We've talked a little bit in previous articles that skin-colored undershirts, though not ground breaking for fashion, are relatively new to men's wear and a huge asset to the business wardrobe. Normal t-shirts are uncomfortable under well tailored dress shirts and cause unsightly shadows under white buttons-up around the collar and bicep. To our salvation emerged Mr. Davis (no relation to me) and Sloane Men undershirts. We reached out to both companies and have tested their shirts extensively over the past few months so I present to you our findings. Both companies provided free samples in each size and color for an even analysis.
Mr. Davis - I'm a big fan of bamboo and viscose in general because the fabric is breathable, soft and long-lasting. In terms of cost-per-wear bamboo goes the distance and is a great investment. When I first put this shirt on I was very excited about the look and fit...my issues began after I was fully dressed and had left my house (and my ability to ditch the shirt). The biggest problem is the raglan sleeve construction. Note how the Mr. Davis shirt does not have a shoulder seam but rather has an extended portion of the sleeve that attaches near the collar, running the length of the shoulder and the down the arm. Initially I was pretty exceited about it as I expected it to look smoother under my dress shirt...while in reality it caused the undershirt sleeve to perpetually slide up and into by armpit. I felt like I was fighting with the shirt all day long. No matter how much I pulled the sleeves down they inevitably encroached on my comfort and I happily removed the shirt at the end of the day. This was not an isolated incident--I tried wearing the shirt on many occasions and in a couple different sizes with same result.
Sloane Men - I've long been a proponent of modal fabric for undergarments of all kinds. It is softer and lighter than viscose and a magical experience in comfort. The only problem with modal is its longevity; I've yet to see a modal shirt that retains its visual integrity regardless of the manufacturer past 4 or 5 washes. Moving beyond the fabric choice this is the single most comfortable shirt I own. The construction opposes the Mr. Davis with a "set in" sleeve, which is the construction you are most familiar with in your standard shoulder seam shirt. The sleeves are intentionally long enough to prevent them from riding up and the hem is long enough to stay tucked in. I also enjoy having three color options for me and my clients. Being blessed with pasty white Russian/Irish skin I have to wear the "sand" color to fully utilize the invisible benefits...the "scotch" shows a little too much.
Analysis - I highly prefer the Sloane Men over the Mr. Davis undershirt. In terms of comfort and actually being "invisible" under a white dress shirt, Sloane Men seals the deal. I almost always disagree with one-size-fits-all type products and I certainly think Mr. Davis is underserving a large portion of their clientele, namely their black or African-Amerian buyer. However, in term of quality and longevity I think Mr. Davis is spot on with their use of bamboo. The modal alternative is luxurious but a bit of indulgence if you're counting your dollars.