To think of the t-shirt in its traditional sense is to picture a plain white cotton top worn with a hard-wearing pair of navy blue jeans and sturdy boots; a piece of workwear synonymous with rebels and Hollywood outsiders. The plain white t-shirt is an iconic item of clothing that to purist needs no alteration. However, this being the modern age and thus an era of ceaseless change, the t-shirt has become a symbol of both fashion and style, an item still as easy to wear as it ever was but a simple means in which to change the way we look on a daily basis.
The t-shirt has now become the easiest of ways in which we can state our own personal taste with regards to our style choices. From one simple piece of short sleeve cotton we can alter our entire look – wear it oversize, wear it tight, wear oversize sleeves and a short, ‘boxy’ fit for the fashion follower or simply wear as a day-to-day top, this simple yet essential garment will be in every single gents wardrobe wherever they may be in the world.
That still doesn’t stop us men from getting it wrong however. Time and again I cringe at grown men walking the streets in Mr. Men t-shirts or slogans that should only been seen on stag-do’s strewn across chests in letters so large they can be seen from space.
Just because the t-shirt has joined the modern world, can be found in every shade of the rainbow as well as in a kaleidoscope of prints, does not mean we can forget about any sense of tact and decorum. The t-shirt still has to be respected – just because it is worn everyday does not mean the same thought should not go into wearing it as you might a suit. And anyway, nowadays you are just as likely to see a gent wearing a summer suit with a t-shirt as you are a shirt and tie.
There are essentially two tricks to ensuring you are wearing the right t-shirt, the first is size and the second is colour / pattern combinations. If you get the size right then unless you are wearing one of those Mr. Men t-shirts, you cannot go wrong. Too tight and you may look like a hairdresser circa 2002, wear it too loose and you may look like you did in your skinny youth, a wannabe skater rebelling against any advice that fell from the lips of your parents.
Ideally a good t-shirt will sit just below the line of your belt (there is nothing wrong with tucking your t-shirt in unless your pull your trousers up as high as Simon Cowell) and the sleeve should be around 4-5 inches above your elbow, while the seam joining the body with the sleeve – as with all good clothing – should sit on the tip of your shoulder. With regard to colour and patterns, this is of course all about personal taste but here are a few ideas for you to mull over as you ponder your next foray into the world of t-shirt shopping….
Ah the good old trusty striped tee. With thoughts of the French Riviera and poolside retreats this is a staple for all us gents. Looking just as dapper with a cool summer suit or a pair of tailored shorts, the striped t-shirt most certainly errs on the side of the debonair gent.
The past few years have seen menswear go botanical crazy and nowhere is this more evident than in the t-shirt department. From high end designers such as AMI and Kolor to the hipster high-street (Topman, Urban Outfitters and Zara are all in on the floral act) you won’t be able to walk down a road this summer without seeing some cool upstart in a floral t-shirt.
The graphic t-shirt can be a tricky obstacle to navigate, get it wrong and you could look like you’re dressed for an 80’s themed party, get it right and the graphic t-shirt is the perfect conversation starter. The idea is to go bold with you prints in terms of the graphic itself and the colour – think the Givenchy Rottweiler or hip brand of the moment Saturdays Surf NYC. The graphic t-shirt is about having some fun with your outfit, it’s accentuates that playful casualness of your demeanour and looks great teamed with a good pair of trainers and jeans.
There was a time when block colour t-shirts meant white or black but now there are an abundance of colours to choose from. Burgundy, green, sky blue, red, orange or yellow, you name it there’s a t-shirt that comes in that colour. The versatility of a single colour means they go with just about everything from suits to jackets, chinos to jeans and everything in between. This summer may we suggest that along with the classics – black and white – you add some burgundy and royal blue to your colour palette.
Some Final Thoughts…
If this article proves anything it is that the humble t-shirt has come a long way from its workwear beginnings; this is now an item of clothing that takes pride of place in our wardrobe and while it’s easy to throw on as ever, there are now a multitude of ways in which it can be worn. It does not matter if it’s dress down Friday in the office, Saturday night out with the lads or those long summer evenings spent out with loved ones, there is a t-shirt for every occasion.