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Monday, July 14, 2008

Getting the Most Value Out of Tee Shirts

I've previously stated that tee shirts are overrated pieces of clothing. However, especially in summer, we don't always want to wear polos or button-down shirts, let alone multiple layers.

My point before was that tee shirts are typically only seen fully in the summer, and even then they're sometimes hidden behind other layers. Thus, it perplexes me when people pay inordinate amounts for something that's only going to be used fully 2-3 times per year. Believe me, it happens.

However, tee shirts are necessary to have, and if you're going to have some, they might as well be good. Good, of course, doesn't have to mean expensive. Also remember to extract as much value from the shirt as possible. Here are my guidelines:
  1. Try to vary the background colors of your tee shirts. When beneath a sweater, button-down, or even a polo, often the entire design of a tee shirt is obscured. You can, however, still extract value by using the background color strategically with color theory.
  2. Choose unique designs, or use self-design programs. Tee shirts provide an opportunity for very obvious uniqueness. Not everyone is going to notice if you've chosen a unique lapel shape for your newest suit. People tend to notice a shirt with an blue pig bomb on it (what you do with the uniqueness is your responsibility).
  3. Seek out quality fit. Too often, the departmental screen-printed tee comes in three sizes; minuscule, too big, and way too big. This is a shame, because a well-fitting tee shirt can be physique-flattering. When you're wearing just a single layer, this is a nice benefit.
  4. Simplicity is your friend. Often tee shirts cause a lot of "noise" in an outfit, by introducing a huge number of colors, patterns, or design ideas into a small space. Tee shirts with more than a few words are awkward to read (thus decreasing their value). Large numbers of colors can decrease coherence and intentionality, making you "that guy who just throws on the first clean tee shirt in his pile." Instead, aim for simple, easily digestible designs, and vibrant, but sparse color patterns.

I'm working on an article detailing how and where to obtain quality tee shirts, or to make your own. It should go up in a day or two, a more practical (rather than theoretical) approach to getting tee shirts of maximum fashion value.


Susanna said...

Hi! Found your blog via the Fabulous Festival.

I'd argue that the utility of t-shirts depends on where you live. For example, here in Aiken, SC where the weather is warm and the dress code casual, tees are April-to-November wear. And where my brother lives, in Santa Barbara, they're a year-round staple.

I'd say your advice is doubly true for people in warmer, more casual locales. If we're going to be wearing t-shirts all the time, we had better look good in them.

fashionablemathematician said...

Good point Susanna. Coming from Maryland, with considerably cooler weather, I'm probably somewhat biased in that respect.

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