11.09.2015

The T-shirt Guide

12 Superbalist staffers try out some of our different T-shirt styles

We’ve all had that special T-shirt that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to part with. You know the one, either it fit just right or had a print that brought a smile to your face every time you slipped it on.

Even if this T-shirt isn’t in your rotation anymore, we’re guessing that your T-shirt game is still pretty strong, and it’s hard to believe that it was only a coupla decades ago that the T-shirt was elevated from underwear to outwear.

Originally worn as a barrier between a man’s skin and the more expensive garments he adorned himself with, it was American war vets returning from WWII who changed the game when they started wearing their T-shirts without anything covering them.

Films like The Wild Ones and Rebel Without a Cause put Marlon Brando and James Dean in t-shirts in order to portray them as edgy and rebellious and hordes of teens followed as the T-shirt became a symbol of cool.

With the current state of menswear kicking it very casual, the T-shirt has become a wardrobe staple. What you may not know is just how many options you have. In order to illustrate this we pulled a random bunch of dudes from the office and gave each of them a T-shirt to model (somewhat awkwardly). We then asked them what they thought, got some girls in the office to offer their opinions and then dropped our knowledge. Slip into this…

Graphic Tee

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What: adidas graphic tee

Who: Nick Gordon, photographer

He says: I pretty much only wear black and white. Except for my shoes. My shoes and socks are quite colourful. It started off as a practical thing. When you’re shooting in studio and wearing colourful clothing it can make colour cast on things. You don’t know what that is? Working in a small room shooting something in a red shirt will put a red haze on whatever you’re shooting.

She says...

Cayleigh: He’ll know where to get a drink on a Saturday night. And then what party to go to afterwards.

Sabrina: It’s the cool guy tee. I love this tee.

Dudu: He knows what’s up. It’s the anti-basic T-shirt.

Cayleigh: He looks like he’s not a guy who just watches series. He's a photographer or blogger in his spare time.

Sabrina: Photographer slash blogger slash creative director slash slash slash…

We say: Graphic tees have a younger feel to them and are more casual than solid colours. The bigger and bolder the graphic the more casual the T-shirt.

U-Neck

What: Only & Sons U-neck

Who: Justin Adams, retoucher

He says: This is actually quite comfy. Do I get to keep it? I like a basic tee and normally just go for basics. This feels like good quality and the fit is right. A big mistake guys make is wearing their T-shirts too small. Too small and too tight.

She says...

Dudu: Is that a thing, the U-neck? Basic tee for the man who isn’t basic.

Cayleigh: It’s quite flattering. V-necks have some negative connotations and this does everything that a V-neck does without being a V-neck.

Sabrina: I love this texture. It’s like this nice blue wash vibe. It’s very nice. Nice and casual. It’s a great summer tee. 

We say: The basic T-shirt is cool and everything, but for Justin to stand out from all the other dudes in plain tees he need only do some simple flourishes. A turnup on each sleeve will show off more bicep and tricep and add some visual excitement to his look.

Striped Tee

What: Native Youth dip dye indigo crew

Who: Xand Venturas, social media manager

He says: Nice cut. I don’t usually do stripes because they’re supposed to be unflattering. But this is cool – I dig it. I usually only wear grey melange, and have a hundred dark melange T-shirts. Pretty much just wear that with dark wash jeans, my uniform, because it goes with every sneaker. I usually choose my sneaker before I choose my clothes. If I wear Stan Smiths I can wear anything, but with ZX Flux OGs I sometimes need to try a bit harder.

She says...

Sabrina: I don’t enjoy this at all.

Dudu: You don’t like stripes?

Sabrina: It’s just not attractive in any way. He looks like my father.

Dudu: Nautical is it. Sabrina has a very specific aesthetic so she doesn’t appreciate everything.

Cayleigh: Personally I like preppy style.

Dudu: If I was a man I would wear this.

Cayleigh: No but let me tell you about why I think it’s preppy...

Dudu: You can share this with your girlfriend. I’d share this.

We say: The crew collar is the most classic t-shirt option and suits men who have a slight build as the collar draws the viewers eye out and broadens the neckline thus creating the appearance of more square shoulders. Not that Xand needs much help here as he's put in the work at the gym. And we don't know who hurt him and when, but a classic Breton stripe is always a good look and never unflattering. 

Plain White Tee

What: Bestseller white O-neck

Who: Dylan Muhlenberg, blog editor

He says: I love a fresh white shirt worn under a button-up or on its own. This one feels really good, so soft. The white T-shirt is timeless and every dude needs a couple of these classics in his closet. Remember, it's a "white" tee, and so once the armpits stain yellow and there's a bolognaise stain on the front it's time to retire yours.  Extra points if you roll up a soft-pack of cigs in the sleeve. 

She says...

Cayleigh: The important thing about white tees is to find one you really like, which shouldn’t be too expensive because it’s going to get stained anyway, but don’t find yourself in a white tee that doesn’t fit you nicely.

Sabrina: Dyl rocks this tee. I love the peeking tats. 

Dudu: White. Vanilla. Beige. Nipple action is a nightmare.

Sabrina: Nipple, that’s always risky. That’s always a risk.

Cayleigh: You don’t want to be at the Trengen, around all those fridges, in a white shirt that can’t contain your nipples.

We say: If you’re a regular dude with no muscles to show off then opt for a classic fit in your size. It should finish below the top of your hips and the sleeves need to cover half of your upper arms. There is no better T-shirt option to pair with jeans.

Oversized

What: adidas Originals

Who: Darren Williams, product development manager

He says: This is nice and relaxed. Soft. I usually only wear the longline, like Kanye, but this is cool though, close enough. I like the Kangaroo pocket. Why do I prefer longline? It’s the cut of the moment. Guys are generally wearing longer-length T-shirts. T-shirts have become a nice layering piece. Crucial in the last year. Even summer. Even with vests under an oversized T-shirt. The oversized silhouette is definitely something that will be around for the next couple of seasons. Guys are also becoming more conscious of the material construction, and want that nice, soft hand feel, which this has.

She says...

Sabrina: This is my favourite.

Dudu: The guy or the shirt?

Sabrina: Both. No, I feel like I could wear this. 

Dudu: As a dress, right.

Sabrina: Yah, exactly. It’s another cool guy tee.

Cayleigh: It’s for a guy who’s very confident. He likes himself  enough to try something new and is not worried that someone will say, “Why’s your shirt so long, bro?”

Sabrina: Fashion forward. 

We say: We’re getting more and more t-shirt options now that guys are demanding variety. From retro rock inspired scoop necks to traditional crew necks with subtle detailing like a hooped hem. We’re exposed to more media now, seeing influencers taking risks and starting trends on Instagram, and that’s trickling down and being picked up on by the brands and then normal dudes.

Polo

What: Only & Sons polo

Who: Claude Hanan, CEO

He says: The e-commerce space is quite casual. I wear a tee once or twice a week. I wouldn’t go to a meeting in one, but I don’t feel that there’s necessarily a requirement for me to wear more formal shirts. I’ve been loving my Edwin tees. They’re just such good quality. I’ve had mine for over two years and they’ve retained their shape and quality.

She says...

Sabrina: It has a bad stigma attached. 

Dudu: No, it’s very preppy. Love it. I think rich boy.

Cayleigh: Personally I don’t hate polo shirts, a lot of unpleasant people do wear polo shirts, but if you’re a nice guy with good style then you’re okay.

Sabrina: Never ever. It immediately makes you look like a 60-year old man. Hate. 

Dudu: To make it younger you need to wear really sick sneakers. With some sock action.

Cayleigh: It has a very stuffy conservative stigma, and then our generation has given us so many boys wearing these to Tiger Tiger with a jacket that they didn’t bother to match properly. 

We say: While it’s usually the chunkier man who should go for a golf shirt, because the details around the neckline draw attention towards the face and away from the belly, this works on trimmer guys like Claude because it’s a more grown up option than a T-shirt. The fit is right, not so big that he’s drowning in fabric and not so tight that he looks like a stuffed sausage.

V-Neck

What: G-Star heather grey vest

Who: Saul Marcus, designer

He says: I only wear V-necks. I find crew necks too tight and I like more chest to be showing. I wouldn’t be able to wear this if I didn’t gym a lot and have the healthy lifestyle that I do. It’s all about the fit. There is such a thing as a too-deep V. Bought a shirt a few months ago and the V was nipple height. Not a chance, I’m not a narcissist! There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Personally I’d rather go for something in green. I’m a green man. It’s going to sound ridiculous but it’s to match my eyes. 

She says...

Dudu: No comment.

Sabrina: It needs to be baggier. 

Cayleigh: Wear it if you're confident.

Sabrina: The sweat situation is my absolute worst.

Cayleigh:  So wear it baggier and if you like it tight then wear it to Caprice with stonewash denim.

We say: Like most clothing, the better your body the better the fit. This is especially true when it comes to T-shirts where things like beer bellies become more pronounced and the contrast between sleeve and skin draws attention to the arms. There are certain colours that go better with certain skin tones and once you figure out what works for you then stick with the winning formula like Saul over here. 

All Over Print

What: Reason Brand Inc. all over paisley print

Who: Max Dylan Lazarus, copywriter

He says: Do I like it? Honestly, no, but what I will say, yes! I like print shirts because they’re fun, they’re exciting, they draw attention and I’m a massive attention seeker. Honestly, it’s a bit hectic and if I did wear something like this I’d be sweating so much. Could I rather get one of my old t-shirts back? There was one that I had when I was really small, oversized, I didn’t wear it enough, Bart Simpson and his catchphrase. Don’t have a cow, man! Either that or a band shirt that I wore to death. Hot Chip. My sister brought it back from overseas for me. I wore that until it died. God I don’t like this shirt. Can you mention that in the text? That it’s not my preferred choice.

She says...

Dudu: I think this would look good on Nick with his dark denim.

Sabrina: Are you joking? Nick would never speak to you again.

Cayleigh: Again, I think you can only wear this if you’re quite confident and quite… His denim is wrong. Black jeans.

Dudu: I’d really love this if it had matching shorts. I’d wear it.

Sabrina: It reminds me of a bandana.

Dudu: I feel like we live in different worlds. The bandana print is it.

Cayleigh: Paisley is pretty big at the moment. I love paisley. For me it’s a confidence thing. If you put this on a basic bro with his basic denim that his mom bought for him then it’s not going to work. If you want to wear this because you want to incorporate paisley into your wardrobe then it’s going to look good.

Dudu: I would wear this. I would wear it with matching shorts. And I would look fu**ing amazing.

We say: Man up, Max! Navy is a refined choice that does the same job as black, but is more day friendly as it has more depth. Pair a navy or blue T-shirt with chinos and you'll be hundreds. Lighter pants with a darker shirt looks better than blue-on-blue. When it comes to prints and graphics then remember to go for contrast bottoms.

Athletic

What: Marshmallow Athletico T-Shirt

Who: Bennet Atkinson, designer

He says: I’m into basics lately. Plain T-shirts. I’m more about the quality, nice cottons, no big prints or anything. Which is funny because I’ve actually been printing my own T-shirts for a while. Hand screen-prints. I like the process. I suppose it’s the natural progression when you’re a designer. Seeing your design in 3D and seeing your designs on new applications. It’s always cool to see guys wearing your designs.

She says...

Cayleigh: Aww.

Sabrina: I love this on Benny. It’s humble. H for humble.

Dudu: I love the T-shirt but I feel he needs to wear joggers with it.

Cayleigh: I think it’s great. I feel that sports luxe and athleisure have been so overplayed but that there are still good ways to do it. This is one of them. 

Sabrina: It’s a nice fit.

Cayleigh: A subtle take on a sporty aesthetic.

We say: Various shades of grey melange is flattering for most dudes. Unless they’re sweating. Then it shows up sweat patches a bit too easily. This takes the basic tee and amps it up with subtle detailing around the sleeves and on the chest. 

Longline

What: Only & Sons longline tee

Who: Ryan Wuest, menswear buyer

He says: Well this was supposed to be longline but doesn’t work out for me because I’m 1’93. It’s tough for the taller man to find T-shirts that fit right. But because t-shirts have become such a massive part of a guy’s wardrobe manufacturers are starting to innovate with shapes and cuts. You’ll see guys experimenting with the hemline, making it longer, curved hems… 

She says...

Cayleigh: It doesn’t look like Ryan.

Dudu: He took his glasses off.

Sabrina: I love a longline T-shirt but that…

Melanie: He’s too big. You can’t put a big guy like that in a longline t-shirt.

Dudu: But then Darren is big and he wears them so well.

Melanie: He probably has to go a size up.

We say: This is the piece a la mode for edgier dudes who like to jump on whatever Kanye is rocking. The longline is functional because it hides your bulge if you’re into skinny jeans, and it’s also great for layering. Ryan should've gone a size up and he would've fine. Fortunately Superbalist offers free returns and so if your tee doesn't fit right you can send it straight back until you're happy with it. 

Vest

What: Bestseller tank top

Who: Eckart Mostert, senior stylist

He says: Boet. First thing you say in my thing is that – ‘boet’. I actually never wear vests. But it’s easier to do it when you have a beard. Vests just go better with a beard. I would probably only wear a vest if I was in shorts. And I would only be in shorts if I was at the beach. I used to lift weights but stopped when I started working here because there’s no time to do that any more. This would probably look better if I had bigger muscles.

She says...

Dudu: I love this on a certain guy. On a cool kid with crazy hair and a septum ring and shorts.

Sabrina: Like on the beach.

Dudu: No, not on the beach. At Neighborhood.

Cayleigh: Obviously it’s practical if you are a guy who is skating everywhere and you don’t want to get sweat stains on your shirt, which is tied around your waist.

Sabrina: In the height of summer.

Dudu: You could wear it to work here.

Cayleigh: Not to most other jobs.

Sabrina: Is there nipple showing? Isn’t there nipple showing? I don’t know...

We say: If your clothes are too big they’ll drape and sag like a bag full of leaves. Which looks unflattering. We saw Eckart’s nipples in this, and like exposed toes a man’s nipples should never be seen in the office. No matter how casual the dress code is. Still, the vest is a winner and in the same way that our grand-daddies balked at the idea of wearing a T-shirt as outerwear the vest is now fair game, too. 

O-NECK

What: Selected Homme

Who: Yaron Herr, geekery buyer

He says: Can I keep this? I’ve never seen this. I like it. Falls just below the collarbone, which allows for more freedom. Not so constricting. The material is very comfortable. Actually fits really well, hey? For some reason all my favourite T-shirts go missing. One of my favourites actually got burned in a fire. True story. We had a fire when I was living in Israel and we were having a talk from this one rabbi, very religious, the works, and we were having a talk and eating fruit when we started smelling smoke... So we run upstairs and our whole dorm is engulfed in flames. Everything got burned. After that I was walking around Jerusalem in tracksuit pants with like 40 shekels in the pocket.

She says...

Sabrina: The O-neck concept is new to me. It’s weird.

Melanie: Don’t be negative.

Sabrina: I’m not being negative I just don’t get it.

Dudu: Sabrina just doesn’t like T-shirts.

Sabrina: It’s like he cut a hole in a piece of material and then pulled it over him.

Dudu: Ooh, I like the concept.

Cayleigh: So, tell me, is that some white edging on the sleeve there?

Sabrina: Yes.

Cayleigh: Okay, basic with some flair.

We say: DIY guys have been cutting their crew necks into O-necks for a while now. The manufacturers have been paying attention and have started producing them now. It’s great to see how the streets influence the brands and how guys with poor DIY skills can now buy theirs ready to wear. We also like how T-shirts almost always have a story. Most won't be as elaborate as Yaron's, but they'll still take you back to a place or a time in your life worth remembering.