Ask Beau: Underneath It All


My co-workers have been arguing for weeks about whether or not a man must wear an t-shirt underneath his dress shirt.  The younger ones seem to think that an undershirt is optional, while the senior staff insist on it.  

Please make the fighting stop. Is wearing an undershirt a must or a personal preference?


Apparently there is some confusion among men about wearing undershirts to work. Namely, do you need to wear one at all? Obviously, the answer is yes. If you’ve found yourself wondering why that’s an obvious answer then you’re probably the one producing the lingering smell around your cubicle.  

There are three different types of undershirts. The A-Shirt (you probably call it a “wife beater.” Don’t do that.), the V-Neck, and the crewneck. 

Never ever wear an A-Shirt to work. Why? Because you can see it through your shirt, and you look like a Grade-A Idiot. Trust me, no one wants to be the guy in the wife beater.  

If you have a tie on, go with the crew neck. No tie, choose a V-Neck. Keep the A-Shirts for working out or as simply a sweat absorbing layer under a shirt that is not see through. 

Why is no undershirt a faux pas? Well, whether you like it or not, you sweat. Without an undershirt, you’re going to stain your dress shirt and start to smell. Think of it as clothing maintenance and odor prevention.

And even if you don’t want to wear one for yourself, put one on for the rest of us.  Our olfactory glands thank you.

 Beau is a Capitol Hill staffer and CHS contributor and my go to for all men’s fashion questions. Have a question for Beau about men’s style?  Send it to capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (dot) com, attn: Beau.


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  1. casual reader says:

    Wearing an undershirt also keeps prevents show through of nipples and chest hair, neither of which should be seen through a dress shirt. Had a substitute teacher who didn’t wear an undershirt. Yuck.

    March 16, 2010/Reply
  2. pqresident says:

    I have two pieces of advice for buying undershirts…

    1) don’t buy undershirts on a continent where the average size of a male is different than that of the continent from which you came. I bought a pack of mediums at a certain airport on a continent far, far away and they actually turned out to be smalls when I brought them back to this continent. it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    2) the best t-shirts on the planet are Calvin Klein 365s…95% cotton, 5% lycra. soft, comfortable and the lycra provides it just enough give to be form fitting but not uncomfortable. they also don’t stretch out of shape after many washes. perfect.

    March 17, 2010/Reply