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Can You Wear A Shirt Over A Sweatshirt? (Explained)

December 21, 2022
Can You Wear A Shirt Over A Sweatshirt? (Explained)

Layering isn’t as easy as it seems at first. Certain items go well over each other, while others should be kept well apart. So, can you wear a shirt over a sweatshirt? 

In general, shirts should not be worn over sweatshirts. Trying to do so will usually lead to puffiness, bulkiness, and discomfort. While flannels and oversized jerseys can sometimes work, in general, wearing a jacket or coat over a sweatshirt would be more appropriate than a shirt. 

Although that’s the short answer, as always, there’s more to it. 

After going through the main reasons why it’s generally not a good idea, I’ll give you a couple of alternative items you can wear over your sweatshirt instead. 

Let’s get to it. 

man in white sweatshirt
Trying to wear a shirt over a sweatshirt will usually lead to too much bulkiness

Image From Deposit Photos

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Shirt Over A Sweatshirt

By the end of this, you’ll probably decide against it. 

1. It Isn’t In Style 

There was a brief period in the late 90s and early 00s where an oversized T-shirt worn over a sweatshirt was in style – sort of. 

At least it was common enough to not be thought of as odd or out of place. 

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said anymore. 

A shirt of any sort couldn’t be worn over a sweatshirt without being thought of as awkward. 

Trying to pull it off would most likely draw some comments or stares. 

It just isn’t worth trying. 

Its brief heyday is over. 

2. It’s Too Bulky

With most types of shirts, whether it’s a T-shirt, flannel, denim shirt, or anything else, trying to wear it over a sweatshirt will usually look too bulky. 

Sweatshirts are traditionally thick, baggy pullover garments that aren’t designed to be worn under shirts. 

With shirts typically being more tightly-fitting, wearing one over a sweatshirt will look puffy and bulky. 

It’ll almost look as though you’re trying to layer backward. 

Shirts can be worn under baggy sweatshirts pretty easily. Trying to do things the other way round will lead to problems. 

It’ll look strange and will usually also feel tight and uncomfortable. 

3. The Layering Isn’t Functional

Wearing a shirt over a sweatshirt could technically be called a form of layering. At the end of the day, you’re layering a shirt over a sweatshirt. 

The problem is that this layering isn’t functional. It doesn’t really serve its purpose when it comes to wearing something that’s weather-appropriate and versatile. 

The benefit of wearing the shirt under the sweatshirt is that you’ve got the option of taking off the sweatshirt if you get too warm. 

That’s the beauty of functional layering. You can simply hold on to the sweatshirt and pop it back on if the temperature drops later on in the evening, for instance. 

If, on the other hand, you’ve worn the shirt over the sweatshirt, you don’t have this benefit. 

If it gets too warm you can take off the shirt you’ve got on top, but you’ll still probably be pretty warm. 

If it isn’t function you’re going for, this may not be that big of a deal. 

But if you want a layered outfit that gives you the benefit of versatility in a variety of different temperatures, wearing a shirt over a sweatshirt simply wouldn’t make sense. 

What To Wear Over A Sweatshirt Instead

While sweatshirts are commonly worn as a final layer, there are items you can wear over them pretty easily instead of a shirt. 

Jackets And Coats

There are a variety of different styles of jackets you can wear over a sweatshirt very comfortably. The same goes for coats. 

The benefit of doing this instead of wearing a shirt over it is that it’s much roomier, giving you a lot more space comfort.

The number of different jackets you could potentially go for is huge, but examples include denim jackets, leather jackets, and quilted jackets. 

Examples of coats you could wear over a sweatshirt include pea coats, overcoats, parka coats, and duffle coats. 

Sports Jerseys

If you do choose to wear a shirt over a sweatshirt, it’s important to choose one that looks very casual and is also large enough to prevent excessive bulkiness and puffiness. 

Sports jerseys are quite commonly worn over sweatshirts for this reason. 

While it isn’t ideal for the reasons listed earlier, it isn’t quite as bad as going for other types of shirts that are more formal-looking or slim-fitting. 

Oversized Flannels

Flannel shirts are commonly left unbuttoned and worn over stuff. 

In fact, it’s just as common to see flannel shirts being worn over other items as it is to see them worn on their own. 

While “flannel” is often used to refer to a type of shirt with a specific tartan or plaid pattern, it should more appropriately be used to refer to a shirt made from flannel fabric. 

It just so happens that flannel shirts come in a plaid or tartan pattern and also often in bright and bold colors. 

The flannel shirt is usually left unbuttoned, exposing the T-shirt or shirt that usually lies under it. 

Sometimes, flannel shirts are worn over sweatshirts and it doesn’t look quite as bad as other shirts might. 

However, in order to make sure the flannel shirt looks natural when worn over a sweatshirt, choose a flannel that’s relatively large and also stick to the tips I’m about to go through. 

3 Tips For Wearing A Shirt Over A Sweatshirt (If You Had To)

We’ve gone through exactly why wearing a shirt over a sweatshirt usually isn’t a good idea. We’ve also discussed how oversized jerseys and flannels may look OK. 

Here are a few tips to see you through if you do decide you want to wear this combination in any case. 

1. Slim-Fitting Sweatshirt

The key to making it work is to reduce the risk of bulkiness and puffiness. It won’t just look a lot more natural – it’ll also feel a lot more comfortable to wear. 

So, when wearing a shirt over a sweatshirt, choose a slim-fitting sweatshirt. 

Going for a sweatshirt that lies closer and tighter to your body should reduce the amount it causes the shirt to puff out when you wear one on top. 

2. Lightweight Sweatshirt

Choose a sweatshirt made from a lighter fabric if possible. 

It should be heavy enough to still give you the benefits of a sweatshirt – mainly warmth. It’s why sweatshirts usually come in thick cotton. 

However, it should be light enough to prevent excessive bulkiness when you wear a shirt of any sort over it. 

3. Oversized Shirt

Oversized shirts and T-shirts in many different forms are becoming more and more common. 

One of the benefits of this is that you can wear one over a sweatshirt quite comfortably, assuming the sweatshirt isn’t too bulky, to begin with. 


There you have it. 

Hopefully, everything you could want to know about this rarely discussed topic. 

Ultimately, you should feel free to wear whatever you feel like wearing. 

But in general, wearing a shirt over a sweatshirt isn’t usually a good idea. It’s puffy, bulky, and uncomfortable.