What is a Thermal Shirt?

Cathy Rogers

A thermal shirt is usually a round, or crew, necked shirt with long sleeves. Its purpose, like all thermal clothing, is to retain body heat in cold temperatures. Many of these shirts are made of silk, nylon, spandex, polyester, fleece, wool or a cotton blend. They are typically used as base layer for cold weather dressing.

Thermal shirts are now offered in stylish and slimming styles.
Thermal shirts are now offered in stylish and slimming styles.

Some thermal shirts have a close, stand up type collar, which increases the warmth factor. The shirts are often used for fitness and exercise and are touted to prevent overheating during strenuous activity. One can be layered under t-shirts or sweaters during cold weather, or even worn alone. Often, they are advertised to keep the wearer dry by wicking moisture from the body, so they are ideal for athletes.

Silk cocoons. Fabrics made of silk can retain heat well, so they are often used in thermal shirts.
Silk cocoons. Fabrics made of silk can retain heat well, so they are often used in thermal shirts.

Often, this type of garment is knit in a waffle-weave pattern that assists in trapping body heat. Many have ribbed knit cuffs to prevent cold air from entering the sleeve area and flat seams that reduce chaffing. These shirts are usually washable, and some even contain anti-microbial properties to reduce odor.

Thermal clothing is meant to retain body heat in cold temperatures.
Thermal clothing is meant to retain body heat in cold temperatures.

Once only found in basic colors and as a utilitarian type item, more design options have emerged as thermal shirts have become more popular. They are worn by both men and women, although women’s shirts tend to have stylish features such as v-necks or scoop necks and a more slimming silhouette. Some thermal apparel has been manufactured from bamboo grown without pesticides and made with biodegradable dyes.

In addition to thermal shirts, a variety of similar apparel is designed to keep the body warm, such as socks made of materials like wool.
In addition to thermal shirts, a variety of similar apparel is designed to keep the body warm, such as socks made of materials like wool.

In addition to thermal shirts, many other thermal apparel items are manufactured, including underwear, socks, jackets, hats, gloves, etc. Thermal glove liners, worn under traditional gloves, serve a similar function.

The best thermal shirts are warm, yet thin enough to wear under several additional layers of winter clothing.
The best thermal shirts are warm, yet thin enough to wear under several additional layers of winter clothing.

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Discussion Comments

giddion

My husband found a thermal shirt in the men's department of his favorite store that he had to have. It was slick and black and meant to regulate body temperature to keep you either warm or cool when necessary.

He has been wearing it to his job in a refrigerated warehouse, and it keeps him warm. It also wicks sweat away from his body, which is great, because once he starts working hard, he can start to sweat even though the air is cold.

He wore this thermal shirt when we played out in the snow for hours, and it kept him from feeling too cold. I think if he had worn a regular shirt underneath his hoodie and coat, he wouldn't have been able to stay out there with me nearly as long.

healthy4life

It used to think that thermal shirts were for men. The waffle weave pattern and high necks look so masculine that I never considered wearing one.

I only recently discovered that there are so many cuts and textures of thermal shirts available. I bought one with a v-neck and embroidery on the cuffs that I wear alone sometimes.

cloudel

@Perdido – If you look in big department stores that sell clothing, you will probably be able to find scoop neck thermal t-shirts. I found some that are fairly thin and fit tight against my body without being uncomfortable, and they scoop down low enough that they can't be seen.

I've seen both v-neck and scoop neck versions of this shirt. I loved them so much that I bought four of them.

They are long and come down to about the middle of my rear, so I can tuck them into my jeans and stay extra warm. I would never wear them by themselves, though, because I would feel so exposed. They are best when worn only for an added layer of warmth.

Perdido

I've been having trouble finding a thermal shirt for women that doesn't show above the scoop neck of my sweaters. The only thermal shirts I've seen come up pretty high on the chest, like just below the neck.

BambooForest

@stolaf 23, I admit that I like that thermals have become stylish. I especially like long sleeve thermal shirts, because they can layer well with other tops or sweaters, and come in so many different colors and options these days. Henley thermal shirts can be great for a similar reason, because many can be worn with tank tops peeking out underneath them, adding a splash of color. Not to mention that the stylish thermals can be just as warm as simpler styles.

stolaf23

Thermal underwear shirts are sort of like t shirts and ribbed tank undershirts. While they started out as basic things that no one wore to be seen, they are now something of a fashion statement. Ladies' thermal shirts in particular now come in a myriad of colours and prints, fabrics, and alterations in their styles.

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