The question of whether or not you should wear a shirt under a sweater is one that the fashion world has debated for decades. Whether you’re sporting a crewneck sweatshirt or a wool V-neck, the idea of layering the two will typically present itself in one way or another. That said, should you wear a shirt under a sweater?
Yes, you should wear a shirt under your sweater. Not only can a shirt improve the overall look of your ensemble, but it can help you avoid unsightly sweat marks that are sure to ruin any look.
However, the contrary states that you don’t always need a shirt under a sweater, especially when you’re merely kicking it at home. It’s also arguable that wearing layers could be far too hot.
So, which is the better option for you?
To give you a better idea of why layering a shirt under your sweater might be the better path to take, we’ll discuss the concept and uncover some valuable pointers on styling the look.
Let’s jump in!
Wearing a Shirt Under a Sweater: Yay or Nay?
Essentially, in a general sense, wearing a sweater without a shirt beneath it is highly discouraged—not only by us but also by the fashion community as a whole. While it can be considered an acceptable way to go about things–and you wouldn’t be doing things wrong if you choose the layer-free option–going without a shirt just isn’t the most fashionable (or cleanliest) option.
Benefits of Wearing A Shirt Under A Sweater
To begin our journey toward why a shirt under a sweater is more or less necessary, let’s first discuss three primary components that are often involved in sweater-wearing: climate, hygiene, and occasion.
As much as you might want to break out your favorite wool sweater in the heat of June, we all know there is a time for sweaters. Once the weather starts to transition into the crisp autumn air that most—if not all—of us crave during the blazing heat of summer, we know it’s time.
It’s finally sweater weather (thank you, Saturday Night Live). Once things start to cool down, layers are typically the best way to keep warm, especially when you’re hoping to avoid bringing a coat along for the ride.
And, as the weather gradually heats up as spring rounds the corner, a shirt under your sweater offers the perfect opportunity to shed a layer if you get too warm.
The practicality of wearing a shirt is also an advantage. Wearing a sweater without anything beneath it leaves no barrier against sweat and dead skin.
I mean, how often do you launder your sweaters?
But, if you opt for a shirt underneath, it’ll be the first layer tucked into your armpits and absorbing any sweat, leaving your sweaters fresh for longer.
Not to mention, while it does a fabulous job keeping you warm on a chilly day, your favorite wool sweater probably won’t fare as well after several washes.
Nonetheless, occasion is also a noteworthy element. If you’re heading out for drinks with friends or a casual afternoon lunch, it’s best to layer up with a shirt under your sweater to keep things fresh. But, if you’re just relaxing at home for the evening, a shirt under your sweater certainly doesn’t matter as much.
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Considerations for the Sweater-Shirt Debacle
So, there you have it—wearing a shirt under your sweater has more benefits than one might think. Regardless, if you’re still on the fence about layering up, before you opt for one option over the other, we’ll let you in on a few things to consider that might help make your decision a bit easier.
Plenty of sweater styles are on the market, including V-necks, crewnecks, cardigans, shawl collars, and half-zips. Regardless, it’s never a bad idea to wear a shirt underneath.
It’s generally a classy and sophisticated look. So, whether you’re on the market for a nice sweater or you’re hoping to style one you already own, you’re safe to wear a shirt underneath most sweater styles.
For V-necks, half-zips, cardigans, and light-weight crew necks, a solid t-shirt looks dapper enough. But, opting for a dress shirt and tie under your sweater is a great way to dress up the look and keep things sophisticated.
Shawl collars, both cardigans and pullovers, look quite neat paired with a solid tee shirt. Turtlenecks, on the other hand, are more of a base layer, making them an exception that generally don’t require an undershirt.
Material also plays a considerable role in whether you should layer a shirt beneath your sweater, some more than others.
For example, if you spent your hard-earned cash on a soft, comfortable cashmere sweater that feels like you’ve been enveloped in a cloud when you slip it on, you might want to skip wearing a shirt underneath.
But, to keep from having to wash or dry clean it as often, an undershirt might add some precious years to your sweater and some extra cash in your pockets. However, with wool, you’ll want to wear a shirt underneath as it can be a more scratchy material. And, it loves to soak up moisture (yes, your sweat).
For most cotton blends and other fabrics that can be washed regularly, wearing a shirt beneath your sweater is generally ideal to keep from laundering as often. It’ll avoid wear and tear and shrinkage, making the garment last much longer.
Your sweater’s fit is also a considerable way to determine if you should layer up. Unless you live in a warmer climate, you likely own a thick, cable-knit sweater that easily leaves room for layers, which is the perfect opportunity to toss on an undershirt.
However, for tight sweaters, layering up might not be so simple. That said, any sweater you own (or buy) should be loose enough to add at least a thin layer beneath it.
How to Style a Shirt Under a Sweater
Since we recommend wearing a shirt under your sweater, we’ll give you some tips on styling the look. It’s the least we can do. But first things first: always shoot for an undershirt that will keep you looking stylish if you find you need to remove your sweater in a super-hot environment. In other words, save your muscle tees and your beach tanks for their intended purposes.
Without further ado, here are a few outfit ideas that will help you get the ball rolling on your next shirt-sweater ensemble.
1. The Dress Shirt
Slipping a dress shirt under your sweater is one of the more classy and sophisticated choices. Whether you’re off to work or meeting up with a date for dinner, a dress shirt and sweater can make a solid pair.
You can dress the look up or keep it semi-casual; regardless, you can’t go wrong.
Try a blue or cream-colored dress shirt under a brown, V-neck fair-isle sweater. Pair the shirt with some charcoal wool dress pants and a clean pair of loafers. Don’t forget a matching belt. To dress the look up a bit, toss on a coordinating wool blazer and a solid tie for some extra class.
To ensure that you don’t look bulky and don’t feel like you can’t move, opt for a slim-fit, stretch fabric dress shirt and tuck it in under your sweater. If you run hot, try a performance shirt that can help keep you cool. Also, if you’re going for patterns, keep one a solid and the other the print (e.g., a plaid shirt with a solid sweater). And, last but not least, never show more than two buttons—we don’t need any plunging necklines in a case like such.
2. The Crew Neck Tee-Shirt
The crew neck tee is anything but dull, and when worn with a sweater, you’re certainly playing the fashion game right. It’s a comfortable way to keep warm in winter but still look fresh.
For an everyday, classic vibe, try a solid white or grey tee-shirt layered beneath a loose-fitted, contrasting crew neck sweater. Pair it with some slim-fit or skinny jeans and a pair of white sneakers.
Or, if you’re on the lookout for a Brad Pitt-meets-Ryan Reynolds ensemble, try a dark, solid tee under a classy half-zip sweater. Match it with a sophisticated blazer, a pair of chinos, and some fresh loafers, and you’re ready to hit the road.
3. The Henley
The Henley is somewhat underappreciated in the modern world of fashion—a true shame if you ask me. Henley shirts can offer a somewhat rugged style, which is basically never a bad thing. And believe it or not, they look great with cardigans.
A cream or ivory Henley—long or short-sleeved—goes well alongside a pair of slim-fit dark-wash jeans. In cooler temps, try the pair in addition to a long-sleeved denim button-up shirt (unbuttoned) layered beneath an olive-colored shawl collar cardigan (also unbuttoned). Add in a nice pair of brown leather boots, and you’re off to the races.
All in all, yes—you absolutely should wear a shirt under your sweater, regardless of the type. Not only does layering offer a stylish, clean look, but it also provides a hygienic opportunity to collect all of your sweat and oils and, in turn, allows for less time spent outside of the laundromat.
While we are supportive of you wearing what makes you feel best, we’ve found that wearing shirts under your sweaters is far more beneficial than the alternative.
Tell us below which you prefer—shirts or skins?