dirtbag fashion

A T-shirt Is Enough

Photo: KCS Presse / Splash News

Besides a thorough history of slavery in America and how to properly file your taxes, one thing kids are not taught in school but definitely should be is that a T-shirt is enough. From a very young age, it is instilled in young minds that there are two modes of dress: everyday dress and fancy dress. Upon entering adulthood, the possibilities expand: going-out dress, business-casual dress, and wedding-funeral dress enter the lexicon. There is at-home dress, nighttime dress, and when-you-want-to-have-sex-with-someone dress. The list goes on, stretching ever-greater, if you are the kind of person who takes pride in having an array of outfits for every sort of  affair.

But really, what’s the point, when a T-shirt is enough?

For those of us who try, with grave seriousness, to simplify our lives — by buying the same things over and over again, or by making sure our few favorite pieces of clothing are versatile enough to be used in a range of different outfits— the humble T-shirt is our ally. T-shirts are cheap, adaptable, and available in many different styles. They can be V-neck, crew neck, boat-neck, long-sleeved, Henley. I don’t think I need to remind you that T-shirts are made in every color of the rainbow. Sometimes they even have words on them. Piping. Patterns. Pockets. A T-shirt is enough.

T-shirts have long been an American classic. Like hamburgers, like the Washington Monument, like Sesame Street, the beauty of the T-shirt is that it is simple and familiar, and unlike polka music and those disgusting milkshakes with entire slices of cake on top of them, it presents no sensory overload. Blouses, silk shirts, button-downs, and other “tops” have their place, sure, but they can be difficult to wash, prone to showing sweat stains, too delicate for everyday wear, and a total crap shoot for fit. A T-shirt, on the other hand, is so available at every turn that should you not find the one you want at one store, you will certainly find it at the next. Some of America’s greatest heroes are often seen wearing T-shirts: Bruce Springsteen, Kristen Stewart, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Adam Sandler, Pharrell, Rob Lowe, Kanye West, Jamie Lynn Spears, Justin Theroux. You name a famous person and they’ve definitely at least worn a T-shirt once. That’s a pretty good track record for T-shirts, if you ask me.

But perhaps you are afraid that should you default to wearing T-shirts and only T-shirts you would lack options to modify or dress up or diversify your outfit choices. Wrong again. Here I will suggest ways to embrace the humble T-shirt without sacrificing your signature taste for flare.

If you feel unkempt in just a boring old T-shirt, even if you’ve paired that T-shirt with some other, nicer items like “pants” and “a jacket,” then might I suggest tucking it in? Boom, wow. Now you’ve got a clean look and you didn’t even have to put on a blouse. A blouse, in my experience, is always too much. Too flouncy.

One second, you have a T-shirt. The very next, you have a tank top. Just a moment before, you were wearing something with sleeves. And now, you are wearing something with modified sleeves. The possibilities continue to be endless.

Dress up any simple T-shirt with a statement necklace. The statement you are making: I am wearing a T-shirt.

A blazer. A jacket. A sweater over a T-shirt. A button-down shirt buttoned up over a T-shirt. A button-down shirt left unbuttoned over a T-shirt. A cardigan, if you are so inclined, though I really do not recommend it. A T-shirt is great because it can be layered with a whole host of additional items. Layer it with another T-shirt.

For those who will argue that T-shirts cannot be “dressy,” have you considered the T-shirt embellished with the image of a tuxedo? Just something to think about.

A friend of mine always buys her T-shirts from vintage stores so that they are incredibly soft and worn thin; also, they are typically expensive, which creates the illusion that the thing she is buying is actually fancy and is therefore acceptable to wear at formal events. Old T-shirts are both comfortable and deceptive, a strong combination.

Why mess with something already good?

A T-shirt Is Enough