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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may be a dumb question, but are white shirts supposed to be completely opaque?

On my white shirts, the material is not completely opaque. Where there is only one layer of fabric, the color of my skin shows through slightly, but where the material is double-thick -- like the buttons, the pocket, and the collar -- the color of the skin doesn't show through and therefore the shirt is whiter. The result is a two-tone effect which I don't like.

I always thought this was because my shirts are cheap. I went to Nordstrom's today with the intent of buying a new shirt, and I expected to pay enough for a really opaque one. However, I discovered that none of the white shirts in the store were opaque. The most expensive shirts had superior materials, with interesting textures or cuts, but were no more opaque than my cheap shirts.

So, what's the deal? Am I mistaken in thinking that opacity is a mark of quality? If I have a preference for really opaque shirts, what should I buy?

-TC
 

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This may be a dumb question, but are white shirts supposed to be completely opaque?

On my white shirts, the material is not completely opaque. Where there is only one layer of fabric, the color of my skin shows through slightly, but where the material is double-thick -- like the buttons, the pocket, and the collar -- the color of the skin doesn't show through and therefore the shirt is whiter. The result is a two-tone effect which I don't like.

I always thought this was because my shirts are cheap. I went to Nordstrom's today with the intent of buying a new shirt, and I expected to pay enough for a really opaque one. However, I discovered that none of the white shirts in the store were opaque. The most expensive shirts had superior materials, with interesting textures or cuts, but were no more opaque than my cheap shirts.

So, what's the deal? Am I mistaken in thinking that opacity is a mark of quality? If I have a preference for really opaque shirts, what should I buy?

-TC
Not really a mark of quality - just depends on the fabric. For instance I have a very nice white 160's fabric shirt that an undershirt is pretty much a requirement. On the other hand a fairly substantial white herringbone is fine. I typically wear an undershirt anyway so it's not that big a problem - but yes in a work environment if you're going to be taking your jacket off you probably want to wear one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I feel like a dunce. It never occurred to me to wear an undershirt. I've never worn an undershirt in my life -- I don't even own one.

Here's another dumb question: Do you have to wear a long-sleeved undershirt under a dress shirt? Otherwise, wouldn't the contour of the undershirt be visible under the dress shirt?

-TC
 

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...Do you have to wear a long-sleeved undershirt under a dress shirt?...
A short sleeve undershirt is typical -- I can't recall seeing long sleeve undershirts. Under a dress shirt, wear a crew neck, under a polo, a v-neck. JC Penney has 100% cotton undershirts that I find satisfactory. Gray or "oatmeal" colored undershirts are less likely to show under a sheer fabric.
 

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If you are going to wear a tie with the shirt get crew neck t-shirts (in white) if you are going to wear it open collar then get v-neck t-shirts. What will be visible most likely is just wear the sleeves end. There are no long sleeve t-shirts that I know of that are the kind designed to be worn under a white shirt. As another poster mentioned, if you wear a button down collar oxford, like a Polo by Ralph Lauren, they are so thick they aren't opaque but they also aren't a dress shirt. If you wear a jacket over the shirt nobody will see the t-shirt sleeve ends in any case.

Wait till you see what the shirt looks like with a white t-shirt under it, its really a very nice effect and it tends to make the sure almost glow white a bit.
 

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I haven't worn an undershirt or tee shirt in 30 years ...

You are probably wearing or have looked at broadcloth shirts which will nor be opaque, but a different weave will. A twill in a herringbone weave will give you the opacity yiu need. Look for a 100s, 2 ply shirt to wear to work. Nothing more is needed. A white oxford cloth will also give you good opacity. Stop shopping at department stores. You don't need to spend a lot of money on shirts, but you should buy from a men's store where the salesperson know what he is doing.
 

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In addition to contributing to opaqueness, wearing a T-shirt under your shirt contributes to comfort. A cotton T-shirt keeps you cooler in the summer. ( The T-shirt absorbs perspiration and wicks it away from your body. With out a T-shirt your shirt gets "wet". The principle at work is "layering", which contains heat when it is cold and holds out heat when it is hot.
Paul Winston
Winston Tailors
www.chipp2.com
 

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In addition to contributing to opaqueness, wearing a T-shirt under your shirt contributes to comfort. A cotton T-shirt keeps you cooler in the summer. ( The T-shirt absorbs perspiration and wicks it away from your body. With out a T-shirt your shirt gets "wet". The principle at work is "layering", which contains heat when it is cold and holds out heat when it is hot.
Paul Winston
Winston Tailors
www.chipp2.com
+1 - and not to mention that it extends the life of your shirts by at least 100%.
 

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Makes more laundry though.
 

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I have not worn an undershirt since I was 8 years old. But, I do not like thinner short material either. I tend to stick to oxford cloth, which is usually very opaque.
 

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To answer the above question, yes there will be a color-tone difference between your skin and the sleeve of the t-shirt on your arm. However, this is so common, it seems to be the norm, and not something to worry about. A long-sleeved t-shirt would also be very hot, keeping it way too much body heat.
 

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A white oxford cloth shirt with a button-down collar absolutely is a "dress shirt", and 100% appropriate for wear with a suit - as a look through any BB catalog will show.

OP - try the Lands' End white buttondowns - perfectly acceptable quality & only $19.50.
 

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I have a white dress shirt that is 55% cotton, and 40% polyester. I have to wear a white undershirt all the time when I wear it to go out for work.

I have some American Eagle shirts that are pretty plaid, and white. It is an 80's two ply cotton, and they aren't completely opaque.

I doubt that any white shirt is completely opaque. Unless you get a Joseph & Feiss shirt.......
 
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