Did you know that T-shirts were originally worn as undergarments? T-shirts, named after the alphabet that they somewhat resemble, are a staple in today’s wardrobe. Regardless of your age, gender or fashion style, you’ve probably owned at least one of them at some point in your life.
But how well do we actually know this wardrobe essential? Let’s take a dive into the nitty-gritty of everyone’s favourite piece of clothing, what makes them so indispensable, and how to use them to their fullest potential.
T-shirts as we know of today were once worn as undergarments, before it became acceptable to be worn uncovered as regular clothing in the mid-20th century. Today, more than two billion t-shirts are sold around the world every year.
A typical tee can be defined as a short-sleeved shirt with a round neckline, and are mostly made of stretchy, thin fabric. The comfortable material, together with its simple shape, makes the t-shirt suitable for many body types and activities.
A good quality white tee falls under the handful of classic staples that are good to have around regardless of fashion trends, alongside the little black dress and fitting jeans. They can be easily paired to suit current trends, or styled to match the occasion and dress code. Plus, the average tee is pretty inexpensive to produce and purchase, making them all the more a popular shopping choice.
Elements of a Tee
The classic tee design is a shirt with a round neckline, straight cuts through the chest and waist and short sleeves. These are typically flattering to most body types, however, there are also many variations in the elements that make a t-shirt.
While the traditional definition of a t-shirt has sleeves that fall between the armpit and elbow, long-sleeved tees exist as well, and can technically be differentiated from sweatshirts and sweaters by their thin material. Sleeves that end slightly past the elbow are also popular in oversized fashion, and shorter cap sleeves that do not extend under the arm are often used in ladies’ tees.
The round neckline, better known as crew neck, is the most common neckline found in both men and women t-shirts. The v-neck is another familiar style, originally designed to be hidden under open-collared shirts when worn as an undergarment. Henley t-shirts are a more unique style that features a round neckline with an opening and buttons, similar to a polo shirt but without the collar.
Some particular features in a t-shirt have become recognized as their own style. One of them is the ringer t-shirt, which has bands of a contrasting colour on the hems of the collar and sleeves. They were very trendy amongst the American youth in the 1950s to 1970s, especially in the rock and roll era. Tees that feature a raglan sleeve of a contrasting colour are known as baseball tees. They got their name from their resemblance to iconic baseball uniforms, but are actually worn in all kinds of casual settings.
T-shirts should be lightweight, comfortable, and easy to clean. Cotton is one of the typical fabrics used in tees that is soft and inexpensive, making it perfect for everyday wear. Synthetic fibres such as polyester and lycra have properties that are more suited for sportswear, such as stretchiness, breathability and quick-drying. And of course, fabric blends combine the qualities of different fibres, producing shirts with different desired properties.
How to Style T-shirts
The t-shirt is no longer just a casual garment sported by youths. Depending on the way they are styled, they can be suitable for a short trip to the market, a weekend hangout with friends, or a busy day at the office.
For a more casual look, tees can be worn with other casual clothing items like shorts, mini skirts, and sneakers. Graphic tees and oversized tees are popular choices especially among younger people. Wearing them untucked gives a laid-back look.
To dress up a t-shirt, match them with other formal pieces like blazers, slacks, or heels. Plain tees in neutral colours can give off a very polished look. Choosing cuttings that are more slim and fitting can prevent an outfit from looking too sloppy. To instantly smarten up the look, wear them tucked in or half-tucked, and don’t forget to accessorize appropriately.
Since the regular tee is gender neutral and flattering across ages, they are regularly customized and given out by organizations and events. These custom shirts usually have a unique print on them, and act as memorabilia for participants at an event, give members a sense of belonging in an organization, and can even work as a form of marketing.
On a smaller scale, customised tees are also perfect gifts that are unique and meaningful. Several pieces could be printed with personalised designs and worn at the same time for a cute family photoshoot. Alternatively, customizing a single tee makes for a one-of-a-kind shirt that no one else in the world owns.