Singlets: To Wear or Not To Wear?

When I was a child, in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, it went without saying that I wore a singlet – all the time. I was not considered by my mother (or grandmothers, for that matter), to be fully dressed unless I had my white cotton Bonds girl’s undershirt under whatever I was wearing. If said singlet was untucked, I was told I would catch “cold in the kidneys” or, even worse, pneumonia. When I got older and graduated to a bra (and made the choice that wearing a singlet as well was ridiculous), my grandmothers were almost scandalised.

It goes without saying that babies wear singlets, for the extra warmth and comfort they offer, but what about everyone else?

Small kids can also benefit from the extra warmth a singlet offers. There is also the aspect of modesty, where thin fabric on T-shirts or shirts offers just a little too much information (particularly true in prepubescent girls).  But what about older people?

We all know grandpa religiously wears his white cotton singlet, probably tucked into his white Y-fronts. Grandma most likely wears a singlet with her bra, “step ins”, petticoat and pantyhose on a daily basis as well (well, my old granny does, anyway). Do younger generations still wear them?

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The original purpose of the singlet (as with other undergarments) was not for warmth, insulation, or even comfort, but to protect the outer clothing  from sweat and the smelly body – remember, in the old days, few people bathed on a daily basis. Outerwear was also scratchy, so softer undergarments offered some respite.

Today’s outer garments are most commonly made with breathable fabrics – and we generally wash frequently – so the necessity of the singlet is not the same as it was forty years ago.

So why wear a singlet? Not just for warmth in cooler weather, they are comfy and great for layering. It also does still protect your clothing – and can be washed much more than outerwear.

Today’s singlet is so much more than an undergarment! And when worn as an undergarment, there are many options – the white cotton tank top under a man’s shirt is not the only choice. Other popular options are crew neck T-shirts, V-neck T’s, long sleeved T-s, and athletic undershirts. Some women’s singlets have inbuilt bras, or are fitted to provide a shape-wear style advantage.

Next time we will look at the Pros and Cons of wearing a singlet…