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The Chester Undershirt

A modern vest for all-day, everyday comfort

The wisdom of dressing in layers has been around for centuries. Unfortunately, so has the design of the typical men's vest. We felt it was time for an update. Introducing the Chester Undershirt, a men's vest redesigned for the 21st century. See how much we've updated the old cotton vest and turned it into a technical base layer for everyday use. It's so comfortable you won't want to take it off.

The Chester Undershirt

A modern vest for all-day, everyday comfort

The wisdom of dressing in layers has been around for centuries. Unfortunately, so has the design of the typical men's vest. We felt it was time for an update. Introducing the Chester Undershirt, a men's vest redesigned for the 21st century. See how much we've updated the old cotton vest and turned it into a technical base layer for everyday use. It's so comfortable you won't want to take it off.

Choose from crew or v neck, in white or grey ...

Crew Neck

V Neck

A Modern Vest

So what qualifies this undershirt as a modern vest? High-quality lightweight fabric, superior skin feel, highly breathable, body-contoured fit. It's lightyears ahead of the saggy cotton vest your grandad used to wear.

Superior Skin Feel

The Chester Undershirt is made from high-quality bamboo viscose for a superior skin feel. Naturally hydrophilic, viscose absorbs moisture and allows water vapour to pass through, allowing the skin to breathe.

Key Design Features

A body-contouring fit, so it feels snug but not tight. The four-way stretch fabric allows the undershirt to move with you. Wash tag on the outside to avoid skin irritation. Long in length to ensure it stays tucked all day.

Viscose - A Smart Fabric

Our undershirts are made from super-soft bamboo viscose. Viscose is a man-made fibre made from wood pulp (in this case bamboo). The combination of plant base, with a man-made finish, makes it pretty smart. The natural base means it is water-absorbing (think how paper soaks up water and how plastic does not). The man-made filaments of viscose are spun to be super-smooth (like silk threads), so it feels soft on the skin.

We use all these qualities to make a great undershirt and a smart base layer. We place the silky smooth fabric next to your skin to enable the viscose filaments to work their magic. In winter, the undershirt keeps you warm by trapping air next to your skin. In summer, the undershirt keeps you cool by absorbing and then evenly evaporating your sweat, taking heat from your skin, while keeping your dress shirt dry. Now, that's what we call a smart fabric.

Smooth Feel

Did you know, viscose was developed originally as artificial silk? The filaments are formed by extrusion (pushed through a tiny hole) which makes them long and smooth, just like silk. Those long smooth filaments have a large surface area which, when in contact with your skin, gives a smooth, cool feel. Compare that with cotton, which consists of short fibres spun together to create a yarn. Good quality cotton will be treated to make it softer, but it can't compare to the smoothness of viscose. When it comes to underwear, viscose is engineered to work with your skin. That's why our undershirts are 95% viscose (and 5% elastane for stretch).

Sweat Absorbing

Cellulose is the stuff which gives structure to plant cells, and it is the main ingredient in viscose. The cellulose molecule has a polar electrical charge which makes it attractive to water (water is also a polar molecule, and the opposite ends attract). This attraction enables water to be absorbed inside the filament of the fabric itself. This happens at a molecular level which helps keep the sweat away from your dress shirt. This is the opposite of polyester which, because it has no charge, just ignores water; droplets hang around on top of the fibre becoming breeding grounds for smelly bacteria. That's why your gym kit pongs after a good sweat, and your Robert Owen Undershirt won't.

Body Contoured

The thermal and sweat absorbing properties of the viscose fabric work best when in close contact with your skin; think of it has a second-skin base layer. For that reason, we design the undershirt to be body contouring, but not tight. We use 5% elastane to give the fabric stretch in four directions, so it moves with you. The combination of smoothness and stretch is what makes our undershirts so comfortable to wear, and it enables the smart properties of the fabric to get to work. As we are fond of saying, we've updated the plain old cotton men's vest and turned into a vest fit for the 21st century. This is an engineered base layer designed for everyday use.

Undershirt - A Modern Vest

So what is an undershirt anyway? The term undershirt is commonly used in the USA. In the UK we call it a vest. But here is the thing ... that word 'vest' conjures images of uncomfortable and stiff cotton tops or sleeveless string vests that look like something from the 1950s. Not very appealing. Our product is different. It is designed with the same detail as a sports base layer. In fact, it is inspired by the base layers we wear for winter sports. We thought - why not use that same thinking in the office? A base layer for business. All-day comfort in the office. The contoured body design, four-way stretch, moisture-absorbing, breathable and skin-friendly design make this a technical garment. It is a modern men's vest; a vest updated for the 21st century. We believe it is the best men's vest (undershirt) you can currently buy in the UK. But don't take our word for it, see what our customers say.

Four-way Stretch

Four-way (or 4-way) stretch means the fabric stretches and recovers both width and lengthwise. It's what you need to provide complete freedom of movement. Our undershirts are stretchy (up to 20%). It's thanks to the 5% elastane mixed with the bamboo viscose. They move with you no matter how active you are (try wearing it for yoga). That enables our undershirts to be a close fit without being restricting. Being a close fit allows the undershirt to work with your skin for better insulation and sweat absorption.

Thermal Regulation

Being next to your skin allows the fabric to insulate you from the variations in temperature. That cold blast of wind on the train station won't feel so bad with this extra layer. Bamboo viscose is hydrophilic, enabling it to work effortlessly with moisture vapour so your skin can breathe easy. The heat from your skin gently passes through. You won't overheat like when wearing synthetic winter thermals you can buy from other underwear shops (no names mentioned). Think of it as a subtle barrier against the harsh outside world.

Skin Friendly

You'll notice the wash care tag is on the outside. Why? Because who wants a scratchy label rubbing on your skin? This is an example of how this modern vest is designed specifically to perform all-day as a most intimate layer against your skin. This is how all underwear should be created, with priority given to fit, feel and function. There is a reason we believe we make the best men's undershirts in the UK.

Look after your dress shirts

Your beautiful dress shirts deserve a break. Wearing your shirt next to your skin will expose it to a harsh combination of oils, sweat and the ingredients of your deodorant.

Have your shirts ever suffered from deodorant stains? Those hard, sometimes yellow, stains are the consequence of that mix of oil/sweat/deodorant coating the fine cotton of your work shirt. Your shirt deserves better. An undershirt acts as a buffer between your skin and your shirt. The undershirt takes all the harsh treatment, so your nice cotton shirt doesn't have to.

You'll be amazed how well an undershirt protects your dress shirt and extends its life. Dress shirts are designed to look good on the outside. Let an undershirt take care of the skin-side.

About the price - £29 each

Robert Owen undershirts start at £29 (less when you buy five or more undershirts), and we completely understand if you scoff at the price. If you already have vests or undershirts that work for you and they cost £15 for a pack of two, why would you spend nearly twice that on one shirt? It's solid logic, and if that is how you feel, Robert Owen is not the brand for you.

If, however, you are looking to get the most out of your clothes and feel your best in your work shirt, then our range is worth a look. We use high-quality fabrics, the design is unique to our label, you won't find these undershirts anywhere else. Plus, your first undershirt is covered by our no-fuss guarantee. If it's not right for you, you keep it for free.

Get to know your undershirts ...

Perhaps wearing an undershirt is a new concept for you, or you already familiar with the joy of wearing a technical base layer and you'd like more specifics about our product. Either way, we aim to answer your questions so you can get to know our undershirts better.

What's the difference between and undershirt and a vest?

An undershirt is a modern version of what we in the UK used to call a vest. The term "vest" conjures thoughts of saggy cotton tee-shirts from the 1970s. An "undershirt" is a much-updated garment using modern stretch fabrics, body contouring fit and superior skin feel. Think of it as a vest for the 21st century.

Should an undershirt be tight?

No, it doesn't need to be tight, but it should be fitted, so it sits close to your skin so the viscose fabric can trap air for insulation and absorb moisture for sweat management. Modern undershirts are made with four-way stretch fabric that moves with you so it won't restrict you even though it's a close fit.

Is bamboo comfortable to wear?

When people refer to "bamboo clothing", they are really talking about clothing made from viscose fabric made from bamboo. Viscose is a man-made fabric which is super smooth, highly breathable and moisture absorbing, making ideal for any garment in contact with skin. That's why it is such a wise choice for underwear.

To make viscose, you first start with any wood, and you mash it into a pulp. Bamboo (or beach) is the most commonly used because they are fast-growing. The wood pulp is then dissolved into a chemical bath to extract the cellulose, which is the compound that gives trees their structure and strength in their plant cells. This liquid cellulose is then forced through tiny holes where it solidifies into long smooth filaments like silk. These filaments are then made into the viscose fabric. So what started life as bamboo stalks (or tree trunk) is now a silk-like fabric which has a super smooth feel on the skin. Not only that, but because the main ingredient is cellulose, which attracts water, the fabric is excellent at absorbing moisture from your skin and is highly breathable.

Why wear an undershirt?

Two reasons why you should consider wearing an undershirt: comfort for you, and protection for your work shirt. For you, an undershirt: helps to regulate body temperature, it discretely absorbs sweat, it provides a silk-like layer against your skin for all-day comfort. For your work shirt, it is a barrier between the oils, sweat and deodorant chemicals which causes the fine-cotton of your workshirt to harden and stain yellow.

What is the best colour for an undershirt?

The best colour for an undershirt is the colour which least shows through your cotton shirt. White is a traditional colour for vests and undershirts, but it's not actually the best colour for not showing through. Heather grey reflects light in a way that is closer to the way skin, of any colour, reflects light which helps the undershirt blend in under your work shirt.

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