“You don’t wear an undershirt?” One of my coworkers asked. “Undershirt? What’s an undershirt?” I replied. My colleague’s eyes popped, “Wait, you don’t wear undershirts in Europe? That’s gross!”
Let's dig a bit
Undershirts are the norm in the US
An undershirt is a t-shirt that is usually worn under a button up shirt and sometimes under polo shirts. They are usually white, and - critical point - they have nice and round crewnecks (round necks).
Undershirts are now the norm at the office in the US. All men wear them and the key point is that the undershirts need to be seen. You’ll see crewnecks all over the place popping out of button up shirts, like saying “Here I am. Can’t you see me?” Well, I might be pushing this a little too far, but you get the point.
Why do men wear undershirts?
Internet is loaded with information about undershirts. The origins of the undershirt are not known. I found a pretty funny theory about it : “Somewhere back in our early human history, someone presumably decided to stick a thin layer under the rest of their clothing to soak up sweat. That was an undershirt”.
But I wanted to go deeper and I started a field research. I interviewed several people and the outcome was surprisingly rich. Here are the results:
I don’t like my chest/neck hair showing
I just feel naked without one
I really hate wet spots on my armpits
I wear undershirt so my nipples don’t show
I really don’t like the feeling of the dress shirt fabric on my skin
It keeps me warm. The air-conditioning is so cold
I don’t have to wash my dress shirts so often
It protects my nice shirts from getting deodorant stains
Undershirts are a big deal and seem to solve a significant amount of problems. Problems I hadn’t even considered before my field research. And I’m not making fun! The answers all seemed legit.
I bought undershirts and I tried them
Yes, I bought undershirts. I bought a value pack of three undershirts. Not too expensive, just to give it a try.
Monday was special. Pressure was building up. I finally and proudly announced it to my colleagues “hey, I’m wearing an undershirt!”. “You!? Waouh! But, wait, I can’t see it!”. Yes, I forgot to say it, I bought v-neck undershirts. Crewnecks were a little bit too much for me. Some colleagues even made fun of it, “If we can’t see it, you aren’t wearing one!”. What the heck!
I then pulled the v-neck out of my shirt and showed it off to my coworkers. “You like it so far?”, “Well, so far, so good!”
I quickly got used to it. Temperature at the office is kept pretty low, and an additional layer of insulation felt good. This alone was enough for me to buy into the whole undershirt thing. I bought a second value pack of undershirts. V-neck undershirts of course.
So based on that
How could I have been walking around the office without an undershirt ?