Pop quiz: what do your wisdom teeth, tonsils, and tailbone have in common? Answer: they’re all vestigial features, relics of our evolutionary or developmental history that no longer serve a purpose. Most of them are fairly harmless (although the tonsils in particular only seem to exist to get infected). But one vestigial structure is notorious for being embarrassing, even inappropriate for the workplace: your nipples.
Although men’s nipples don’t have a biological function, at least going topless at the park or the beach isn’t a big deal. But nobody really wants to be known for showing up to a presentation with their high beams on. So how do you prevent your nipples from showing through your shirt?
Think Thick, Not Thin (Shirts, That Is)
If your nipples tend to be more prominent, wear a dress shirt that’s made from a thicker material and is darker in color. Thin, light colored shirts will naturally appear more translucent, and will show off what you’d rather hide.
That said, there are times when a white dress shirt is the best choice for the occasion. Luckily, there are a few ways to rock a white dress shirt confidently, without worrying you might poke someone’s eye out.
The secret to stop nipples from showing through a white dress shirt seems obvious: wear an undershirt. But not just any undershirt will do. Most men go with a basic white crew or V-neck, thinking the additional material will solve the problem. But choosing this classic style causes a secondary problem: your average white undershirt will be visible underneath a light colored dress shirt.
It may seem counterintuitive, but think about it for a moment: no matter how pale you are, you’re not “white T-shirt” pale. If you took a photo of any guy and rendered it in black and white, his skin would show up as a shade of gray. So when you wear a white undershirt, the bright white cotton contrasts with your skin.
Go Gray or Go Home
The solution to not seeing your undershirt through your dress shirt: wear a gray undershirt. The darker tone stops your nipples from showing through a white dress shirt, without advising its presence. It’s a simple answer, too. More (unnecessarily) complicated options exist, like skin-tone undershirts, but just because something’s available doesn’t mean it’s necessary. While there’s something a little odd about wearing a shirt the same color as your skin, you can always wear a gray T-shirt under a hoodie or sweater, or on its own, without attracting any dubious glances.
Some men swear by band-aids as impromptu nipple shields, but that also seems more awkward than convenient. Not to mention wasteful, potentially more visible, plus…chest hair. Unless you’re running an endurance race, stick to a simple gray undershirt, and trust that your vestigial nipples are no more obvious than your tonsils.