It’s getting cold!

Remember how your mother used to tell you to wear an undershirt? I am here to tell you she was right.

There are two strong economic reasons for this.

First, you will save considerably on dry-cleaning. Those shirts you could wear only once before they got rank? Don’t tell anyone, but I have been wearing this same oxford blue button-down shirt for 23 days now. To dinners, to speeches, on planes, on trains, to a Ricky Martin concert. And it’s still fresh. OK, OK, that’s an exaggeration. But say that with an undershirt you can get two days out of a shirt instead of one. Suddenly, your dry-cleaning bill is cut in half, at least for shirts — maybe $250 a year. And you need fewer shirts in your shirt inventory. And the shirts you do buy will probably last longer, because dry-cleaning can’t be good for shirts. So call it $350, all in.

Second, you won’t get sick this winter. Or at least not as often or severely. I know you’re major macho and YOU don’t get colds or the flu, and when you do, they don’t get YOU down. But we both know that’s not true. Being healthy will save on cold medicine and that awful Nyquil and, most importantly, the poor financial decisions made in the fog of too little sleep (how can you sleep when you can’t breathe?) and too much Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride. You think Warren Buffett goes around with a head full of Chlorpheniramine Maleate? No, he wears undershirts!

So we’re talking big money here. (And yes, I wore this shirt to a Ricky Martin concert. What was so cool, if you ask me — someone to whom it would never ordinarily occur to go to a Ricky Martin concert — is that Charles and I were taken by the editor of the Wall Street Journal. And his girlfriend, who works with People. And these weren’t some amazing comp seats, as I had assumed they would be — free seats from Ricky’s PR people, so they figured, oh, well, what the heck, why not go. No! They bought these seats! From a scalper! For a breathtaking price! And not at the last minute — months in advance. Move over Rolling Stone! Anyway, there we were, me in my shirt, crumpled bits of napkin stuffed in my ears, sitting up in the bleachers someplace, directly in front of two screaming little girls — Ricky! Riiiiiiiicky!!! — who I assumed were 13 or 14 until we turned around to face them directly and realized they were, like, so much younger. “How old are you guys?” asked the editor of the Wall Street Journal, who has a couple of post-college daughters of his own. “I’m nine,” said one. “Ten,” said the other. On average, we were 40. But you should have seen us dance. And still my shirt was fine.)

Anyway, we’re talking big money here, with these shirts. And it’s the money, really, not your health, that concerns me.

But I do care how you look, so let’s nail this down. We are talking 100% combed cotton, the fabric of our lives. We are obviously not talking tank top or Street Car style, unless you can really, really pull it off. (And even if you can, those aren’t warm enough.) And we are obviously talking crew-neck, not V-neck, because we’re trying to keep you warm. Charles says that even without a tie this is a perfectly good look . . . it’s fine to see that little triangle of white cotton — and that settles that. So what I would do if I were you is trot down to Saks Fifth Avenue, if there’s one near you, and buy a three-pack of their classic white T-shirts.* If you then decide you can find some Calvin Kleins or Fruit of the Looms that feel as good and fit as well for less money, fine. But start with these . . . change them every day (for crying out loud — and don’t forget the Right Guard and your breath mints) . . . and invest your dry-cleaning, Sudafed savings prudently, but with a sense of humor. Do all this, my son, and you will be healthy, wealthy, and a wise-ass.

(The concert was kind of over my head — I prefer classical — but the energy was irresistible and a couple of the band members with bungee-cords hooked to their belts were, by the end, literally climbing the walls.)

For other health tips, see Have a nice day.

*I spent an hour trying to make this easier for you, but the Saks e-commerce web site is “coming soon” . . . the 800-number people had no clue . . . the corporate PR department’s recording said no one was available in the middle of a Monday afternoon . . . and pressing O for an operator brought the news that no Operator was available, either. Match that, K-Mart. But the T-shirts are very good.


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