Please, Shelve Your V-Neck T-Shirts

It's simple: stop wearing them.

a stack of folded clothing
Aleksandr ZubkovGetty Images

I might upset a few people with what I'm about to say: V-neck T-shirts were designed as an undergarment to be worn underneath a collared shirt. The shape ensured it would not show through even when you unbuttoned your top buttons and spread your collar. But since then they've evolved into something some men wear regularly, whether to complement a face shape or show off their chest. They should've stayed underneath.

In a patent filed on August 24, 1954, Max Hollinger, a fine chap — don't quote me on that, though — from Port Chester, NY, says he's created an undergarment with a v-shaped collar for "priests, ministers, jurists and the like, who are required to wear heavy robes or vestments." Further, he says his invention features a button clasp on the back to connect to a detachable collar, meaning men "can dispense with the usual shirts worn between their undershirts and outer robes or vestments for the sole purpose of securing their collars in place, and thereby achieve a higher degree of comfort in hot or humid weather."

Back then, even Hollinger knew the V-neck shirt's true intent: to be a moisture-wicking boundary between your body and the collared shirt you were wearing on top. A-shirts (aka the wretched "wife beater") worked underneath, too, but didn't provide sweat protection under the arms or across the shoulder blades. And I know comparing fashion standards of 1954 and today's is futile. So much has changed. But, while we've adhered to many of the same shapes and styles from the same era, see: blazers, Oxford shirts, ties and too many others, why not follow this cardinal rule, too? (Get it? Priests, Cardinals... never mind.)

Whether or not men should has been hotly contested since at least 2010. The mid-teens saw a resurgence of the style, with many citing "hipsters" as heralding the shift. In 2014, Elle published a story called "V is For 'Very Bad Idea to Wear.'" The writer shuffles through depths, trying everything from what he calls the "lowercase V" to "a woman's blouse acquired by accident." Further into the decade, the Wall Street Journal hosted a conversation between two writers, "The War Over T-Shirt Necklines," wherein both lobbied for their favored style. Since then, the winner's become clearer. While I'm a proponent of dressing however you'd like — see: my story on makeup and nail polish — under no circumstances can I confidently recommend wearing anything but a crewneck tee.

Have a new tattoo (or two) you're eager to expose? Try a camp-collar shirt. But, please, put away your v-neck shirts. There's nothing they can do your crewneck can't. There are a million styles that deviate from boxy, oversized aesthetics that emphasize a shorter torso or accentuate long, lanky limbs. Trust yourself, and the classic, crewneck T-shirt, which has gone unchanged — save for material innovations — for over a century.

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