5 Ways to Step Up Your T-shirt Game
Whether you’re a straightforward, no-fuss kind of guy or you like to take your style up a notch, there’s no getting away from the classic t-shirt and jeans. For the sartorially-inclined, a tee may seem a bit too average. But it all comes down to the details.
Next time you’re in Nashville, Tennessee on a humid 85 degree summer day, what’s going to be your style go-to? Unless you’re feeling Miami Vice, just about your only realistic shirt option is a t-shirt. So instead of fighting this “average” style, why not take a universal piece and wear it exceptionally well?
Here are five great ways to step up your t-shirt game.
Fit Comes First
If you had to choose between fit and material, most style aficionados will tell you that fit is first. You’ll look better in cheap clothes that fit well than finely-made, exclusive brands in the wrong size.
A good fitting tee should extend just past your belt and no further. The sides should hug your traps and the sleeves should come about halfway down the bicep and match the circumference of your arm. The seam that divides the sleeve from the body of the shirt should fall right at the edge of your shoulder, creating a pleasing symmetry.
Nothing makes your t-shirt sadder than shoulder seams that overhang your shoulders and sleeves that are too loose. This hides your muscles and is reminiscent of how your shirts would have looked when you were a kid.
Of course, these are guidelines for a classic t-shirt fit. Depending on your tastes, you can add a modern edge to your style with extra long shirts, or even doing a size play with an extra baggy shirt.
Know Your Fabrics
If fit is first, then fabric comes in at a close second.
The first fabric that you think of when you think tees. And for good reason: it’s soft, breathable, durable and incredibly versatile. However, not all cotton is created equal. If you want to opt for the best cotton, there are a few special types to look for:
Ringspun cotton is made using a special process that involves tightly twisting strands of cotton to make an exceptionally soft, wrinkle-resistant and durable fabric.
Just because cotton is a common fabric doesn’t mean it doesn’t have potential to be luxurious. And if there’s one type of cotton to do so, it’s Egyptian Cotton. This form of fabric is exceptionally soft (even more than ringspun cotton) and requires more labor in its production to ensure it retains its texture and durability. In it’s harvest and production, Egyptian cotton is handled without the use of machinery that would otherwise strain the fabric, allowing fewer splices to be used and ultimately a higher thread count that contributes to durability, purity and absorbency. It’s ability to absorb dyes more effectively than regular cotton gives it a quality that is not only felt, but seen.
Like Egyptian cotton, pima cotton has longer fibers than regular cotton. It shares similar characteristics to Egyptian cotton. It’s greatest differentiation is that it is grown primarily in the Southern United States vs the Nile River Valley of Egypt.
While highly unusual for t-shirts, looking for alternatives to cotton is a good way to defy convention. In the heat of summer, linen could be your ticket. Because the material is rougher to the touch and quickly wrinkles, you’ll most likely want to opt for a linen-cotton blend that tempers linen’s less desirable characteristics.
While synthetic materials aren’t as luxurious as the above, that isn’t to say that they should be dismissed entirely. Materials like polyester and rayon can offer smooth and lightweight fabric blends that retain unique characteristics.
Try Custom Printed T-Shirts
Into personalized style? Nothing is more personalized than creating your own custom screen printed t-shirt. This is your opportunity to get creative. You can create something that no one else has.
Try Different Neck Types
The crew neck is the longest-living style of tee. You can’t go wrong sticking to the classics.
If you don’t own a V-neck already, add it to your wardrobe. While sometimes men are afraid the V-neck shows a little too much chest hair, a nice conservative V-neck can accentuate your masculine physique without looking overly edgy.
Whether you play guitar for The Kings of Leon or you’re the next Jaques Cousteau, few tees make as bold a statement as the scoop neck. Opt for a horizontal stripe pattern for a nautical look that is surprisingly classic. Or go with a straight black or muted color scoop neck to look like a thoughtful musician.
Know Your Era
Stay on-trend with a bomber jacket accompanying your t-shirt and black jeans. The bomber keeps you looking modern without trying too hard while black jeans lend an understated, urban chic mood to your style.
At an outfit impasse? Need to dress up but without looking stuffy? There is a look for that.
Try rocking a tee with jeans and a blazer or even with a full suit (accompanied by white sneakers of course). If you go this route, make sure the suit is relaxed and unstructured, preferably with a lightweight fabric like linen or pique cotton.
This look is risky but has been well-established by everyone from pop stars to younger Silicon Valley tech CEOs. It’s a style that emphasizes youth and boldness. If you don’t have the confidence to rock it, steer clear.
Want to rock an edge to your style but don’t fancy current fads? There is a solution: Go classic. Way classic. Pull a Marlon Brando.
The epitome of a rebel back in his day, Marlon Brando was famous for rocking a fitted, plain white tee tucked into jeans in A Streetcar Named Desire.
The key to this look is emphasizing quality. Every guy has a white tee and jeans somewhere in their closet. But few could pull off this look off effectively. Focus on finding a perfect fitting white crewneck and comfortable, dark wash jeans which are essentials for this look. A couple of key accessories: a classic hairstyle, genuine leather boots and an unshakeable, easygoing confidence.
Chilly? You don’t have to change your style. Pull a James Dean with a leather jacket over your recently acquired perfect white tee.
For the sartorial among us, you may have found yourself overlooking this universal piece of clothing. But as a menswear classic with a rich heritage, you would be doing yourself a disservice. Make your next wardrobe purchase a tee that you love and rock it with confidence.