From the Mailbag: What to wear other than a t-shirt, when I want to wear a t-shirt…
With summer upon us, I’d like to see a post about stylish t-shirt alternatives for the warm weather coming up. The default for many is a t-shirt, but what else can we wear if we so choose?
The range in the T-shirt clothing genre is about as vast as the body types on any given football team. In the majority of cases, you’ll want a t-shirt that’d be the football player equivalent of a strong safety. You don’t want some bulky, massive OT type of tee, nor do you want a wispy kicker. You want something that absolutely leans trim, but also has some strength to it.
That said, as great as they are, T-shirts can get monotonous. And they’re as casual as it gets. Now, there aren’t a ton of options that land in that same uber casual ballpark. Ultra light blazer with a light cotton shirt underneath? Absolutely, but that’s real far away from tee territory. There are closer alternatives. Five of them follow . Go ahead and make any additions in the comments…
1. The Pocket T-Shirt: J. Crew – $19.00 ($24.50)
A plain t-shirt comes off as casual because it looks a lot like underwear. A pocket solves that, since pockets are pretty useless on underwear. They come in handy too. Good for storing a short pencil, a small notebook, or a few bucks in. The J. Crew pocket tees shown here are nice, but at almost twenty bucks (even on sale) they’re spendy. Wait for an extra 30% off sale items code. Other options include the surprisingly well fitting Old Navy Tri-Blend, if you can stand a small tonal logo… The American Eagle Legend Pocket Tee for $10, and check Target in store.
2. A Heathered or Slub Jersey Polo: GAP – $26.21* | Original Penguin – $48.30*
If you’re feeling like a t-shirt, but want something just a notch up, a thicker, pique polo might be a little stiff looking. A solid jersey polo is of course just fine (and really, so is pique) but the more casual polos will have a flecked, heathered look to them, or, be made of slub cotton. “Slub” is a type of weaving process that creates a slightly irregular, almost bumpy looking fabric. Maybe a distant, distant cousin of seersucker. It looks well worn and awfully casual. But since polos have the collar, it’s still a step up from a plain t-shirt. Cheaper slub options include this $22 Haggar Slim and this $25 Marc Anthony, both from Kohl’s (haven’t seen either though). More polo options here. *Pictured polos are usually $35 and $69 respectively. Both are on sale. You’ll need the codes GAPLOVE and OPMEMORIAL30 to get these prices.
3. A dressed up polo over a contrasting tee with some color
Y’know how there are more casual, washed button downs, and then there’s your dress shirts? Right. The difference isn’t quite as vast in the polo world, but there’s a difference. The way to dress down a smoother office ready polo is to layer it over a lightweight t-shirt with some color. Just make sure the sleeves on your t-shirt are shorter than the polo’s. Think of it as the very poor man’s, very down to earth, very casual and subtle… ascot.
4. Long sleeve button down with rolled up sleeves
Short sleeve button ups are trying to mount a comeback (more on those in a second), but most well fitting long sleeve button up shirts can be turned into a short sleeve by simply rolling the sleeves up the “right” way. Here’s a full explanation. This method keeps the sleeves streamlined so you don’t have fabric bagels falling off your elbows, and also keeps them locked in their upright position. If you’re reasonably fit, you won’t look too frumpy with your shirt tucked in here. If you go untucked, it best be a shirt which has a tail that doesn’t dip too low. Skip the bright white dress shirts. Use one of those soft and well washed shirts you’ve got in your closet.
5. The simple, unmistakeably casual, extremely well fitting, short sleeve button down
Short sleeve button ups can go wrong in so many ways that it’s usually best just to stick to polos. Keep these in a very casual fabric, in a very simple pattern or solid, and keep the tail short since they’ll be untucked. Don’t be afraid to take these to your tailor either, but honestly, it might just be best to stick with a well fitting polo. Options include the hopefully slim fitting Mossimo shown above for $17, this ASOS chambray version for $50, and AE’s slim fit chambray for $30.
Agreements, disagreements, additions? Are you a believer in the short sleeve henley? It all goes in the comments.