Leah Arsenault - The Multi-Purpose Plain T



“The Multi-Purpose Plain T”


Leah Arsenault



Choosing a boy is like choosing a new car. Right away you are drawn to its appearance. Its style can range from sleek and stylish to reformed and classy, or even a complete mess. I have recently been observing boys who are like the stylish car, and I have noticed that they wear their t-shirts in layers. They come across as these preppy boys most times, with a plain white shirt covered with a nice colored polo, a stylish sweater, or even a plain colored short sleeve T. I have seen them pair this look with some nice khaki pants or colored shorts, but rarely ever jeans.

It may be hard to understand this group of boy, so let me explain other types of groups to clarify what they are not. There are the punk types; boys who wear very tight jeans and band T’s, or even just lots of black. They would usually wear the V-neck style undershirt. There are the ghetto types; boys who wear very baggy pants with their boxers hanging out, and long shirts that are usually about two times as big as they need them. They would usually wear the wife-beater style undershirt. There are the sporty types; boys who wear comfortable wear, like Nike or Adidas sweats and shorts paired with a cotton T. They usually do not wear an undershirt at all, considering their main priority is comfort, not style. Lastly, there are the boys without a clue, who throw on whatever clothes they can find. This clothing style may include wearing things that clash, like plaid with stripes. If they have the sense to throw an undershirt on, it usually is any type of t-shirt, colored and all. Now that the few main types of boys are listed, let’s get back to the preppy boy.

            It appears as if good-looking, preppy boys flock together.  I have seen about five to six of them standing around outside the dorms talking in masses, and there always seems to be at least one girl around. Honestly it is very rare to see them without a girl. Is it because of their well-groomed, casual look? Or because of their nice flow. Oh yes, these boys usually have some nice looking hair. It is either long with some voluminous curls, or super short and clean cut. I figure they must care about their hair because they definitely take time to pick out their clothes. Mine as well complete the full look, right?

            Now let’s talk about their eating style. I assumed their plate would be nice and organized, since they come across as so clean and tidy. However, when carefully observing them in the cafeteria, I noticed just how wrong my assumption was. These boys pile on the food, layer after layer, just like their shirts! I’m talking rice on top of chicken on top of salad on top of pizza. Oh yes, and do not forget the cake falling off the side. It is absolutely disgusting, and as I was observing this, my appetite literally vanished. 

            Continuing my meticulous, stalker-like watch on these boys, I began to notice their social habits. There is a lot of laughing and hand slapping involved when they are together. It seems like they know anyone and everyone around, and yelling names or inappropriate comments across the street was the norm. Having attention drawn to them appears to be something they do not even notice, like it just happens all the time. This action makes me view them as cynics, like they feel completely superior to others.

            Now let’s get back to their shirt wearing style. Why must they layer them? Is it a comfort thing, like a safety blanket you always have to have with you no matter what? Or is layering a cautionary thing? Like to catch all the sweat that occurs when they secretly feel nervous talking to girls, even when acting all super confident? I just do not know, and I am determined to figure it out.

In a fashion blog called “Wasabi Nights,” Lisa Bruckner writes that white shirts worn as undershirts “serve both function and fashion” for guys. I was right in the fact that these plain white T’s serve as barriers to protect the other shirt from sweat, body odor, and deodorant stains. However, I learned that this tool also serves as a fashion piece by smoothing out the torso and hiding chest hair.

You may think that buying a plain white t-shirt is a no brainer, but you are wrong! Brands and fit do matter. The saying, “what you pay is what you get” truly applies when buying guys undershirts, and Lisa makes that clear. The better the fit, the more smooth your torso will appear. While opposite of girls shirts, it is almost impossible to find a decent, tighter fitting undershirt for a man. As said in Lisa’s blog, the shirt should be “thin and comforting” while “conforming to your body shape.” There are a few different styles that male undershirts are offered in. The three most typical are V-neck, crew neck, and tank.  Men usually call the tank type a wife-beater. What you wear is up to your personal preference!

However, what the plain t is paired with allows a man to express his true style. In the 2011 Esquire article, “How to Wear Trends Like a Man,” it discusses the plain white undershirt is mentioned in almost every look discussed. For example, the article describes a casual look of a cotton shirt (plain T) paired with a cotton blazer, as well as many other styles of jackets and polo’s to pair it with. Here we see that this shirt is a must for a stylish look, which explains why I see preppy boys pulling it off all over campus!  

After observing the intriguing male, I have come to a few main realizations. The wearing of the plain t-shirt is mainly for the purpose of an undershirt for comfort, however it does play a fashionable role as well. Preppy boys are the most common type to wear it due to the fact that they dress in the types of clothes you usually layer it with.

I have also come to the theory that they act they way they do because their clothes give them confidence. When they know they have their protective undershirt layer to catch sweat or help their torso to appear smoother, and they have their stylish clothes layered on top, why wouldn’t they feel on top of the world? They are able to look around at others and laugh, most likely picking out which other guys tried their look but failed at it without the layering; therefore denying them as friends. 

The preppy boy is of a different kind, super aware of his attractive appeal, using it for his advantage at all times. He is like a Mercedes Benz, super flashy and always being shown off.  I purposely am drawn away from this type of boy, due to the fact that sometimes it seems they care more about their own look then I do! Yet in today’s world, this type of boy is a major turn on for many, and I believe I have found one of his secret perks; his undershirt makes him feel unstoppable.


Works Cited

"How To Wear Trends Like A Man." Esquire 155.6 (2011): 160-169. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Oct. 2012.


"Wasabi Nights.”: Men's Undershirts: Do You Need to Wear One? Which One Is Best? N.p.,n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2012. <http://www.wasabinights.com/wasabi-nights/2009/04/the-first-layer-the-well-dressed-business-man-should-put-on-his-torso-is-a-white-undershirt-whether-he-is-dressing-for-busin.html>.