Ask Tug: Tight Collar Undershirts that Don’t Sag or Stretch Out

March 24, 2009 | By | 55 Replies More

jockey-3d-physique-collar-close-upYes, the quest for the tight collared undershirt still continues.  After lots of research and many, many email exchanges with readers, I’ve decided to consolidate all the information about this topic into a single post!

Here’s a collection of articles I’ve written related to high, tight, no stretch or sag collared undershirts:

Ask Tug Update: Undershirts with a high, tight collar that don’t stretch out or sag

Ask Tug: Know of a brand of undershirt with a stretch-out resistant collar?

Ask Tug: Are there Undershirts that have a collar that doesn’t stretch out or sag after wearing it a couple of times?

Ask Tug: I wear my undershirt backward – looking for one without a tag

Ask Tug: Help! Looking for an undershirt that holds its collar in place

Here’s an email from a reader that epitomizes this topic and shows how important having an undershirt with a tight collar is to some guys:

Hi:

I like to wear white crew neck t-shirts but i have had trouble finding ones that fit my needs.  The thing I require most is that the t-shirt is clearly visible. I wear long sleeve button up shirts and i only leave the top button undone.  The problem with most t-shirts is that you can’t see them even with the top button undone.  I bought a few expensive t-shirts and they are very durable and work well but I just can’t afford it and they are usually made of spandex or silk and fit too tight.  I used to wear Towncraft t-shirts and they worked well and were able to stay up so that people could see them even when i put my button up shirt on.  However, now they are no longer being sold.  I am looking for these qualities in a white crew neck t-shirt in priority order:

#1- Can be seen over a button up shirt with one button undone
#2-  The arms contour my arms or are form fitting without being spandex/silk
#3- The collar keeps it shape over time without stretching or becoming limp

I hope you can direct me to a t-shirt brand that will fit my needs.
Thanks, G

My response:

Hi G,

Thanks for your email! Wow, you have some pretty specific requirements – and I love it!!

The only undershirt I know of off hand that seems to meet practically all of your requirements is this one:

Alfani Cotton Stretch from Macys

It is a cotton/spandex blend Alfani Cotton Stretch from Macys, but appears to have a greater percentage of cotton with just enough spandex to make it close, but comfortable fitting. I have not personally tried them, but I have a very good friend who is really picky about his undershirts and he swears by them. Very visible collar that wears well and very nice looking to boot.

Please check that one out and let me know if you decide to try them out. I would love to hear back from you and hear about your experience.

Thanks!
Tug

Hi:

I bought some BVD crew neck t-shirts a week ago [from JCPenny] and they fit all of my requirements almost.  The neck stays up over my long sleeve shirt and the sleeves fit tight over my arms.  The collar is made differently than any other t-shirt I have seen. There are no vertical lines. It is some sort of intricate weave that probably makes sure they collar doesn’t loose its shape.  The shirt is 100% cotton but not a heavy duty cotton shirt. yet it still maintains its shape.  I’ve only washed the shirt once so i can’t say how it will hold up on the long run.  But this shirt is the closest thing to the Towncraft shirts I used to buy before they were discontinued.

[Notes from Tug: Reader G actually bought these BVD undershirts from JCPenny, but I could not find them on JCPenny.com, so I linked over to what we believe are the same undershirts on freshpair.com. If you want to be sure to pick-up the right ones, be sure to visit your local JCPenny retail store.]

Tight Collared Undershirts

As of today, here’s the list of undershirts we’ve found that have high, tight collars:

  1. BVD Crew Neck Undershirt from JCPenny: 4-Pack costs around $14
  2. Alfani Stretch from Macys: 2-Pack costs around $17.
  3. Jockey Mock T-Shirt: Per shirt cost is around $7.
    Here’s a review from a guest reader: Guest Undershirt Review: Jockey Short Sleeve Mock Neck T-Shirt
  4. Kirkland undershirt from Costco
  5. Tactical 5.11 Undershirt
  6. Jockey 3D Physique Crew Neck Undershirt – Wore this undershirt for a day and was pleasantly surprised overall. Per shirt cost is $24 from Jockey.com.
  7. Lands End Cotton Undershirts – Reader recommendation via email. Here’s what he had to say about them:
    These are great if you are looking for a T that rides higher up on the neck and doesn’t sag as the day wears on.
    Men’s Regular Crewneck Undershirt (3-pack)
    Item: 18355-3AGX, White, Size: Large, Price: $19.50
    ($6.5o per undershirt)
  8. American Apparel 50/50 – High collar, not certain if it sags over time.
  9. JCPenney Stafford Heavyweight undershirt – High collar, not certain if it sags over time.
  10. Update 2/22/11: Retro Fit Undershirt from RibbedTee. Similar to the vintage Towncraft 50/50 undershirts.
  11. Update 10/15/11:  Nordstrom-brand Crew Neck Undershirts. I heard it through the grapevine (from the wardrobe people on the set) that these are the undershirts Mark Harmon wears in NCIS. Reviews of this undershirt on the Nordstrom website are mixed, but I did get in contact with Nordstrom and we discussed how they were improving the quality of their undershirts.
  12. Update 10/13/12: Well, a semi-update…another reader tried out the Tactical 5.11 undershirts I listed above recently and confirmed they have a tight collar with a smaller opening.
  13. Update 2/2013: Here a a couple others to check out. 1) Marc Anthony Tees from KOHLS, 2) Merona Athletic Fit shirts at Target.

We’ll use this post as our central place to consolidate all information about high, tight collared undershirts!

The other thing that’s pretty interesting here is that reader “G” compared the BVD undershirts to the old Towncraft undershirt that people absolutely swear by. So for those of you guys who love the original Towncraft undershirts, give the BVDs a try and let me know what you think!

If you have a favorite tight collared undershirt, please email me or post a comment here and tell us all about it!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Ask Tug

About the Author ()

Tug is the world's undershirt expert. Looking for undershirt or men's shapewear information? You'll find it here on my site - guaranteed! You can also find me on

Comments (55)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Cheeno872 says:

    Hey guys! I have also been looking for a tight collar shirt that wont stretch or sag and came upon this and read someones comment about a “express undershirt”, so. I bought myself and and was extremely disapointed, expensive shirts and as soon as i put it on the collar was already. Sagging, save your money from this brand!!.. But if you guys do have any recommendation pleasee do tell im still looking for the perfect undershirt!!

    • thanks cheeno for stopping by and posting your thoughts. note: please don’t use all caps when posting comments here — it’s kinda feels like shouting online (: (i changed your comment to regular case.)

      yeah, i’ve never heard the express undershirts had tight-collars or had collars that didn’t sag. i’ve heard some good stuff about their stretch tees, but not related to tight collars or non-sagging collars. more about the fit overall.

  2. Jim says:

    Looks like BVD may no longer exist. Can’t find it on JCP site or on Amazon any longer. At $3.50 per shirt, these were great. What’s another decent cheapo brand?

    • heya jim — thanks for the intel on bvd — it’s unfortunate, but wouldn’t surprise me if bvd will not be back.

      if you’re looking for a very inexpensive tight-collared undershirt, my recommendation would be to try out the costco-brand shirts, or if you’re on the east coast, there are a couple other costco-equivalent (sams and bjs) that carry low-cost crew neck undershirts.

      this is the information i shared with one other reader about my recent experience with the costco tight-collar white undershirts (t-shirts):

      well, it’s a pretty soft, thick, high collared crew neck. the collar is just under 1.25″ wide, so it’s pretty wide.

      the torso body fit is pretty good, and the undershirt is really, really long. the size medium right out of the package is roughly 31″ long. i’m not sure if these guys are pre-washed or not, but if they are and don’t shrink, these puppies will be one of the longer undershirts i’ve come across.

      i think where this undershirt lacks is in the shoulder and sleeve fit. the shoulder length is too long on me, so the seam line falls over my shoulder about 1.5″ – 2″, which makes the sleeves appear longer. in addition, the sleeves are on the longer side, so my gut tells me these sleeves will be visible under many short sleeve shirts. in the case of the one short sleeve button shirt that i have now, if you pull the sleeves on the undershirt straight, they are clearly visible. plus, since the sleeves are not close fitting, it adds some bulk in that area.

      coupled with the heavier weight and longer side shoulders and sleeves, i couldn’t personally find myself wearing this undershirt on a regular basis.

      for those guys who are looking for thick, high collared undershirts, who wear mostly long sleeve outershirts, i think there’s a lot of value in these costco kirkland undershirts.

      one side note: at one time, the costco crews were made by gildan, but i’m not sure if they still are. the rn # associated to these crew neck undershirts is affiliated to an importer in los angeles, and not gildan. so not sure what’s going on there.

    • Glenn Drake says:

      I was shocked too because I had been wearing BVD crew neck for years because the collar was made of a strong material (not cotton). I think it was a spandex blend. I’ve got about 4 BVD crew necks left but that won’t last long. I recently bought a white crew neck from EXPRESS and LOVE it. They use a cotton almost jersey fabric that keeps the shirt from losing it shape. It has that spandex quality but not the look. It looks more cotton without the shiny spandex feel! The only downside is that EXPRESS undershirts are very expensive at $22 and they run a little tight. I’d recommend getting one or two sizes larger than what you normally wear. So if you normally wear a medium get a large. They also have sales where if you buy one you get $10 off the second.

      • heya glenn! thanks for the info about the express undershirt (t-shirt?)

        which one is it specifically? is it 100% cotton, or a blend? is there a sku or isbn, a product name?

        just want to make sure guys know which one to buy. (:

        • Glenn Drake says:

          Tug:

          EXPRESS only has one undershirt! The rest are graphic print t-shirts. Here is the link:
          Express STRETCH COTTON CREW NECK TEE

          They call them a stretch fabric and they also come in v-neck style. They are normally $22 but they are having a 40% off sale now for like $14. Plus if you sign up for their newsletter you can get an additional 10% off. I hope this helps.

          • awesome, thanks for the deets glenn!

            i do have that express crew neck listed on my cotton spandex undershirts article.

            is the express crew neck stretch undershirt made with a tight collar as well? (since this article is about tight-collared undershirts) because in the photos, it does not look like the crew neck collar is very tight. it looks more open.

            let me know — if it’s not, we just need to let the folks reading this know so they don’t go to express expecting to buy a tight collared undershirt.

          • Glenn Drake says:

            Does it have a tight collar? Hell yeah! I wouldn’t buy any if ti didn’t have a tight collar. The fabric is NOT spandex. It is a strong COTTON almost like a jersey fabric. it had the look of cotton but it holds shape very well like spandex but it does NOT have the spandex shiny stiff look! I wish I could buy two for every day of the week (14 total) in v-neck and crew neck but my money is tight now! :(

          • had an email exchange with glenn and confirmed he does have the express stretch (96/4) cotton/spandex undershirt/t-shirt.

            this is what he [Glenn] said about the shirt:
            “Yes I took off the shirt I was wearing and it says, “94% cotton, 6% spandex” So it is 90% with a small amount of spandex. Some cotton is so high quality it feels like spandex but it is definitely cotton. Sometimes I like wearing the EXPRESS t-shirt so much I wearing it two days in a row and after two days or even the next morning it looks exactly like a regular cotton t-shirt. In comparison, spandex never loses its shape even after days of wear. “

  3. Glenn Drake says:

    Hi Tug:

    I was the guy who originally emailed you. Thanks for using my emails for this article. I bought the Alfani shirt at Macy’s but the spandex isn’t use din the collar. The collar is just regular cotton. The spandex is used at the seems around the shoulders. I like some of the other brands mentioned in this article though especially the Retro fit Undershirt from Ribtee. I was watching NCSI the other day and wondered what brand mark Harmon was wearing. They always look good on him. I read the reviews on the Nordstrom site about how they changed the brand though. I hope they can go back to the old stye.

    • hey glenn! thanks for stopping back by and giving me an update!

      yeah, i’ve been trying to keep the article regularly updated since it’s one the main articles people visit when in search of tight collared undershirts (those undershirts with smaller neck openings).

      couple of quick things:
      1. most undershirt collars are either made out of the same fabric as the body or a 1×1 rib fabric that is usually 100% cotton. though, i suppose that some companies offer the 1×1 rib collar in other fabrics as well, and maybe that is the difference on why some collars hold up better than others.

      2. even though i discovered that mark harmon was wearing the nordstrom-brand undershirts in the show, i would fully expect that they give him new undershirts to wear on every episode. wardrobe people aren’t going to tell mark to bring his own undershirts, when they’re looking for a specific look. plus, they’re not going to ask him or anyone else to re-wash undershirts so they can be worn during the filming of another episode. so keep this in mind. they might look perfect on him, with a clean crisp high crew neck collar line, but then again, it’s likely a brand-spanking new undershirt every time. for us regular folk, we don’t have the luxury of wearing an undershirt one time and ditching it!

      oh, and thanks for the feedback about the retro fit undershirt. i’ve been noticing how that product is getting a lot of attention lately. glad to hear it’s working out for you too!

  4. Dom says:

    I live by almost anything…JCP, Macys, Target, Kohls, etc. I’d do any budget almost within reason.

    • well, you might want to pay a visit to either jcp or old navy and check out the new fruit of the loom premium/softer undershirts. i have not tried them yet, but word directly from fotl is that they feel they’ve done a good job with perfecting the value-priced premium undershirts.

      i’ve always been pretty happy with alfani undershirt products from macys, but i don’t recall how their crew neck collars fit.

      if you can find some jockey classic streamlined fit undershirts, they’d be a good product to try out. but, i just did a quick google search for that product and only shows that 6-packs are available online, so it’s hard to tell whether or not you’ll have luck finding them in-store.

      my contacts tell me that the nordstrom supima cotton undershirts are worn by mark harmon in ncis, and those definitely appear to have a higher collar line. the big question is whether or not what he is wearing is the actual product sold at nordstrom. only way to find out is to buy some.

      one final recommendation – an easy way to determine if an undershirt (or t-shirt) has a high/tight collar line is to measure the front drop (measurement “h” on this t-shirt diagram). the lower the number, the better. anything under 3″ (based on size large) would be good.

      just take a measuring tape with you to the store, lay a crew neck undershirt flat, then take that measurement. the smaller the number, the higher the collar line.

      also, take the collar opening into consideration as well. a good benchmark for a narrower collar opening is 5″ wide – measuring between the inner edges of the collar trim.

      so if you find a collar opening with a 3″ front drop x 5″ wide opening (size large) you’ll be in the ballpark of a high/tight fitting collar. use that as your benchmark.

      ooh, now isn’t that a good bit of undershirt shopping intel??

    • dom, how did your shopping day go?

  5. Dom says:

    Going undershirt shopping tomorrow. Any suggestions on where to find high and tight collars in white? Thanks guys.

  6. Ralf Paddock says:

    The now out of business Mervyn’s Department stores used to carry the ‘Cheetah’ brand crewneck shirt. I’m on the last of those, and they have lasted over two years. They have started to get small holes in them from all the washings, but the necks still stand up all day. Any idea who actually made these for Mervyn’s?

    • hey ralf! thanks for stopping by and posting your comment! if it’s still readable, can you get me the rn# off of the tag or shirt? maybe i can find out who made that shirt for mervyns.

  7. rob y says:

    I bought the Vermont store shirts and am VERY disappointed. The collar it not even close to being tight or high, matter of fact it is so low that you cannot even tell you are wearing it under a collar shirt. At 10.00 a shirt with shipping STAY AWAY.

    • hey rob! thanks for stopping by and posting your comment. are you saying the munsingwear-brand crew neck undershirts from vermont country store do not have a high/tight collar?

      if so, that’s pretty weird because the crew necks i got a while ago do have a higher collar line. maybe something has changed?

      please confirm if they are the munsingwear-brand undershirts. if so, i will definitely post a note above to indicate that some later versions do not have a tight collar.

  8. bill says:

    I tried the Alfani stretch and found them pretty good. The sleeves were kind of short but I probably should have gone a size bigger than I did. Also I have found that Eagle USA makes a 50/50 cotton poly that has a real tight neck. Many colors too. You can’t buy direct unless you are a dealer. Bought mine from epicsports.com and had great luck so far.

  9. Lee says:

    Tight neck, year round, classic white undershirts:

    Last summer I got some more of my favorite white 2xist crew neck T’s in a 3 packs at “Off 5th Outlet”. The ones made in Thailand are the favorite. The shirts fit close and arm cuffs are tight. A bit different than the Towncrafts were but you know when you put it on it’s a good thing to wear. The high tight crew neck stays in place, looks classic and great under most shirts I put on over. It’s best under shirts with high enough buttons and or close enough collars to fit the high collar of the undershirt. Like the old Towncraft T’s the collar stays tight, but the 2xist is tighter and you can’t really loosen it by tugging on it so you have to get used to the feel on your neck. The tight neck can feel confining on a warm day but is a small price to pay for the clean snazzy organized look it conveys peeking out under the collar of your shirt or a white band showing under a T shirt and the snug fit on the torso arms and pits is great

    • hey lee! always good to hear from you buddy.

      yeah, those thailand-made undershirts from 2(x)ist are really great. still have a couple left, but one of mine is falling apart at the seams practically. but, it’s a great night shirt though.

      • Lee says:

        Hi Tug,
        Do you have the 2xist crew neck or V neck? If V neck I wondered how the V neck fits. I have some polo shirts with flat collars and low buttons. The 2xist crew neck is too high to wear with those shirts, the tight collar shows all the way around my neck with those shirts does not look good. I try to pull the collar out to not be so tight but it works it’s way back up on my neck and shows too much. Maybe a V neck would work better with those. I usually wear one of my ribbed T’s with those, the round neck ribbed T is lower than the 2xist which is helpful but I don’t like the look of the weave of the neck band on the ribbed T’s very well.

        • hey lee, i sent you an email about this already, but for the folks reading this, i have the original 2(x)ist v-neck. it’s a pretty open v-neck design, but the ones i have are a bit too big for me now, so it’d be hard to tell how the v-neck would look under your polo shirts.

  10. David says:

    Hey carli did your husband receive the shirts from pro5shirts.com ? I placed an order on there too and gave yet to receive and am wondering if im the only one having this problem

Leave a Reply


Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.