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What To Wear Under a Dress Shirt

Is a dress shirt sufficient on its own, or do you need to wear something under it? Depending on your dress shirt, the weather, and the occasion, you may or may not decide to wear something underneath your dress shirt. If you do decide that you need an undershirt, what to wear under your dress shirt is important.

Why Wear an Undershirt?

Undershirts have traditionally been worn underneath dress shirts, but why is this tradition still maintained today? There are a couple of good reasons to use an undershirt. Here are just a few.

Protect your Shirt

The primary reason that most people wear an undershirt is in order to protect their dress shirt. Dress shirts can be fairly expensive investments and wearing them all day long most business days can be hard on them. 

A dress shirt protects a shirt from oil or sweat from your skin, and also keeps the fabricfrom wear and tear by rubbing against the skin. Dress shirts last much longer when they are protected from your skin. Furthermore, wearing an undershirt helps to absorb sweat stains before they become visible, saving you from embarrassment.

Thorough Coverage

A high-quality dress shirt should have fabric that is more to the opaque end of the spectrum, but if you have a lower-quality dress shirt or if your light-colored shirt becomes wet, you may be able to see through it.

It can be very embarrassing if somebody can see through your dress shirt to your nipples, so it is a good idea to wear an undershirt if you are worried that your shirt is not thick enough.


In icy weather, layering helps to keep you warm. Wearing a cozy long sleeve undershirt underneath your cool, crisp dress shirt can make you much more comfortable on the drive to work. A thick undershirt can also help to hold warmth when you need to leave the heated office throughout the day.

Why Not Wear an Undershirt?

There are some very good reasons why you may not choose to wear an undershirt. Traditionally, undershirts were necessary to prevent sweat from soaking through and to make your dress shirt look its best, but modern technology has made advances in dress shirts. Cooling and sweat-wicking technology means undershirts aren't always necessary.


If you live in a very hot climate, an undershirt may be an extra layer of warmth that you would rather do away with. Moisture-wicking and Hyper Breathable dress shirts like those made by Twillory can keep you cool and dry so that you don't need an undershirt to absorb sweat.

In fact, these shirts are so good at what they do that an undershirt may just get in the way of the breathability and make you hotter. These shirts are designed to a quality that prevents them from being transparent even in lighter colors. A sweat-proof shirt collar shield keeps white shirts from becoming stained.


High-quality dress shirts may be so comfortable that you are sorry to put an undershirt between you and them. Unlike old fashion dress shirts which were itchy and scratched if you did not wear an undershirt beneath them, modern dress shirts are made of super soft and smooth material that you'll be happy to wear against your skin. Many men prefer the looser fit of a dress shirt over the close-fitting undershirt. 

Tank Top or Full Undershirt?

One of the first decisions that you'll be making when you are choosing an undershirt is whether to go with a full version with sleeves or choose a tank top variety without sleeves. Here are some advantages of tank tops and full undershirts so that you can compare between them.

For the most part, men tend to choose full undershirts rather than tank top undershirts. This is due to the issues with being able to see the silhouette of the undershirt through the dress shirt and because tank tops do not do as good of a job at preventing sweat stains. 

What to Look for in an Undershirt

If you've decided that you need to add an undershirt to your wardrobe, be careful as you consider what choices to make. Many men underestimate the importance of an undershirt and make unwise decisions that affect the look of their entire outfit.

Don’t Wear a T-shirt

Many people assume that wearing a T-shirt is the same as wearing an undershirt. While a T-shirt can serve the same function, they're not designed to do what undershirts do and will not be as effective as an undershirt.

T-shirts won't give you the right fit for wearing under a dress shirt, since they tend to make outlines that are visible through even a loose-fitting dress shirt. Buy an undershirt made specifically for dress shirts rather than trying to compromise with a T-shirt.

Snug fit

One of the reasons that a T-shirt isn't a good choice for an undershirt is because undershirts should have a tighter fit than what you would normally choose for a T-shirt. This tight fit enables the undershirt to stay tucked in more easily since it is less likely to catch and move around your body.

Furthermore, a tight fit makes for a lean silhouette and eliminates wrinkle lines when the dress shirt pushes against your body. Undershirts should taper from a comfortable fit at the shoulders that allows you free movement down to a tapered waist that eliminates excess fabric throughout.

You should be able to see the contours of your back, chest, and torso under a properly fitted undershirt.

It shouldn't show

If you want to wear your button-up unbuttoned sometimes, such as when you are going out for drinks after work, you want your outfit to look good even with the top button or two undone.

The undershirt that you choose should not show when you undo a button. For this reason, deep V-neck undershirts are often a better option for most men than crew neck undershirts. You should also not be able to see the silhouette or lines of your undershirt beneath your dress shirt. Carefully examine your silhouette before making your decision.

Choosing the Right Color 

You should not be able to see the undershirt under your dress shirt, so why does it matter what color it is? Depending on how thick your dress shirt is, you may be able to see some shades of undershirt underneath more easily than others.

A white t-shirt or white undershirt may be more visible under a light-colored or white dress shirt, but will work very well under a darker dress shirt. Light-colored dress shirts would benefit from a light gray or tan undershirt that helps to hide any contrast between your skin tone and/or chest hair and the dress shirt. As a rule, it's a good idea to pick a dress shirt that is as near to your skin tone as possible if wearing a white shirt. 

Sweat Wicking and Cooling

One of the primary goals of an undershirt is to wick away sweat to keep you cool and dry. Don't choose an undershirt unless it is equipped with the ability to get rid of moisture as quickly as possible.

Undershirts made by Twillory have sweat-wicking and cooling technology which make this one of the most comfortable shirts available.

Stays Tucked and Anti-ride Sleeves

You want your undershirt to stay firmly in place. Choose an undershirt that is at the right length to stay tucked with without creating a lot of excess material for you to deal with.

You should be able to lift your arms over your head without untucking your shirt. Anti-ride sleeves are also important to keep them from bunching up underneath your dress shirt sleeves. This can be an especially difficult problem if you have narrow sleeves.


Expect to pay more for a high-quality undershirt than you would for a cheap packaged one, but don't be taken in to spend as much as you would for a dress shirt. Undershirts are designed to suffer the wear and tear that you want to save your dress shirt from.

Therefore, they should come at a lesser price. Expect to pay around $20 or $25 for a quality dress shirt that will last you for a long time.

Choose Quality

Whatever kind of undershirt you decide to wear, be sure to choose an undershirt that offers very high quality. It can be very tempting to skimp on something that nobody will ever really see, but the decisions that you make about your undershirt affect everything about how your dress shirt looks. A quality undershirt will look and feel much better than a cheap alternative.

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