A Man’s Guide to Wearing T-Shirts


Relating to t-shirts and magnificence, opinions usually fall into two camps.

There are these males, the overwhelming majority of them, who see tees as a wardrobe staple that’s acceptable for almost each event, and will be worn with little to no thought.

Then there are the traditionalists, small in quantity, however vocal, who really feel t-shirts are totally juvenile and sloppy-looking, and will by no means be worn exterior a gymnasium or away from the seashore.

I’d wish to counsel a center path: t-shirts as a basic, versatile piece of clothes acceptable to put on on some events, however not others. Enable me additionally to counsel that even when t-shirts represent a easy staple of 1’s wardrobe, there are methods to put on them higher, and worse.

Immediately we’ll cowl the ins and outs of this fashionable, widespread sense strategy to the tee, and discover how, when, and the place to rock one. Welcome to the very best rattling information to males’s t-shirts on the web.

The Historical past of the T-Shirt

Whereas t-shirts have a distinctly fashionable really feel, their origins — as an undershirt — return over a century.

T-shirts get their identify from the T-shape fashioned by their boxy physique and connected sleeves. And such T-shaped clothes return centuries; initially made out of wool or silk, these units of underwear usually lined the entire physique, had been designed to soak up perspiration, and served as a barrier between a person’s pores and skin and the dearer clothes he wished to guard from bodily grime.

vintage union suit ad advertisements

The unique “undershirts” had been united with bottoms to create a set of one-piece underwear — therefore, the “union” swimsuit. When producers started creating separated, two-piece units, the fashionable undershirt was born.

Through the Industrial Revolution, developments in weaving and the manufacturing of cotton material birthed undergarments that had been extra breathable and fitted than their usually dishevelled and tough forerunners (although they had been removed from as delicate and funky as tees are in the present day). “T-shirts” throughout the 19th century generally took the type of the tops to two-piece union fits males wore underneath their garments, which miners and dockworkers took to carrying alone with trousers whereas they labored.

vintage, miner, t-shirt, undershirt

Across the flip of the 20th century, the US Navy started issuing undershirts to its sailors, and different branches of the navy would observe swimsuit within the many years to return. These undershirts had been designed to be worn underneath one’s uniform, however troopers, sailors, and Marines, particularly these preventing in sweltering topical climates, usually eliminated their uniform prime so as to work simply in their tees and trousers.

Clothes specifically designed to be worn as undershirts had been additionally accessible to the general public. Comfy, cheap, and simple to scrub, they had been adopted by farmers, ranchers, and laborers of every kind, in addition to athletes and sporting lovers. Within the 1940s tees-as-outerwear additionally began to turn into widespread play garments for younger boys, who didn’t need to observe as strict a gown code as older males, and who had been infamous for getting soiled.

WWII undershirt, t-shirt

WWII lent the undershirt larger acceptance as outerwear, in addition to some heroic cachet. Troopers continued to put on them again at residence round the home, and civilians adopted the observe as effectively. As a 1940s Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog learn, “You needn’t be a soldier to have your individual private t-shirt.”

After WWII, veterans continued to put on their undershirts with trousers whereas working round the home. Then within the 1950s, movies like The Wild Ones, A Streetcar Named Want, and Insurgent With out a Trigger, popularized the undershirt as stand-alone outerwear. Marlon Brando and James Dean lent the tee an air of edgy rebelliousness, turning it into an emblem of masculine cool. And as so generally occurs, the middle-class quickly co-opted as their very own what had previously been working class put on. 

Marlon Brandon, t-shirt, undershirt

Worn by brooding film stars like Brando and Dean, in addition to beatnik poets like Jack Kerouac, t-shirts turned an emblem of 1’s allegiance with the working man, and disdain for authority and mainstream tradition.

Developments in screen-printing within the 1960s birthed a brand new wave of graphic tees that sported all the pieces from band names to political slogans. T-shirts turned one of many nice democratizers of American clothes; whereas the lower, tailoring, and material of 1’s clothes had previously signaled one’s identification and sophistication, standardized, cheap tees turned the brand new automobiles for private expression.

graphic t-shirt history, vintage

Graphic tees go all the best way again to the 30s and 40s, as is seen within the 1942 Life {photograph} on the left. However they actually took off within the 60s, together with advances in screen-printing.

And so it was {that a} piece of clothes you wouldn’t have seen on a single particular person strolling down the road 75 years in the past, turned the defacto nationwide uniform of the US.

When to Put on a T-Shirt

Steve McQueen, t-shirt, Triumph motorcycle

It shouldn’t be stunning {that a} garment that started off as underwear, and a staple for little boys, has retained one thing of its juvenile really feel and status as essentially the most informal of informal clothes. It’s because of this that type purists advocate for tees taking part in a minimal position in a person’s wardrobe, and wish to level out that in lots of different international locations, carrying one by itself will make you look sloppy and underdressed.

But, t-shirts even have a rugged, iconoclastic historical past, and keep the consolation, accessibility, and practicality that made them so widespread within the first place. They could by no means be wedding ceremony or funeral put on, however, particularly when worn proper, they are often fashionable and appropriate for extra than simply going to the seashore or the gymnasium.

The trick is just realizing when donning a t-shirt is each acceptable and well-advised, a willpower which will be made by pondering by way of a couple of elements:

What’s the gown code? Tees are usually not acceptable for formal conditions all the best way all the way down to “Informal Fridays” at work (until you’re employed in a really informal workplace). Something that appears like an “occasion” shouldn’t be the place for a t-shirt. They’re greatest for actions and hang-outs which can be loosely organized and laid-back.

How lively will you be? Tees had been made for labor, sports activities, and customarily getting issues completed. The extra you’ll be transferring and sweating, the extra acceptable carrying a t-shirt shall be.

How outdated are you? T-shirts are higher fitted to younger males, than these of their post-college years.

What’s your construct? Almost all garments look higher on a match physique, however that is very true of t-shirts. In the event you’re obese or skinny, the tee will both cling to and emphasize your stomach, or drape lifelessly over your skinny body. So too, the distinction between the sleeve and your pores and skin will draw consideration to your alternately pudgy or bony arms. Thus skinny and obese males at all times look higher in clothes like gown shirts and sports activities jackets that add some construction to their body, construct out their shoulders, take of their waist, and type a extra masculine v-shape. Even informal tops like short-sleeved henleys and polos are extra flattering for giant males, as they embrace particulars across the neckline that draw consideration in the direction of the face and away from the stomach. These choices are simply as simple and cozy as t-shirts, and are almost at all times a better option for many males, even those that are match and may extra readily get away with carrying tees.

Do you wish to make a very good first impression? Any manner you slice it, t-shirts are usually not the best-looking garment on the market, no matter your physique sort. So everytime you’re out doing one thing the place you would possibly wish to make a very good first impression, it’s higher to put on one thing just a bit sharper. Which means tees are nice for hanging out round the home, get-togethers with outdated associates, and operating errands (particularly in the event you’re married; a bachelor by no means is aware of if he’ll meet a particular girl on the grocery retailer!), however are much less ideally suited for events and get-togethers the place you’re going to be assembly plenty of new folks.

Find out how to Select a T-Shirt


Issues like match, materials, and design can all have a giant impact on how a t-shirt seems.


Match is the cornerstone of fine type. However whereas we regularly consider this dimension with reference to clothes just like the swimsuit and gown shirt, it’s vital to get a very good slot in your t-shirts, too.

Dimension/Tightness. A t-shirt must be neither too dishevelled nor too tight. If it’s too massive, it would drape and sag like a pillowcase and be unflattering. Too tight and also you’ll appear to be a stuffed sausage — a glance that may learn as some mixture of narcissistic, flamboyant, and/or douchey. In the event you’re in form, and have a very good construct, you possibly can lean in the direction of tighter over looser. In the event you’re carrying further weight, leans in the direction of a looser match — however don’t go too far, as an excessive amount of further material will solely make you look bigger moderately than smaller.

Shoulder seams. The seams the place the sleeves connect to the physique ought to ideally precisely align with the place your shoulder ends moderately than decrease in your arm or in the direction of your neck.

Sleeves. A tee’s sleeves ought to hit about midway up your higher arm. Sleeves that stretch a bit farther down can look proportional in the event you’re very tall.

Size. The underside hem of tee ought to hit no larger than your hips, at the least cowl your waistband, and ideally prolong a couple of inches under it. Any shorter and also you’re heading into midriff territory, and run the chance of displaying your again/butt crack/stomach whenever you bend over. Longer than that and the shirt begins trending right into a nightgown.

Form. Keep away from boxy tees that put on like a sandwich board with sleeves. You need the tee to be lower so it follows the form of your physique a bit.

A well-fitting tee that hits all these metrics will be onerous to seek out however is price in search of. And whereas it might imply $25 as a substitute of that $5 touristy tee, you’ll discover the distinction and received’t return.


Paul Newman, v-neck t-shirt, style

T-shirts include two predominant sorts of necklines: the crew and the v-neck. Every works greatest in line with the look one goes for, in addition to the proportions of your face and physique.

crewneck t-shirt

The crew collar. That is essentially the most basic possibility, and gives a timeless look. It most closely fits males who’ve a slight construct and body, because the collar attracts the viewer’s eye out, broadening the neckline and creating the looks of squarer shoulders. The crew collar can be a sensible choice for males with longer necks and narrower faces, because it balances and provides proportion to those options.

v-neck t-shirt

The v-neck. A v-neck has a barely much less formal really feel than the crew collar, and provides a bit extra visible curiosity and magnificence to the usual tee. It’s well-suited for the shorter man, because it makes one seem much less boxy and provides a little bit of peak to the looks. It enhances males with rounder and/or wider faces as effectively. I’d not advocate a v-neck for these bigger in measurement, nonetheless, because the v tends to attract the attention all the way down to the stomach.

v-neck t-shirt, too deep, too low, man cleavage

Displaying a bit chest hair is okay whenever you put on a v-neck, however keep away from too deep of a v; the purpose of the v ought to hit not more than about three inches from the collarbone line. Go away the plunging necklines to the women.

There are different sorts of tee necklines on the market — like the inside track or boat neck — however these are not often a very good search for males.


Steve McQueen, t-shirt, vintage summer style

Basically, selecting t-shirts made out of 100% cotton is the best way to go. Pure, delicate, cool, and static-resistant, cotton seems and feels nice. A 50/50 mix of polyester is an honest possibility as effectively; the artificial fiber is much less breathable, drugs extra simply from put on, and will increase static, however makes the shirt much less moisture absorbent and vulnerable to wrinkling and shrinking. Tees made solely from particular artificial materials could wick away perspiration higher, however are solely acceptable for exercise put on, and until you’re working up a giant sweat, really feel quite a bit much less comfy than pure cotton.

There isn’t essentially a correlation between the thickness of a t-shirt’s material and its high quality; pima and Egyptian cotton, for instance, are made with longer fibers and are lighter than common cotton but in addition softer and extra sturdy. Basically, nonetheless, thicker tees look extra substantial and put-together. Thinner, gauzier tees are likely to look cheaper and sloppier, and may cling to your stomach/love handles in an unflattering manner.

Thinner tees in a impartial shade additionally are likely to look extra like undershirts than t-shirts. The primary distinction between the 2 clothes is material weight; undershirts are thinner, and in addition match extra tightly so as to take in perspiration.


T-shirts will be damaged into two broad classes: basic and graphic.

Traditional Tees

Steve McQueen, white t-shirt, vintage summer style

Essentially the most basic trying tees are those who are available in conventional stable colours:

  • White — with its origins within the undershirts of sailors and troopers, is the granddaddy of all of them. When paired with denims, it nonetheless evokes echoes of the “rebels and not using a trigger” who turned the garment into outerwear within the post-war interval.
  • Navy — nearly at all times sharp-looking.
  • Grey — a flattering shade, however simply exhibits armpit sweat.
  • Black — is hardest to drag off, because it seems a bit starker and more durable (although which may be what you’re going for).

Different colours from reds to greens to purples can work effective too, relying in your pores and skin tone.

stylish t-shirts for men

Left: Heathered or marled stable colours look extra informal, however are good-looking. Center: Striped shirts are proper behind stable colours in basic look, and are a great way so as to add some selection to your tee assortment. Proper: Pockets on tees are additionally a pleasant contact.

Graphic Tees

Paul Newman graphic tee vintage

Graphic tees got here on the scene later than their solid-colored counterparts, and thus have a extra fashionable, and youthful, really feel to them. They’re additionally extra informal. And the bolder/greater the graphic will get, the extra informal it turns into. Thus, graphic tees of every kind are greatest reserved for issues like going to the gymnasium, operating errands, and laid-back get-togethers. Tees out of your alma mater or your favourite sports activities group work effectively for watching the sport at residence with associates, or on the stadium, however not for dinner events.

Select graphic tees that sport attention-grabbing and tasteful designs; keep away from large, screaming logos, metallics, humorous gags, and ironic photos, all of which learn as lowbrow and moderately juvenile.


Graphic t-shirts which can be overly busy don’t come off effectively. Maintain the designs easy and tasteful. I could also be biased, however I feel our AoM tees meet this mark effectively!

T-shirts that embrace a little bit of inspiration might help you get in the appropriate mindset for an exercise; I do know placing on one thing like my Power and Honor tee earlier than hitting the gymnasium jogs my memory to get to work. A graphic tee generally is a good dialog starter too, however the message shouldn’t overwhelm your first impression, nor trigger an unfavorable response earlier than you’ve even opened your mouth. Don’t lead together with your t-shirt.

(By the best way, when you have a bunch of graphic tees from highschool or faculty which can be not actually wearable, however you possibly can’t eliminate for sentimental causes, a very good resolution is to have them changed into a quilt.)

Ideas for Sporting a Tee With Type

James Dean Rebel Without a Cause, t-shirt, style

Pair solid-colored white or grey tees with darkish denim or khakis. An extremely basic look that’s onerous to do unsuitable. Crewnecks look particularly good with khakis.

Pair navy/blue tees with khakis. Lighter pants with a darker shirt typically seems higher than blue-on-blue. 

If the dominating shade of a graphic tee is darkish, pair with a lighter backside. And vice versa.

Layer with care. Whereas some fashionable dudes have adopted the game jacket/blazer + t-shirt look, many type specialists aren’t massive followers of it. The relative formality of the jacket jars with the casualness of the tee. In the event you’re going to place a tee underneath a sport coat, the jacket must be an particularly informal one — assume texture, delicate draping, and pure material. Even then, it’s going to be a greater look in the event you swap the tee for an off-the-cuff button-down.

However, a t-shirt can look improbable beneath a leather-based jacket or a blouson (à la Dean above), or perhaps a cardigan sweater.

Don’t tuck your tees in. It’s nearly at all times going to return off as nerdy. Right here’s which shirts you tuck, and which you don’t.


T-shirts have turn into a easy go-to staple of most males’s informal wardrobes. However that doesn’t imply you need to seize and put on them with none thought. By listening to issues like match, shade, and magnificence, you possibly can elevate the common-or-garden tee into a flexible, basic piece of clothes that feels nice and appears sharp.

Supply hyperlink


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here