Men's Fashion Basics - Part 2 - T-Shirts

With last week’s article on fit out of the way, it’s time to get stuck into the basic clothing that every guy needs. I decided that Tee’s would be a good place to start because they are something we should all be familiar with and should be a staple in your wardrobe’s fashion diet. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let me just clarify that I’m talking about a T-shirt here, NOT an undershirt. An undershirt does exactly what is says on the tin (and the loungewear article yesterday touched on this), it belongs under your shirt so that it can absorb all the sweat and manly smells you excrete throughout the day. This is never to be worn without a shirt, ever. If you do, it’s like showing the world your dirty laundry – ‘hey, look at me wearing clothes designed especially to collect dirt, great right?’. No, never.

What I am talking about are the basic cotton T-shirts that can be found in any good clothing store all around the country, that come in an array of colours and different stylings. The reason I think T-shirts are so great is because they’re a piece of clothing that we should all be comfortable with, but when done correctly can give you a really classic look to your outfit. This means that you can feel totally confident in what you’re wearing, whilst keeping your outfit as simple or as layered as you want.

Basic T-Shirts

Here’s a quick rundown of the types of T-shirts available to you: –

  • Crew Neck – these are the ones with the round collars and are probably what most men out there are used to wearing. They are great at being the base item for layering i.e. with sweaters, cardigans, shirts and even other T-shirts.
  • V-neck – very on trend right now. As a beginner in fashion, try not to go for anything that has an extremely deep V, more than a couple of inches and you’re pushing it. They are brilliant because they show a little more of your neck; making you appear and feel more relaxed and they help give guys with broader chins something to sit and frame them on underneath. A grey, black and white V-neck are classic items you should have that you can rely on to go with anything.
  • Y-neck/Granddad - These are for the fashion forward guys, with Henley-style inspired knitwear and long-sleeves making a big appearance this autumn. They have a button-up section that ends just below the chest. Extremely versatile for layering as they can be buttoned to the top like a crew neck, or opened up like a v-neck. You could maybe consider having a crew-neck printed Tee as your base and then layer a bright coloured open Y-neck over the top.
Basic T-Shirt Techniques

Now obviously, depending on your style or mood of casual attire then there are different ways you utilise T-shirts. For example you could use the T-shirt as your base or anchor for the outfit (see Jude Law and Zac Efron above) which would mean using a simple tee layered under a statement piece (blazer/check shirt) OR as a way of bringing life into an outfit that is otherwise very basic and monochromatic by using a bold statement colour.

Here are just a few fool-proof things you can try out with your T-shirts:

  1. When using a tee as an anchor for the outfit layer it with a statement item. A big trend right now is worker wear so go for a plaid shirt in a bold blue or red – Look how Zac Efron pulls off that relaxed casual look above by pairing a white tee with a nice bold check shirt left open. Or perhaps you’d prefer a striped shirt in the same colours? You can then combined this simple look with some smart grey jeans and a navy blazer if you want to really get into advanced layering. Either way you have got a great look that’s held together in the middle by the neutral simple Tee. If you never button the top or bottom buttons of your shirts then wear a V-neck or alternatively, try it with only the top two or three buttons done up and pair it with a crew neck.
  2. Use your crew necks as a way of bringing a pop of colour into your everyday wear, especially in winter. My standard go-to casual don’t-think-about-it wear for autumn and winter is a mid-blue pair of jeans with a black V-neck jumper over a crew neck in red, purples and greens. Or if I’m not in a jeans mood, it’ll be stone wash or navy chinos with a grey jumper, only this time the crew neck is in blues, pinks and purples.
  3. Fashion can be simple! Look at Justin Timberlake and Brian Austin Green in the top picture. You CAN JUST wear a simple tee with some jeans and create a great outfit as long as they FIT correctly. This goes to show how easily fit can make or break an outfit, as if these t-shirts were oversized then these two would look terrible. It is not a very fashion forward approach, but it can be brought bang up to date using some great military boots/hi-tops with your jeans, or throwing on a simple statement jacket like a Mac or Military coat over the top of the t-shirt.
  4. Finally, for when it does start to get a bit warmer, layering with other styles of T-shirts is cool too. Crew neck under a V neck, V neck under a Granddad, Crew neck and crew neck, who cares? Mix it up, have fun with it! That includes the colours as well. Combine it with your favourite pair of jeans and a neutral blazer (and by that I mean navy, grey or black) to make it a bit more formal if you want.
Product Picks

Here are some good places to look for Tee’s and some of the ones I think are cool. You’re not looking to spend too much money because, well, they’re only T-shirts guys. Back to Basics remember?

Topman

White Grandad Neck T-Shirt Black Crew Neck T-Shirt Blue Roll Up Grandad T-Shirt

Burton

Grey Basic Crew Neck T-Shirt Purple Contrast Crew Neck T-Shirt White Ribbed V-Neck T-Shirt

Navy Open Grandad Neck T-Shirt White Basic Crew Neck T-Shirt Red Open Grandad Neck T-Shirt

Urban Outfitters

Acne Jeans Pop Basic Short Sleeve Tee Basic V Tee Y Neck Plain Tee

All Saints

 Tonic S/s Crew  Tonic S/s Crew  Hockney Tee

 Tonic Scoop  Tonic Scoop  Hockney Tee

What I’m Wearing Today – Navy Chinos, Grey V-neck sweater over a pink Polo shirt and some brown leather loafers