A t-shirt is an article of clothing that just about everyone has in their closet. It’s something small children wear, and adults can incorporate it into so many different outfits.
This article is going to focus on what a t-shirt is, how you can wear it, how to dress up a t-shirt, and some of the outfit ideas to keep in mind when selecting your clothing for the day.
By the end of this article, we hope that you’ll be able to look at the t-shirt in a different light. It’s really quite versatile, comes in endless styles and colors, and is one of the most affordable clothing items you’ll ever invest in.
Let’s get started!
They can be worn casually for the most part, but you have the option to dress up a t-shirt if you’re inclined to do so. This article is dedicated to the t-shirt in all its fashionable glory.
You may already know what a t-shirt is because you own some of them, but I still want to make sure we cover its official definition. This will allow you to make appropriate wardrobe choices based on where you’re headed for the day.
You might be going to work and want to avoid t-shirts altogether, but t-shirts are often used as a staple of just about any outfit. As we move on to subsequent chapters, we’ll get into the details of how to dress up a t-shirt and specific clothing ideas for women and men.
What’s a t-shirt?
A t-shirt is an article of clothing that resembles the letter “T” when you lay it out flat. It is usually made of simple cotton material, but many clothing brands have started to experiment with different blends that make a t-shirt stretchy or form-fitting.
T-shirts hold that typical T-shaped design for the most part, but there are other defining details that you can look for. The neckline of a t-shirt can follow a crew style. This means the neck is in a simple circular shape that hugs the neck tightly.
You can opt for a boat neck or scoop neck if you want something that isn’t quite so fitted in that area. A V-neck t-shirt will have a slight cut down onto the chest area. Some V-neck t-shirts have a rather deep V cut that shows off a lot of the chest area.
The shirt style that you choose will likely be determined by where you’re going and the other clothing that you’ve chosen to wear with your t-shirt.
Can you wear a t-shirt for work?
If you’re getting ready for work, you don’t have to completely write off the t-shirt as part of your outfit that day. There are plenty of t-shirts that are perfectly acceptable, especially if your office follows more of a business casual attire.
You might skip an all-cotton undershirt that is baggy, thin, and slightly messy. But a t-shirt that is fitted and has a little bit of stretch to it will actually look very nice under a cardigan sweater or blazer. It all comes down to the quality of the shirt that you intend to choose.
It’s also a good idea to pay close attention to the color of the t-shirt that you’re thinking about wearing to work. You definitely want to skip anything that is baggy or has a graphic on it.
Stick with t-shirts that are a solid/neutral color, like black or navy blue. A basic white t-shirt can be worn as part of many different ensembles, so always have a few new, crisp and clean white shirts available.
How do you style a simple t-shirt?
A t-shirt may seem like a simple clothing item, but in fact, it is a starting point for a fantastic outfit. If you’re going to base what you’re wearing on a t-shirt, select the one you’re opting for that day.
Then, consider the overall shape and style of the t-shirt. A long t-shirt that isn’t very fitted may look really nice with a pair of leggings or skinny jeans. Shorts should be worn with shorter t-shirts that have a more fitted style to them. You can even opt for the crop variety for this style.
You can always layer other items on top of your t-shirt to really elevate its look. For example, a fitted V-neck t-shirt looks really great with a cardigan sweater over the top. You can also dress up your basic T with a scarf, vest, shawl, etc.
The t-shirt doesn’t really end up standing out as the main focal point of the outfit, but it definitely helps bring the whole look together.
How do you wear a classy t-shirt?
Not all t-shirts are designed for sweatpants and bumming around the house. There are very high-end, classy t-shirts that are made by some of the top designers in the world. If you happen to invest in some of these shirts, opt for dressing them up for work or going out.
Pair your t-shirt with a great pair of dress pants, khakis, or designer jeans. Loafers or ballet flats match the comfortable look you’re trying to achieve. Keep your accessories simple when you’re going to be wearing a nicer t-shirt. You can’t really dress up this look too much, so let your clothing speak for itself.
A classy t-shirt can even be paired with something like an expensive blazer or a pleated skirt. Of course, you have to be working with the right t-shirt to make this look work.
It may be a good idea to organize your t-shirt collection so you know which ones are appropriate for staying in, while the others will be better options for work or going out.
We hope that this information has been helpful so you can see your t-shirt collection in a new light. You may have some really great t-shirts in your wardrobe right now, but you’re not sure of the best ways to style them.
Stick with us, as our following chapters look at specific outfit ideas for both men and women that utilize t-shirts as part of the overall look. We’re going to be using a lot of clothing items that you probably already have in your closet right now, though you never realized that you can pair them with a t-shirt for a really fantastic look.
You may also want to invest in some nicer varieties of shirts that you can use when you’re dressing up a bit.
Dressing up a t-shirt really comes down to a couple of different factors. For example, the quality of the t-shirt you’re using makes a big difference in how you can style yourself. Nicer T-shirts are usually made with pima cotton, which is thick and soft.
Some t-shirts will have another fabric woven into them, like nylon or polyester, to make them stretchy. That little bit of give is important if you’re wearing something that’s on the more fitted side and you want to make sure that your T-shirt fits you in all the right places.
Now it’s time to take a look at some day and evening looks that utilize the basic T-shirt as a main part of the wardrobe. We’ll be covering tips for both men and women. Our advice will hopefully help you really utilize the T-shirts that you own.
Pair Your T-Shirt with a Blazer
It’s so incredibly easy to put on a pair of slacks and a basic T-shirt, topping the whole look off with a blazer. The blazer is what’s really going to make the look pop, while the T-shirt really just becomes background noise to the rest of the outfit.
Of course, you still want to pick a T-shirt that is clean, new, and nice. Much of the front of the shirt will be shown. You can opt for a V-neck t-shirt with a blazer that allows the sleeves to be rolled up for a very business casual look.
You can also select a straight-neck or boat-neck T-shirt with a blazer on top. You’ll see that the neckline is a bit unique, but some of it will be covered, so it doesn’t necessarily look like you’re even wearing a t-shirt.
Pay Attention to Footwear
The shoes that you wear with your T-shirt will make a big difference in how dressy your overall look is. If you’re already wearing a casual T as your shirt of choice, skip the sneakers. This would give too laid back of a style.
Instead, choose a comfortable pair of shoes like loafers, ballet flats, or even heels. You’ll want to match the color of your shoes not to the color of your shirt but rather the color of one of your other clothing items, like your blazer or cardigan.
The Length of Your T-Shirt
Dressing up a T-shirt requires you to leave the baggy varieties at home for the weekend. Instead, choose a T-shirt that hugs your waistline and hips slightly, but it should hang below that point.
You can even tuck the very front of your T-shirt into your pants to make the entire look a bit neater. Style your outfit with a great belt that will show and match that selection to your shoes, so everything ties in together nicely.
T-Shirt and Skirt Outfits
A skirt is a great way to dress up an outfit of any kind, but you can add a T-shirt on top to ensure you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing while still looking nice.
Keep your T-shirt on the fitted side if you’re going to have a flowing skirt on the bottom. You should also probably tuck your T-shirt into your skirt to give a more streamlined look to your appearance.
Top Your T-Shirt with a Button-Down Shirt
You don’t always have to layer your T-shirt with a cardigan or blazer. You can put a button-down shirt over a T-shirt so that just a little bit of the T-shirt shows. You can also wear the button-down slightly open at the top to reveal some of the shirt underneath. This look pairs well with everything from a pair of skinny jeans to khaki pants.
Tuck Your T-Shirt into High Waist Pants
High-waist pants have been making a pretty big comeback lately. They’re great because they fit so many different body types. Put on your favorite pair of high-waist pants, and then choose a t-shirt that you can tuck into them.
The type of look you’re going for will really determine how you’re tucking in your shirt. For example, jeans allow you to messily tuck in the T-shirt in just the front with some of the back hanging out. If you’re headed to work, make sure your T-shirt is tucked all the way around without any messy bunching present.
Use a Versatile Cardigan
It’s always a good idea to have a versatile collection of cardigan sweaters in your closet. Cardigans can be worn with so many different outfits that including T-shirts. More casual cardigans made of a chunky knit with a baggy shape will look great with jeans and a graphic T-shirt. You can wear slimmer cardigans with a fitted T-shirt and a pair of dress pants or a skirt.
Skip Jeans and Wear Dress Pants
We know that you can come up with plenty of outfits that pair together with T-shirts and jeans. Try swapping out your jeans with something a little more formal. This could be a pair of khakis, skinny black crop pants, or even wide, gaucho-style pants. Because a T-shirt is so versatile, you can usually swap out a number of different pants to create different looks and styles.
Head over to your closet to take a look at the different T-shirts and articles of clothing that you own, which may look very nice paired together. Part of the fun of having an extensive wardrobe is being able to mix and match different items to create unique looks. So, the next time you’re out shopping, pick up some new T-shirts that you can use for both daytime and evening wear.
You may have a lot of t-shirts in your wardrobe right now that can be used for these outfits but investing in new tees can be really affordable. It’s convenient to grab a new one here and there whenever you’re out shopping.
The basic t-shirt is generally made of cotton or a cotton blend with some sort of elastic material that provides a little bit of give. There are various necklines, including V-neck, boat neck, crew neck, and scoop neck.
The variety that you choose will depend on the other articles of clothing that you’re wearing and what looks good on your specific body type. It’s a good idea to have a few of each style so you can mix and match your outfits as needed.
You should also make sure that you have solid-colored t-shirts that are free of writing or graphics. They are the easiest to dress up. Those with graphics, photos, and text will look better with casual outfits but don’t be afraid to buy plenty of them as well. They’re usually very comfortable and cozy when you’re going to be at home for the day.
Here are some ideas for how to dress up a t-shirt for women:
T-shirt + long cardigan + dress pants + flats
You can choose your favorite dressy t-shirt in a solid color and pair it with a long cardigan. Since you’re opting for a sweater that’s on the longer side, I’d stick with a simple t-shirt that maybe has a slight V-neck or crew neck.
For your pants, opt for a simple pair of dress pants that reach all the way to your feet. Crop pants typically don’t look appropriate with a long sweater. Flats are simple shoes that will complete the look while keeping you comfortable.
T-shirt + skirt + pumps
A skirt looks nice with a fancy blouse, but it’s sometimes a good idea to keep this look simple by using a basic t-shirt as your top. Wear something that fits your body nicely and isn’t too baggy. You’ll be wearing pumps as your shoe, so you want to keep things professional yet simple.
You should also make sure that the t-shirt you’re wearing is made from a fabric that’s thick and not overly sheer. Since you’re not dressed too fancy, keep your accessories simple. A simple handbag, hoop earrings, and a watch are likely all you’ll need.
T-shirt + printed pants + wedges
We’ve talked a bit about the importance of wearing a t-shirt in a basic color if you’re going to be dressing it up. To prevent things from being too boring, opt for a pair of printed pants that have a nice pattern to them. They should feature the same colors used for your t-shirt and shoes.
Try tucking your t-shirt into your pants for a neater look. You can add a thin belt as an accessory and opt for a simple pair of wedges as your shoe. If you have to throw on a cardigan sweater over the top, try to keep that simple, so it doesn’t overshadow your printed pants.
T-shirt + scarf + loafers
Wearing a t-shirt for a dressier outfit isn’t a big deal if you’re going to have it covered by something like a scarf. It won’t be noticeable for the most part. There are many decorative scarves that can be matched with other things that you’re wearing, like your dress pants and shoes.
For your pants, opt for something that is cropped at the ankle. This allows you to show off your shoes, which we recommend loafers for this look. The scarf and the loafers are what will really pop for this outfit.
Denim Skirt + T-Shirt + Sneakers
This look is a bit more casual, but it’s still dressy enough for a night out with your girlfriends or maybe even work. A shorter denim skirt that ends just above the knee will be paired with a simple scoop neck or boat neck t-shirt in a simple print of basic hue.
You can add a sweater or crop jacket if it’s chilly outside. Your shoe of choice should be a clean and simple pair of white canvas sneakers.
Basic White T-Shirt + Skinny Dress Pants + Cardigan
A basic white t-shirt is a fashion staple in every woman’s closet. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a woman that doesn’t have one or many more. Pair yours with skinny pants that hug your figure.
Your t-shirt should have a little bit of extra length to it, so it hangs loosely over your waistline. A baggy cardigan will complement the look of your t-shirt. Opt for a pair of strappy sandals or ballet flats as your shoe. You could try on a pair of nude or black heels as well.
Skinny Dress Pants + T-Shirt + Button-Down Dress Shirt
Your skinny dress pants will look amazing with a basic t-shirt in a solid color. Top it with a crisp button-down shirt that you can wear open or with a few buttons buttoned on the bottom. Just make sure you look neat and wrinkle-free.
Your shoes will determine how fancy your outfit looks. You can opt for ballet flats if you want to look more casual. You can select heels if you feel that you need to dress your outfit up more.
Loose Gaucho Pants + Fitted T-Shirt + Loafers
Gaucho pants typically end just below the knee and are fitted in the waist with wide legs. They are made from a soft and flowing material that isn’t overly heavy or warm. Pair your gauchos with a fitted t-shirt that you will tuck into your waistline.
You don’t want to leave your t-shirt hanging out for this look. The whole outfit would end up looking too loose and messy. Your shoe should be a pair of loafers in the same shade as your pants, or maybe try matching your shoes with a simple belt that you include as an accessory.
Boyfriend T-Shirt + Tapered Twill Pants + Heels + Chunky Necklace
Twill pants are soft and have an attractive appearance. They also work really well when you want to dress up a bit but still be ultra-comfortable. Choose a pair in black or navy and wear a slightly baggy boyfriend t-shirt on top.
You can tuck in the very front of your t-shirt if you desire. Wear a pair of high heels for your shoe option. As an accessory, wear a very large and chunky necklace. This is a simple way to dress up a t-shirt while adding in a pop of color and style.
Basic White Crew Neck T-Shirt + Spaghetti Strap Dress + Sandals
A simple look that can be worn in the spring or summer. Wear a fitted white crew neck t-shirt on top, but pair it with a spaghetti strap dress on the top. You can choose a shorter dress for a casual event. But a longer dress will work well for a lot of different events, including work.
This outfit provides the person wearing it with a bit more modesty than if they were to wear the dress on its own while still looking fancy. You can wear this look with your favorite pair of sandals, whether they be something with a high heel or a flat pair of slip-ons.
The t-shirt dress is different from an actual t-shirt that you would wear as part of an entire outfit, but you can also opt for a t-shirt-style dress. It will have the same neckline and arms.
But the material at the bottom extends down to the middle of the thigh or even down to the ground. You can make this look casual with a pair of sneakers as your footwear. But you can also dress it up with something like loafers or heels.
Please let us know in the comments below if some of these outfits are ones you would try for yourself the next time you need an elevated look that is slightly dressy and stylish.
If there’s a detail to one of these outfits that you’re not thrilled with, swap it out for something else that you look good in and feel comfortable wearing.
Read our next chapter to discover some ways to dress up a men’s t-shirt for an outfit.
Some men throw them on when they’re dressing casually, but there is also the opportunity to dress up a t-shirt for things like work or going out. This chapter is going to take a look at some of the different outfit ideas that men can utilize for their basic t-shirts.
Men don’t usually have as many options for t-shirts as women do. They tend to stick with a form-fitting variety that may have either a crew neck or a slight V-neck.
They also gravitate towards solid-colored t-shirts for more professional outfits, while graphic tees are commonly worn on the weekends or at home. Let’s get started by looking at some really fashionable and fun outfit ideas using the basic men’s t-shirt.
T-shirt + dark colored jeans + blazer
Business casual allows a man to combine some laid-back items with something a bit dressy, so the look is very balanced but comfortable. For this look, start with a dark-colored pair of jeans. You don’t want to choose anything that looks too distressed or worn, so stay away from holes, a faded shade, etc.
A dark pair of navy-blue jeans would suffice. From there, choose a t-shirt that is solid in color, fitted to the body, and thick so that no skin shows through. We recommend a t-shirt that is basic white, black or gray.
To dress the look up, top everything with a blazer that would complement the color of your jeans. Your shoe option depends on the look you’re going for. Further, dress the look up using loafers or dress shoes. You can wear a simple pair of sneakers if you’re really going for something casual.
T-shirt + button-down shirt
The t-shirt you’re wearing doesn’t have to be the main focal point of your outfit. You can wear a t-shirt almost as an undershirt with a dress shirt so that you can’t really see through the dress shirt. You can also choose to leave the top buttons of your dress shirt slightly unbuttoned so you see the t-shirt poking through.
We recommend wearing a t-shirt that is a lighter color than the button-down shirt that you’re wearing. You can pair this look with dress pants, khakis, or jeans.
T-shirt + elegant trousers
For this look, you’re going to really elevate the look of a t-shirt. Pair your favorite tee with a V-neck with a pair of elegant trousers. These should be your go-to pants when you want to look amazing. These will be the only two articles of clothing for this look, so we recommend choosing high-quality items.
There are a number of color combinations that you can select, including navy pants with a blue or gray t-shirt, black pants with a white or gray t-shirt, etc. Keep the look dressed up with a pair of loafers and bare feet for warmer weather.
Men don’t often do much in the way of accessories, but you can grab a great pair of shades to go with this look and pair your belt with your shoes.
T-Shirt + Cardigan Sweater + Khakis + Dress Shoes
This laid-back look is comfortable, sophisticated, and attractive. Choose khakis as your pant of choice. Make sure they’re clean and pressed, so they look very neat. Wear a t-shirt that is complementary to your pants so that we would choose something in white, navy blue or black.
Keep the look simple by choosing a cardigan sweater that is the exact same color as your t-shirt. If you opted for a white t-shirt, skip a white sweater. You can be a little more adventurous in that regard. Consider choosing a sweater with an argyle or striped print.
Black Dress Pants + Striped Boat Neck Shirt + Blazer
It’s sometimes tough to feel like you can dress up a t-shirt when you’re a man and your options are limited, but this look is stylish and fun. Put on a pair of black dress pants that are fitted, pleated and dressy. Black dress shoes are all that’s needed.
See if you can find a t-shirt with a boat neck that has a striped, horizontal pattern to it. The boat neck is only going to show slightly since you’re going to be wearing a blazer over the top of this look.
The color of your blazer should match the color of your pants, and try to match it to the color of the stripes on your shirt. No accessories are needed, but you can try to get creative with the style of your shoes.
Black Jeans + Black T-shirt + Black Leather Jacket
This look is both slightly dressed up and fun. Start with a pair of black jeans. Because we’re trying to appear somewhat fashionable, don’t choose anything that looks faded or worn. Instead, a solid black pair will suffice. Then, put on a basic black t-shirt.
You probably have a number of them in your closet right now, so choose something that is new, fits you well, and maybe has a V-neck. Over the top of your look, opt for a black leather jacket that ends at the waist and will be worn open.
Instead of putting on a casual boot or dress shoe, break up the monochromatic look of this outfit by wearing a bright white, clean sneaker. This is such a fun look that brings together the toughness of black and leather with a surprising, comfortable shoe.
Suit + T-Shirt
Men are wearing fashionable suits these days that are very fitted and sometimes have a higher ankle that really shows off their shoes and figure. This look is for the man that has a nice collection of these suits and wears them well.
You’ll start with your favorite somewhat casual suit. Black tends to be very formal, so consider wearing something in a shade of blue or gray. Include a t-shirt in this look. Something with a V-neck would look stylish.
Tuck the t-shirt into your dress pants and top the look with your matching suit coat. If you’re wearing the more fitted suit that I mentioned, wear a pair of loafers with no socks as your footwear selection.
Plaid Pants + White T-shirt + Blazer
Don’t be afraid to be adventurous with fashion for this look. Start with a pair of fitted plaid pants. You may or may not already own these as part of your wardrobe but consider purchasing a pair if you don’t.
They’re fun to have when you want to really express yourself through fashion now and again. Because of the bold pattern of these pants, put on a basic white t-shirt with either a crew neck or V-neck.
Most men tend to grab a V-neck t-shirt when they’re trying to dress up their look. On top of your tee, wear a blazer that is the same color as the main color in the plaid of your pants.
Brown Pants + Brown Shoes + T-Shirt + Zip-Up Sweater
Pick a pair of brown dress pants that are slightly darker than your average pair of khakis. Stay away from anything that is too baggy. Match your shoes to this color palette. The t-shirt you wear should have a basic crew neck, so you’re not showing off any of your chest.
You’re going to top this look off with a sweater that zips up to the neck from about halfway down the sweater. If you were to wear something with a V-neck, the final result would be a bit awkward.
Jeans + T-Shirt + Bomber Jacket
This is more of a business casual look, but it can look very smart if you’re choosing the right items that are high in quality. A nice pair of jeans can be paired with a t-shirt in whatever hue you want. Just try to stay away from too bold of prints for this look.
Top the look off with a great bomber jacket, which will really be the focal point of the outfit. You can decide if you want to wear sneakers to make the look more casual, or you can opt for boots or a dress shoe for an elevated appearance.
These outfit ideas have all incorporated a t-shirt into them. If you’re a man that’s been looking for some different wardrobe options using simple items like this, you hopefully found this information to be useful.
Take a look into your closet and dresser drawers to see what kind of t-shirts you have in your collection. It’s probably a good idea to get rid of some of those really old tees that are torn, stretched out, worn out, or stained.
Investing in new t-shirts is usually pretty affordable, so make sure your collection is always fresh. Let us know if the comments below what your favorite t-shirt outfit was from this article.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the t-shirt, the rules for wearing a t-shirt to work, and specific outfit ideas that incorporate a basic t-shirt, head to your closet to see what kind of t-shirts you have lurking in your wardrobe.
Take some time to separate your t-shirts into those that are more casual and the ones that can get dressed up. We can’t wait to hear about some of the outfits you’ve made using a t-shirt, so comment below.
You can also let us know what your favorite t-shirt is and why. Share this article with your friends and family that could use some relatable fashion advice regarding the t-shirt.