How to Wear an Undershirt in Hot Weather (Without Breaking a Sweat)
Leigh McKenzie • April 5, 2022
Wearing an undershirt in hot weather is a bit of a delicate dance, so to speak. Hot weather brings with it all sorts of challenges for the wearer, including (but not limited to!) armpit sweat and excessive sweating. When you happen to be wearing clothing that’s more buttoned-up, literally – like a suit, tie and dress shirt, or an Oxford cloth button-down – the challenge tends to multiply.
You very well might be faced with discomfort and sweating, not to mention sweat stains. There’s a way to solve this that both addresses the problem and tackles things like sweat stains on your clothing, though – especially if what you’re wearing is more formal. A base layer in a lightweight material is but one way to tackle underarm sweat and stains in equal measure.
Deodorant and anti-perspirant are more than helpful, too, but that crucial base layer is what it really comes down to when the thermostat climbs.
The Best Undershirt Details That Make Hot Weather a Breeze
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Wearing an undershirt can actually help you tackle some of the common problems that pop up in hot weather. If you’re choosing one of the best undershirts, you’re off to a great start. You might have already guessed this, but breathability is among the biggest keys when shopping for and wearing an undershirt in sweltering temps.
There are plenty of other considerations to keep in mind when scouring the market for undershirts – we here at UnderFit think we check a lot of these boxes, but we’ll let you decide for yourself.
The cut of your undershirt should be slim-fitting, but not as tight as a compression undershirt – and not so tight as to make you feel uncomfortable while potentially making you sweat even more. You’ll also want to select an undershirt with the proper neckline, one that hugs the body and doesn’t droop.
When selecting an undershirt, the ultimate goal is regulating body temperature. The best undershirts should be moisture-wicking, which means they pull away sweat from your skin to keep you cool – fabric like ProModal (a type of micro modal with a touch of Lycra spandex) delivers a soft feel and absorbent qualities at the same time (keep on scrolling for more).
The little things also make the difference – remember how uncomfortable it can feel to have a tag scratching at your skin? Comfort, needless to say, is king all the way around, and any small touches that alleviate potential pain points are more than welcome. If your intuition says this undershirt feels comfortable enough to wear under another layer, even in the heat, that’s a great sign indeed.
Wearing a Dress Shirt in the Summer
There will come a time when you’re going to have to wear a dress shirt in the summer. In fact, you might be faced with this challenge every single weekday. It doesn’t have to be so daunting, though. And again, when you’ve got one of the best breathable undershirts in your corner (and on your body), it gets all that much easier.
First off, there are stretch dress shirts out there made with lightweight, more breathable fabric – modern, not stuffy. The same certainly goes for your undershirt. Beneath a button-up where you’re going to have the collar undone a button or two, pay attention to the neckline of your undershirt: Your undershirt shouldn’t show when your shirt is unbuttoned.
Long story short: If you’ve been worried about wearing an undershirt beneath a buttondown because your old undershirt peeks above the unbuttoned collar, worry no more: A V-neck undershirt solves that problem better than a regular T-shirt would. Short sleeve undershirts should be your ultimate focus, too – no need to worry about a long-sleeve undershirt peeking its way beneath your shirt cuff.
Fit is also crucial here. Your dress shirt should be tailored to begin with, but not overly tight. Consider the same approach in terms of the fit of your undershirt. Go with a slim-fitting undershirt, the kind that won’t prove too baggy or visible beneath your dress shirt.
There’s still a time and a place for a crew neck undershirt, though. If your dress shirt is buttoned to the neck and you’re wearing a tie, a crewneck style of undershirt still works well.
Keep in mind that all the while, an undershirt’s soft fabric and moisture-wicking qualities are going to help you wear your dress shirt (and suit, and tie) with confidence.
Wearing an Undershirt Under a Polo
Your summer wardrobe is all about variety and versatility – you’re not going to find yourself wearing a dress shirt 24/7 (or at least, we hope not). You’ve more than likely got a favorite polo you turn towards when a sunny day dawns, but that begs the question: Can you wear an undershirt with a polo?
The answer is complicated, or at least, somewhat complicated. Wearing an undershirt beneath a short-sleeve polo is ultimately up to you: Moisture-wicking polos made from lightweight stretch material are growing in popularity, especially polos that forgo traditional athletic logos (think of a dressy polo you could even wear to the office versus a polo you’d wear to the golf course).
As far as positives are concerned, V-neck undershirts provide another layer of moisture-wicking, absorbent capabilities in the heat. Short-sleeve undershirts are also a natural move to wear with a polo, provided the sleeves of your undershirt don’t peek through your polo.
You might be tempted in this case to wear a tank top, but extra underarm coverage and absorption can actually help fight sweat, so a deep V-neck might be the better bet here. Now, there are in fact some drawbacks to wearing an undershirt beneath a polo.
For one, if your polo itself is lightweight and moisture-wicking to begin with, you might not need an undershirt as readily as you would with a slightly heavier dress shirt.
And if your polo has an unusual button placket or slightly shorter sleeves, your undershirt might be somewhat visible through the polo. When in doubt, use a V-neck or deep V-neck undershirt with a polo, but consider forgoing the undershirt if your polo is made from a more tech-focused, stretchy material.
Best Undershirt Fabrics to Beat the Heat
It should be clear by now that shopping for an undershirt comes down to fit and fabric, right? Fabric is perhaps the most important part of the equation, since it’s going to be the layer closest to your skin.
In decades past, you probably grew used to wearing a cotton undershirt: For a time, it was the most common fabric for T-shirts, and everywhere you looked, you saw cotton undershirts. Fabrics have evolved with science over time, though. Semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon (more commonly seen in things like the classic, breezy Hawaiian shirt) have made their way into the market, too. Semi-synthetic fibers aren’t natural, like 100 percent organic cotton. Organic cotton can be slubby and textured at times, but it’s often smooth when used in undershirts and T-shirts.
Semi-synthetic fibers tend to draw from both traditional and organic cotton, with a few added touches. That extra dose of science tends to make semi-synthetic fibers softer, smoother and lighter – plus more moisture-wicking – than fabrics like cotton. Granted, organic cotton is also mighty soft (and of course, all-natural).
ProModal is also a notable semi-synthetic fiber (one that we love at UnderFit). It blends modal, a bio-based fabric made from cellulose, with lycra for a smooth, lightweight and stretchy feel against your skin – all better to target underarm sweat.
If you’re looking for extreme breathability, a semi-synthetic fiber, like something made with modal fabric, is going to stack up better than a slightly heavier fiber than cotton or organic cotton. Of course, an undershirt in its own right is going to help in the battle against perspiration in general.
Worried About Staying Fresh And Beating the Heat? Don’t Sweat It
There are lots of factors to keep in mind when wearing an undershirt. As long as you’re focused on fabric and fit – and choosing the best undershirt for your outfit – you’re already ahead on the leaderboard. Stay cool out there.