Fashionistos credit the London Olympics with driving the t-shirt trend, but men on Fifth Avenue, the Magnificent Mile, and Rodeo Drive know perfectly well that t-ophilia has been building since Don Johnson first perfected the look on “Miami Vice.” Men forever have loved their t-shirts and secretly have longed to wear them always and everywhere. Designers finally have caught the clue and begun delivering high-quality t-shirts in fits, fabrics, and colors comfortable and stylish enough to go from country club to late-night supper club with sophistication and savoir faire.
Find new favorites in fantastic fabrics
No matter what a man’s taste, style or temperament, today’s upscale t-shirts easily will become key elements in his signature style:
- T-shirts complete the prepster.
Crafted from hefty 100 percent cotton, which remains de rigeur , all the embroidered-logo favorites come in cuts and styles coordinated to accent plaid Bermuda shorts, add color to proper white pleated shorts, and coordinate with the full palette of properly cuffed khakis. Prepsters and ivy leaguers find alligators, polo ponies, and moose with mock-turtle necks made to work well beneath their mandatory blue blazers or their uber-traditional seersucker, madras, and linen jackets.
- T-shirts cruise in “continental” style.
Of course, the t-shirt served as one-half of James Dean’s uniform in the old continental style. Here, however, the word refers to the continent known among the hoi polloi as Europe. Globe trotters and international men of mystery coordinate silk, linen, and flax t-styles with their custom-tailored Italian jackets and slacks, sending the message loud-and-clear that they are perfectly comfortable sans neckwear…except when they pick up the most promising Fashion Week trend in gentlemen’s accessories, the light-weight, all-season scarf.
- Artists expand t-shirts’ palette.
Not surprisingly, artists, musicians, and a few well-informed writers pick up style guidance from Fox television’s Dr. Gregory House, who has been modeling the best looks in t-shirt cum tweed for several seasons. House has assured Greenwich Village and Laguna Beach brush-, bow- and pen-masters that manly men do wear pink t-shirts and the whole range of pastels too. The program notes probably did not mention, though, that House’s exemplary t-fashions come off the rack in organically grown cotton that washes better and wears longer than the commercial-grade stuff, as it supports family farms in emerging nations.
- T-shirts naturally go granola.
For rugged outdoorsmen, the t-shirt represents the ideal wicking and layering piece. This is not news. The big news comes from manufacturers of high-tech and earth-friendly fabrics. Hikers find new t-shirt styles in cool-wearing, fast-drying cotton-synthetic blends, and true outdoor purists discover innovative t-shirt designs fashioned from hemp—nature’s living definition of “industrial strength.” Everywhere in the wilderness, high-style adventurers remember to coordinate their t-shirt colors with the accent colors in their flannels.
- T-shirts put the edge on business casual.
Even stuffy, stodgy button-down and striped-tie corner office captains of industry can loosen-up and lighten-up with new casual-Friday favorites from Brooks Brothers and other purveyors of executive-wear. Well-tailored in cashmere, lambs-wool and other fine all-natural fabrics, high-end t-shirts transition seamlessly from the boardroom to the ballet. Some day soon, even heads of state will adopt this look that bespeaks perfect comfort in the corridors of power.
Check new fits and familiar features
Several “traditional” clothiers updated familiar t-shirt styles by offering them in both regular and “muscle” fit. Tighter through the torso and fashioned with shorter, tighter sleeves, muscle t-shirts quietly showcase the results of all those hours and reps at the gym. However, reputable t-shirt manufacturers have not forgotten the little things that distinguish the finer t-shirts: Nicely stitched chest pockets and “locker loops” are still standard equipment on the best-known brands.
“It’s an embarrassment of riches,” says a GQ reporter. “I guarantee, this season, a man can find a proper t-shirt for literally every occasion.”
Erica Corsi is a fashion-savvy freelance blogger, who writes about men’s fashion. If you’re looking to pick up on the season’s styles, Erica recommends ordering printed polo shirts.