Top tips for wearing an undershirt

Wearing an undershirt gives you are smarter cleaner appearance, but only if done right. Here are some pointers to help you get that sharper look.

An undershirt should never be seen

Unless you are in the habit of undressing in the office, your colleagues should be oblivious to your undershirt. An undershirt is built for feel, form and function, not for show. Aside from channelling Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide, do not, I repeat, do not be tempted to wear a crew-neck undershirt with an open dress shirt.  No doubt, this advice will offend our American cousins. So be it. You don't need to be American to benefit from wearing an undershirt, and you certainly don't need to pretend you are James Dean into the bargain. Crew-necks are strictly for wearing with buttoned-up shirts and tie. Elegant, formal, traditional, and very British. These days, more often than not, the tie stays in the draw, and the shirt colour is unbuttoned for a more relaxed but still a business-like look. Sophistication without the stuffiness. We very much approve, but it's no excuse for your undershirt to be saying "hello world". If your collar is open the v-neck undershirt is your friend, but pay attention to the depth of the v - not all v-necks are alike. Some undershirt makers provide only a shallow v that bearly clears one open button. If you prefer the full two buttons open for a more breezy look (and, at Robert Owen we do), then you'll need a deep v - deep enough for two buttons open. See our Chester v-neck undershirt here.

A tee-shirt under your shirt does not an undershirt make

Try saying that with your mouth full ... on second thoughts.

If there is one notion guaranteed to dissuade you wearing an undershirt, it's the thought of wearing a tee-shirt under your dress shirt. Who could blame you - it's a ridiculous idea. Cotton tee-shirts are too thick, too inflexible, and too baggy to make comfortable innerwear. There's nothing but wrinkled-up bulky discomfort waiting for you if you go down that route. We are not trapped in the 1940's people, and cotton is not the only fabric. Modern stretch fabric fabrics are literally engineered for sheerness, absorbency, breathability and smoothness. All the qualities to which your skin is sensitive. A cheap pure cotton tee-shirt is a hessian sack by comparison. Micro modal, viscose, Tencel®, lyocell all are artificial silk-like fabrics with heavenly skin feel and ideally suited for underwear. When blended with elastane, they make a four-way stretch material which hugs your body, moves with you and never bunches up. Leave the cotton tee-shirt for outerwear. Your undershirt should be made from a modern skin-friendly fabric with sufficient stretch and contour to wrap your body in a high-performance hug.

White ain't always right

Finally, to the choice of colour. White is traditional, and we don't mind a bit of tradition, but bear in mind your undershirt is not for show. There is no particular advantage to having a white undershirt - it's more of a hangover from the past when clothes were routinely boil-washed - like white underpants - remember those? The optimum colour for your undershirt is one that most resembles the way light reflects from your skin. The closer the match in reflectivity, the less likely the undershirt will show under a quality* dress shirt. Matching your skin tone is one obvious way to go. Another is to choose heather grey. In terms of light reflection, grey is much closer to skin (anyone's skin) than white. Choose grey for best results even under a white dress shirt. It may sound counterintuitive, but that's physics for you.

*any undershirt will show under a thin dress shirt, no matter the colour.