Originally designed as an undergarment, the T-shirt is nowadays one of the most popular, versatile, and practical pieces of clothing in menswear, which is why we love it so much. However, being so comfortable, it is easy to overlook the style aspect of a T-shirt, with the end result often looking rather sloppy. Here are four essential tips for choosing a T-shirt that will give you both comfort and elegance.
Casual vs. very casual
T-shirts are always casual but some are more than others. If you don’t want a look that’s too relaxed, a T-shirt that fits close to the body (without being too figure-hugging), will give you definition and downplay the ‘comfort’ element that is associated with T-shirts consequently, resulting in a dressier look.
Regardless of one’s size, a T-shirt shouldn’t fit too loosely as to have a draping effect. A slimmer fit will mostly suit toned men. Bigger men (including muscled men) should opt for a looser fit that fits comfortably, without being too loose. The same applies for skinny guys on whom a bit of volume will have a more flattering result than a tight fit.
How a T-shirt fits at the shoulders is a good indication of in/correct size. The shoulder point, where the armhole is seamed onto the shirt should lie just at the end of the shoulder. If it lies above that point, the size is too small for your frame and will result in the seam pointing upwards with movement. If the shoulder point lies below the curve of the shoulder (along the arm), it is because the size is too big thus, making your shoulders look smaller. For the same reason, the sleeves should not reach below mid-biceps.
Originally, T-shirts were designed to be long enough to be worn tucked in (as an undergarment). Today, T-Shirts are meant to be worn untucked. The length should therefore, not exceed mid-buttocks. Any longer and it will visually shorten the legs too much. However, neither should it be too short as to leave the trouser waistband exposed.
Which neckline suits you most?
T-shirt necklines are typically either crew neck (round) or V-neck, albeit with varying widths and depths. A round neckline will broaden the shoulders whereas a V-neck will give the illusion of a longer neck.
Rather than basing your choice of neckline merely on style preference, choose according to which has the most flattering effect on your frame.
Going for a neckline that reveals a big part of one’s chest is not something I would recommend. They seem to be popular with men who jump at every opportunity to show off, which is probably why most women I know find a deep ‘V’ or a wide round collar quite a turn-off.
Use prints to hide areas of concern
Prints and contrast colouring are what often make a T-shirt look less basic. However, since T-shirts can be quite revealing of a man’s physique, these can also be an effective way of camouflaging areas of concern, e.g. sizeable breasts or a beer belly.
Unlike a T-shirt in a solid colour, which leaves little to the imagination, prints can counterbalance the bulk of a beer belly by adding weight to the area where they are located. A full pattern, as well as contrast colouring (e.g. between the upper and lower parts of a T-shirt) will also make one’s silhouette look more ‘homogeneous’.
Those are the four essential points to keep in mind when choosing a T-shirt. Can you think of any other things to watch out for?