How to Buy and Style the Perfect T-Shirt


Before we were introduced to American Apparel, our t-shirts were bought in packs of three in the boys’ department of Wal-Mart— just two aisles over from tires and electronics. Despite being fiscally responsible, what kind of value are we really getting from a shirt that is so boxy and ill-fitting that it results in that bunchy, muffin top look when tucked into jeans?

T-shirts are the most fundamental basic in any woman’s wardrobe– second to jeans, maybe. But there is an art to wearing a t-shirt to make it feel refreshingly basic and not as if spin class is twenty minutes away. Alas, Bluefly resident stylist, Tanesha Smith, gives us some insight and professional tips on how to buy and style the perfect t-shirt.

SC: How much should a woman really spend on a t-shirt? What are the benefits of spending more?

Tanesha Smith: The old saying, “you get what you pay for,”is so truewhen were talking about t-shirts… and haircuts. But anyway, whether you buy yours by the 3-pack or on Bluefly, it has to feel good and look good.

Yes, you can definitely find something cute out there that won’t break the bank– however, higher-end lines and labels tend to: a) use better fabrics (silk blends) that are more comfortable, and b) take more design risks, thereby making the t-shirt special.

Also, designer t-shirts are a good way to get a piece of a collection you may not otherwise be able to afford– designers usually incorporate some signature detail that defines their aesthetic. That being said, I’d question anything less than $20 or over $300.

SC: What should I look for when trying to find that perfectly baggy t-shirt that doesnt look like a poncho?

TS: The fabric is key– try a soft modal cotton as opposed to classic gym t-shirt cotton. Modal fabric will drape and followyourshape instead of creating its own tent-like silhouette.

TIP: This Wyatt pocket t-shirt ($48) is an inexpensive slouchy shirt made of 100 percent modal– a great way to break into higher-end t-shirts!

SC: What can I pair a t-shirt with to make it appropriate for the office?

TS: Add a blazer and a skirt (either pencil, leather, or mini) and you’re good to go!

TIP: When shopping for t-shirts, look for shirts with added draping or details. For example, Free People added a pleated v-neck detail on this basic to increase its office wearability.

SC: How can I make a t-shirt last longer?

TS: Some tees look better over time and wear in nicely with machine washing. Some do not. If you have invested heavily into say, a Rick Owens tee, gently hand wash it and lay it flat to dry. If you’re super committed, Id advise sticking to dry cleaning.

SC: At what point is it time to throw out a t-shirt?

TS: I know a stylist who loved to wear her boyfriends old high school tees. They looked fabulous, but they smelled like the locker room.Thatis when it’s time to move on!

SC: What are your favorite ways to wear t-shirts beyond just wearing it with jeans?

TS: There are still lots of cool leggings out there with tie-dyes and embellishments that look great with a longer t-shirt. Mini skirts provide a nice contrast in proportions. T-shirts also look great under blazers, leather jackets, and long drapey vests. Also, depending on the weight of the tee, t-shirts can be fun to layer.

TIP: Try this Erin Kleinberg studded pocket boyfriend tank which hangs nicely on your frame but is fitted enough to be an amazing layering piece!

Outfit #1: Heather grey eco scoop neck t-shirt at Alternative Apparel; Brown French leather bomber jacket, brown leather skirt, brown leather skinny belt, and brown leather strap platforms at Chadwick Bell. For where to buy information click here.

Outfit #2: Lightning bolt blouse at James Coviello; White jersey t-shirt at Clu; Black cotton pleated shorts at Lewis; Black leather lace up heel booties at Candela NYC. For where to buy information click here.

Outfit #3: Denim jacket at American Eagle Outfitters; Black vest at Oxford & Regent; White crew neck tee at American Apparel; Black leggings at Sena; Black leather shoes at Dolce Vita. For where to buy information click here.

Outfit #4: Grey blazer by Diesel; Grey t-shirt at Alternative Earth; Burnt sand leather belt at American Living; Cream elastic waistband skirt at Old Navy; Brown, tan python cage platform sandal at Laurence Dacade. For where to buy information click here.

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