How To Wear a T-shirt

Hugh Upsher with some instructions on how to wear a T-shirt

By Hugh Upsher

The T-shirt has been an essential item in everybody's wardrobe for a couple of generations already. It’s the international uniform of “I’m too lazy for anything else”, with everyone from toddlers to billionaire CEOs rocking them on a daily basis. They are the blank canvases used by individuals and brands alike to host their silent shout to the outside world. With T-shirts being such an integral part of everyone's summer look, make sure you’re doing it right.

Not all T-shirts are created equal

The price you pay for a T-shirt isn’t all about the brand name attached to it, it usually correlates with the quality of the garment as well. A cheap T-shirt will probably slowly unstitch itself over the course of the year. It’ll probably fit you body like a cheap T-shirt, too. No-one wants that noose-necked, baggy-sleeved, too-short to cover your belt loops look. It’ll probably also shrink two sizes in the wash, forcing you to randomly gift it to your featherweight friend one week after purchasing it. These aren’t promises, but they are far more likely to happen when you think you’re cutting corners.

Put the ‘No’ into novelty T-shirts

If you see a T-shirt that makes you snicker, your instinct should never be: “I should spend my money and own that!”, unless of course you are a super uncool dad. If you think wearing a punchline on your T-shirt is a great icebreaker at parties, you’re breaking the ice wrong, or maybe you're even breaking the wrong ice entirely. As someone who personally went down this road, I can say it never seemed to have the desired effect. Let's just say that it didn't draw the attention of interesting and beautiful women as much as I thought it might. Instead it acted as a magnet for attracting the most obnoxious person at the party, who coincidentally would also be wearing a similar joke T-shirt for some reason?

Rock on, rock off 

The Ramones, Iron Maiden, Slayer and the Sex Pistols all had great branding, and some would argue that their branding was more timeless than their actual music. Anyway, somewhere along the line their T-shirts went from being moth-eaten charity shop rejects to edgy fashion statements. I’m not going to play the role of the bitter old nerd claiming that “Wearing rock band T-shirts used to mean something, man!”, but you should at the very least know what the band stood for, or at least what they sounded like. The more obscure the band is, the more important this rule becomes. Especially if your name is Rufio and you’re hanging out backstage at the 2012 Synergy Music Festival in an ‘At The Drive-In’ T-shirt.

Lastly, the basic T-shirt is something that’ll never go out of style, but that hasn’t stopped fashion designers from trying to mess with the formula. One year it’s all about having tiny impractical front pockets, the next it’s about random little fake buttons that aren’t meant to be buttoned up. Maybe this year they’ll push the extra distressed look by paying factory workers to punch little holes in the damn things? I don't care, as long as the powers that be don’t ever try to bring Ed Hardy and bedazzling back into popular culture I’ll be a happy dude.