WITH JUST ONE ITEM
There is one item of clothing that I cannot live without. For me, it is an essential feature of my wardrobe, as necessary as a pair of jeans. I have one on now, wore one yesterday and the day before, wore one to bed last night, then another to the gym this morning. I have a section of my wardrobe designated to this piece. I can spend as little as $8 on one or be able to justify spending $250 on another. But what blows my mind is when I spend time with my clients, is it the one thing that is missing from their wardrobes. So to my dismay, it is one of the first things I suggest as is vital to be able to bring an outfit together.
The humble white t-shirt. And it sounds simple - but why does everyone struggle with the reality of how perfect it can be? To be honest, it is a tricky business finding the perfect one, but once you work it out, it will be a life changing fashion moment for you. From just a very simple piece of cotton jersey that became standard military use in World War II to when Chanel famously adapted jersey, a fabric traditionally used for underwear, into fashionable womenswear. Then decades later loved by movie stars and musicians along the way, this hidden staple came alive as the ultimate unisex garment. And I thank the nineties for where my addiction came from. Mainly as I would mimic Brenda or Kelly from cult TV show Beverly Hills 90210 - Levis 501's and my boyfriends white tee was my uniform.
The white t-shirt is quintessential to a casual-cool uniform and although the very plainess of it means it can be translated into every dress code. It will be the basis of many an outfit and one less thing you need to think about when you get dressed. And is the ultimate value item for cost per wear, as you can wear it over again without anyone noticing. So I am going to crack the code for you and share how you can find this item so it can be worn everyday of the week and each time it will be a different moment.
BUT you will need to embrace the process, as it may take a few attempts to finding the one you have an instant connection with. You have to assess the body shape, the neck style, sleeve length, fabric thickness or sheerness, washability and versatility.
- Don't be sexist. Most of the white tees I wear are slyly stolen from my husband’s side of the wardrobe. There is something about the cut of men’s tees especially if you want them a little oversized and slouchy. The fabric is just the right amount of sheer, yet lightweight enough you can wear a black bra underneath. And I find them cheaper than women designer brands. And as I am very tall they are always a good length for me and look great worn long over leather pants or skinny jeans. You can also normally get different necklines such a deep V or the classic crew neck.
- Buy multiply sizes. When you find the holy grail of t-shirts, buy a few different sizes. The smaller size looks neater and can be worn under a blazer for work tucked into tailored pants of skirts. Then 2 sizes up looks like a boyfriend style, more relaxed that can be worn with denim or more casually.
- Fabric is important. There is nothing more perfect than a crisp white t-shirt. So I pretty much wash mine after every wear. But this can affect the fabric and they can start to look a little dreary and sad after a few weeks of wear. 100% cotton I think looks the best, but sometimes blends are good if you are wearing them often. Linen and cotton blends are lovely and soft to wear or a cotton and lycra blend, give you a firmer and neater look. Personally I find the fabric used by some of the expensive 'designer' basic brands doesn't wear as well as cheaper versions, even though their cuts are perfect. You may need to try a few options to navigate this.
- Washing is key to maintenance and avoiding your t-shirts looking dull and grey. Do not mix your t-shirts with any other colour in the wash and only wash with whites. If you feel your laundry detergent is not cleaning well, then boost it's performance by adding 1/2 cup borax or 1 cup baking soda to each wash load. Use the hottest water recommended for the fabric to help remove body oils and grime that can dull the fabric. Dry your t-shirts outside if possible. The ultraviolet rays from the sun will help to brighten and whiten the garment. Or if drying with a dryer, choose a lower heat setting and remove t-shirts while slightly damp and air dry.
- Neck shapes suit everyone differently. I only like wearing a crew neck, but that's what I have found works for me after years of 'trying on' research. But it is good to understand what would suit you so when you start the shopping process you have a clearer idea.
1. Crew Neck - Is a round neck, classic style that will accentuate your face and shoulders. They are best suited to a small to medium bust, long neck and wide shoulders.
2. Boat Neck - A wider neckline passes just below the collarbone and can balance a fuller midsection by drawing the eye out to your shoulders. They are best suited to a small to medium bust, pear shapes and slender shoulders
3. Scoop Neck- A friend to all body types because the deeper, wider neckline style will draw the eye downward, lengthening your neck and accentuating your collarbone. They are best suited to a small to large bust and petite, hourglass, pear or athletic shapes.
4. V Neck- Also a shape that everyone can look great in. The key is choosing the depth of the V depending your bust size. Larger busts should choose a deeper V to elongate and balance your silhouette. For smaller busts, choose a less dramatic plunge. Sometimes you can add a cami underneath if you find your V is too low for certain scenarios.
- Sleeve length and tightness of the sleeve is important to work out what suits you.
1. Cap Sleeve. Personally I don't like this sleeve length as think its hits your arm at the most unflattering point and can make you look more masculine and broad. But a cap sleeve does work on a petite slender frame and can show off musclier arms.
2. Short Sleeve. Falling a bit lower on the arm than caps, and on a t-shirt are loose, un-confining shape mean that they’re forgiving on fuller upper arms. I like being able to roll up this length sleeve and just think this length suits everyone for a classic look.
3. Three Quarter Sleeve. Although hard to find this length sleeve in a t-shirt, if you can it probably is the most flattering. It has universality and has a figure-flattery technique. Also are a year-round staple since they can be worn in any season.
4. Long Sleeve. Great for when it gets colder as a good layering piece. You can buy tighter fitting styles white are actually very flattering.
It may sound a little intense so much thought goes into a simple garment, but once you discover the perfect style, you will notice how easy it will be to dress. It will be the one part of your outfit you don’t need to think about, but confident it is working with the other elements you put with it. It is the neutral part of your outfit. Plus once you fall in love with the white tee, you can then buy the same shape in black, grey and stripes, which will extend your wardrobe even more.
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