The humble t-shirt is a staple of every man’s closet. The versatility and relative affordability of them means that they can be worn countless ways for almost any situation…except maybe for a cocktail dress code. With all that said the rules for wearing t-shirts are rather simple. Start with the basic colours like white, black, grey and navy and you’ll be able to pair them to just about anything from jackets to knitwear to blazers to collared shirts. Once you’ve nailed that you can start playing around with prints, patterns, detailing and materials to really own your personal look.
Here’s your ultimate guide on how to wear t-shirts with style.
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How To Wear Plain T-shirts
Plain t-shirts are the easiest staple item for men to pull off. As we mentioned, these are t-shirts in solid colours that are reliable in pairing with just about everything. On their own they can already look sharp during the warmer seasons as shown by guys like Theroux and Gosling. Layer them up during the colder days though and you have a whole new wardrobe dimension to play with. If you’re unsure of how to pair your t-shirt, go with white first and rock them with blue, black or stone washed jeans. It’s casual and cool and that’s the exact look you’re going for. You can also pair them with bomber jackets, denim jackets or cardigans as required. Plain tees can also work with a multitude of shoes from casual sneakers to leather boots and everything between. Runners can work here but only if you’re rocking the athleisure look. Just be sure they’re nicely fitted and not baggy.
How To Wear Printed T-shirts
Printed tees follow the same rules as the plain tee but they’re a step up in terms of giving your look a bit more character. Whether it’s a graphic design, a brand or words of wisdom, the only rule is to keep it subtle. Gone are the days of overzealous branding from the early 2000s, these days printed t-shirts are designed to enhance a man’s overall look, not dominate it. If you’re wearing loud bottoms like Jared Leto here, pair it with a solid coloured t-shirt with subtle matching print colours. Jeans are another winner with printed tees in most situations. They can work either in a similar hue (grey on blue) or contrasting (white on blue).
How To Wear Striped T-shirts
Aren’t stripes the same as printed t-shirts? Indeed, but their geometric shape puts them in another class worth talking about. Officially known as the Breton t-shirt, striped t-shirts have been popular amongst the more stylish men of the world. Given their pattern, the crucial rule is to always pair striped t-shirts with solid coloured bottoms. That is, black denim, blue denim, non-patterned chinos or plain trousers. The reason behind this is in the lines – you never want clashing lines in your look. Just picture someone with a striped t-shirt wearing striped pants. You’ll look like an escaped con. Another point worth mentioning is vertical stripes. Stay away from these unless you have the flattering physique of a bodybuilder as vertical lines will contour around your body. Not good if you rock a muffin top.
How To Wear Henley T-shirts
Championed by men like Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and more, the henley tee is a classic staple in the vintage motoring scene. The notched neckline with buttons elevates the humble t-shirt into masculine style territory. With this in mind, henley t-shirts are best worn plain without prints. Colour blocking is the key here with jeans being the main partner in crime. Pair your blue or grey denim with red, white, black, brown and just about any colour in the henley range. Just don’t go too bright and remember the leather shoes or boots.
How To Wear Cotton T-Shirts
Consider cotton t-shirts your best friend during warmer seasons. They’re versatile, durable and can pair with a multitude of pieces whilst keeping you comfortable. The only rules for cotton shirts is to know your occasion. For smart casual looks avoid printed cotton t-shirts as you’ll likely be wearing a casual blazer over it. Beyond that it’s another jeans and tee combo where your imagination can run wild. A white cotton t-shirt on black denim is a classic winner.
How To Wear Linen T-Shirts
Linen has seen a real resurgence in recent years and that’s good news for you. It’s naturally crumpled texture adds loads of character to any look and it has the advantage of being more breathable than cotton and polyester t-shirts. Linen shirts are made to be seen so pair them with solid coloured chinos, trousers or jeans. They’re usually a bit more free-flowing though so make sure it’s fitted if you’re going to wear it with a blazer.
How To Wear Long Sleeve T-shirts
When the days get colder the sleeves get longer. That doesn’t mean you need to ditch the t-shirt entirely. Fit is paramount with long sleeve t-shirts due to the extra material you’re working with. Get it wrong and they could look like PJs. The basic colour rule we mentioned applies here with white, greys, blacks and navy tones. Those after a bit more attention can opt for a striped long sleeve t-shirt. We’d avoid prints on long sleeve t-shirts and opt for textures and materials (linen or cashmere) instead for added character.