The t-shirt is one of the most common types of clothing you’ll find, but rarely do you actually come across someone who’s wearing it very well. Oftentimes guys will be wearing t-shirts that have awful fits, from shoulders not being at the right length, to sleeves being too long or short, or the fit being too boxy or tight. It’s as if no one really gives it much thought when they put on a t-shirt. But it matters. If you show up to a date wearing a loose t-shirt that makes you look like you crawled out of bed just now, you are not going to be impressing anyone. So today, we’re going to talk about how you can look great in a t-shirt.
1. Get the fit right
It all starts with getting your fit right. The difference between a bad fitting shirt and a great fitting shirt is night and day.
The first step to this is knowing your body type. Let’s say you’re a larger guy with a bit more weight in your midsection. A slim fitting t-shirt is not going to look very flattering on you, since it’ll hug your tummy tightly, and accentuate it that much more. Or if you’re a skinny guy, a loose t-shirt is going to make your arms look even more thin. So know what body type you have, and be aware of it when you choose a shirt.
When it comes to a good fit for a t-shirt, there are two general rules:
- It must fit your shape
- It must be comfortable
With this in mind, let’s break it down part by part.
The shoulder seams should line up with the ends of your shoulders. If the seams go over and hang low, then it’s too loose and you’ll look like you’re wearing a garbage bag. If the seams are closer to your neck, then it’s too tight and you’ll look like you’re wearing a kid’s shirt. Try to swing your arms up and down and wave them side to side. If they tug too much, size it up.
The t-shirt should fit your chest closely, but it shouldn’t be tight. It should drape over your chest and follow the curve of your torso, while not hanging like a loose curtain.
The sleeves should cover about one third of your biceps. If they come over more than half of your biceps or touch your elbows the sleeves should be shorter. The sleeves should also not be flapping around off the side. They should be slim around your biceps, but not too tightly so that it’s uncomfortable.
Does your t-shirt hug your stomach tightly? Twist your hips around from side to side and see how comfortable you are. If your t-shirt is way too snug on your midsection, then it’s too tight. Even if you have a belly, your t-shirt should comfortably hang over it.
Your t-shirt should go a few inches below your waist. The best way to test this is to lift your arms all the way up and see if your midsection is exposed. If your tummy is showing, then it hangs too high. But it should also not go all the way down to the crotch. If it does, then it’s too low.
2. Keep it simple
The best t-shirts are the simple ones. There is a reason why white t-shirts are the gold standard when it comes to tees. There is nothing like a cleanly pressed neutral colored t-shirt with a good fit and fabric quality.
You might be tempted to give your t-shirts a flair by wearing ones with patterns or graphics on them. The problem with these kinds of tees is that they are rarely compatible with the rest of your wardrobe. For instance, a graphic tee often breaks the harmony of the outfit by concentrating the focus on whatever is drawn on the t-shirt. It just screams ‘look at me’.
And this applies to loud colors and patterns as well. The more elaborately designed the t-shirt is, the less interchangeable it becomes with the rest of your wardrobe. Stick to neutral, versatile colors like white, gray, and navy blue. These sorts of shirts should form the bedrock of your closet.
3. Get your t-shirts tailored
We live in the age of mass-produced clothes with extremely standardized sizes. As such, most items of clothing will never fit us perfectly off-the-rack. This is why it is good to get things customized. This includes your t-shirts.
Now you may be asking if it’s an overkill getting a t-shirt tailored. After all, isn’t a tailor for more expensive items like suits? Nevertheless, small adjustments matter in terms of getting those subtle differences in fit right. Besides, a good t-shirt can cost upwards of thirty or forty dollars. Getting a tailor to customize your t-shirt will only cost a fraction of that money and will give you a dynamite result.
Lastly, you might also wonder why bother getting the right size for your t-shirts if you’re going to get them tailored anyway. The answer is that the closer your t-shirt size is to your true fit, the less adjustments the tailor has to make, and that means it would be cheaper overall.
4. Store your t-shirts properly
A huge part of why men’s t-shirts look awful is in how they are kept in your closet. So many men don’t bother to properly store their t-shirts, and simply prefer to crunch them up without order into their drawers or just hang them anywhere. All of this leads to creases and bulges in your shirt that make it look worn and bent out of shape.
Thus, a big part of looking great in a t-shirt is taking care of them by storing them properly.
There are two primary options when it comes to storing your t-shirts. One is that you can hang them on coat hangers and the other is that you can store them in your drawers. In the case of t-shirts, it’s preferred that you don’t hang them because t-shirts tend to easily stretch out as they will be constantly pulled down by gravity.
If you want to avoid having your t-shirts look crappy, you have to fold them the right way. Here’s an easy way to properly fold your shirt:
- Lay your shirt down and smooth out any wrinkles. The back of the shirt should be facing you.
- Fold it in half so that the sleeves touch.
- Fold the sleeves together back over the body of the t-shirt.
- Fold the whole thing in half vertically once, and then twice.
- Make sure one half of the neck is visible on top. Now your shirt is ready to be stored.
5. Retire your old t-shirts
T-shirts are first and foremost casual items. They are also very versatile and used for various purposes. This means that t-shirts often go through wear and tear a lot, leading to stretched fabric and discoloration.
When you start to notice your old t-shirts looking really worn out, it is time to switch them out. Tears, stains, and holes just don’t look good in any setting. Sure, some fashion forward brands release these sort of faded shirts that look worn and old, but 9 out of 10 times, a clean crisp shirt is the one that gets the job done.
We understand that everyone has that special shirt. It might have some fond memories attached to them. Maybe you got it from your first job many years ago. Or perhaps you got it from a music festival that was particularly memorable. Unfortunately, nostalgia does not make you look nice.
This does not mean that you need to throw out your old t-shirts. Keep those for occasions in which you’ll be sweating or will be getting a bit dirty, like going to the gym, gardening or painting. You can also keep them as rags for wiping the table or shining your shoes.
6. Don’t wear undershirts outside
A lot of guys tend to think that as long as it has two short sleeves and a neck, it’s a t-shirt, but not all t-shirts are the same. There is a specific kind of t-shirts called undershirts that may look like t-shirts, but are not to be worn outdoors. As the name suggests, it’s underwear. It means it goes ‘under’ the shirt that you’re going to wear, just like ‘underpants’. You wouldn’t wear your underpants outdoors, so you shouldn’t wear your undershirt outside either.
You may think to yourself that they look the same, but not exactly. The one critical thing about them is that they are made with a thinner fabric that looks very sheer and tight when worn. Your undershirt’s primary purpose is to keep sweat from soaking through your dress shirts and to be warm during colder months. So keep your undershirts below a good shirt, and never wear it on its own.
7. Style it
Finally, making a t-shirt look good is what you complement it with. Just a t-shirt on its own can look right when the fit is perfect. Match your t-shirt with a great pair of pants or jeans. Put on a clean pair of sneakers or even more formal shoes like oxfords. Grab a nice blazer or a denim jacket. The thing about a t-shirt is that it is just so flexible in terms of what you can match it with, and the possibilities are endless. Play around and have fun.