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Don’t sleep on the best undershirts. They might seem a little geriatric, something that your dad probably wore around the house, but undershirts are actually the secret weapon of menswear. They sort of defy logic: an additional layer of clothing that could keep you both warmer in the winter months and less sweaty in the summer months. Somehow, these base layers manage to make it work.
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As a person who tends to skew warm even on the coldest days, and constantly lives in fear of visible armpit stains, I’ve come to rely on undershirts. They capture sweat before it can soak through whatever button-down shirt I’m wearing, and they keep an air of freshness about my clothes all day long. But it’s not just keeping you dry and fresh that makes undershirts appealing—the right style can also have a slight body-contouring effect, hiding out chest hair lines and errant nipples, as well as smoothing out curves and swerves if you have anything less than a perfect six-pack.
The right underpinnings contribute to an overall polished appearance. Here are the best undershirts to try now.
What to Consider Before Buying the Best Undershirts:
Not all undershirts are created equal. Some are 100 percent cotton basics, some are enhanced with performance materials, and some are cut for certain physiques. Before you jump in, here’s what to consider.
Material: There’s a wide range of options here. One hundred percent cotton shirts—especially when you start getting into the long-staple pimas, the Sea Island cottons of the world—are still the gold standard of comfort and softness. If you want that Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire vibe, 100 percent cotton is the way to go. But if you’re looking for more performance, consider technical fibers, such as smooth lyocell or body-shaping spandex.
Fit: This one is up to you. But if you’re wearing an undershirt exclusively as a proper undershirt—as in, under something else—then try to go on the slimmer size. For toppers in a regular fit, you may even want to go one down from your normal size. The idea is to have something sleek that hugs the body and lets the more visible parts of your outfit do the talking. That being said, just be careful that the arms and the neck don’t become too constricting; you might swiftly enter sausage-casing territory.
Sleeves: Sleeves or no sleeves? That is the question. It’s really up to you and your personal preference. Our advice? To avoid visible sleeve lines, look for a length that reaches to the mid-bicep; this part of whatever layer you’re wearing over the undershirt is likely to have a little more breathing room in the cut than, say, the shoulders, where the material lays flat against the body.
Neckline: Go for a neckline that complements the collar of whatever you’re wearing on top. A crewneck sweater or a shirt buttoned all the way up pairs perfectly with, well, a crewneck undershirt. A button-down shirt worn with several buttons undone goes well with a V-neck. Once again, this one has a lot to do with personal preference—just think ahead about how you’ll be wearing the undershirt, and how much of it you want visible when you do.
BEST OVERALL UNDERSHIRT
Sunspel Superfine Cotton Underwear T-Shirt
Behold: The unassailable undershirt. Few brands take their quality of materials as seriously as Sunspel. And at this price point, you can afford to stock up on them, as well. It’s breathable, lightweight, and fantastically soft. Although it’s made of 100 percent cotton, the fibers are of the highest-quality, long-staple fibers that keep its shape surprisingly well and will continue to look refined after many washes. It exudes gentlemanliness and has a versatility quality that will become a mainstay in your wardrobe.
BEST FITTING UNDERSHIRT
Rhone Element T-Shirt
If it feels like you’re constantly torn between undershirts that are too slim and constricting, and undershirts that are too loose to be properly layered, try this Element tee from Rhone. It’s cut in a size that is every-so-slightly slimmer than regular (but far from “slim”). Plus, it’s made from super soft “Cloudblend” cotton. So if you’ve been searching for an undershirt that fits like your gym apparel but has the comfort of a natural fiber, this one’s for you.
Material: Organic Pima cotton, recycled polyester, and spandex.
BEST UNDERSHIRT PACK
Calvin Klein Underwear Cotton-Jersey T-Shirts (3-Pack)
If you find something you like, buy it in multiples. And who better to buy in bulk than underwear king himself Calvin Klein? These cotton-jersey T-shirts are soft, disappear under whatever you’re wearing, and are as all-American and reliable as apple pie. A three-pack for less than fifty bucks? A no-brainer.
BEST SOFT UNDERSHIRT
CDLP Midnight T-Shirt
A lot of brands make big claims when it comes to softness, and somehow, CDLP manages to blow them all out of the water. This blend of lyocell (a sustainable fiber derived from wood) and smoothest pima cotton offers a silk-like feel, a drape that is snug without being clingy, and excellent breathability you won’t find in just cotton alone.
Material: Lyocell and pima cotton.
BEST TANK UNDERSHIRT
Mack Weldon 18-Hour Rib Tank
Tanks are more art than science sometimes, and the T-shirt experts over at Mack Weldon have gotten this one just right. It has a slim fit that’s supportive, almost acting like a piece of low-key shapewear, and has some extra length to it—so much so that this bad boy will stay tucked even if you’re slam-dunking on the basketball court. The rib knit is also just perfect, with a comfortable touch and feel and a shape retention that lasts, as the style’s name implies, all day.
Material: Cotton, modal, and spandex.
BEST SHAPEWEAR UNDERSHIRT
Spanx Ultra Sculpt Seamless Crewneck Undershirt
There’s no shame in shapewear. It’s time to discover what women have known about for years: the power of an ultra-slimming undershirt. And there’s no better place to look first than the alpha and omega of shapewear, Spanx. Just think of it as one of the compression shirts you probably already wear to the gym or while skiing—except it’s going to smooth out your problem areas and give you that added boost of confidence when you need it most.
Fit: Compression fit.
Material: Nylon and spandex.
BEST PERFORMANCE UNDERSHIRT
Vuori Strato Tech T-Shirt
Trust this California-based brand for all your athleisure needs—especially when it comes to performance undershirts. Its Strato Tech tee comes in a just-right regular fit that can be worn layered as an undershirt or on its own at the gym. It’s comfortable and super soft, and you can rely on it for quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and anti-stink properties—whether you’re wearing it on a run or in the boardroom.
Material: Polyester and elastane.
BEST PAJAMA UNDERSHIRT
Derek Rose Ethan Stretch-Micro Modal Jersey T-Shirt
Pajama king Derek Rose knows a thing or two about comfortable sleepwear, and sometimes an undershirt is exactly what you need to wear to bed. They’re lightweight, they’re no-fuss, and they go with whatever boxers or bottoms you’re wearing. The seams on this one are virtually non-existent, making it comfortable from every angle, and it’s made from a smooth stretch-micro modal jersey that is cool and comfortable, too. It’s designed for the bedroom, but this T-shirt also makes sense as a layering piece under spiffy tops, or even on its own with your favorite 501s.
Material: Micro modal and elastane.
BEST LUXURY UNDERSHIRT
Zimmerli Pureness Stretch-Micro Modal T-Shirt
You trust the Swiss with your watches, so why not trust them with your undershirts, too? Swiss brand Zimmerli gets every aspect of this shirt right, from the slim cut that makes it a versatile layering piece that tightens up your physique to the engineered, featherweight Micro Modal fabric that offers stretch and odor resistance.
Material: Micro Modal and elastane.
BEST HIGH-FASHION TANK UNDERSHIRT
Bottega Veneta Ribbed Cotton-Blend Tank Shirt
Wear it on its own, wear it under something—just wear it. The secret to this luxe Bottega tank is that it’s a blend of pristine, highest-quality ribbed cotton with just a hint of elastane, so it keeps that perfectly slouchy look all day long without ever getting too droopy. It’s a smart choice for that James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause quality, and also looks smart and thoroughly modern when worn under an open blazer.
Material: Cotton and elastane.
BEST LUXURY LONG-SLEEVE UNDERSHIRT
Tom Ford Stretch Cotton and Modal-Blend T-Shirt
Don’t forget about long sleeves. They’re a great option to wear under your most expensive and irreplaceable cashmeres, adding much more protection between your skin and your sweaters, so they can last longer between trips to the dry cleaners—and with no visible arm lines in sight. Plus, with the nineties and early aughts trending so much in fashion these days, this foundation piece is a great layering option. Pair it with a short sleeve shirt, worn open, for a grunge-inspired look that is anything but grungy.
Type: Long-sleeve T-shirt.
Material: Cotton, modal, and elastane.
BEST WOOL UNDERSHIRT
Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Short-Sleeve Crew T-Shirt
Don’t sleep on merino when it comes to your undershirts. This isn’t the thick, itchy wool you might expect: It’s finely spun, stretchy, and supple, with all the natural anti-stink and moisture-wicking properties merino is known for. On colder days, it’s an excellent layering piece to keep you insulated and dry.
Material: Merino wool.
BEST ULTRALIGHT UNDERSHIRT
Buck Mason Costa Classic T-Shirt
Introducing the easiest, breeziest tee for guys who find undershirts too stuffy. Spun from a positively featherweight 100 GSM (grams per square meter) cotton, it drapes almost like silk but is super breathable and has a broken-in, lived-in look and feel. If you’re searching for the lightest-weight undershirt to create just enough distance between your clothes and your skin, this is a reliable choice.
BEST JERSEY UNDERSHIRT
Reigning Champ Lightweight Jersey T-Shirt (2-Pack)
The sleek feel and flattering drape of jersey cotton makes it a great option for undershirts. And while some jersey options can be a little on the heavy, less-breathable side, this isn’t the case here. Reigning Champ’s take on the style comes in a just-right weight that’s comfortable for layering in any season. It features a ribbed collar crewneck, trim sleeves to show off all that gym progress you’ve been making, and flatlock seams that never chafe.
Material: Jersey cotton.
BEST COLD-WEATHER UNDERSHIRT
Uniqlo Heattech Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Uniqlo’s phenomenal Heattech range combines high performance with a warmth that doesn’t compromise on comfort. This undershirt is a great base layer for chillier climates and offers moisture absorption, odor control, and thanks to its poly blend fibers, a fantastic stretch, which means this T-shirt retains its shape all day long. We especially love how easily this one disappears under outer layers.
Material: Polyester, acrylic, rayon, and spandex.
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