Originally Posted at The Modest Man on May 20, 2019
In this RibbedTee review, we find out if the made in the USA underwear brand is worth your money.
Undergarment. It’s not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of fashion.
In fact, for many years, such unmentionables served a very strict purpose: to protect the wearer from outer garments which were usually stiff, hard and abrasive to the skin.
Today, such garments like the undershirt are optional and underwear serve more for reasons of hygiene. The days of 1800s Levi’s denim rubbing the skin off your leg are long behind us.
There has been much debate as to whether one should wear an undershirt with dress shirts, turtlenecks or other garments.
SHOULD YOU WEAR UNDERSHIRTS?
Historically, men did not wear undershirts with a dress shirt. In addition, there is no empirical evidence that an undershirt will prolong the life of a dress shirt.
I will still make the case that not only should one own a deep bench of undershirts, they should invest in quality pieces that are built to last.
First and foremost, an undershirt can help keep one warm in the winter with an extra layer of insulation.
While it seems counterintuitive, an undershirt can also keep one cool in the summer if made from the right material. For those who sweat often, this shirt can be your first line of defense to stay dry and it will keep that dress shirt from developing sweat stains over time.
The undershirt also provides protection when dealing with starched or other abrasive fabrics that may chaff or be scratchy.
Lastly, if you’re a hairy man, an undershirt will keep those hairs in check and keep them from popping through the dress shirt. Have I made the case yet?
WHICH UNDERSHIRTS SHOULD YOU BUY?
If you’re in the market for an undershirt (or several), what should you buy? It would seem that because the shirt provides no fashion sense and merely serves a workhorse, you should just pick the cheapest item to get the job done and move on.
I believe undershirts are the most underrated garment in your wardrobe.
Having owned many cheap shirts, I will not ramble on about the poor fit and the abrasiveness of the materials I’ve encountered. These same shirts wore out fast and quickly found themselves in the trash.
In this part of your closet, you need a work horse, not a show horse. Function should always trump fashion and investments always pay for themselves. Price equals quality and quality equals price, there are no substitutes.
While there are many brands on the market today, we are going to review the online, direct to consumer brand, RibbedTee.
RibbedTee was founded in 2008 by Mike and Kim Schwarz. As stated on their site, the company’s mission is to “create the world’s most comfortable and best fitting undershirts, educating along the way, and help people in their personal journey to challenge the status quo.”
To put it succinctly, I think they deliver on their mission darn near 100%.
MADE IN THE USA UNDERWEAR
While garment manufacturing has declined to about 3% of what we wear in the US, RibbedTee proudly manufactures in Los Angeles using other locally owned companies.
Buying made in the USA underwear and undershirts may not be important for everyone, but if you’re a fan of American manufacturing, this brand gets major bonus points.
For this review, I tested four shirts and three pairs of underwear.
RIBBEDTEE UNDERSHIRTS AND UNDERWEAR
Here’s what I received for this review:
- EVO TENCEL (94% TENCEL / 6% Spandex) – $32
- CoolWear Supima (100% Supima Cotton) – $18
- Retro Fit Tri-Blend (50% Polyester / 38% Cotton / 12% Rayon) – $18
- MicroModal (50% MicroModal / 50% Supima Cotton) – $29
- G3 CoolNylon Boxer Briefs (86% CoolNylon / 14% Spandex) – $30
Each item I received was individually wrapped and branded with the slogan “Hello Skin, Meet Comfort”.
No doubt the hand is the first thing one notices after opening the package. In fact they have a nicer feel than the majority of retail non-undershirts!
RibbedTee only has one style of underwear (the G3 Boxer Brief), and I picked up three out of the five colors: black, grey and red.
Note from Brock: These G3 Boxer Briefs are, hands down, my favorite underwear right now. Definitely worth the price, in my opinion.
The shirt collection is far more diverse and I needed to test several pieces to truly understand the difference. I chose all V-neck styles because I dress up for work in the US Senate but also wear sport shirts with an open collar and no tie.
The EVO TENCEL shirt can stretch more than 2x in both directions. It also feels very cool to the touch and has a deep V neck.
The Retro Fit Tri-Blend came in a heather grey. It has the least elegant hand and seemed comparable to other shirts on the market.
It is also the lowest price point on the site at $18. This one was shorter than the rest and would look the best worn as a stand alone with jeans or khakis.
The CoolWear Supima has a ribbed knit, and I think this shirt is the best value at $18. It has a similar ¾” collar as the Retro Fit but has a better feel and seems more like an undershirt.
Lastly, I reviewed the MicroModal which is similar to the CoolWear, but the blend definitely makes it more durable and absorbent.
RIBBEDTEE UNDERSHIRTS FIT
When it comes to fit, us men of modest height (I am 5’7”, 155lbs) find most shirts are too wide in the shoulders and too long in the arms or torso.
With a 40” chest and 17.5” point to point in the shoulders, I chose a size small across the board and these couldn’t have fit more perfectly. It should be noted that all of these shirts have stretch and they feel near invisible under other garments.
G3 BOXER BRIEFS FIT
With the underwear, I selected a size medium. While the waist measures 26” when laid flat, the CoolNylon has no problem stretching to my 33” waist and 40” hip, yet there is no feeling of compression.
Historically, I have not worn boxer briefs because they tend to bunch up on my thighs but these stayed in place all day. The waistband is only ¼” high and there is double fabric over the center which covers the crotch.
While the underwear do not have any trademarked technology such as a pouch like 2UNDR or thigh divider like SAXX, I found these to be extremely comfortable to wear and very cool on the skin. It was almost as if I wasn’t wearing anything at all.
THINGS I WOULD CHANGE
What is entailed here is merely personal preference and is highly subjective in the review. I personally don’t care for the ¼” waistband on the underwear.
Aesthetically, they don’t look sexy and it’s easy to pull them up too high. I would like to see a bigger waistband with more aggressive branding. RibbedTee is too modest.
Note from Brock: I find the thin waistband to be very comfortable and appreciate the subtle branding.
Personally, if one is going to buy this shirt, I would encourage them to upgrade to the TENCEL. To me, it’s a far more exciting shirt as its cooler and a few inches shorter for just a few more dollars.
FINAL THOUGHTS & RECOMMENDATION
I bought my first suit in 2006 as a finance major in college and landed my first clothing job in 2009 at Brooks Brothers followed by JCrew in 2011. Having owned a menswear retailer, I’ve seen hundreds of brands at trade shows from New York to Las Vegas.
I must say, RibbedTee represents the best undershirts I have ever worn. As a direct to consumer brand, they are able to cut out the middleman and offer a higher quality product at a lower price point.
Plus, RibbedTee is one of the only brands committed to making made in the USA underwear and undershirts, which is very cool.
No, undershirts aren’t sexy. But you need them and should spend as much as you can reasonably afford on quality over quantity.
RibbedTee has taken a well-rounded approach to offering a few options to market to a wider audience when it comes to fabric type and fit.
I wholeheartedly support family owned businesses that are interested in profiting by creating value for society, building long term relationships and promoting community.
There are a lot of digital brands in the ‘race to the bottom’ marketing of today but if you’re going to take a risk, RibbedTee is one online company that is sure to impress.
You won’t be disappointed.