5 Secrets to Looking Great in a T-shirt (For Men)
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Hi All from Jamaica, What a Gwaan? T-Shirts are the most popular wear all-year round in Jamaica because of the tropical climate. One of the hottest selling items for both Jamaicans and tourists are Jamaican T-shirts which feature colorful and creative designs. Please refer to our blog on “the History of the T-Shirt,” for the development of the t-shirt from an undergarment to an outergarment. Today, we are featuring an article on how to fit t-shirts for men and next week, we will feature one for women.
Every man's favorite style piece.
It's simple, and like most men, requires very few decisions when wearing one.
Or does it?
It has been the default item of apparel for most guys.
They are bought in bulk, often from the same brand and replaced when they start falling apart.
This is not the best route to take. Paying careful attention to the style of your t-shirt is just as important as any other part of your wardrobe.
There are some factors that play into this.
Pay attention to these 5 aspects – fit, color, fabric, style, and function.
Here's how to look amazing in everyone's favorite piece of clothing, the T-shirt.
1. Get The FIT Right
Women agree that men are more attractive in a fitted white T-shirt. The shape of your top accentuates the typically masculine silhouette of broad shoulders and a narrow waist.
So, no matter how you’re built, a t-shirt can make you look more masculine. However, there is a caveat – it has to fit perfectly and highlight the best attributes of your body without looking like a skin-tight workout top.
Here are some rules for the perfect fitting t-shirt:
Shoulders – The seams of the t-shirt should sit perfectly on the edge of your shoulders.
Sleeves – Fitted around the arms and not extending to your elbow. If you have big arms, look for slightly shorter sleeves or give the sleeves a couple of folds to show off your guns.
Length – Your top should be long enough for it to be tucked into your trousers, but not so long that it bunches at the waist. Ensure that it extends past your hip bone and covers the waistband of your pants. We’ll discuss tucking rules later in this article.
Stomach – Your top should conform slightly to the curve of your body. If it is too loose, you won’t see the shape of your body and if it is too tight, every detail of your stomach will be visible. A tapered cut that doesn’t drape your waistline is most flattering.
Neck – When you raise your arms, there shouldn’t be a big gap around the neck. It should also not be so tight that you can't move around easily.
A well-fitting shirt is never restrictive and should allow for comfortable movement. Skin tight tops should only be worn for sport.
2. Choose The Right COLOR
You should own at least a few of the basics – white, black, gray and navy.
White – Complements all skin tones. The classic white t-shirt should be part of your wardrobe. Remember to always wash your white clothes together. Don't mix with other colors.
Gray – A mixture of different shades – gray virtually enhances your body shape. Watch out for sweat marks which are easily visible on dark colors.
Black – Another versatile color option, black pairs well with most outfit combinations. However, the color tends to fade quickly and can be a little severe during the day.
Navy – A better choice than black that is more suitable during the day and great for creating tonal looks when combined with jeans.
Other Colors – A t-shirt is probably the easiest way to experiment with colors. Greens, reds, purples, and blues are great for creating a pop of color under a cardigan or worn on their own. Make sure the color of the t-shirt doesn’t clash with your skin tone.
3. Select The Right FABRIC
Quality is not related to the weight of the top. In fact, with t-shirts, the lighter materials tend to cost more.
100% cotton is the preferable choice, especially Egyptian or Pima cotton. They are made from long staple fibers that last longer, look thinner and feel lighter.
Cotton blends are also good options. A moderate amount of elastane (stretch fibers) helps to maintain the shape of your top, whereas cotton-polyester blends come in at a lower price point and offer easy maintenance because they crease less.
The label on the t-shirt gives you an idea of the composition of the fabric used to make the t-shirt. The most common options are:
Combed Cotton: A strong, soft and smooth fabric which has been brushed fine to straighten the fibers and remove short strands.
Organic Cotton: More expensive than treated cotton, this soft material is derived from cotton grown with minimal pesticides and fertilizers.
Pima: This is the highest-grade cotton with extra-long fibers. Resists pilling, stretching, fading, and gets softer with each wear. Supima is the trademarked name for American-grown Pima cotton.
Bamboo: T-shirts made from bamboo have a soft sheen and are incredibly soft. They are breathable and slightly on the expensive side.
Merino: Probably the most expensive top you will own, a 100% Merino wool T-shirt can be worn for an entire week before it starts to smell. The perfect choice for travel.
Jersey: Typically made from cotton or a synthetic blend, this stretchy knit fabric is very flexible and comfortable.
Polyester: Light and quick-drying, but not breathable. Polyester maintains its shape well and resists wrinkles and shrinking.
Rayon: Also called viscose, rayon is a man-made fiber made of wood pulp. It feels smooth to the touch and wrinkles easily.
4. How To Wear Your T-Shirt In STYLE
The first thing to pay attention to is the collar. You need to match your collars when layering. If you’re wearing a jacket with a collar, your t-shirt needs to feature the same shape.
Should you wear a crew or v-neck?
Crew necks are suitable for men with a small chest or sloped shoulders. They help in creating an illusion of broader shoulders, giving your body more proportion.
V-necks are perfect for shorter gents because they create an illusion of length and height, elongating the neck. They provide balance to men with long necks and narrow faces.
What about a deep V-neck, a scoop neck or a boat neck? My advice is to steer clear of these styles. They tend to be fashion trends that can only be worn tastefully by a select group of men.
Should you tuck in your t-shirt?
In general, no. If you are wearing it as part of a uniform, then tuck it into your trousers.
However, depending on the culture you are surrounded by and the shape of the t-shirt and the rest of your outfit, it is possible to rock a tucked-in tee. The tucked-in-t-shirt style works best with a short-sleeve polo shirt and tailored trousers.
How should you style your outfit with a t-shirt?
Follow the example of classic style icons (James Dean, Marlon Brando) – pair a classic white t-shirt with jeans and a pair of boots. This is the most understated and effortless look for a man. Another option is to layer a shirt by wearing a jacket, cardigan or checkered shirt, along with dark denim and stylish loafers or monk straps.
5. What Is The FUNCTION of The T-Shirt?
When is it appropriate to wear a t-shirt?
If you're intending to make a great first impression, on a date or a party, a colored shirt is a better option. Ask yourself what the rest of the people at the event are going to be wearing. If you are surrounded by a sea of t-shirts, feel free to dress down as well, but with a quality top.
Concerts, the local bar, beaches and casual parties with close friends are all acceptable occasions to dress for comfort in a t-shirt. Any activity that involves a lot of sweating, including sport requires a t-shirt.
Ensure you are wearing one that is designed as outerwear and not as an undershirt.
Maintain your t-shirts with proper care while cleaning them. They won't have the same impact if they look like their best days are well in the past.
Antonio Centeno is the founder of RealMenRealStyle having studied style in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine Officer with an MBA from UT Austin and BA from Cornell College.
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Jacqueline Cameron is an editor/writer with years of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.