Earlier last month there was an article written on Gather.com about a undershirt/underwear wardrobe “malfunction” Robert Downey Jr. had on the red carpet during the premier of his new Sherlock Holmes movie in Rome.
According to a report from TooFab, the Sherlock Holmes star walked a red carpet in Rome to promote the film, and shared with everyone the fact that he was wearing Calvin Klein underwear [Tug: Hmm, I wonder if CK underwear sales grew as a result?].
It seems that Downey, Jr. had somehow inadvertently managed to tuck his shirt inside his undies. He wasn’t wearing a belt, so the waist of his pants likely fell an inch or so. When that happened it put the red waist band of his Calvin Klein underwear in full view of all the people an cameras present at the event.
Robert Downey, Jr. was at least smart enough to have coordinated his undies with the red striped tie and hankie he had tucked into his pocket. In fact, he even sported red shoelaces for the event as well.
So this article got me thinking about the subject matter a little. While I hate to admit it, there are times that I actually do tuck my undershirt into my underwear.
Now, the whole point of tucking an undershirt into your underwear is to address two common issues:
- Keep the undershirt from coming untucked
- Minimize the amount of bunching around the waist line
There are two companies that were and have been the pioneers in marketing their stay-tucked undershirts (#2 & #3), but many other companies have followed suit over the years to offer longer tailored/tapered undershirts, and now there are many more options to choose from than there were a few years back.
In saying that though, some of these longer undershirts are either way too long, or cut too wide. In either of these cases, longer does not necessarily mean better.
If the undershirt is fitted, but too long, there will be just too much fabric to deal with when tucking the undershirt into your pants. Maybe it’ll be tough to get past the undershirt when you have to “relieve” yourself (not fun) or you might get some undershirt bunching near the crotch area of your pants (personally experienced). Regardless, it just looks plain silly too.
If the undershirt is cut too wide and too long, you’ll have the above issues, but you’ll also have a lot of bunching and gathering not only at the waist line, but also underneath your pants too. I don’t know about you, but unless you’re wearing pants that are too big for you, having a bunch of extra fabric under your pants is not only uncomfortable, it’s unsightly. Plus, this will make your pants fit tighter around the waistline too. Bad, bad, bad.
So one option is to find a fitted, not too long undershirt that’ll stay tucked. Finding a “Not too long” fitted undershirt will also depend on your torso length (not just your height). At an average height/weight, I’ve found the ideal fitted undershirt length for me is around 28.5″ – 30″ long after washing.
Tucking Your Undershirt Into Your Underwear
The other obvious option is to tuck your undershirt into your underwear to keep it tucked. In most most cases, I’ve found this method to be more effective in keeping my undershirt tucked, but it does have drawbacks that most of the time outweigh the tucking benefit. Drawbacks include:
- If the undershirt is too long, the bunching effect at the bottom of the undershirt is compounded
- If the undershirt is too wide (or not fitted), you’ll get a good amount of gathering underneath your underwear. This can be further compounded if the undershirt is too long
- If you wear briefs, you have less tucking area
- When you tuck your undershirt into your underwear, the front of the undershirt comes into contact with, ahem, your frontal private parts. This can become unsanitary, mostly after “relieving” yourself. (I hope I don’t have to explain further)
- Same principle for the back side of the undershirt as in #3. Nuff said.
- Lastly, as what happened to Robert Downy Jr., it’s a lot easier to expose the fact that your undershirt is tucked into your underwear. For some, it could be an embarrassing moment
Ideally, if you want to tuck your undershirt into your underwear, you’d likely be better off with a shorter undershirt. It wouldn’t have to be fitted of course, but you wouldn’t want it too boxy either.
In thinking about the proper length for the tucking-undershirt-into-underwear approach, I think you only need about 2.5″ – 3″ of undershirt length past your underwear waist band. Long enough to accommodate for regular movement, but short enough not to come in contact with any lower extremities.
Are There Other Options Available?
Well, there’s a handful I can think of, but I wouldn’t go on record officially recommending these:
- Use Shirt Stays on your undershirt
- Try securing your undershirt to your underwear with double-sided clothing adhesive strips, like the Quick Fix Strips from Solutions that Stick ($7.95 for 32 strips), Hollywood Fashion Tape, or other similar products like Pure Style Girlfriends Stay Put Fashion Tape, Fashion Forms Double-sided tape, Commando Matchsticks, or Commando Matchtips (dots)
- Sew elastic into the bottom hem of your undershirt
- Make an undershirt like the one from this inventor that keeps your pants up and your undershirt tucked
So, Which Tucking Method is Better or More Appropriate?
The short answer is that they are both valid and legitimate ways of keeping your undershirt tucked.
Socially speaking, I think that tucking your undershirt into your underwear is perceived as less acceptable than not. However, if you’re a stylish bloke like Robert Downey who color matches his underwear with his outfit, it might not be that bad.
The key though is to figure out exactly which method YOU prefer, and then track down an undershirt with the proper fit and length to accommodate that method and your particular physique.
What say you?
1/17/11 Update – Weird timing…I just saw this “Tucking Your Undershirt into Your Boxers” thread today that was started back in 2007!
Category: Ask Tug