Don’t Let Your Basic Undershirt Turn You Into A “Basic Brian”

“Basic” has become a somewhat derogatory term recently. There’s the “basic bro” that consumes heavy amounts of protein, grunts when he works out and wears clothes one size too small. There’s the “basic b!&%h” who loves her Uggs, yoga pants and pumpkin spice latte everything. I always laugh when people joke about basic people. Who wants to be grouped into this mass of people who comically do the exact same stuff?

I’ve noticed someone within office culture over the years that deserves a title. I’m going to term him as “Basic Brian”. Here’s the general description of “Basic Brian”:

  • Likes the status quo
  • Doesn’t bring new ideas
  • Always responds that he’s “fine”. He’s never “good”
  • Wears pretty much the same thing to the office everyday. Grey or tan khaki slacks with either a blue or white button down.
  • A “Yes Man”
  • Rarely does anything interesting on the weekends
  • A grey or beige sock guy
  • ALWAYS wears a white cotton crew neck undershirt. Does not leave home without it.

Sadly, I used to be a “Basic Brian”. When I started my career in my 20’s, I really just wanted to blend in. That meant being basic in my actions at work and how I dressed.

I didn’t want to annoy anyone by pushing ideas or draw unnecessary attention to what I wore. I soon found out that the being like everyone else strategy doesn’t work out in the end. The reason is that I WAS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! How am I supposed to get ahead?

It took me a little while to actually realize I had good ideas. That I could lead the thinking of teams and drive change. I could act fast. I was willing to work harder than other people. People actually liked working with me. I was better than “Basic Brian”!

As my confidence grew, I wanted to make sure people recognized me around the office. I wanted to be known as different. Before someone even said one word to me, I wanted them to think I looked sharp and put together. Those first impressions are very important! I started shopping a little differently from there.

The Change

When I went shopping, instead of going right for the basic wear, I walked right past it. I walked by the tan khakis piled on more tan khakis. I walked by the standard fitting blue button downs. Instead, I bought slim fitting clothes that worked better with my body. I got some bolder colors in both my shirts and my pants. I then made changes in my socks and undershirt.

I threw every sock and undershirt I had into the trash. My standard Gold Toe beige socks and white cotton crew neck Hanes basic undershirt HAD to go. What I wanted out of each of those items of clothing changed.

Socks: I wanted to go from blending in to now actually popping out. I am a fun and energetic guy. I wanted my socks to represent that a bit.

Undershirt: The white cotton basic undershirt is the definition of basic. I needed an undershirt because I would sweat a lot, but it was something I didn’t want anyone to see. I wanted my new clothing to stand out and not my undershirt.

This was a Super Bowl TV commercial making fun of a basic guy who had a white undershirt on AND beige socks. 


Over a 6 month period, I looked like a new person. I became known as “stylish”. People actually came to me for tips on clothing. I walked around more confidently knowing that I looked and felt great. My skillset that I brought to work was now matched by the correct exterior appearance.

I look back on my “Basic Brian” days and shake my head. I was better than that. The talent was always in me, but I needed a mental transition as well as an exterior one. I felt like I was only as good as my $2 white cotton basic undershirt and beige socks.

I work at a major corporation and see “Basic Brians” throughout the halls all day. I think it’s fine if your personality is one of conformation and you’re comfortable there. I want to urge people that if you’re not a “ Basic Brian” to make changes. Speak up more in meetings. Challenge the status quo a bit. It’s 2017 and the business world is in massive transformation. New and different ideas are needed!

Once you find that voice, start changing your wardrobe to the point where you look in the mirror and see the guy you want to become. And hopefully, that man does not have a basic white cotton undershirt on!


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Here's Why The White Undershirt Is A Bad Look


Does A White Undershirt Hurt My Style?

The look you want to have at work exudes competence, confidence and professionalism. You have a good education, work your butt off and want to keep growing.  Why would you jeopardize this by wearing a standard cotton white undershirt that hurts your style in so many ways?

We have conducted research on the impression that the white undershirt gives in both office and social settings. The most common word used to describe the undershirt is “sloppy”.  Of the hundreds of guys I’ve talked to about undershirts over the years almost none of them realize they come across that way.  I definitely didn’t when I rocked the look for 10+ years!

Here are the reasons why people we research felt like the standard white cotton undershirts are sloppy:


1. White Undershirts Give You Bacon Collar

Many guys wear crew necks, which are clearly visible at the neck line. A guy might dress well overall, but then is showing his cheap white cotton undershirt.

Many of our participants said these undershirts remind them of what high school guys wear, which is a sloppy look. Not something a professional should wear.

White Undershirt Bacon Collar


Wear a deep V neck undershirt.  Many of the standard depth V necks aren’t deep enough.  They can sometimes be seen with one button unbuttoned and definitely with two buttons unbuttoned.  You want a deeper V to give yourself the ability to wear the undershirt with any look


2. White Undershirts Are Visible Underneath the Button Down

The white undershirt creates a contrast against your skin, which makes it visible underneath a lighter colored button down. The undershirt can often just kill the total look because people are staring at your eye catching undershirt sleeves versus the rest of your outfit.

Again, this is a look that high school guys have at their dances and graduation. It must be avoided.

Visible Arm from white undershirt


You want an undershirt that blends into your skin tone to avoid the contrast between the undershirt and skin.  When the undershirt color matches your skin tone, then there is no contrast.  No one can tell you have it on. 


3. White Undershirts Are Too Short

The standard white undershirts are often too short. With the goal of having the undershirt be more fitted on the sides, guys get smaller (and shorter) sizes. This can cause any extension of the arms to pull the undershirt above the belt line.

Now, the undershirt has a baggy look at your midsection adding pounds to your overall appearance. I used to have to go into the bathroom multiple times a day to tuck my undershirt back into my pants. Sloppy.

Short white Undershirt that doesn't stay tucked in


You want a longer undershirt that pulls down low, which will prevent it from pulling out of your pants.  Long is better than short for undershirt.  This stay tucked feature will keep you looking slim and avoid those embarrassing trips to the bathroom stall.


4. White Undershirts Are Too Sweaty

The thickness of a cotton white undershirt can make guys hotter in the work setting.  I sweat a lot and ALWAYS had issues with this.  I’d start getting warm and my undershirt felt like an unnecessary layer that was actually making me hotter.  That was making me sweat even more in the office.  I was going against the saying, “Never let them see you sweat”!  I would sweat pretty badly, which adds to the sloppiness of the undershirt issue. 

Office Jim Sweating - white cotton undershirts


You want to wear an undershirt to pick up any light sweating from hitting your outer shirt.  This is a major benefit of the undershirt. However, you need an undershirt with a more breathable fabric than the thick standard thick cotton.  The more breathable fabric will keep you cooler and help you avoid overheating. 

Most undershirt wearing guys I speak with haven’t researched the new world of undershirts. They stay with what they’re used to.  If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.  The problem with this mindset is that style has changed. 

You don’t need to be at the cutting edge of style, but you don’t want one of your choices to make you look sloppy and potentially hold you back.  In 2017, the visible white cotton undershirt is one of those wardrobe choices that can actually hurt your image. 

Take a look at Sloane Men’s Invisible Undershirt. Thousands of men have tried it and been incredibly satisfied.  Give it a shot at no risk.  Sloane has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

Sloane Men

 Sloane Men Undershirt


About the Author:  Mike Droessler is a Brand Manager at P&G working in Digital Innovation and also the Founder of Sloane Men, the maker of the Invisible Undershirt.  He attended Wharton for his undergraduate and USC for his MBA.  Sloane’s mission is to make guys better.  His breakthrough undershirt helps them look their best, but he also wants to share style and professional tips to help in more aspects of their lives.

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