V-Neck vs. Crew Neck for Men: Undershirts, T-Shirts, and Sweaters

One of the hardest things to consider when you’re out shopping for a new shirt is whether you should get a crew neck shirt or a v-neck shirt. Each offers a radically different look than the other, and which one you choose can completely alter your final look.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the right choice between a v-neck and a crew neck can vary whether you’re talking about undershirts, t-shirts, or sweaters. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to correctly enhance your look with a simple change in the shape of your shirt’s neck!

V-Neck vs. Crew Neck for Undershirts

When it comes to choosing between a crew neck and v-neck for undershirts, the choice is actually pretty easy. You just need to ask yourself one simple question: do you want the undershirt peeking out when your top button is left open? If you do, you should get a crew neck. If not, you should get a v-neck.

But what if you don’t know what you want? Well, when in doubt, opt for a v-neck and keep that undershirt hidden. It’ll create a cleaner look and maintain the lines of your shirt. If the particular style you’re aiming for is more casual, then you can get away with crew neck undershirts, but avoid crew neck undershirts in outfits that are business casual or more on the formality scale.

V-Neck vs. Crew Neck for T-Shirts

We’ve established that it’s pretty easy to choose between a v-neck and crew neck for undershirts, but what if the t-shirt isn’t going under anything, but instead will serve as the main focal point of your upper body? The choice becomes a little more difficult then, but like many things in fashion, it really comes down to your body type.

If you have a short or wide neck, you should almost always opt for a v-neck because it’ll make your neck appear longer and help you look taller and slimmer. On the other hand, if you have a long neck, you’ll find that crew neck makes your neck look shorter and more proportionate.

If your neck is neither long nor short, you’re lucky because you can choose either. V-necks are slightly more formal and stylish, whereas crew necks are more casual. However, with that said, don’t forget that we’re talking about t-shirts here—no matter what kind of neckline you go with, there’s no such thing as a truly formal t-shirt.

V-Neck vs. Crew Neck for Sweaters

When you’re shopping for a sweater, you’ll often be greeted by both v-neck and crew neck options, and for this type of garment, which one you choose can make a huge difference.

Generally speaking, a crew neck sweater is more casual while a v-neck sweater is more formal. Unlike t-shirts, this actually makes a big difference because sweaters can be worn formally, and choosing the wrong neckline for your outfit can make you under-dressed or over-dressed depending on the circumstances.

The main thing you’re going to find with a crew neck sweater, though, is that it’s more versatile. You can dress up a crew neck with a collared shirt underneath and a nice blazer on the outside. It may not be quite as formal as a v-neck, but it’ll work in all but the most formal of occasions.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t get creative with a v-neck either. You can dress down your v-neck sweater with a more casual polo shirt to create a great look for those casual Fridays in the office. Or you can dress it up with a collared shirt like you would with a crew neck sweater, but this would be a more formal look.

Need a quick summary? There’s a lot of overlap, but err on the side of crew neck sweaters for casual outings and v-neck sweaters for formal situations. If you’re only going to buy one sweater, think about the situations in which you’re most likely to wear it—and if you still aren’t sure, just go with a v-neck sweater. Dressing down a v-neck sweater is a lot easier than dressing up a crew neck sweater.

To V or Not to V? That Is the Question

Next time you hit your local shopping spot to pick up some new shirts, you’ll be armed with one of the most powerful style tools you can have: knowledge. You’ll know which type of neckline fits best for every situation, and there’s no better feeling!

Dave LeClair

Dave is a staff writer at Modern Ratio. He's a long-time geek who turned on to style late in life, and now writes to share what he's learned with those who are just starting their own style journeys. He's based in Pennsylvania.