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December 7, 2011

Reader Question: Undershirts


Hi JJ,

I just got my first real job after graduating from college and now have to wear a suit and tie on a regular basis. Sometimes it gets really warm in the office and I end up sweating right through my shirt. I can usually take my jacket off when I’m at my desk, but in a meeting or presentation I have to leave it on. Any advice?

-Robbie

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Hi Robbie,

First, congrats on the new job! This is actually not that uncommon of a problem and my best advice is to start wearing an undershirt. There are a lot of different opinions out there about undershirts, but I am personally a strong advocate. Not only will it help keep the sweat stains off your dress shirts, it will also prolong their life.

‘But how can adding another layer keep me from sweating through my shirt?’ Great question, but think of it this way – the undershirt acts as a barrier so that the perspiration never makes it to your dress shirt (or suit jacket). As a result, you won’t have to dry clean your shirt as often which will make it last longer, since dry cleaning slowly eats away at the fibers.

I wear undershirts under basically everything from dress shirts to casual shirts and often even t-shirts. They come in such a variety of colors, styles, and materials that there is one to pair with pretty much any shirt. I usually stick with a black crew neck for wovens and v-neck for t-shirts. I do, however, have some colored crews that I wear under sport shirts to be able to add another layer of color to an outfit when I want.

If heat is still an issue, you might also look into underarm liners. You can order them online or if you live in a large city, you can probably find them at a theatrical wardrobe supply store. They are small super thin rounds of synthetic-backed cotton fabric that fold over the seam where your sleeve underarm meets the body of your shirt. They come in either disposable dailies that have a light adhesive or reusable ones that can be pinned or stitched in. I’d recommend the latter both for their environmental friendliness and their lack of adhesive that could potentially damage the fibers of your shirts.

Hope this helps.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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