How To: The Graphic Tee
The Graphic Tee. It was a staple in my wardrobe growing up and is still a staple in my wardrobe when I don't want to get dressed so I steal my boyfriends clothes. Honestly thats where it stays - at home where nobody is going to see it. But graphic tees will never die - I buy them all the time from concerts and events, companies are constantly giving them away for free and everyone loves a free tee shirt, and its a much more "outspoken" way to wear a basic tee shirt. As an adult it is a bit harder to wear on a daily basis but if styled correctly, a graphic tee can even be worn to work! (A causal work setting though - if your company has a strict dress code then don't go showing up in a graphic tee. Thats a really bad idea.)
A Question of Quality
There are actually two aspect of quality for graphic tees that I take into account. The first is the fabric it is made out. The majority of the time you are going to be getting a Cotton 100% basic tee shirt with a print on it. These are really inexpensive and easily accessible - basically on the same level of Hanes (and there is nothing wrong with that!). However; This piece is a statement and if you are going to incorporate it into your daily wardrobe, you want something that reads a little bit nicer. I recommend going with a long staple cotton (supima, pima, giza, etc..) or even a rayon blend; I have a great Fashion's Night Out thats a rayon blend. This way the tee fits your body a little less "boxy" and feels more "put together." The other EXTREMELY important quality that you need to know about is the type of print. You really want something that is printed by silk screen so the ink actually saturates into the fabric. If you have a heat transfer printed shirt, you'll feel the ink on top of the tee. After a few washes this ink peels off and looks horrible.
This is my boyfriend's favorite tee shirt featuring a highly upset and crying Kim Kardashian. Unfortunately, because this is printed by heat transfer, Kim is now peeling away and looking worse than ever.
The Perfect Tee
This tee shirt is literally everything I look for in a graphic tee. The print is simple, the shirt is made with Supima Cotton and Modal, its fitted, and whats awesome is that its made in the USA and support small businesses. Buy it here
The Drapey Tee
American Eagle has a series of super cute "Tailgate" tees. They are cotton/rayon blends and the cut of them is really flattering and fun. I'm a big nature lover so I chose the "Protect Yosemite" print. This company also supports the National Park Foundation. Buy it here
The Look for Less
There are so many options on amazon for this but I chose one that I personally like. I like the message, I love tank tops, and its 95% Rayon 5% Spandex which will help maintain the shape. Its also under $10! Buy it here
The Style Issue
The big issue with graphic tees is that pairing it with a basic pair of jeans just looks sloppy. You need to do something extra - especially if you are wearing it as a fashion piece. This top has always been the lazy solution to getting dressed and now it needs to be highlighted. The graphic tee is a fun, quirky, and overall awesome statement piece. I really enjoy putting it with more professional outfits but it definitely can be paired with anything as long as it is well made, fits you correctly, and styled according to my "Do's and Don'ts" below. Remember that what you wear is an expression of you to the world - stay true to yourself and you will be amazing!
The Do's and Don'ts
- DON'T wear anything that is vulgar or offensive. I personally try and stay away from saying and focus on logos and designs.
- DO make a theme! If your shirt has a leopard on it, pair it with leopard print accessories; Look at the style, colour, imagery, etc and roll with it!
- DON'T pair it with sweatpants, leggings, or anything too pajama-looking. You want to dress it up, not look like your going to the gym.
- DO wear it with a suit! Feel free to pair it with professional pants, vests, skirts, blazers, etc to bring a little "sassiness" into a very classic look (pro tip - try to wear it with a blazer, slacks, converse and some aviators.)
- DON'T buy them super large - you can buy a size up for a boyfriend look but eventually they start looking like your pajamas. You can see in the photo of me on the top - the tank top is way too big and the arm holes go down to my hips. I usually just wear this to hang around the house to be honest
- DO feel free to cut the neckline or sleeves, add pins, or draw on it to make it your own. This is meant to be the loudest part of your outfit so go ahead and "scream"
- DON'T wear a specific graphic because everyone else is. If you are going to shout something to the world - do it because you care about it! Who cares if everyone is wearing a led zeppelin shirt - if you've never heard their music or aren't a fan, don't wear it!
- DO have fun! Its a statement - make an impact!