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Should You Wear An Undershirt With A Button-Down Shirt?

December 21, 2022
Should You Wear An Undershirt With A Button-Down Shirt?

Undershirts have developed into an important part of men’s undergarments. Whether worn under a button-down or a basic t-shirt, it’s essential to know how and when to wear them. So, should you wear an undershirt with a button-down shirt?

You can wear an undershirt with a button-down, though it’s not required. Wearing an undershirt alongside a button-down is highly recommended for very formal events. Undershirts can be worn alongside a button-down in any weather and should always match the button-down color.

Having said this, it’s essential to know the ins and outs of wearing an undershirt with a button-down, so let’s dig deeper.

oxford shirt with blue suit
Image From Deposit Photos

How To Know Whether To Wear An Undershirt With Your Button-Down

Before understanding how to wear an undershirt with a button-down, it’s important to first learn when it’s appropriate.

There are a few different factors to account for when choosing to wear an undershirt with your button-down or not.

Taking all of these factors into consideration will allow you to wear an undershirt appropriately every time.

1. Formality

Considering the formality of the situation is crucial when deciding whether or not to wear an undershirt with a button-down.

Some occasions allow for flexibility on wearing an undershirt, whereas others may have strict guidelines to follow.

Typically, wearing an undershirt underneath your button-down is not strictly necessary for more casual events and is primarily down to preference.

When attending semi-formal events (such as a work party), it is appropriate – and sometimes preferred – to wear an undershirt underneath your button-down – but it isn’t a necessity.

For strictly formal events, however, there’s much less flexibility about wearing an undershirt with a button-down. 

At very formal events such as weddings, funerals, and similar, wearing an undershirt with your button-down is a must. 

A couple of the primary purposes of undershirts are to absorb sweat and make a formal shirt less transparent by adding a layer of opacity underneath.

On top of this, the gaps in the buttons of your button-down could reveal hair, which is a fundamental error for formal attire. Wearing an undershirt with your button-down removes this problem entirely.

These factors mean that wearing an undershirt is ideal for formal events, as dismissing these could lead to a sense of informality not appropriate for such circumstances.

2. Weather

The weather and time of year are both elements that should also be taken into consideration when choosing to wear an undershirt with your button-down or not.

Despite undershirts providing an extra layer of warmth, they aren’t only suitable for cooler weather – they can be worn throughout the year.

This is because undershirts have many purposes and come in different styles and fabrics.

For example, linen undershirts are ideal for wearing underneath your button-down in warmer weather.

They absorb moisture fantastically while also being lightweight and breathable, therefore keeping you cool.

If, however, you’re using an undershirt to keep warm, merino wool is an excellent choice. Merino wool maximizes warmth and – at the same time – has good moisture-wicking properties.

On top of this, merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, meaning that there’ll be no nasty odors coming from your undershirt.

3. Preference

While there are factors that should be thought about when deciding whether or not to wear an undershirt with your button-down, a lot of the time, it’s down to personal preference.

Although it’s crucial to wear an undershirt at very formal events, often, you’d be wearing a dress shirt to such an event – not a button-down.

This means that, due to the generally more casual nature of button-downs compared to other shirts, personal preference should play a significant part in your decision to wear an undershirt alongside your button-down or not.

3 Tips For Wearing Undershirts Under Button-Downs

Now you should understand when wearing an undershirt with your button-down is appropriate – or even a necessity – here are some tips for wearing undershirts under button-downs. 

It’s important to remember that the following are tips, and nothing is a set-in-stone rule.

Pick Your Style Of Undershirt

There are four main styles of undershirt on the market, most of which can be used interchangeably according to personal preference. 

Awareness of the different styles of undershirts is an important part of any man’s style knowledge.

It’s also worth noting that the cost of each undershirt style is very similar and that the main factor in the price of these garments is the fabrics they are made of.

The four styles of undershirts are crew-necks, tank tops (also known as vests), v-necks, and long-sleeved undershirts. Being undershirts, none of these have collars.

The crew-neck is often considered the standard undershirt and has a rounded neckline, a high neckline, and short sleeves.

Here’s an example of a crew neck undershirt on Amazon: 

Because of the high neckline, crew-neck undershirts are best for occasions where your button-down will be fully buttoned up. This is due to the fact that if a couple of top buttons are left undone, the undershirt will be visible.

Long-sleeved undershirts have long sleeves, making them perfect for cooler weather to provide extra warmth.

Similar to the crew-neck, long-sleeved undershirts are best when all buttons of your button-down are buttoned up because of the high neckline.

V-necks have a v-shaped neckline, which can be pretty deep.  This makes v-necks ideal for a more casual scenario, where you wish to have a couple of buttons undone at the top of your button-down.

Here’s an example on Amazon: 

Being available in both long-sleeved and short-sleeved variations, the v-neck is a good choice for any weather.

Finally, the tank top undershirt is completely sleeveless. This means that it is optimal for keeping you cool in warmer weather. 

However, due to the lack of sleeves, it can be a poor choice as it won’t absorb armpit sweat – which is one of the primary purposes of the undershirt.

Consider Different Fabrics

The fabric used for your undershirt is a critical factor to consider. The different fabric varieties can alter your undershirts’ warmth, comfort, and cost.

Undershirts can often be found made out of cotton, polyester, rayon, merino wool, or linen. Each of these fabrics has its pros and cons; however, they are all viable options for your undershirt.

Cotton is arguably the best overall undershirt fabric option when wearing an undershirt with a button-down. It absorbs sweat well, is relatively inexpensive, and is light and breathable. 

If wearing an undershirt based on the weather, however, merino wool is the best option for keeping warm, and linen is ideal for keeping cool.

While merino wool can be more expensive, it offers everything you need in an undershirt – and more. With anti-microbial properties, merino wool will help eliminate odor, as well as absorb sweat and maintain warmth.

Ensure A Close Fit

Ensuring your undershirt is a close fit is essential. Loose-fitting undershirts won’t do their job properly and could be visible. 

When wearing an undershirt – particularly with a button-down – the undershirt should never be visible.

An undershirt should be close-fitting without being uncomfortable. Small armholes are important to help with sweat absorption. 

Ideally, your undershirt conforms to the shape of your body, with minimal movement restriction.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your undershirt is long enough to tuck in: an untucked undershirt has the potential to be visible.

It’s also recommended to try to match the size of your undershirt opening with that of your button-down. This will avoid any bunching around the neck, which could look clumsy or awkward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now you know all about wearing an undershirt with a button-down, you may have a few questions about the topic. Here are some frequently asked questions to round things up.

Should You Wear An Undershirt With A Short Sleeve Button-Down?

You can wear an undershirt with a short-sleeve button-down, but it’s down to personal preference. If wearing an undershirt alongside your short-sleeve button-down, you should avoid any long-sleeved undershirts; tank tops work best.

While you can wear an undershirt with a short-sleeve button-down, it’s important to remember that your undershirt should never be visible.

This means that the best option for undershirt style for a short-sleeve button-down is a tank top due to the lack of sleeves.

Can You Wear A Black Undershirt With A White Button-Down?

You should never wear a black undershirt with a white button-down. The black undershirt underneath the white button-down simply creates too much contrast for a garment that isn’t supposed to be seen. It’s good practice to match the color of your undershirt with that of your button-down.

Wearing a black undershirt alongside a white button-down – or any contrasting undershirt and button-down colors – is a fundamental style error.

It’s important to avoid doing this, as undershirts aren’t supposed to be seen, and wearing contrasting colors would not only make your undershirt visible but even make it stand out.

What Color Undershirt Should You Wear With A Gray Button-Down

If wearing an undershirt with your gray button-down, the button-down should be accompanied by a gray undershirt of a similar or, ideally, identical shade. Any other colors should be avoided and aren’t appropriate to be worn with a gray button-down.

The purpose of a button-down is to provide discrete utility. 

If wearing an undershirt of any color other than gray alongside your gray button-down, the undershirt would be visible, therefore removing the discrete element.


In conclusion, there are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not you should wear an undershirt with a button-down. 

Having said this, however, it’s ultimately down to personal preference – unless attending a strictly formal event, in which case, it’s a necessity.