How to Pick the Perfect Summer T-Shirt
According to the men's style experts.
BY Scott Christian | Jun 21, 2017 | Fashion
If there is one true hero when it comes to summer fashion, it is the humble T-shirt. Whether it's worn alone with chinos or shorts, or layered under a blazer or a button-up, the classic tee is the workhorse of the summer season. But when it comes to those truly scorching days, some T-shirts work better than others.
The question is then: What makes a for perfect summer tee? We asked the founders of Saturdays NYC and Buck Mason, as well as the creative director of Virginia-based clothing brand and e-retailer, Need Supply—five guys who know T-shirts better than practically anyone in fashion—to give us the lay of the land in terms of this important seasonal stalwart. Whether it's fabric, colour, or fit, here are the keys to finding your new favourite summer T-shirt.
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"There is a lot of diversity when it comes to T-shirts as a year round item in any man's wardrobe," says Morgan Collett, co-founder of Saturdays NYC. "I think that the largest change in a summer tee is that it usually won't be layered with anything else." Because of this, Collett recommends focusing more on fit and fabric. You want something that's going to look a little bit more luxurious so that it holds up on its own. "By simply using something like linen, you get an elevated fabric that can be worn all summer long, without anything else."
Gabe Ricioppo of Need Supply agrees. "An upscale tee can be all you need in summer, because it's too hot to wear much else. With the right fabric or detail, you can still look sophisticated, so don't be afraid to invest in a quality tee."
Keep It Light
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"The perfect summer tee takes you from day to night," says Erik Schnakenberg, co-founder, along with Sasha Koehn, of L.A. brand Buck Mason. "It's as comfortable on the hot city streets during the day as it is at 2 a.m." Basically, the best way to do this is to wear a shirt where the fabric is so soft and the drape so light that it keeps you cool doing the day, and looks refined should you throw something—like a light, unstructured blazer—over it at night. "Fabric Weight is everything," says Koehn. "You want a super lightweight tee that isn't going to bog you down."
Keep It Loose
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"Summers can be brutal, so a lighter fabric with a bit more room in the fit is important," says Saturdays NYC's Collett. "Not oversized, but a little more give than most T-shirts would be the perfect fit." Colin Tunstall, the other man behind Saturdays, recommends gravitating towards cuts that are more relaxed, with a wider neck. So too does Need Supply's Ricioppo. Not simply to keep cool, but also to add an element of style. "When you need variety, go with something luxurious and loose. And wider necklines are a subtle way to be unique as well."
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For Colin Tunstall, colour options are wide open as long as you focus on the material. "Some people feel more comfortable in loud prints and bright colours; some like to go classic and minimalistic in colour, but the fabric is key." Linen and high-quality Pima cotton will give the tee an upscale look that will work with a whole range of colours.
For Ricioppo, however, solid tees in light shades are the best way to go. "White T-shirts are forever," says Ricioppo, "but light clay and earthy colours are good to try in alternate fabrics too, like linen."
Tunstall agrees that white will always be the easiest summer move. "A classic white T-shirt always looks great. Thinking of Steve McQueen or Paul Newman, either tucked in or fitted, it never goes out of style.
*Denotes Translated Price