Writer extraordinaire, former guest blogger, and friend “C” in Cali is back with his latest undershirt article. But this time, he’s contributing a product review of the new RibbedTee Protector Tank top.
written by: “C” in Cali
Disclaimer: RibbedTee is a sponsor of The UndershirtGuy blog. The guest reviewer is not affiliated with either RibbedTee or with the blog except for contributing occasional, unsolicited articles. The reviewer received a complimentary tank top and V-neck shirt from RibbedTee for evaluation purposes but no other form of compensation.
“What’s in a name,” I thought when I read that the folks at RibbedTee were fed up with the term ‘wifebeater’ and opted to call their tank top the ‘Protector.’ Little did I know that by sampling the Protector, I would be wearing what is to my taste the most comfortable and best constructed tank top around. And I’ve tried on many a tank top! Let me start off by saying that I have no affiliation with the fabric trade. I know as much about threads as I do about modern art, but, as the saying goes, “I know why/what I like.” And I really like the products I sampled from RibbedTee. The V-neck from RibbedTee is worth your consideration, if you prefer that style, because it incorporates many of the admirable qualities found in the tank top. But if you’ve never convinced yourself that a tank top is the way to go, this undershirt may just change your mind.
This review will use Tug’s categories of fit, feel, function and affordability—with an interesting preamble. Since I had never heard of RibbedTee, I got inquisitive and exchanged some e-mails with the company’s founder, Mike Schwarz. I asked Mike why on earth he would get into the fiercely competitive undergarment business. His answer was that “simply put, I wasn’t satisfied with the undershirts that were on the market at the time.” This led Mike to start up a company headquartered in Nevada and operating out of L.A. in early 2008. He subsequently launched an e-commerce site (products are not currently available through retail outlets, but that may change) in April 2008, and he’s been growing his business even during this time of economic challenge. Quality still works. From his customer testimonials, it’s clear that
Mike provides top notch service; this was borne out by me in his quick responses to my questions and his eagerness to receive product feedback. Now you have to like an entrepreneur who had the vision to start a business against competitive and economic odds, bets on quality, and talks to his customers. Mike has done a couple of other things worth mentioning: he manufactures most of his lines (he offers three core products) onshore and he is donating a portion of the Protector’s profits to an L.A.-based women’s shelter that aids victims of domestic violence. But this is an undershirt blog, after all. So how does the Protector stand up to critical review?
Although you can experience RibbedTee in the form of a crew neck or V-neck style, I evaluated the tank top (Protector). (I later tried the V-neck and found that it had all the same good qualities). If you don’t customarily wear a tank top, do yourself a favor and try the Protector. In case you think that an undershirt is “just” an undershirt, read on.
Fit. For the average built guy, there’s always a risk in wearing a tank top. It just may not fill out the body shape in a good way. Think drooping necklines, extra fabric often poorly stitched around the sides, and a decidedly un-trim look. Here’s where the Protector comes to the rescue. It fit me like a glove. I learned that other tanks use spandex to keep their shape on less than sculptured bodies (like mine!) Spandex of course can sort of choke you as it wraps your torso—sort of like saran wrap, and who wants that? RibbedTee has no spandex, and most of its line doesn’t use it. My experience with many tank top manufacturers has been that their products are either super loose or super clingy if made with spandex or other wild sounding polymers. RibbedTee pulls off what I never thought was possible: a ribbed tank top that keeps its shape and fits to your body. A solid “A” on fit.
Feel. When I first opened the package of my RibbedTee tank top (by the way, no annoying scotch tape or fasteners attaching the tank to the packaging), I couldn’t believe the feel of the product. How one describes “soft” is a challenge, but let me tell you, this is soft! When the Protector came to the office with me, I thought for sure it had been transformed into fine silk. If your experience has been only with cotton, you know that it’s a great fabric but it can chafe—and you always know it’s there. RibbedTee’s silkiness just gave me a comfort zone between skin and shirt. The feel is very light weight so if you’ve been going chest-commando (shame on you), you won’t feel weighted down by this tank top. The secret, I was told, is the “modal/cotton blend.” Well, I must have been experiencing and loving a lot of modal! A solid “A+” on feel.
Function. Here are the facts: the modal/cotton blend, as I’ve said, is incredibly soft on the skin, but it’s also more absorbent than pure cotton (that wicking thing). The modal blend also gives the undergarment a longer life and maintains its bright white color longer than a full cotton shirt. The undershirts are cut longer. Why is that important? Well, if you’re like me, you’ve experienced the bulging effect or, worse, the ride up effect when the bottom of your undershirt ages and shrinks and meets your innie/outie. Now longer doesn’t translate into a night-shirt. It’s longer but somehow just the right length for the average guy to tuck. A tank top is sort of synonymous with ribbing—my layman’s definition of ribbing is a set of vertical lines alternating thread count (unlike your average T-shirt or V-neck shirt). The Protector’s ribbing is a good thing because it seems to adjust the shirt’s temperature and “give.”
Now I figured that since I was thinking nice things about the RibbedTee Protector, I had to do a little bit of a torture test. I started to pull (some would say “tug”) at its sides and see if my expansion experiment would reveal or produce thread holes. Not to my surprise, the shirt went right back to form without stretching out of shape or harming the fibers.
A last, completely subjective, word on function: I really dislike droopy necklines (on crew neck, V-neck or athletic undershirts). I also prefer tank tops that come with a fair amount of fabric on the neckline and shoulder straps. This preference promotes sturdiness around the collar and eliminates bunching up the distinctive shoulder straps. Also in the preference category: I like the U-line neck to be relatively high but obviously not crew-neck high. The Protector’s shoulder strap area between the heavier fabric was about 3/8” to one half inch—could use more in the way of heavy fabric to protect the shoulder strap’s form. The strap behind the neck area tended to bunch up a little after a day’s wear. Neck length was just about perfect reaching between the first and second button on the covering dress shirt. The shirt is available in white or black. Gray tank tops have become standard in the market, probably because the color magically minimizes the appearance of tank straps under a dress shirt that dissuade a few guys from wearing tank tops at all in a business setting. Still gets an “A.”
Affordability. The Protector retails for $25.00 per shirt. This puts it in the lower end of luxury undershirts but quite a bit above that of the average box cut wifebeater. But this is no box cut undershirt, and it sure is no wifebeater. For the money, great comfort value and high quality about sums it up. RibbedTee’s commitment to U.S.-based manufacturing and contributions to supporting battered women give you a chance to do good…and feel good about it.