The Art of the T-Shirt

One big question I get asked often is “do you even wear t-shirts”.  Usually the question implies two things:  that I am incapable of dressing down and that a t-shirt is reserved for being ultra-casual or lazy.  This post is designed to tell you that this isn’t the case.  A t-shirt isn’t just for “bum days” or athletic wear; this important piece of clothing can be dressed down or dressed up at will and will always help you look fantastic.  Today, we will talk about how a t-shirt supposed to fit and show you eight different ways you can get the most out of it.

The Fit

Just like any article of clothing, a t-shirt should fit you well.  Too baggy and it will make you look fat or sloppy; too tight and you’ll look foolish. So this doesn’t mean that it has to be skin tight like some people I see on campus; it should simply drape your body correctly.

Firstly, your neck should be able to fit in the opening of the shirt.  You don’t want to be choking.

Secondly, the shoulders of the shirt should end at your natural shoulder end of your body.

Thirdly, the upper chest of the shirt should be slim and “hang” from your chest.  This ensures that your shirt will make a nice, clam silhouette around your body.  If it’s too big around your upper chest, it will be too baggy and make you look larger than you are.  Too small, and it will show every nook and cranny of your upper body. Find that sweet spot where it is snug around your upper chest and falls gracefully down on your stomach.

Lastly, length should end a bit further than your belt area.  This makes sure that your shirt won’t ride up when you raise your hands.  However, many street wear shirts go for much longer and create a certain look.  While this article focuses on a classic fitting t-shirt, go for those other cuts if you so desire.  Just make sure it fits!


Here’s a great way to see how the shirt “hangs” on the body.

The Collar

This doesn’t matter as much when finding a shirt, but rather is determined for what look you’re going for.  Find which one you like best!

Crew Neck


This is for the classic guys who like to keep it traditional!


UntitledGreat if you want to expose a little bit more skin; just make sure the V isn’t too deep!

Bigger than Normal 


If you’re muscular and have good shoulder muscles (or want to create that illusion), this type of collar is good for you.

Shirt Styles

Here we’re going to look at different outfits you can make with your shirts.  If you notice, graphic t-shirts are not listed as one of the styles I advocate. This is because I believe clothes are all about layering and graphic tee-shirts are designed to show a message or have a certain logo or character on it.  Wear those ones open and proud.  The next three styles are for dressing more diverse.

The White Tee

Every guy’s gotta have one.  Whether it be a v-neck or crew-neck, this is a menswear essential. Make sure it’s clean and bright!  This is the ultimate t-shirt to layer and build a multi-faceted outfit with.

1.  Regatta Style


Blazers and shorts are a look you mainly see on the east coast, and Ian pulls it of greatly.  It’s an overall preppy and “rich” look and the fit sets Ian apart from how a dad would wear it.  Note that the blazer adds a great contrast between the white of the shorts and shirt.


2.  Indecisive Warmth


Shorts and a cardigan?  What is this madness?  All jokes aside, layering a t-shirt with a cardigan is a great way to stay a bit warmer in the spring months.  If you like keeping your upper body warmer and let  your legs stay cool, try a pair of shorts with your outfit!


3.  Varsity Swagger


My outfit takes inspiration from the greasers of the 1950’s and the typical varsity look of the 1990s.  In fact, a simple leather jacket of any kind will automatically dress up a t-shirt.  Contrast is a common theme in this section and I just love the pop of red and black, thanks to the jacket.  It’s one of my new favorites to wear and can be worn in so many ways.

The Colored Tee 

This is for the guy who doesn’t want to wear too much white.  My advice for this is to pick neutral colors and nothing too bright.  This will allow your t-shirt to be worn a variety of ways!

4.  Simple Layering


Say you want to go out in the evening, but it’s way too hot to bring a jacket.  If you can’t just rock the simple tee, wear it with a button up!  The colored tee will help it look like you’re not just wearing an undershirt and will add contrast (surprise, I love it).  Blacks, greys, browns, and tans are the best for this look.  If you still like using the white tee for this, stick to a more summery outfit.


5.  The Somber Conservative


Back in the 90’s, it was a “look” to wear a tee shirt with a blazer; it was baggy and gross.   However, I’ve decided to bring this look to the 21st century.  Now with a fitted shirt, fitted pants, and an expertly tailored jacket, this look is slick.  As a natural combo, I paired my black shirt with my khakis.  To make sure that the shirt didn’t “merge” with the blazer, I wore my awesome flecked jacket.  By using dark colored shirts and dark blazers, you’ll project a classy look and feel comfortable.


The Patterned Tee

These shirts are important because, thanks to the pattern, they take a learned student of fashion to see how they can use it.  Naturally, these can be worn by themselves or layered smartly!  Patterned shirts are my particular favourite to wear and I tend to wear these much more often than their plain counterparts.

6.  The GQ Look


GQ is all about bright colors and youthful exuberance. What’s more youthful than wearing a tee shirt and nice dress pants? Here, I pair my striped t-shirt (with a flapped pocket!) with silver dress pants and my casual sneakers.  It’s a look that can be created many different ways and always looks great!   


7.  Nautical Prep


Rajesh always looks fantastic, doesn’t he?  While my previous look featured a striped shirt, the width of Raj’s stripes just screams nautical.  If you’ve got a nautical striped shirt, you don’t have to go all out like Raj does, but this look is one of my favourites.  I love how casual sneakers are a theme in this section, because Raj unexpectedly ditches the boat shoes in favour of canvas shoes.  This look is classy and he’s only wearing pants and a t-shirt.


8.  Hipster Casual 


Now this is my favourite shirt because it’s so different than the other ones I’ve previously owned.  It’s a half-sleeve shirt (ending at the elbow) and has an awesome tribal print around the upper part of the shirt.  Due to this, it’s a no brainer to create a more hipster or street style outfit with this shirt.  If you find one of these unique shirts (which includes larger collars or lengthier shirts), it’s best paired with jeans and boots.  These kind of shirts are best left alone or layered with a military jacket or a plain leather jacket.  It’s the coolest type of shirt.



So don’t worry guys, a t-shirt is not bumming it.  When it fits you right, it can make you look amazing.  Hopefully thanks to this article, it’ll help you choose what to buy when you’re out shopping for t-shirts or you’ve learned how to dress up the ones you already have!  My advice is to never have a “bum day.  Instead, wear whatever you have with confidence and own your look. Don’t overlook your t-shirts; look at them as your game changer.

So which look was your favourite? How do you wear your t-shirts? Let us know below!

Always a  pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Ethan W. and Tim M.  

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