The Rite Stuff – slub yarn undershirt review

It’s been a darn hot summer here in Australia over the past couple of months, our sweeping heatwaves here meant that my choice in clothing have become restricted to very light pieces.

You’d have seen a few lighter weight jeans featured here on the blog a few articles back, with an in-depth review of Oni Denim’s Kiraku jeans. Yet, what about the upper body?

Today, let’s have a look at one of the T-shirts I’ve been testing out over the last month or so…

The slub yarn undershirt here comes from The Rite Stuff. Bryan, the man behind the Stuff, has been focusing on vintage –inspired tops for the past couple of years, and this T is his lightest garment yet.

Let’s take a look at this textured and versatile piece.

 

Design

This The Rite Stuff undershirt had its design inspired by the T-shirt’s origin as turn of the century underwear. As we have previously explored in the review of the pocket-T, T-shirts became increasingly popular in its role of work & casual outerwear as the 20th century progressed.

Bryan has chosen to deviate from the usual Japanese offerings for this T-shirt release, opting for a much lighter fabric and having the textured face of the knit-woven fabric facing inside, preferring function over visual curiosity, imitating the original T-shirts from the first half of the 20th century.

 

Cut

A quick Google search will show you very old photos of American military men wearing their T-shirts – the more iconic photos demonstrating how the Navy servicemen wore their T’s during the WWII era.

This T-shirt has been cut in a similar style, with key differences:

Bryan has modeled this T-shirt after the work shirts issued to the Civilian Conservation Corps. program, which operated in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The neck band is slightly tighter than naval issued T’s during the same period, and the arm sleeves are slightly longer. The body is boxy, and relatively shorter compared to modern T’s.

For your reference, in the photos here, I am 185 cm tall and 94 kg heavy.

Of course, on my frame, the fit of this T-shirt is not so vintage-like, but the problem has more to do with my build, to be sure. Check out The Rite Stuff’s website to see the fit on other torsos – link at the bottom of this review.

At my height, it is not possible to tuck this shirt into trousers.

As underwear, this T-shirt works well also. Here, the relatively boxy fit means that it is a great companion with work shirts.

The tighter neck and arm openings allow this shirt to function better as an undershirt compared with other variations.

 

Fabric

Bryan has once again worked with Lofgren in sourcing a very nice knitted jersey from Wakayama.

The T-shirt fabric is approximately 4 oz, to my own estimation, and has been low-tension woven with fantastic slub yarns, resulting in one face of the fabric having a wavy, uneven texture.

The colour is off-white, similar to the US military issued T-shirts of old.

Bryan has chosen to, correctly, utilize the textured face of the fabric for the inside of the shirt. This provides extra comfort during hot days, as the bumpiness of the slub face provides extra room for air and moisture circulation, and reduces the surface area on which the fabric and the skin have direct contact.

You will find some other makers using this type of fabric with the textured grain facing out, decreasing comfort but increasing the visual impact of the shirt.

 

Details

This undershirt may look simple at first glance, but the sewing work here is very nice indeed – basically, a neater and better version of the early 20th century originals.

The woven tag makes a welcomed appearance – this one won’t be scratchy on your neck!

The collar features a continuous, folded construct.

This means there are no ridges along the neck band to trap bits of dirt or hair, yet it has the thickness and integrity to hold its shape without taping.

Double row lock-stitch sewing is applied throughout with tonal thread.

The sewing is dense and neat.

The sleeves are medium length and somewhat tapered.

The arm openings are neatly closed.

The side and bottom seams are all further locked. This one is not a tubular/seamless make.

 

Thoughts

This slub yarn undershirt would be the fourth The Rite Stuff garment that I’ve reviewed since 2016, and Bryan continues to impress me with his genuine interest into the modern history of clothing. Each batch release of shirts are heavily inspired the stories of Western shirting, yet each piece remains practical in a more modern wardrobe – wearable, sleek retro vibes, and not too much like costumes.

With this slub-yarn T-shirt, I’ve given it extensive wear during the recent heatwaves here in Australia, and I must say it has proven to be much more comfortable than my Japanese loop-wheeled T-shirts, which are mostly 6 to 8 oz in fabric weight – which, really, become hard to wear once the temperature gets to 40 degrees Celsius & above.

Admittedly, this undershirt is the most basic of Bryan’s offerings so far. Though, I do believe that in building a denim or work-style wardrobe, starting from the basics is a good idea – it would be ideal to begin building a collection starting with quality jeans and base layers. Undershirts, up until now, have been something I’ve neglected to examine.

This T-shirt allows very good range of movement in the arms, is comfortable around the neckline, breathes very well, sits nicely on the skin even on humid days, and wicks sweat efficiently. All in all, it’s fantastic as outerwear during hot weather or when working hard, able to be easily paired with any jeans or work trousers to achieve either style or utility.

As an undershirt during cooler times of the year, it combines well with a work shirt, allowing for a nice T-shirt & shirt-jacket style combo. Though, since it cannot be tucked into my trousers, and given the knit is only 4 oz, I would likely not be wearing this T-shirt as a base layer once temperatures drop very low – this is a 3-seasons shirt, IMO.

For me, rather than simply evoking a sense of vintage Americana, slub yarn T-shirts are associated with childhood memories of visiting Japan with my family. The souvenir T-shirts in many regions can be found in slub-yarn fabrics. Given the potential heat of Japan’s summer times – whilst not as hot as Australia – it is not surprising that slub-yarn T-shirts are very popular outside the vintage clothing hobby. My favourite T-shirt as a child was, indeed, a slub yarn shirt.

This slub-yarn T-shirt occupies a different niche in the denim or work wardrobes compared with thicker, more detailed loopwheeled T-shirts. Its suitability for layering and also utility during hot weather or strenuous exercise defines its role in a wardrobe like my own. Though outside of these functions, I have other T-shirts that perhaps have better visual impact or ruggedness when worn as a standalone outerwear (The Rite Stuff’s own pocket-T, for example.) I feel that any denim-head’s collection can be supplemented nicely with a couple of undershirts like this one.

All in all, this slub yarn undershirt is a basic but thoughtful addition to the workwear wardrobe. Whilst not as exciting as a chambray shirt, a good quality undershirt is an essential investment in building a versatile & practical collection. Bryan’s done a pretty good job with this one, and I also hope to see some sleeveless undershirts in The Rite Stuff’s line-up in the next few years.

This undershirt is an easy recommendation at $50 USD.

If you feel the need for a slub yarn undershirt, The Rite Stuff is offering preorders for this T on their website [The Rite Stuff].

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