Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tshirts: Men’s favourite alternative to being starkers

So, Men; you think this is one topic that you know:  Tshirts.  Like the clothing version of a man’s mind; the T’shirt is mono-dimensional and uncomplicated, is it not? 
                                                                                           It is not. 

I’m hoping you all have a supportive network of friends and family who see your merits beyond your dress-sense, because it will cushion the blow when I tell you that Tshirts are in fact yet another clothing concept you are often ballsing-up.

Prepare yourself, as yet another aspect of your clothing experience that once involved ‘just throwing something on’, will now require more cognitive-processing than interpreting the assembly instructions for IKEA’s NORDEN gate-leg table after 16 beers. 

  Tshirts are a big deal because no other piece of men’s clothing so overtly makes a statement of who you are.   Except for maybe your Vic Bitter tank top, that indeed communicates ‘something’ about you. 

The t-shirt is important.   If you make the wrong choice in a Tshirt, you might as well get a permanent marker and scrawl ‘Hello, I’m Neil and I’m a sad old twat who’s going on a date with this girl I met online who is (apparently) still in her early 20’s so I’m wearing this skin-tight V-neck Tee to make it seem like I’m busting out of my clothing with Incredible Hulk-style pecs and huge guns for arms’ across your chest; 

In this article I’m going to discuss three Tshirt-faux pas, and believe it or not, I do not include stains and rips as one of these forms of T-shittiness.  In fact, a carefully selected and positioned spillage or tear can rock.   

However, before you go racing to the rubbish bin to retrieve your favourite shirt that you mournfully tossed after spilling tandori chicken down the front; it's important to remember that there are good stains and bad stains.

In fact paint is the only acceptable blemish.   Carefully positioned paint stains suggests you are handy and/or artistic; and masculine in your apathy towards your own appearance. 

The reality is more likely to be that you went to Bunnings and brought a sample pot for the deliberate purpose of getting all Pollock-like on your shirt in an aim to bag yourself an indie-chick.   Luckily, what you lack in integrity and credibility you will make up in grungy hotness.  

So, what are the unholy trinity of Tshirt uck-fups you ask?
Asos Grandad Tee with All-over Fairisle Print

  1. Sleeves too long (and loose).
  2. Tee is too big or small
  3.  The design/print is all wrong

Unfortunately, a Tshirt sleeve which is too long or baggy can make you look like a pre-pubescent kid who has transitioned 4 years too early out of the children’s clothing department.    Or even worse, Eminem circa 1999.   

I'm not looking to alienate any of my readers, but unless your method of communication is limited to ‘Awww and/or hell-yeah’ then I’m assuming pasty white-boy rapper isn’t a look you’re going for. 

Asos Kimono Tee
When it comes to sleeves, make sure they are short-ish.  That is; stop no lower than exactly 47mm above the elbow.  I’m sorry, this measurement is not flexible. 

The sleeves should be a relaxed-slim cut, or if you do have a slightly looser sleeve; roll it up.  In fact; roll those sleeves right up to your shoulder to achieve the sexiest look in history; that’s right the ‘Danny Zuko’.  You will look like a gorgeously-greasy version of rock and there’s the added bonus of having a convenient way of transporting your Marlboro Reds by tucking them between the sleeve and your shoulder/arm).  

If you’re not cool enough to smoke, you could replace the cigarettes for a Jumbo pack of Tic-Tacs, your Warcraft trading cards or a box of tampons (because nothing says ‘I care’ like anticipating the main events in your girlfriend’s menstrual cycle).   

Asos All-over Aztec Tee
I think I’ve covered the whole ‘don’t wear it long and baggy issue’ in the ‘sleeve’ section, so I’m going to jump straight to the shame-job that is the uber-tight Tee. 

Alas it is an issue that is close to my heart, because I have unknowingly dated a few men who have in fact worn tight Tees.  I won’t say it’s the only reason that we’re not currently spending our weekends arguing over shelving at IKEA, however, when the guy I thought I had sussed turned up one day in a skin-tight Tshirt, it was quite the challenge to burgeoning relationship. 
Pam Camp Logo Tee from Someday Store
I mean, how could I genuinely connect with this man when his painted-on-Tee was making me think that at any point in the evening he would make the exciting announcement that he was going to quit his job to begin a Bronski Beats Tribute band.
I understand where you’re coming from; you are buff and want to flaunt it.  But listen to me; put down the 3-sizes too small Tee, this is not the way to do it.  A  Tshirt that is too tight just makes you seem like a man in tragic denial of his age, or you are gay man from the 90's.  i.e., you will have women approaching you for the sole-purpose of  
bagging a man they can attend Kylie Minogue concerts and go shopping with.

So as with most of the rest of your wardrobe; make sure your Tshirts are not tight, and have more of a relaxed, slim/straight styling.  A Tee that just skims your form is much more flattering than something that looks like you've had it since your glory days in your primary school gym.

Neighborhood Sun Dance Tshirt from Someday Store
This is a tricky one to explain.   It is very simple to spot a graphic that is the love-child of ‘Cut’ (Dad) and ‘Paste’ (Mum) who came together in a sweatshop in China. 

The result is a grainy, monochromatic and patchy print on your Tshirt which is identical to millions of others.  If only Cut and Paste were using contraception; this tacky little offspring could have been prevented.

This is what you need to avoid.

As I said it is hard to explain what a cool graphic looks like, but I will attempt to lead you in the right direction.  

St James Striped Tee from Comeback Kid
For starters; avoid college or varsity prints. Unless you actually attended an American college in ‘1969’ this is very uncool.  If in fact if you did attend an American college in 1969 and are still wearing the shirt, you need to move on.   Although props to you for maintaining your figure!

In fact, I think I could safely say avoid any graphic that consists of huge digits/words across your chest.

Although there are exceptions to this next ‘rule’, if you want to play it safe (which I know you do; nervous, unsure and wandering aimlessly in a hostile ‘style’-landscape...) avoid faded black/grey and grainy designs on a coloured Tshirt*. 

Bolongaro Trevor Manzanera Tshirt from ASOS

This seems to be a characteristic of mass-produced prints i.e. one colour prints are cheaper than three.  The faded black/grey hue, although most likely deliberate, can make the Tshirt seem faded/worn-out.  I need to clarify, this is not a cool version of ‘faded/worn’ a la ‘Pete Doherty’ (or any smack-addict hipster/Kate Moss-ex of choice) style of anti-personal-grooming, but more like testament to your inability to do effective laundry.  I.e. you have ruined your already crappy Tee when it was washed in a bi-annual hot wash along with 18kgs of your other sordid items. 
So, yes; avoid those patchy black/grey designs on coloured Tshirts.

Ok, now that I have told you what is heinous in the Tshirt scene; I will now intravenously inject some positivity into this article and tell you what is the dog’s bollocks this season. 

PAM Tranced Stix Tshirt from Someday Store
All-over patterning in Tshirts is booming this Spring/Summer.  However, before you lose bladder-control over the idea of finally channelling the look of your earliest (gay?) style –icons ‘Bert and Ernie’, I would suggest steer clear of wide-bold stripes and instead embrace the ikat or the Aztec.  

No, this is not another IKEA reference.  Ikat and Aztec are Indonesian/South American/Native American Indian styles of patterns.  This trend is your chance to project the ‘Standing Bear’ or ‘Sitting Bull’ within (or in my case, ‘Drinking Fish’ and ‘Leaning Lush’), and garnish your urban look with a little bit of ethnic cool.

Limedrop Floral Striped Panel Tee from Comeback Kid
Another rad look in Tees this year is panelling and blocking.  No, this isn't a boxing technique.   Just in case you thought I was finally inserting some overtly masculine content into my post that didn't make you feel like embracing it would mean surrendering the testicles you were desperately clinging to with both hands.

Alas, I am actually describing Tshirts with panels of contrasting fabric being stitched onto the shirt or a Tee with blocks of bold fabric being used in the sleeves and pockets etc. 

Still very manly, non?

River Island Colour-block Tshirt

*On a white Tshirt, monochromatic; even faded, prints don’t look so insipid.  On a white Tee these graphics can look ok.

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