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7 Upgrades to the Basic T-Shirt

Sailun Tires

Look through any man’s closet, and most likely you’ll find several iterations of the classic t-shirt. Whether they’re paired with jeans or chinos, t-shirts are a versatile, all-around staple of a basic wardrobe.

If you’re looking for inspiration beyond the 3-pack of white or black tees, consider adding one of these upgraded t-shirt styles to your closet.

Sustainable fabrics

Think of your most comfortable t-shirt. The one you can wear all day without worrying about sweat or stickiness. Most likely, that tee is made from some type of natural fiber. Organic fibers like cotton are lightweight, breathable, and soft – all essential qualities for your basic, go-to tee.  

The world of natural fibers extends well beyond cotton. There are a plethora of organic materials that provide all the same benefits of cotton without the sizable environmental impact. Producing a single cotton shirt uses up more than 2,500 liters of water

Creating a bamboo t-shirt not only uses less water, but also avoids toxic agricultural processes. Other sustainable fabrics include hemp and linen. If you can’t bear to part with cotton, check a t-shirt’s label before buying. Clothing made from organic or recycled cotton has a much lower carbon footprint than the traditional material. 


An eye-catching pattern can elevate a basic t-shirt. Classic color-blocking adds a twist to a casual look. The combination of a henley cut and solid stripes are a perfect match for flat-front trousers and a high-quality leather shoe.

If you’re daring, go for a bold all-over pattern t-shirt paired with medium washed denim. Should you go this route, keep in mind that the pattern should align with your frame. Tall, stockier guys can pull off a larger print, while men with smaller frames should stick to smaller, streamlined patterns.


Thin knitted t-shirts bring an extra dimension to an outfit without adding bulk.

You can incorporate texture into the outfit through your choice of bottoms. Think saturated corduroys or linen chinos. 

Neck Line

The most flattering t-shirt cuts are crew and v-neck. However, these necklines can also lose their appeal if the fit is off. A good-fitting crew should only show the base of the neck and cover the shoulders. Likewise, a v-neck should be narrow and short.

While most men can pull off either neckline, guys with longer or shorter than average necks should follow this rule of thumb. A crew neck has a shortening effect, so they are best for men with long necks. Since a v-neck lengthens, they are the top choice for men with shorter necks and broader builds.


Selecting the right fit is key for pulling together a t-shirt and jeans combo. Loose sleeves can make a tee look far too casual. Instead, look out for cuts that fit snugly around the upper bicep.

Likewise, t-shirts shouldn’t be too wide. You can do a fit test by stretching out the fabric in front of your torso. If you can pull out more than two inches from your stomach, the shirt is too large. Go down a size, or see if you can find a more flattering style.

Whether you plan on tucking in the front or letting your tee hang loose, you’ll want the length of your t-shirt to fall between your belt buckle and mid-crotch. This prevents unintentional flashing when you raise your arms.


T-shirts make the perfect base layer that you can dress up or down. Go with a tight fitting zip-up hoodie for a streetwear vibe. Tying a plaid button down around your waist will create an effortless grunge look. Throw on a beltless leather jacket or fitted blazer to turn a casual t-shirt into a classic date night outfit.

Layering a short sleeved t-shirt on top of a long sleeved henley or thermal is great for warmth, but can give off an immature vibe. Adding a fitted cardigan with contrast stitching is a much more polished cold weather look.


A neutral t-shirt is a great backdrop for show stopping accessories. When paired with denim, a basic t-shirt is the best outfit choice for putting the focus on unique footwear, like neon sneakers or colorful loafers.

For a more streamlined look, keep all of your accessories in the same color family. For example, pair dark brown dress shoes with a leather watch strap and dark caramel sunglasses. This trick also works well with black and gray tones.


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