Undershirts (tank top type) Question

What is the point of men wearing the undershits that look like tank tops.

I forget what they are called.

I thought the purpose of an undershirt is to keep the sweat from ruining your good shirt.


I wouldn’t be caught dead in one (at least, under a light-coloured shirt), but they do keep you warm. Not so good for absorbing sweat though, I imagine.

I only wear them on particularly cold winter days - they do, as Narrad mentioned, help keep you warm.

I can see how they keep you warm but so does a regular T Shirt or an V shirt (the kind that have a V shaped neck). PLUS the keep the sweat at bay.

I’ve heard the younger set calling them “wife-beaters” lately. Not very PC, but I find it somewhat funny.

They help keep your torso warm, but are less restrictive (i.e., more comfortable) than a regular T-shirt when worn underneath a dress shirt.

Wearing one underneath a dress shirt is a pretty egregious fashion faux pas.

I tend to not sweat (;)) the fashion infractions on sub-freezing days. I’ve worn long johns underneath a suit and tie when called for.

Well, Markxxx, probably that wasn’t the original reason.

People wore “undershirts” as far back as the 1600’s(at least). But nothing I can find would indicate they wore tank-top style undershirts.

My Google research shows that T-shirt type undershirts were used by the US Navy by 1913, and may have originated from the British Royal Navy. But most typical American civilian males wore the tank-top undershirt until the 1950’s.

Interestingly, during WWII, the Navy wore T-shirts but the Army and Marines wore the tank-style shirts as per http://www.landsend.com/pg.cgi?sid=0138001009184157080&page=PRODTSHI0792&refer=NODELIES0795&mode=GRAPHIC. While the article is written by LAND’END, it appears to be based on the research of the curator of the Army MIlitary Museum. The article repeats the potential Urban Legend about Clark Gable single-handedly bankrupting the undershirt industry by his appearance in It Happened One NIght(1934) without an undershirt. snopes pretty well shoots down that oft-repeated canard, but doesn’t outright refute it.

As a personal cite, I first started wearing undershirts to school in the mid-1950’s. My father had a drawer full of “wife-beaters” or “tank-style” undershirts. We convinced my mother to buy us “t-shirts” as we didn’t want to wear what those old fuddy-duddies wore. As an aside, my dad was in the Army in WWII.

I’ve heard them called ‘A-Shirts’. Singlets are a one-piece garment that incorporate pants, and have only one over-the shoulder. Wrestlers tend to wear them.

You might want to take a look at Vintage Skivvies. They have lots of good info on the history of men’s underwear.

Lunatic I just read the site, but couldn’t find any useful info on T-shirts or tank-tops as underwear.

I wear one underneath all of my dress shirts. I weigh approximately 325 pounds and they have the effect of holding my gut in somewhat. I tuck them in tightly when I dress, but allow the outer shirt to hang in a somewhat “baggy” fashion.

Nonetheless, I don’t know exactly what the purpose of wearing one would be if I weighed… oh, I don’t know, 155 lbs.

Hanes calls them “A-shirts.” They were cool in my high school, for they exuded that “always relaxed” look that was so trendy in the late '90s.

The term “wife-beater” for an A-Shirt (what they’re called on the package) has been around for a while – I remember first hearing it about seven years ago.

Wife-beaters made a bit of a comeback a few years ago, with even designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Giorgio Armani turning them out for the (younger) masses.

True, they don’t offer much defense against underarm sweat. They do, however, help with the sweat that runs down the back and chest. And unlike T-shirts, they don’t bind and twist under the arms, or climb up over the biceps. I don’t wear them much–I think I’ve got three, and I’ve had the same ones for years.

I wear 'em daily. Virginia summers are very unkind to me, so they help keep my shirt dry while traipsing about outside on the commute. They add an extra layer for warmth during the winters, too, which is nice. I have several white ones and a handful of black ones, which Valkyrie bought me 'cos she says I look like an old man in the white ones.

My summer casual wardrobe consists of several button-down short sleeves, and having the A-shirt under them means I can unbutton my shirt for that relaxed look at parties and such.

My dad informs me that when he was a kid ('50s & '60s in rural Ohio) they called them “dago Ts.” Even less PC now, but I doubt they meant much harm back then.

I’m a hairy man in the South. Which means that I sweat from about March until early November. And I don’t like to run the a/c in my car, so I often step out into a parking lot with a seatbelt-slash of sweat soaking through my shirt (the alliteration was purely coincidental).
Last summer I came up with the bright idea of wearing a wife-beater under my shirt, and that solved the problem. It also, for some reason, keeps me cooler.

I wear them for warmth. Also, I find them less restrictive feeling than regular tees. In fact, all of my tees are v-necks. But, the tanks do nothing for pit sweat, so I wear tees under my work shirts to avoid pitting them out. Less of a problem for flannels and golf shirts I wear on the weekends.

And in my part of Chicago in the 60s and 70s, they were never called anyting other than dago-tees. An old habit I have found hard to break. Surprised this thread went so long before that name was mentioned.