Sunday, 24 May 2009
Gentlemen, it is time to purge our closets of the ubiquitous white crew neck t-shirt at work. I see it day in and day out: men in the workplace with their open collars, one or two buttons undone, with their white crew neck t-shirt under it. Stop and take a look around the office for a second. Look at all the white crew neck t-shirts forming that oddly shaped upside-down triangle under a man’s Adams-apple; they’re everywhere.
Here’s a question for the 21st century: WHY!?
My suspicion is that most men have no idea they are doing it. At the very least it has become a habit: take shower, towel off, don white crew neck t-shirt, finish getting dressed. Is anyone really thinking “this white crew neck will look great under my Brooks Bros. No-Iron shirt!” or “this white crew neck tee will be the perfect complement to my Ralph Lauren polo!” Really? Then why aren’t any of the models in the Brooks Bros. catalogue or the Ralph Lauren ads donning the same white crew neck under open collar look?
Where did we learn this fashion no-no? Or rather, where did we adopt it?
Back in the 1950’s (half way through the last decade if I must remind you) men wore the white crew neck under their open collars when it was casual enough to do so, but they would never be caught in the office wearing a dress shirt without a properly tied tie.
In the next two decades, the white crew neck was absent from the workplace. I remember wearing them to bed when I was a boy, but I never wore them to school in the 70’s, especially with an open collar.
In the early 80’s the white crew neck tee was still regarded as underwear, never to be seen in public; after all, our outfits were far too fashion forward to be marred by the unsightly view of one’s undergarments.
My greatest fear is that the era of Grunge music may have given us permission to don our underwear in public, and while society as, I have to believe, as become more sophisticated, we’ve all forgotten to dump the white crew neck tee as every day wear, to leave it for wearing at bed if nothing else.
It is time to go to your closet and your bureaus and purge them of the white crew neck t-shirt (that is, unless you are one who truly only wears them as bed clothes or you work at Best Buy).
Maybe we learned this fashion faux pas from retail employees. Throughout the 90’s you could walk into any store that sold men’s casual wear and find employees sporting that look: open fancy flannel collar with white crew neck underneath. We’ve entered a new era, it’s time to let go of the white crew neck. We can do better.
Purge your closets of the white crew neck t-shirt.
First and foremost the look is infinitely more modern! Let’s get with the 21st century .
Secondly, nobody wants to see your underwear, least of all your dingy, ill-fitting, white crew neck t-shirt under the open collar of your pressed (hopefully) dress shirt, polo shirt or casual short-sleeve shirt. I don't really care if it is clean or brand new. Look at your peers. Take a look at those who are wearing the white crew neck and those who are not. The guys without the crew neck actually look more professional and clean. The guys with the crew neck look infinitely more casual and not as polished.
You won't see much of the “open collar with the white crew neck” look in movies, TV, or popular culture. Look at your idols and heroes, even your boss; they're probably not wearing a white crew neck under their open collar, unless you work at The Gap.
There is nothing wrong with an open collar showing a bit of skin or even some hair.
I hear some of you calling out that you don’t want to look like some stereotype … nobody said anything about not keeping your chest hair trimmed in line with your collarbones or investing in gold chains. This is about education and there is no room for your humor or objections.
For those that are ready, ditch the crew neck now. Good man!
“But what about my clothes? My t-shirts protect the pits on my dress shirts from turning yellow” I hear some of you decrying. Dump the antiperspirant. The aluminum contained in antiperspirants is the cause of those yellow arm pit stains. (Never mind the studies suggesting aluminum can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s) If you shower daily, even just a quick 5 minute shower, most guys should be able to get by without any antiperspirant, and if you really need to swipe something under your arm, switch to a natural deodorant, like Tom’s of Maine, to help control odor.
For those who aren't quite ready, make the switch to v-neck t-shirts, keep the chest hair level with your collarbones and maybe you’ll eventually learn to release the t-shirt as day wear.
Women and children have a hundred more choices when it comes to clothes. The proof is in the fact that female models get paid $100,000 a day to show off the myriad of clothes available to women while male models get back $2,000 a day to show off the same shirts and pants available to men time and time again. Men have fewer choices, add to that the most unflattering undergarment as daywear, the white crew neck, and it's almost like we are taking another unnecessary step backwards.
The time is now to release the white crew neck. Save it for bed clothes, or better yet, stop buying dust rags and rip those all-cotton crew necks into rags for dusting; after all, they do a better job of cleaning than they do of complementing your look.
Do you consider a white crew neck t-shirt underwear or something wearable in public? How often do you see guys wearing a white T under their shirts or polo?