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A lot of guys think of thermal shirts as a utilitarian base layer for the coldest of days. These guys are not wrong. A waffle-knit crewneck will indeed keep you quite warm when the mercury has plunged to the bottom of the thermometer. But relegating the thermal shirt to only the winter months does it—and you!—a disservice. That waffle-knit construction? It's cozy and comfortable even in the fall. And nowadays, a whole host of brands are all bringing a little more style to the old standby, making it feel just as at-home as an outer layer as did playing a supporting role underneath your parka.
The trick, if you haven't guessed it already, is to stop thinking of the thermal as a shirt that can do just one thing and start considering your possibilities. A heavyweight black henley version to replace your go-to hoodie? Go for it. A dusty orange one that's basically begging to be worn as a middle layer on brisk days. Get two! The world is your waffle-knit oyster. But no matter what you do, start with this list.
Signature Waffle Crew
Yeah, I know you already saw a mini-waffle henley from the Bean. But if you're looking for something more substantial, this is the move.
Vintage Thermal Surplus Tee
Buck Mason gave its thermal the same sort of fading you'd typically only get after years spent wearing it out in the sun (so you don't have to).
Waffle Knit Long-Sleeve Crew
Everlane's take on the look is so substantial the brand styles it as an outside layer unto itself. Consider the move cosigned.
Unshrinkable Mini-Waffle Henley
Tip: You don't have to actually test whether it's unshrinkable. You can trust the folks at L.L.Bean to deliver.
Muse Long-Sleeve Thermal Henley
Pair it with a jacket and jeans now, and some sweat shorts when the weather warms up.
Heavyweight Cotton Thermal Top
Wrangler always knows how to make something simple and durable. This thermal shirt is without buttons, so it's perfectly comfortable for layering.
Dégradé Cotton-Oasi Cashmere-Blend Henley
For a bit of luxury and a lot of style, Zegna and The Elder Statesman teamed up for a gradient, cool, soft-as-hell henley that's sure to be a winter favorite.
Wallace & Barnes Honeycomb Waffle Crewneck
For layering or wearing on its own, this thermal shirt with chic contrast cuffs and stitching is a go-to option.
HEATTECH Cotton Waffle Crewneck
Uniqlo doing what Uniqlo does best—basics that everyone needs.
Throw this heavy duty waffle-knit thermal underneath a parka, and you are set to brace the tundra.
Traditional Thermal Long-Sleeve
For a thermal shirt under $15, Indera has you covered.
Long Sleeve Heavy Thermal Crew Neck
Durable and heavyweight, this thermal shirt will keep you warm as can be.
Lightweight Mini Waffle Crew
And for a refined thermal shirt, Todd Snyder has one made of Peruvian slub cotton.
WARMKNIT Waffle Long Sleeve Crew
This micro-waffle knit has technology to keep you warm, so you're getting all the heat possible out of this thermal.
Tonal Thermal T-Shirt
Vince brings this cotton and polyester thermal top to life with tonal stripes.
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