I really hate shopping for undergarments of any sort — be it socks, boxers, or undershirts — it’s all a gamble that rarely pays off. It seems to me that the market is pretty well set by one factor: price. You either pay $19 an item, or you pay $19 for a pack of that item.
The thing is, it’s really fucking hard to find out if any of these items are good before you buy them. I don’t mind splurging and buying a set of undershirts at $19 a pop if I know two things:
- They are going to be great.
- They are going to last at least two years.
I’d buy ten and call it a day. The problem is, unlike gadgets, no one really talks about this stuff — well no one that I know. I’ve bought some undershirts that I have seen recommended on sites here and there, typically they are over priced and shitty — a clear indication to me that they were compensated for talking about the products.
For the past three and a half years I have been wearing v-neck, white, undershirts. Prior to that I went with crew neck — I was uneducated, clearly. I have yet to find a really great v-neck undershirt, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share with you what I have found thus far. Please keep in mind that this isn’t me wearing these shirts once, and reviewing them. No I have worn each brand of these shirts (and still wear most of them) for over 6 months each. During the tests these shirts have been washed and dried countless times — I am speaking about them then on the level of what they will be like after the “new” wears off.
We start our adventure with the oh-so-popular ribbed-tee brand of v-neck undershirts. These are the shirts that look like what is commonly called, in the U.S. at least, a “wife-beater”. They hug your body, and are ribbed (amazing right?).
I hate these shirts, so let’s list out why:
- They are pricey, at $
20. UPDATE: Sorry it was $20 for a two pack, or $10 each.
- They fall apart. I bought three and within 3 months two had hems that came apart. That’s a 66.667% failure rate.1
- They are too short. I am 6′-3″ and most of that is in my torso. I need Large-Talls in almost everything — but most undershirts still work because they are typically made to be long. These shirts are so short I can’t even tuck them in. I don’t have much of a gut, but there is no way in hell I would be caught wearing just this shirt.
- The sleeve holes are too tight. You know, they give your armpits wedgies.
That’s the bad, and it’s pretty bad. The good though:
- I like the ribbed nature because they cling to your body well and let your dress shirt flow a little better.
- They hold their shape incredibly well (when they don’t come unstitched).
- They stay nice and bright white.
Overall: don’t buy these.
When I found out UnderArmor made undershirts I was stoked. I thought they would be great, but
meh is what I found. Here’s what I don’t like about these:
- They are really pricey — $25 each.
- They always seem to get that static cling crap going on.
- They gray up. By that I mean they are no longer white, see this picture for a comparison. Yuck.
- Because of the type of fabric, and this is a big issue, they tend to allow your shirt to come untucked a lot easier. I can’t stand how my shirt seems to glide in and out of my pants when I wear these undershirts. They must be made for that super hip guy that wears v-neck undershirts but never tucks anything in (that’s a thing, right?).
What I like about these shirts:
- They hold their shape really well.
- They feel like angels wrapped on my body.
- I assume they are some kind of armor that protects me from things.
Overall: save your money.
Now Things Get Stupid
The above two brands are really easy to talk about, they have very clear versions that I can point you to. But the next shirts I am about to talk about, are, um, probably ones that are going to be harder to find the exact version of for one, and easily mistaken for other ones. I point this out, as yet another example of how much these undershirt makers hate their customers. I’M LOOKING AT YOU JORDAN.
Jockey, Blue Labeled…
These are easily the best shirts of the lot.
What I like:
- They held their shape well.
- They stayed very white over the course of a 6 month test.
- The v is not too deep, or too shallow.
What I didn’t like:
- Too short.
- Minimal wrinkling of the cuffs, particularly around the waist band section.
Overall: good buy if you are not freakishly tall.
Hanes with Red Labels…
These may be the worst of the lot. I bought these in a store, so who knows what specific model they are/were, the link here is my best guess. There’s nothing I liked, instead here are the issues I found:
- Too short.
- Too boxy.
- An amorphous blob holds its shape better.
- Discolored after only a few months.
- Lots more.
These shirts suck a lot.
Overall: I’d rather use Windows… 3.1.1
OK, so my main complaint with most of these shirts is that they are far too short for me. It never once occurred to me that Tall sizes were made in undershirts, but (no shit) they are. Man I feel dumb. I have ordered a couple of tall versions and will report back after I have had a few months to test them.
If you can buy standard clothes off the rack, your best bet (that I have tried) is the Jockey’s that I mentioned above. For reference, here is an awe inspiring shot of the shirts so you can see color change in a side by side comparison.