The 7 Best Men's Undershirts
Don't wear a dress shirt without one
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When choosing the right undershirt, consider both your workplace and your professional wardrobe. If your 9-to-5 home away from home keeps the AC on full blast, consider something that adds a bit of warmth. If it’s the opposite or if you’re prone to sweating, look for shirts that offer tech-savvy solutions to help manage moisture and body odor. Those kinds of features prove even more essential if you travel often for work. If your typical uniform is a suit and tie, stick with basic white or light gray (which actually makes your white dress shirt look even whiter), but if you’re a business-casual office environment, feel free to branch out into a few different colors that play against other parts of your attire. A nice, colored shirt can also serve as a straightforward crew T-shirt without really looking like you’re sporting your undershirt, should happy hour happen on some sunny porch.
As far as fabrics, you’ve basically got three options. Cotton is typically the cheapest and most common. It’s comfortable, for certain. But it also stains, easily gets wet, takes forever to dry and won’t keep you warm when it’s wet. Synthetics like polyester come with wicking properties that pull your sweat from your body and then lets it evaporate quickly. These fabrics are typically mixed with other elements — odor protection, for example, to combat one of synthetic fabric’s biggest problems after multiple uses. Though higher performance than cotton, they typically have a shelf life just longer than your typical T-shirt mainly because all synthetic layers eventually start to stink. And then there’s merino wool, an unlikely suspect for an undershirt — save that in many situations it’s kind of perfect. A thin merino wool undershirt is cotton-smooth comfortable and comes with a host of all-nature performance features. It’ll never retain body odors, and will last a long time if you care for it properly — which is why it’s often the most expensive option.
Want some help picking out the best one to wear to the office? Read on to see the best undershirts to buy today.
Best Overall: Saxx 3six Five Shirt
Saxx quickly made a name for itself with its boxer-brief underwear, and while there’s no need for the “baseball pouch” — Saxx’s premium lower base layer feature, their 3six Five Undershirt still hits that enviable balance of performance, comfort, style and cost. Sure you can get three normal cotton shirts for the price of one 3six Five, but this one is made from 95 percent high-end cotton for comfort, along with five percent Spandex to provide a fit that’s snug but not overly tight. It also comes with a reinforced back, neck and shoulder seams, so it should outlast lesser versions of the typical cotton undershirt. But what it doesn’t have is a tag, which is kind of ingenious. It also comes in both crew and V-neck, both in a handful of colors, including white, black and a cool textured green heather.
Best Buy: Calvin Klein Three-Pack Slim Fit Classics
If a simple white undershirt is all you’ve ever worn — and you see no reason to upgrade — then the classic slim-fit three-pack from Calvin Klein may already be your go-to. If not, they probably should be. The 100 percent cotton comes in both crew and V-neck, with an overall breathable feeling even when layered under a suit and no tags to irritate or scratch. The slim fit allows for a more tailored look, but you can also opt for the slightly baggier “classic” fit, or go for a more fitted version with the stretch shirt, which includes five percent spandex for added flex. The latter comes in two-packs.
Best for Variable Climates: Smartwool Merino 150
If wearing wool as an undershirt feels like overkill, you don’t know merino wool. It’s a far cry from that scratchy wool sweater that haunts your childhood. This all-natural fabric is as soft against your skin as cotton — and it wicks sweat, keeps you warm when you get wet, cools you off when you’re hot and doesn’t retain body odors, even after multiple wearings (a huge boon for travelers). Smartwool’s 150 line is the company’s lightest, most versatile layer and employs merino fibers that are wrapped around a nylon core for added durability, with an overall slim fit that pairs nicely with looser button-downs, but can be worn solo while hiking, biking, traveling or hitting the gym. One caveat: though it dries quickly, merino does retain moisture longer than synthetic fabrics, but the natural properties in wool assure that you’ll stay cool when hot, and hot when cool, even if you get caught in a deluge. Bonus: It’s machine washable.
Best for the Tree-Hugger: Mr. Davis Tailored-Cut V-Neck
Rejecting the less-than-ideal performance characteristics of cotton (which doesn’t wick sweat or dry quickly, and can’t keep you warm when it wets out), the Mr. Davis Tailored-Cut undershirt is made of 96 percent buttery-soft bamboo, along with four percent spandex to help it retain its shape. The bamboo viscose (a relatively eco-friendly process that transforms one of the most plentiful grasses in the world into fabric) allows for a host of all-natural benefits, including odor-resistance, moisture regulation and hypoallergenic properties, ideal for those with allergies or sensitive skin. The shirt lies flat, so it’ll stay tucked, and comes in both a tailored fit as well as a more traditional cut.
Best for Sports Fans: Under Armour Core Two-Pack
Unlike most of Under Armour’s apparel, which always integrates its highly visible logo somewhere on the shirt/shoe/jacket/pants/tights/hats/base layers, the Core undershirt keeps the branding relatively subtle, dropping it on the lower left hem. So all that high-tech sport-centric performance will be your secret. Their polyester/rayon fabric provides four-way stretch, with a proprietary anti-smell treatment that fights the growth of odor-causing microbes, and fits with next-to-skin comfort without feeling like you’re in a synthetic fabric vice.
Best for Multi-Tasking: Lululemon 5-Year Basic
Built for ultimate everyday comfort the 5-Year Basic Tee was recently updated to be even more functional for a variety of circumstances. It utilizes Lululemon’s proprietary “Vitasea” fabric, which includes lots of lycra fibers to create shape retention, stretchiness and a soft hand feel. It comes in a rainbow of colors, with a slightly longer back hem to keep it tucked in place, or to keep things a bit modest for the post-work bike ride or yoga jaunt.
Best for the Gear-Head: Ministry of Supply Responsive V-Neck
The Responsive V-Neck is almost like wearing a science experiment (but in a good way). It uses coffee-infused fiber to provide an all-natural way to combat odor and sweat, integrated into the all-poly base fabric, a synthetic that wicks moisture fast and quickly evaporates. It’s also wrinkle-free and has been tailored to fit snug through the chest and biceps to avoid shifting or excess bunching when wearing it under a button-down shirt. And at only $35, you get a lot of tech for a refreshingly low price point.