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View Full Version : What good are "wife-beaters"?


I Love Me, Vol. I
05-19-2005, 04:10 PM
Sometimes I think we need a "MPQIMA" (Mundane, Pointless Questions I Must Ask) forum for questions of this sort:

What the heck is the point of "wife-beater" undershirts? Other than admirably serving as the official uniform of spousal abusers everywhere, what are they good for?

To me the primary purpose of an undershirt is to prevent sweat for staining and smelling up one's outer dress shirt. Most of this sweat and staining usually comes from the armpits. I think you see my point.

Two different answers have been presented to me already and I'm not buying either one of them. Someone said that wife-beaters still provide sweat protection from areas other than the armpit.

True, but then again so does a undershirt with sleeves and that ALSO protects staining in the armpits. Next.

Well then, another person opined, perhaps they are useful for providing some clothing protection when it is too hot to wear a sleeved undershirt.

Perhaps they do. But your main problem by far is still going to be your pits. So if its so hot and you're going to ruin your dress shirt anyway, why not just go without any undershirt at all?

(One idea I had was that wife-beaters were invented exclusively for Marlon Brando.)

Finagle
05-19-2005, 04:15 PM
Wild guess -- a throwback to more modest times when it was improper for even men to bare their chests in public?

La Llorona
05-19-2005, 04:20 PM
Hey, no shirt, no shoes, no service. If you want to go somewhere outside of your house, you've pretty much got to be wearing something on your top half, and "wife-beaters" are about the minimum permissible standard of clothing for men...women, too, come to think of it.

Other than that, I have no idea. Maybe they like the cool, refreshing breeze under their...

...never mind.

:D

Lord Ashtar
05-19-2005, 04:22 PM
I find they make excellent workout/hanging around the house clothes.

Omniscient
05-19-2005, 04:23 PM
Well, the most obvious purpose for them is that they look absolutely incredible when worn by a woman.

Second to that, I think the key is that they are cooler than a full undershirt.

I think your premise is flawed, I don't suppose that the primary reason for them is to prevent your sweating up the shirt. Its more for the comfort of the wearer. While this is not as big an issue these days, the dress shirts men wore in the past were somewhat heavily starched, rigid and generally not made of the most forgiving material. A mans arms and shoulders aren't particularly sensitive so the sleeves can be omitted when it benefits cooling. However, the nipples, and belly can be more delicate and likely will see alot of movement between the fabric and the skin. Undershirts provide a layer of protection for this friction. The shirt moves, the undershit doesn't, the wearers nipples don't get raw. Plus the wife beater still prevents sweat stains on the back, and frankly the shirt will stick to that unlike the pits. So thats probably a bigger sweat issue than the pits.

Birdmonster
05-19-2005, 04:24 PM
They're basically just undershirts that have somehow made it to outerwear. I asked a roommate who does wear these ghastly things (under his shirt, as God intended) why he did. He said it kept him warm. I scoffed. Then I decided to try it for a day. Dagnabbit, he was right. I have to say that I found it uncomfortable and would rather go with the classic white underSHIRT, but, hey to each his own.

As for the outerwear phenomena...I pray someone has the answers.

Fear Itself
05-19-2005, 04:27 PM
I am convinced the purpose of 'wife-beaters' is to intentionally brew armpit funk, which for some reason, is irresistible to the women you see with these men. Same reason Nascar dudes tear the sleeves of a perfectly good shirt; their women get aroused by rank pits.

bradministrator
05-19-2005, 04:36 PM
I like them because they don't puff up in the shoulders like t-shirt undershirts tend to do when wearing dress shirts. Sure, I could wear tighter t-shirts, but they feel much more constrictive than wife-beaters.

Plus, my grandfather wore them, so they just seem right somehow.

dropzone
05-19-2005, 04:48 PM
"Wife beater" is such an offensive, politically incorrect term! I prefer to call them "Dago Tees." :D

I Love Me, Vol. I
05-19-2005, 04:48 PM
Hey, no shirt, no shoes, no service. If you want to go somewhere outside of your house, you've pretty much got to be wearing something on your top half, and "wife-beaters" are about the minimum permissible But they were originally meant (I think) as underwear. As outerwear they are just Tank Tops and are not applicable to my question.

Susie Derkins
05-19-2005, 04:53 PM
My boyfriend wears them under his shirts at work to prevent nipple chafing. His job is very demanding physically, and his poor nips were getting rubbed raw by his shirts as he moved. The "wife-beaters" cling enough so that he doesn't get that friction, and they are cooler than a full t-shirt would be.

Kalhoun
05-19-2005, 05:27 PM
"Wife beater" is such an offensive, politically incorrect term! I prefer to call them "Dago Tees." :D
I'm with Dropzone. We always called them dago Ts when we were kids. Although Wifebeater cracks me up. As politically incorrect as it may be.

They look great on men and women. I love them.

Acsenray
05-19-2005, 05:33 PM
(One idea I had was that wife-beaters were invented exclusively for Marlon Brando.)

Stanley Kowalski woreT-shirt style (http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review.php?movieID=streetcarnameddesire) undershirts, not a wife beater (which are labeled in department stores as "A-shirts").

Queen Bruin
05-19-2005, 05:50 PM
Muscle shirts, people. They're called muscle shirts! Sheesh, my husband wears them and I am certainly never beaten.

pravnik
05-19-2005, 06:03 PM
Muscle shirts, people. They're called muscle shirts! Sheesh, my husband wears them and I am certainly never beaten.My God, he's a bigamist! :D

Cunctator
05-19-2005, 06:10 PM
I always wear a singlet (which is what they're called here in Australia). It soaks up sweat during summer and keeps me warmer during winter. I simply can't bear the feeling of a shirt next to my skin.

tremorviolet
05-19-2005, 06:15 PM
Muscle shirts, people. They're called muscle shirts! Sheesh, my husband wears them and I am certainly never beaten.

Nope. A muscle shirt (http://www.melsworld.homestead.com/files/Vin_Diesel___gray_muscle_shirt.jpg) is like a regular t=shirt witout sleeves. The armholes and the neckline are higher than a wife beater's (http://www.chicanobuilt.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/products/09.jpg).

Mops
05-19-2005, 06:17 PM
One advantage of what I'd call a regular undershirt over a T-type undershirt is that cooling by sweating works better. I for one wear regular undershirts in summer (when I sweat my skin gets cooled, not my undershirt) and T-undershirts for the rest of the year.

Zeldar
05-19-2005, 06:30 PM
Stanley Kowalski woreT-shirt style (http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review.php?movieID=streetcarnameddesire) undershirts, not a wife beater (which are labeled in department stores as "A-shirts").


Thanks for posting what I had almost said. I couldn't be sure of other early roles of Brando's where he may have used the wife-beater as a preferred top, but I was nearly positive Stanley was in an off-white T shirt most of the time.

I seem to recall Brando criticizing James Dean for wearing his (Brando's) last year's uniform when commenting on Dean's Rebel Without A Cause attire.

gotpasswords
05-19-2005, 06:37 PM
A muscle shirt or muscle tee is not the same as a wife-beater / dago tee (BTW, that's also a rather offensive term)

They're more of a sleeveless (but with somewhat scooped out armholes) regular t-shirt, instead of the 'beater's skinny shoulder straps.

gotpasswords
05-19-2005, 06:39 PM
gah.. that'll teach me to compose a post, get involved on a phone call, then submit before previewing and seeing that tremorviolet already said the same thing half an hour earlier.

Queen Bruin
05-19-2005, 06:49 PM
Nope. A muscle shirt (http://www.melsworld.homestead.com/files/Vin_Diesel___gray_muscle_shirt.jpg) is like a regular t=shirt witout sleeves. The armholes and the neckline are higher than a wife beater's (http://www.chicanobuilt.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/products/09.jpg).


Ah I didn't know there was that big a distinction. He wears both of those, though.

ltfire
05-19-2005, 07:19 PM
I wear button down, open collar shirts all the time, and I coordinate the color of my slacks to my T shirt in the winter, and wife beater in the summer. No other reason.

galt
05-19-2005, 08:19 PM
perhaps they are useful for providing some clothing protection when it is too hot to wear a sleeved undershirt.

Perhaps they do. But your main problem by far is still going to be your pits.I smell business opportunity: Inverse-wife-beaters that just cover the pits.

New Just-The-Pits from Hanes! ...has a ring to it.

HMS Irruncible
05-19-2005, 08:31 PM
It doesn't make a very professional impression if people can see to the contours of your chest, nipples, and abdomen through your white shirt (especially if you aren't in very good shape). But wearing an undershirt that covers your pits can make you very hot because heat exchange is a secondary function of the armpit (major blood vessels running shallow to skin that has a lot of sweat glands). Obvious solution... sleeveless T-shirt. Since air conditioning is more common, these aren't as common as they used to be... lots of people are just going for A-style undershirts.

anson2995
05-19-2005, 09:35 PM
[QUOTE=Brain Wreck]It doesn't make a very professional impression if people can see to the contours of your chest, nipples, and abdomen through your white shirt (especially if you aren't in very good shape). [QUOTE]

...and if you're not wearing a necktie, it sometimes doesn't look good to have the collar of the t-shirt showing beneat your dress shirt.

chaoticbear
05-19-2005, 10:56 PM
It doesn't make a very professional impression if people can see to the contours of your chest, nipples, and abdomen through your white shirt (especially if you aren't in very good shape).

I'd say that it might depend on who's hiring you. :)

chaoticbear
05-19-2005, 10:58 PM
Umm... wait a second. Your post didn't say ANYTHING about hiring people.

I guess I was thinking about how I've worn a little bear flag sticker to all of my recent interviews in order to (possibly) gain interest.

:(

Fear Itself
05-19-2005, 11:00 PM
I smell business opportunity: Inverse-wife-beaters that just cover the pits.

New Just-The-Pits from Hanes! ...has a ring to it.Too late. (http://store.advantagewearstore.com/wadrsh.html)

kezami
05-20-2005, 12:11 AM
I just want to say this is the first time I have heard the term 'wife beater' to describe a type of sleeveless t-shirt. I've been around a while but ignorant of certain pop culture slang I guess.

Maybe the term is specific to the US. I don't wear undershirts anyway.

Cunctator
05-20-2005, 12:16 AM
I just want to say this is the first time I have heard the term 'wife beater' to describe a type of sleeveless t-shirt. I've been around a while but ignorant of certain pop culture slang I guess.

Maybe the term is specific to the US. I don't wear undershirts anyway.I had never heard the term either until I saw it used here on the SDMB. They're called singlets in Australia.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
05-20-2005, 03:27 AM
My sweat tends to accumulate around the middle or small of my back.

buns3000
05-20-2005, 03:52 AM
My sweat tends to accumulate around the middle or small of my back. Thanks for sharing.

ouryL
05-20-2005, 04:34 AM
Men wear them to attract other men. Cite (http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_strauss/20050518.html) :rolleyes:

Acsenray
05-20-2005, 06:55 AM
Muscle shirts, people. They're called muscle shirts! Sheesh, my husband wears them and I am certainly never beaten.

I always wear a singlet (which is what they're called here in Australia). It soaks up sweat during summer and keeps me warmer during winter. I simply can't bear the feeling of a shirt next to my skin.

To add to what has been said already, in my lexicon, a muscle shirt has very large arm and neck holes, and the result is that more of the chest and sides of the abdomen are exposed. Indeed, a muscle shirt might have hardly any sides at all.

A singlet or a penny, to me is a type of athletic jersey, made from the same soft, stretchy material as jerseys, and is worn on the playing field in contrasting colours to indicate who is a member of what team. It is a very light garment and has no sleeves or even arm holes -- it's just a strip of cloth with a neck hole. Maybe the front and the back will be attached at the bottom (with ties or snaps) to prevent it from flapping around too much during vigorous play.

Acsenray
05-20-2005, 07:00 AM
A singlet or a penny, to me is a type of athletic jersey, made from the same soft, stretchy material as jerseys, and is worn on the playing field in contrasting colours to indicate who is a member of what team. It is a very light garment and has no sleeves or even arm holes -- it's just a strip of cloth with a neck hole. Maybe the front and the back will be attached at the bottom (with ties or snaps) to prevent it from flapping around too much during vigorous play.

Oh, and a singlet is just as likely to be worn on top of an actual jersey as not.

Acsenray
05-20-2005, 07:24 AM
Speaking of athletic wear, I recall an appearance by Patrick Stewart on the David Letterman Show -- it's more than 10 years ago, soon after Letterman left N.B.C. Letterman mentioned to Stewart that he had heard that Stewart is an avid soccer player and Stewart confirmed this, saying that he takes his "boots and strip" with him wherever he goes. Letterman expressed confusion at the terms and Stewart explained "jersey and shorts," in that order, pointing, respectively, to his chest and lap. I always assumed that Stewart slightly misspoke and that "boots" actually refers to kleated shoes. I still haven't figured out whether a "strip" is shorts or a jersey.

sunfish
05-20-2005, 07:30 AM
A singlet or a penny, to me is a type of athletic jersey, made from the same soft, stretchy material as jerseys, and is worn on the playing field in contrasting colours to indicate who is a member of what team. It is a very light garment and has no sleeves or even arm holes -- it's just a strip of cloth with a neck hole. Maybe the front and the back will be attached at the bottom (with ties or snaps) to prevent it from flapping around too much during vigorous play.

That sounds almost like a dickie. example1 (http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/jump.jsp?itemID=6973&itemType=PRODUCT&searchid=inceptor) example2 (http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/jump.jsp?itemID=7435&itemType=PRODUCT&searchid=inceptor)

WotNot
05-20-2005, 08:29 AM
I still haven't figured out whether a "strip" is shorts or a jersey.
Both (plus socks). Strip = team uniform.

Trunk
05-20-2005, 08:39 AM
Thanks for sharing.

His point was the same as one I was going to make.

I'm not a profusive sweater. Where I do sweat is where my back contacts my chair and car seat.

A T-shirt would be much too hot for me to wear under a dress shirt. Hence, a wife-beater is a good solution.

That said, 99% of my wearing of a wife beater is for comfort around the house. I think a muscle shirt makes you look like a vain dick (like that Vin Diesel pic). I'm more comfortable and cool without any sleeves on my T-shirts.

Anyone who takes offense at my "dick" remark is free to criticize me for looking like a total rube in my wife-beaters. They are covered with food stains and holes, and my tan-lines are from biking t-shirts, so I have white shoulders and my tan starts half way down my biceps. I'm not sure what statement they make, but I know it isn't "vanity".

China Guy
05-20-2005, 09:27 AM
they were called mexican tuxedo's where I grew up in norcal. In a humid climate, they kinda help your dress shirt from looking like you just stepped out of a shower whilst being less hot than a full on t shirt.

Acsenray
05-20-2005, 09:48 AM
That sounds almost like a dickie. example1 (http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/jump.jsp?itemID=6973&itemType=PRODUCT&searchid=inceptor) example2 (http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/jump.jsp?itemID=7435&itemType=PRODUCT&searchid=inceptor)

I suppose they are similar in form. The pictures you show seem to depict something that is supposed to simulate a formal collared shirt or turtleneck pullover underneath a jacket or sweater. A singlet is worn on the bare body or on top of an athletic jersey, like some of the orange reflective overgear worn by safety personnel.

chaoticbear
05-20-2005, 09:54 AM
Another question about these - the fact that they're ribbed, does that help at all? Does it make them stretchy so that they're more form-fitting? Does it wick sweat better?

Or did we just need some innovation over a tank top?

Mr. Slant
05-20-2005, 04:36 PM
Chest hair.
I wear them under my thin light-colored or white dress shirts and it keeps my chest hair from being highly prominent.
No one wants to know how hairy a co-worker's chest is.

Oy!
05-20-2005, 04:45 PM
No one wants to know how hairy a co-worker's chest is.

This just struck me as one of the great truths of all time.

Please excuse the interruption. Carry on.

kunilou
05-20-2005, 04:46 PM
Wife-beater
Muscle shirt
Dago tee
Singlet
Mexican tuxedo
A-shirt

Might I suggest as an alternative men's camisole

Gary Robson
05-20-2005, 10:00 PM
The shirt moves, the undershit doesn't, the wearers nipples don't get raw.
Am I the only one that laughed myself silly at this typo?