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Q&A: Should I ever wear a t-shirt under a shirt?

Q&A: Should I ever wear a t-shirt under a shirt?

Undershirts are, rather strangely, most useful at two contrasting times: when you're really hot and when you're really cold. "When it comes to t-shirts under shirts, we're talking about utility, not style," says Thread's style director, Shaunie Brett. "You should think of an undershirt as basically underwear; it's not a feature of your outfit, so it should be invisible."  

Still, there are times when an insulating t-shirt can serve you well. Below, the occasions when an undershirt works well – and when it’s best avoided. 

Wear a t-shirt under your shirt if:

It's really hot or really cold

"A plain t-shirt can save your shirt from sweat patches on very hot days. Just make sure the shirt isn't too sheer, and the t-shirt is plain and light-coloured; you shouldn't be able to see the t-shirt through the shirt."

You commute by bike

"Put on a t-shirt under your shirt for the commute, then remove the underlayer once you get to the office. This way you won't sweat through your shirt first thing in the morning."

You're wearing flannel, twill, or any thick shirt

"A thick shirt ensures the t-shirt can't be seen under the shirt."

You feel self-conscious about your stomach or chest

"If you feel bulky or self-conscious about these particular parts of your body, a t-shirt under a shirt can be a nice way of defining your shape and adding an extra buffer that can help you feel more comfortable."

Skip the t-shirt under your shirt if ...  

Your shirt is thin 

"Whether you're wearing a formal shirt or just a thinner casual shirt, a t-shirt probably won't work underneath. It ruins the line of the shirt. It's especially distracting if you can see where the t-shirt's arms end through the thin fabric."

Your shirt is skinny

"There's probably not enough room for a t-shirt underneath."

You can see the t-shirt at the neck or through the shirt

"The only thing to remember when wearing a t-shirt under a shirt: it should be invisible. You could cut off the t-shirt's neck so it doesn't interfere with your shirt collar, button your shirt enough to conceal the t-shirt, or go for a v-neck t-shirt or vest, which won't be seen."