Many men wear undershirts, but how many of them think undershirts are an essential part of their wardrobe?
That’s hard to say, and there are no such statistics available, but the bottom line is that undershirts are an important part of man’s wardrobe – perhaps just as essential as a stylish pair of shoes and dress shirt. If you’re a man who sweats heavily, you understand the importance of the humble undershirt.
In this post, we’re going to review the best undershirts for men – led by Calvin Klein’s V-Neck Undershirt – while also discussing what you should consider before buying an undershirt, and the great V-neck vs. Crew Neck Debate.
Let’s get started with some buying tips.
- Before you buy: 6 things to consider when purchasing an undershirt
- The best undershirts for men 2017
- Why undershirts are different from all the rest
- The great debate: The V-neck vs. the crew neck
- But it’s not all about V-necks and crew necks (Other types of undershirts)
- Our criteria for choosing the best undershirts for men
Before You Buy: 6 Things to Consider When Purchasing an Undershirt
Your days of grabbing the cheapest package of undershirts available and calling it “good enough” are over. That’s not to say that an inexpensive undershirt is always a bad thing, but it might not be right for you.
The fact is, there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing an undershirt that best suits your needs, including fabric, style, color, and more. Let’s have a look:
1. What are your needs?
Every man is different although most of us share similarities with other males. It’s your job, however, to determine what your needs are when buying any product, including undershirts. And to help you determine your needs, here are some things to consider:
- How important is pit protection?
Ultimately, undershirts are meant to absorb sweat while protecting your outer shirt. That “protection” includes providing a barrier between your underarm sweat and outer shirt. You know how armpit sweat and stains look. We’re not trying to make a very broad judgment here, but chances are no one is going out of their way to compliment someone with that look.
That said, if you’re one of those guys that can sweat and stain a shirt with the greatest of ease, stay away from tank-top style undershirts. After all, they come without sleeves and don’t protect that nice dress shirt (or any outer shirt) from perspiration.
- How do you wear your dress shirt?
The main consideration here is whether you wear your outer shirt with an open collar or with the collar buttoned and with a tie. If you go with an open collar, you do not – we repeat, NOT – want your undershirt to show. Wear a v-neck with a deep enough collar that it sits below your collar line.
2. White isn’t always right
White is the most popular color choice in undershirts but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right one in every case. For one, white contrasts greatly with the color of your skin and it’s easy to see its color and sleeve lines through your business shirt. So, if you’re wearing a white dress shirt, you’re better off choosing a light gray or flesh-toned undershirt. Besides, it takes armpit stains longer to appear on light gray undershirts.
White is still an excellent color for your undershirt in most cases, but just not with white shirts.
3. Choose an undershirt, not a T-Shirt
Which one of us doesn’t have a favorite T-shirt or two (or three)? You know what we’re talking about – a shirt that has your favorite band, college, athletic team, etc., emblazoned on the front or back of it.
The important thing to remember here is that a T-shirt and undershirt are not the same things. T-shirts are thicker and designed to be worn on their own, not under a dress shirt. Undershirts consist of thinner fabric and are designed to absorb and protect from sweat, not to add another bulky layer that makes you sweat.
4. Fit is it
Wearing an undershirt that doesn’t fit correctly is uncomfortable enough, but the poor fit also adds bulk and bunching that gives you a swollen look. Similarly aggravating is an undershirt that isn’t long enough to be tucked in comfortably. Ugh. It not only doesn’t feel right, but it also adds extra bulk to your midsection, which most of us try to avoid like the plague.
Buying a fitted design undershirt is not only more comfortable but won’t make you look like you’re 10 pounds heavier.
5. Cotton is great, but so are blends
Cotton is still an excellent go-to option for men’s undershirts – especially those made of high-quality cotton – and provides a desirable combination of comfort and breathability. Meanwhile, synthetic fabrics have moisture-wicking properties but don’t always do a good job of absorbing moisture. Plus, they’re often not as comfortable as cotton undershirts.
However, there is a wide range of blended fabrics available today that combines the softness and comfort of cotton with moisture-wicking and moisture absorbing qualities of thin fabric styles.
6. Finally, read the care instructions
There’s nothing wrong with buying a fancy undershirt, but if it comes with overly-complicated care instructions, you’ll want to consider your purchase carefully. Is it worth the money and hassle if can’t just toss it in with the rest of your laundry?
Now that you have an idea about what to look for in an undershirt, let’s delve into our choices for the best undershirts for men.
The Best Undershirts For Men 2017
Who hasn’t heard of Calvin Klein? An iconic brand that’s been around for nearly 50 years, as well as a leading designer in American fashion, CK is everywhere (110 countries to be exact).
But you don’t become “iconic” without being good. And Calvin Klein offers high-quality choices for a variety of products, including with its undershirts that they describe as “minimalist and essential.”
You’ll also find them in a variety of fabrics – from pure cotton to soft modal blends – and they’re available in short sleeve, long sleeve, and tank top styles, as well as with crewnecks and v-necks.
Their Men’s Undershirts V-Neck cotton multipack is as good as it gets. They’re ideal as an underlayer beneath your business shirt, but stylish enough to be worn as a casual top layer if you so desire (and include the Calvin Klein logo, as you might expect).
We think you’ll like them for many reasons, including the fact that they’re size information is as advertised, i.e., you don’t have to worry about purchasing them and finding out they’re too big or too small. But they are considered a “regular” fit, meaning that there is a little extra room in the chest and body for comfort.
The multi-pack includes three, 100% cotton V-Neck short-sleeve undershirts. They come in a variety of colors but also think that they’re the best white undershirts for men.
Type: V-neck, short-sleeved
- Ideal fit
- Stylish enough to be worn on its own
- Very breathable
- Some reviewers say they shrink too much
Comfort, style, proven brand name – this undershirt has it all. Longtime users love how they feel and wouldn’t think of trying another type of undershirt. When the question of who makes the best undershirts for me comes up, Calvin Klein has to be part of the conversation.
It’s one thing to sweat at the gym. That dripping, sweat-soaked workout T-shirt is something to be admired and shows that you’re working hard.
Sweat in the workplace on the other hand, well, it makes you look nervous. It makes you look unkempt. Colleagues gather in the break room to nominate someone to ask you about your sweat “problem.”
Have no fear, however, as the folks at Thompson have an undershirt just for you. Not only that, they have the best undershirts for men sweat.
The Tee Sweat Proof Undershirt comes with Thompson’s patented Hydro-Shield Technology that promises to block 100% of underarm sweat while preventing the embarrassment of wet marks and yellow stains.
And, get this, it also comes with underarm pads that are similarly sweat-resistant and assure that you’ll have peace of mind in every situation.
Nervous? Oh, hell no. You’ll look calm and cool as a cucumber.
The Thompson team put a lot of sweat into developing technology that ensures you won’t be embarrassed by your perspiration. As mentioned, it has a U.S. patent for it Hydro-Shield Technology that consists of a thin, durable hydrophilic membrane that’s fully integrated into the undershirt and engineered to block moisture.
The underarm sweat pads provide extra protection that’s a cut above other sweat shields in that they absorb not only sweat, but also allows moisture to evaporate. Other types of pads may easily become heavy and bulky under your outer shirt. Thompson’s underarm pads trap and release moisture (through evaporation) so that your sweat won’t leak through to your outerwear.
All that said, few people are going to be an undershirt if it’s not comfortable, regardless of its sweat-stopping powers. Thompson Tees has you covered there, as well, as their undershirts consist of 100% premium combed cotton which is not only super soft but durable enough to stand up to countless washings.
Natural bamboo – yes, viscose bamboo – is another material you’ll find in Thompson’s undershirts and makes for a surprisingly soft material that creates a form-fitting shirt that doesn’t feel like a straitjacket or wadded ball.
The underarm pads consist of 90% cotton (the other 10% is polyester) and woven seamlessly into the shirt’s design instead of looking like an add-on piece.
Some reviewers feel they run a little large, but that makes them ideal for sweaters, as well, and for that extra pound or two you may carry around your belly.
Type: Crew neck
- Patented sweat-fighting technology
- Underarm pads to further fight sweat
- Durable and comfortable
- More expensive than many other undershirts
Some men sweat more than others, some sweat more in certain social and work situations, while others sweat because, well, just because. The Thompson Sweat Proof undershirt has your back regardless of how or why you sweat. It also comes with technology you won’t find in any other undershirt.
Let’s talk a little about Supima cotton. After all, it’s one of the most important reasons that Lacoste’s Men’s Essentials undershirt is a cut above the rest.
What is Supima cotton? It’s a superior type of cotton grown in the USA and also a very rare type since it represents just 1% of all cotton grown in the world.
The biggest difference between Supima Cotton and regular cotton is the length of their fibers: Supima cotton fiber is about a half-inch longer than regular cotton fibers. Shorter cotton fibers produce yarn that’s rougher and more likely to pile up on the surface (such as bunching up on the surface of an undershirt).
Longer fibers, meanwhile, add strength and softness to apparel, making them more comfortable to wear while resisting piling over time. Supima cotton is twice as strong as regular cotton and resists pulling and tearing, which makes for a longer-lasting product. Moreover, there are no special washing instructions with Supima products – simply care for them the same as you would for regular cotton.
When you consider all of the positive attributes of Supima cotton, it’s no surprise that Lacoste’s Men’s Essential undershirts would end up on the list. They’re made of 100% Supima, which means you’ll get a lightweight, comfortable undershirt that will last a long time.
Lacoste is at the higher end of men’s fashion, and their undershirts are a great example of the company’s quality products. You’re not just paying for the Lacoste label, but also for a finely-constructed undershirt that runs true to size and won’t shrink the first time you wash it.
The Men’s Essentials package come with three tag-free V-neck tees with short sleeves and Lacoste’s distinctive croc logo. You can get purchase a 3-pack in a variety of colors – white, black, and grey – or a 3-pack of a single color.
- Made of 100% Supima cotton
- Tag-free neck
- Quality construction
- May run a little long
They say a product is only as good as the materials its made from, and Lacoste’s Men’s Essentials undershirts don’t skimp on quality materials – particularly when it comes to cotton. You’ll enjoy how comfortable you feel in this undershirt.
There are plenty of advantages of being tall. You can reach things others can’t, including that jar up on the supermarket shelf the lovely woman shopper can’t reach.
But let’s be honest – undershirts are often tricky for tall guys. For one, you need to find one that’s long enough and doesn’t come continually untucked throughout the day. Not all undershirts will meet your need.
Hanes has you covered, literally and figuratively, with its Ultimate FreshIQ Tall Man Crew Neck Tee, however. It’s an undershirt that has extra generous length, just for you taller gents. Indeed, they’re the best undershirts for tall men.
When you consider that the length of a Hanes tall crewneck is two inches more than XL sizes, you don’t have to worry about it not fitting nicely below your belt. And it won’t cause that uncomfortable feeling of your undershirt riding up on you as you go through the day.
But there’s also much more to like about this undershirt and Hanes’ tees in general:
- It’s hard to beat the odor protection provided by Hanes’ FreshIQ technology.
It’s technology they use across their line of men’s underwear, socks, fleece products, and undershirts. What is FreshIQ? Well, it’s an antimicrobial finish that inhibits the sort of bacterial growth that often leads to odor. Most textiles, including those used to make clothing, naturally aid the growth of bacteria. But Hanes has taken the extra step by ensuring that the bacteria doesn’t grow in the first place. Hanes even has a campaign built around its FreshIQ technology called “End of the Smelfie.” Nice.
- Comfort, comfort, comfort.
Hanes is obsessed with comfort and its undershirts consist of 100% premium cotton and its patented ComfortSoft fabric. “Hanes makes you feel good all under!” is a familiar advertising slogan and they stand by that claim.
The Hanes Ultimate FreshIQ Tall Man Crew Neck undershirt is tagless, meaning you get itch-free comfort without having to dig away at prickly spots that can drive a sober man to drink. Or, a drinking man to sobriety, perhaps.
- Its lay-flat collar will keep its shape even after frequent wearings and frequent washings and drying.
- The cotton is pre-shrunk, meaning it provides a more lasting fit than other undershirts.
So, have no fear, tall guys. Hanes is here.
Type: Crew neck
- Generous length that’s ideal for taller men
- Fresh IQ advanced odor protection
- Maybe too long for some men
Comfort is Hanes’ No. 1 priority and it shows in products such as its Ultimate Fresh IQ Tall Man Crew Neck tee. And it combines comfort with unique technology that keeps odors in check before they become noticeable. All in all, an excellent choice – and not just for taller men.
Hanes, Fruit of the Loom – you’ve heard the names. They’ve been around a while, and many men consider them their go-to brands when it comes to under clothing.
Not that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, however.
Fruit of the Loom is long-known for the comfort of its products but recently revamped its undershirt line to better address the issue of the dreaded “ride-up.” It has also reshaped the sleeves to provide a better overall fit and to keep them from being obvious under your outer shirt.
The fit, as mentioned, is secure enough to keep you from tucking in your shirt multiple times throughout the day. Moreover, the collar on the Men’s Crew Neck T-shirt retains its shapes, even after frequent cycles through your washer and dryer.
Another notable strength of the Fruit of the Loom undershirt line is that it comes in more sizes (18) than any other brand and also features a wide range of colors that will work with just about everything you’re wearing over it.
All of Fruit of the Loom’s men’s undershirts consist of 100% Eversoft cotton fabric for ultimate comfort.
Type: Crew neck
- Revamped product for better fit
- Stretch-free collar
- Material maintains its shape and softness even after multiple washings
- May become a bit baggy
Fruit of the Loom is no newcomer to the world of undergarments and they’ve learned a thing or two along the way. You’ll like how their Men’s Crew Neck t-shirt feels and you’ll appreciate the fact that it won’t ride up on your gut several times a day.
Why Undershirts Are Different From All The Rest
Undershirts are different. But they’re not “different” in a negative way – not at all – but they’re definitely their own kind of animal. And they’ve come a long way over the centuries.
When most of us think of “shirt,” we think of that outer covering that keeps us from going around bare-chested all day (which is fine at the beach, not at the office), that helps protect us from the elements (including keeping us warm), and hopefully adds a whole helluva lot of style to our wardrobe.
An undershirt doesn’t have nearly the swag of a regular shirt but, again, it has come a long ways since it was originally designed and worn to protect the skin against the rough, scratchy outerwear of many moons ago. It also protected expensive outerwear from the grit and grime of the human bodies, especially back in the day when daily bathing wasn’t the norm.
Undershirts were once common to the upper classes, who could afford things like a nice shirt and other outer clothing; working-class men were lucky to have more than one shirt, period.
It’s also worth mentioning that it once was considered scandalous to have any part of your undershirt showing – almost as scandalous as having your private parts exposed. You just didn’t do it. Things are a bit more relaxed today – not when it comes to private parts, mind you, but for an exposed undershirt.
Today, the primary reasons for wearing undershirts are, 1) to help keep you warm in colder months, 2) to protect your outer shirt from sweat and deodorant stains, and 3) to – in the case of performance undershirts – to keep moisture away from the body.
A key question today is this: Can you wear an undershirt alone? It’s a fair question, considering that they are undershirts and worn under shirts, sweaters, and other articles of clothing. But because undershirts have evolved so nicely, many men do wear them alone for the following reasons:
- They’re lightweight and comfortable
- Many undershirts look great and are considered casual wear
- They’re worn with a lot of things, including jeans, under a suit coat, and look perfectly acceptable.
But also keep in mind some of the reasons for not wearing an undershirt alone:
- They’re usually form-fitting, which is great if you’re in shape or have a nicely-sculpted body. If you have 30-pounds worth of spare tire on your mid-section you may want to re-think wearing an undershirt solo.
- You can’t wear an undershirt under an undershirt – well, at least you shouldn’t, and therefore lose the advantage of proper sweat management.
- You have to be careful what you wear with an undershirt, i.e., a tight undershirt with loose jeans isn’t a good look.
Last but not least, some men wonder if they should wear an undershirt at all – either solo or under a business shirt. Some of the pros of wearing an undershirt are:
- Sweat management and containment
- Undershirts prevent chafed skin when worn under stiff evening shirts.
- Undershirts provide warmth, especially in the harsh winter climates where it sometimes seems impossible to stay warm.
- Undershirts prevent your chest hairs from sticking out of your dress shirt.
Undershirts are part of today’s culture, just like they were part of the culture of yesteryear. If they’re part of your wardrobe, more power to you. If not, then you may want to give them a try.
The Great Debate: The V-Neck vs. the Crew Neck
You’ll find undershirts in many different styles these days, including tank tops, long-sleeved, and even athletic undershirts thanks to the efforts of Under Armour and others.
And then there are v-necks and crew necks – the two most popular choices among men and the subject of much debate; specifically, which style is better?
The answer is as much a matter of taste and personal preference as anything else, but it’s also more than that. There are certain times when a v-neck is more appropriate than a crew neck – and vice versa – while one style may fit your body type and overall features better than the other. Let’s examine both styles:
Crew Neck – Still Relevant After All These Years
The original undershirt style is a crew neck, no questions asked. They surged in popularity after World War II, where members of the U.S. Navy wore them admirably, and became a garment no self-respecting youth in the 1950s would dare not to wear. Think of James Dean, or Marlon Brando, iconic men’s men, leaning against a wall or motorcycle, decked out in a crew neck shirt while smoking a cigarette.
However, crew neck undershirts weren’t just for looks or part of a passing phase. Like all undershirts, they’re designed for sweat protection. Nonetheless, you can still get away with wearing a crew neck undershirt on its own, or with a lightweight jacket, and with a pair of jeans. It’s a classic look that still rocks in many respects.
The biggest disadvantage of a crew neck undershirt, however, is its high neckline. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you don’t want to wear a crew neck with a dress shirt unless you plan to button the latter all the way to the top (like when you’re wearing a necktie). Otherwise, an exposed undershirt under an open-at-the-top dress shirt is – let’s just say it’s not a great look and leave it at that.
A crew neck undershirt still has its place, mind you, but it’s important to consider how you plan to wear it.
V-Neck: The “New” Kid on the Block
The first v-necks rolled off the line in the 1960s, and they’ve surged in popularity over the past decade. Now they’re as much of a staple of men’s fashion as the crew neck was back when Brando and Dean were breaking hearts while making other men jealous (and secretly envious).
The v-neck and the younger generation seem to go hand-in-hand, with many current fashion adepts wearing them on their own. And they come with many advantages:
- The v-neck look kills it if you have a body sculpted through hours of hard work in the gym. You’ll show off those pecs and guns and be like catnip to the ladies (OK, maybe not catnip-strong, but still).
- V-necks help make your face seem longer and more angular, which is the desired look for many men, especially those who have round or square faces.
- V-necks solve the problem of wearing an undershirt with an open-collar dress shirt. That’s because the neck hangs down below the collar line and isn’t visible (or shouldn’t be) to others. And, hey, you can even show off some chest hair that way, if you’re so inclined. But be judicious; until the Tom Selleck chest forest look comes back, it’s best to keep at least your chest hair trimmed and properly maintained.
So, have we answered the question of what’s better, a v-neck or crew neck? Not really, but it doesn’t have to be about picking one style over the other. Some men have a preference for one style over the other, but it never hurts to have a good selection of undershirts with various necklines on hand. You’ll appreciate the versatility.
But It’s Not All About V-Necks and Crew Necks
OK, so v-necks and crew necks are the preferred undershirt style for most men. But we’d be remiss to not mention other types of undershirts, namely, tank tops, long-sleeved undershirts, and athletic undershirts.
1. Tank Tops
If you’re old enough to remember the 1970s you’re old enough to remember the tank top craze which was all the rage for a while, at least in the U.S.
Tank tops came in a wide variety of colors and designs and it didn’t matter how sculpted your body was because it seemed like every man wore them. Well, they’re still around today, but not nearly as popular (and garishly designed).
Still, you can find a white cotton tank top anywhere and usually at a price that won’t make you or your budget blink.
If you’re a man who doesn’t sweat a lot, or who likes to wear very short-sleeved and low-necked summer shirts, then you’ll find tank tops useful. Some men still wear them without an outer shirt at all, but it’s not all that common.
Their biggest drawback is that they offer no sweat protection for your outer shirt. They’ll absorb the sweat on your back and chest, but that’s about it.
Tank tops are also useful for men who don’t have to button their dress shirt all the way up but, again, they provide no underarm protection.
2. Long-Sleeved Undershirts
A light cotton long-sleeved undershirt offers the same sweat protection of basic undershirt styles while providing an extra dose of warmth for colder weather.
The long-sleeved undershirt is a direct descendant of the union suit, i.e., the full-bodied undershirt that almost looks like a pajama (and, at least back in the day, had a flap in the ass for obvious reasons).
Some long-sleeved undershirts have buttons at the collar which can be opened for breathability when things become a bit too warm. And, though they are sometimes are worn alone, you may look a bit underdressed when compared to v-necked and crew-necked undershirts. Nonetheless, they come in wide range of colors.
3. Athletic Undershirts
Under Armour provides the most widely-known and visible examples of athletic undershirts – those moisture-wicking athletic shirts that resemble traditional undershirts.
Made of synthetic and microfiber material, athletic undershirts stay dryer and lighter than basic cotton undershirts.
The kicker is that athletic shirts aren’t truly undershirts in the traditional sense because they’re most often worn alone and come in a variety of eye-catching colors, logos, and designs. They’re great to wear during your workouts – which is what they’re intended for – but it’s more challenging to wear them as a true undershirt in a dressier situation. Look for plain white or gray colors if you want to keep an athletic undershirt discreet under your business wear.
Our Criteria For Choosing the Best Undershirts for Men
Several factors came into play as we mulled which undershirts belong on our list of the top-five for 2017: cut, value, the needs or wearers, style, and comfort. And comfort, if not king, is certainly a high-ranking official in the product satisfaction department; if it doesn’t feel good against your skin, chances are you’ll never wear it again.
Among other things to consider is durability, i.e., how well is the undershirt able to stand frequent washing and drying? Not just durability, mind you, but how well the undershirt retains its original shape during laundering. No one is happy to pull their undershirt out of the dryer and notice that it has the dreaded “bacon neck.”
Finally, we carefully considered the reviews of customers, as well as how popular and highly-rated the undershirt was at an online retailer such as Amazon. If a large number of people are giving a product a thumb’s up, the chances are good that it’s of high quality.
That wraps up our review of the best undershirts of 2017. Do you have a favorite undershirt that’s not included on this list, or have comments about any of the undershirts listed here? If so, we’d love to hear from you. We always welcome your feedback.