Reader Question: The Basic Tee

April 22nd, 2010 § 13 comments

We recently received a reader question regarding t-shirts. Reader K. wrote:

I have drawers and drawers full of every color tee and would love some of your brilliance on how to make them more stylish!

We’re sure that K. is not alone in having accumulated a hefty stash of tees in every color. We own a fair share of colorful tees ourselves because they serve an important function as a wardrobe staple and basic layering tool. Here are some of the ways we make those colorful tees work for us:

An important wardrobe basic is the plain solid colored tee. This item is just an easy ‘glue’ piece that can be thrown on with any pants, skirts, or under cardigans, and doesn’t require much deliberation. When in doubt, a solid colored tee is usually a safe and simple choice.

If you find that you own many of these plain solid colored tees and want to spruce them up a bit, here are some suggestions…

25 February 2009 – No Cardi, originally uploaded by academichic.
9 July 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.

Layering a scooped necked tee over a tank or lacy camisole adds that extra bit of interest and detail that lifts this simple item to another level. Camis with lacy shoulder straps are especially useful for creating this layering effect. This works particularly well with scoop neck and v-neck tees.

Violet & Mustard, originally uploaded by academichic.

Scoop neck tees are also great for layering over graphic tees, allowing only a bit of the pattern to peak out from the layer beneath. You can additionally play with the color choices in your layering, creating two-thirds of a triad, as E. did with this eggplant and mustard example above, or opting for a softer analogous effect by mixing two colors neighboring each other on the color wheel.

Graphic tees are also fun on their own. We especially like the combination of a relaxed graphic tee with a straight-line skirt and flats for a casual summer look. But let’s return to that simple solid colored tee once more. Should you not want to layer it over something else, you could just add interest by adding a scarf or any other fun accessory (think long necklace, pretty brooch, vest, etc)…

14 May 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.
S – UO jersey necklace, originally uploaded by academichic.

Simple tees, especially the more close-fitting variety, are also great for pairing with fuller and higher-waisted skirts. (And with wide leg pants or looser trousers). They do the job of balancing out the fuller bottom portion and play a perfect partner to those belted and more colorful items that demand something simple and fitted on top.

And, if your drawers are overflowing with loads and loads of tees, you could always choose a few of those with which to experiment and try some DIY. E. picked up a few basic solid colored tee and added embellishments along the neckline with just a few stitches, some ribbon, and extra jersey fabric. For the full instructions, go here.

Are you also someone who’s stocked up on more than your fair share of colorful tees? What are some of your favorite ways of working them into your wardrobe and how do you manage to dress them up on occasion? As always, leave your tips in the comments section below!

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§ 13 Responses to Reader Question: The Basic Tee"

  1. Diana says:

    This is such a timely post for me, as I just stocked up on several new colors of my favorite puffed cap sleeve tee from H&M. My favorite way to wear them is tucked into a flouncy skirt, maybe with a little cardigan or vest on top, and definitely a scarf. (Tucking them into skirts also allows me to extend the life of my tees, because for whatever mysterious reasons, I always end up with holes near the bottom fronts of all my tees.) Of course a good tee is perfect with jeans too. I think the keys to fabulous tees are finding the right fit and length and wearing the right bra underneath!

  2. EmilyKennedy says:

    I also like them under vests or short sleeve jackets. Alternately, paired with a statement necklace (tons of beads or a large and impressive pendant) you just can’t go wrong.

  3. kristen says:

    This is a great post. Thank you so much!

  4. ellen says:

    Hi! Can you tell me where you got those wonderful red espadrille slingbacks? They’re great!!

  5. Lisa J says:

    You can never have too many colored t’s! I love summer skirts filled with bright, bold prints. I find that you get a lot of mileage out of skirts when you can pair it with different colors — yellow one day, blue the next, and then white with a jean jacket!

    I get those little holes in my t-shirts too– I think they result from sharp belt buckles.

  6. admin says:

    Ellen, I got them at the Banana Republic Outlet last summer. They run a bit big in size, FIY. Good luck tracking them down! S

  7. Ris says:

    T-shirts in your mailbox?

  8. admin says:

    Ris, good eye! :) Thanks!

  9. Ris says:

    Ha thanks! It wasn’t meant to offend, although immediately I thought “yikes, did that come off wrong?” Love the tee post. I’m always looking to you ladies for guidance.

  10. admin says:

    Ris – no offense was taken! It was kind of funny, once you pointed it out, it was so ridiculously obvious how silly that sounded. And I’m really appreciative of a good close reader, so I was more flattered than offended ;)


  11. They are great with layered necklaces. I love love wearing them. Of course, graphic tees with skinny jeans and skirts are fun, too.

  12. Erin says:

    I’ve got tees in spades and as soon as I saw this post I ran out and bought a straight line skirt to wear w/ them. Something so simple brings a whole new look to my standard weekend uniform of a tee and jeans (or a tee and shorts). I don’t know why I never thought of it before, thank you so much for giving me the skirt inspiration!

  13. Erin says:

    Great post! You ladies have inspired me so much to kic my outfits up a notch! :) Keep the posts coming!

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