to dark hues, so I wear only black undershirts when wearing a button down.

That’s about it in a nutshell. Now you know which side I fall on in the undershirt debate.