The Do's and Don'ts of Undershirts
Underwear is a relatively new concept - that is, the underwear that we know today. Up until the end of the 19th century, a collared shirt was considered an undergarment. In those days, you’d never see much of a shirt other than the cuffs and collars. The vanity of having good hygiene is why detachable collars and cuffs were invented so that only the visible parts had to be washed consistently.
Surprisingly, undergarments were not initially developed to protect the body from the elements nor to add another layer of insulation. A luxury of society's affluent few, undergarments protected the wearer’s skin from abrasive outerwear. The working class of the time was lucky to have a single shirt, as textiles were expensive, laborious, and precious goods.
As with many developments in menswear, the concept of wearing an undershirt was made common during wartime. At the beginning of the 20th century, soldiers would often wear undergarments to protect their uniforms from dirt, and in hot climates, it was more comfortable to just wear the undershirt. After soldiers returned from WWII, sales of undershirts skyrocketed as soldiers wore "T-shirts" as their own as a form of outerwear.
In the present day, undershirts are largely an optional garment and are purely based on the wearer's comfort level when adding an additional layer to the ensemble. If you do choose to wear an undershirt with your dress shirt, there are a few points to remember:
- Wear an undershirt if you sweat profusely: One of the main functions of undershirts is its ability to guard your dress shirt and other layers against damage caused by sweat or your deodorant.
- Undershirts help keep chest hair from poking through the shirt's surface.
- A T-Shirt is not an undershirt: undershirts are thin, formfitting garments that are lightweight and meant to be virtually invisible under your dress shirt.
- Your undershirt should match your skin tone: no, nude shapewear is not just a trademark of the Kardashians. The closer your undershirt is to your natural skin tone, the more invisible it will be under your dress shirt. HACK: When in doubt, choose a light, heathered grey undershirt vs a black or a white option.
- Deep v-neck undershirts, never crew neck: there are few things more tasteless than an exposed undershirt popping out of a dress shirt. With a well-fitting deep v-neck undershirt, you can unbutton both your collar and subsequent button without exposing your undershirt.
Ask Our Stylist: What dress shirts are a "must own"?
Dress shirts are the foundation of a smart wardrobe. Though they are often overlooked in favor of suits, shoes, and accessories, developing your closets shirting selection will give you endless combinations for a myriad of ensemble types. Here are a few of the basics to help you begin building your staple shirting collection.
There is no single wardrobe item (aside from underwear) that is more multipurpose and iconic than the solid white dress shirt. This shirt can be worn in formal, semi-formal, and casual settings and easily elevate an ensemble from iffy to crispy in an instant. Because of its versatility, it gets a lot of use so we'd recommend having at least two in your rotation.
Your fancy white shirts are best used for your more formal soirees like cocktail events, dinner parties, and black-tie. Most often these shirts are constructed with a higher thread count for a brighter sheen (80/2 to 102/2) and woven using a more intricate weaving pattern like a herringbone, hairline stripe, or dobby. We suggest designing your fancy white shirt with a point collar and french cuffs.
Often viewed as the secondary "workhorse" shirt, light blue shirts are a great alternative to your solid white shirts and help introduce color into your shirting collection. We'd suggest doubling up on these shirts as they'll get a lot of wear. A simple poplin weave in a medium weight is great for professional settings, though we'd also suggest an alternate option in an oxford weave and button-down collar for slightly more casual affairs. Lighter shades of blue that are pastel in color are more versatile.
Lilac or Pink
The Lilac or Pink shirt both work in place of each other, and the choice between the two comes down to skin tone. You never want your clothes to wash you out so choosing a shirt color that has a visible contrast between your skin and the shirt cloth is ideal. Similar to your light blue dress shirts, these options help add color to your wardrobe and break up the monotony in your shirt rotation.
Casual can mean many things when determining the formality of a shirt. These things include shirt patterns, fabric types, sleeve length (short or long), collar style, and shirt length. Aside from the aforementioned shirting staples, casual shirts can and should always reflect your personality.
Here are some tips to help you make the right casual shirt choice:
•The larger and bolder the pattern the more casual the shirt
•Button-down collars are the most casual shirt collar second only to the stand collar
•Short sleeves are always casual
•Straight hemlines are more casual than curved hemlines
•Heavier shirt cloths like flannels, canvas, and denim are typically viewed as more casual
Ask Our Stylist: When is it appropriate to unbutton your shirt collar?
In an office environment that observes traditional professional dress standards, you should keep all buttons on your shirt buttoned at all times. This includes collar point buttons on your button-down shirt collar. Typically, in these settings, it is inexcusable to be seen without a jacket, let alone a tie, and note that your shirt must be buttoned to the top while wearing a tie.
In more laidback work environments where a jacket and a tie are not required, it is safe to have your collar button unfastened. This simple "popping of the collar" button produces a relaxed and casual look that also makes you appear more approachable.
Preserving a classy appearance is of utmost importance for a night out. When attending a dinner, it is safe to unbutton your collar button while simultaneously appearing smart and informal. It is considered to be in poor taste to undo any further buttons on your shirt placket, especially if there's a chance that you may sprinkle chest hair into your food.
When at a dance club or a bar, ordering a cocktail, you can both increase ventilation in your shirt and look good by unbuttoning a maximum of two buttons - your collar and the subsequent placket button. There are names for those who display undesirable behaviors such as unbuttoning three or more buttons on their shirts while attempting to attract a mate, and those names are not nice.
You make the rules here, and the temperature usually dictates those rules. For instance, if you're at a backyard BBQ and the sun is beaming on your crisp linen shirt, a maximum of two buttons (your collar and subsequent placket button) may be unfastened. This provides additional ventilation for your shirt and produces a classic summer look that has been mastered by every Hollywood star from Marlon Brando to Ryan Gosling.
Ask our Stylist: When is it appropriate to roll up the sleeves on my dress shirt?We've all been a victim to and perpetrator of old-world presentation politics. Sleeve rolling is another battleground. As with all aspects of getting dressed, our goal is to make sure you know the rules --when to uphold them and when to break them -- so that you always dress with intent.
There are three instances where it makes sense to roll your sleeves:
•When your body temperature rises and you need more ventilation
•When you're conducting physical labor (and you don't want to stain your shirt)
•When you'd like to convey a relaxed attitude while maintaining some formality (business casual)
Ways To Roll:
This is the easiest and most intuitive way to roll sleeves. You simply unbutton your cuff and sleeve placket. Then, using your shirt cuff as a measurement, fold your cuff once and repeat until your cuff reaches your elbow.
A trick to having a sharper version of this cuff is by unbuttoning your cuff and leaving the button on your sleeve placket fastened. You then fold your cuff in half and continue folding until your cuff until you reach your sleeve plack button. This will result in a leaner fold for a smart 3/4 length look.
This rolling technique is recommended for shirts that have contrasting inside cuff lining. Start by rolling your sleeve, about 2 widths of the cuff, making sure that your cuff's edge sits just above your elbow. Flatten out any creases and then begin rolling from the bottom end of the sleeve. Continue rolling until your fold reaches the cuff's edge. Tug on the cuff's edge just a bit to show a quarter to half an inch of your cuff lining. Once complete, the bottom of your fold should sit just below your elbow.
To give you the most arm exposure and to have the best chance at not getting your sleeves dirty during manual work, we present the Workman's roll. Lay your shirt down on a flat surface and begin folding your sleeve to a cuff's width. Repeat this about 4 times until your sleeve length reaches just above your elbow or until it reaches about 5 inches from your underarm.
We suggest that you avoid rolling your sleeves when you are:
•Wearing a suit or sports jacket
•Wearing a tie
•Presenting to an unfamiliar audience or to an audience that observes traditional standards of dress
For when you're ready to complete your look with a clean-cut shirt made to your exact measurements, we recommend going with a wrinkle-resistant shirt! At Original Stitch, we offer a collection of 30 Easy Care fabrics that are notable for their wrinkle-resistant weaving technology. Our high-quality yarns were hand-selected from Japan to be extra resistant to wear and tear while maintaining a softer feel than regular button-up shirts.
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Ask Our Stylist: What is the best shirt cuff?
Ask Our Stylist: What is Business Casual?
Ask Our Stylist: Can You Roll Up Slacks By Hand?
Ask Our Stylist: Top 5 Collar Styles
Ask Our Stylist: Is It Ok To Clash Prints and Patterns?
At Original Stitch, we offer a collection of 30 Easy Care fabrics that are notable for their wrinkle-resistant weaving technology. Our high-quality yarns were hand-selected from Japan to be extra resistant to wear and tear while maintaining a softer feel than regular button-up shirts.To get notified of new product launches and receive style bits from our stylists, sign up here.