T-Shirt 101

Monday, 7 January 2013
Helmut4.1
Helmut Kinetic Jersey T-shirt




Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the thoughtful emails, text messages and comments. I'm deeply touched by your concern so thank you, thank you, thank you! The flu has knocked me off my feet since Christmas day and I'm so pleased and grateful to be well again. Happy New Year, everyone!

A year ago, I pooh-poohed the idea of buying expensive t-shirts. Who in their right mind would spend so much on basic everyday clothes?? Guess I'd have to eat my words then. I've "invested" in statement blouses and pretty dresses only to cringe when I calculate cost per wear. And then, there's my threadbare James Perse long sleeved t-shirt that I'd bought in a moment of madness which needed to be replaced after 7 years of constant wash and wear.

Looking back, I should've learned my lesson. I'd bought cheap tees which stretched, didn't fit right or the fabric clung to every bulge on my torso. They were tossed into the deep abyss of my chest of drawers for several years before I finally gathered and chucked them into the bag for charity. If I added up the cost, I would've been able to purchase at least 4 designer tees at full retail price. Sigh.

Dress them up or down, layer them under jumpers during the colder months, they're just so versatile and an essential to every wardrobe. My two favorite tees from Alexander Wang are perfect for spring and summer but I've been on a lookout for a long sleeved version. I've found the perfect one by Helmut Lang on sale here (free shipping with code FREEJAN) or for those in the US here.

Let me espouse the science behind t-shirts. I guess there must be an art to it seeing how popular designer t-shirts are. After all, guys like Alexander Wang, Kain, LNA, Velvet, James Perse and C&C basically built their empire on basic everyday tees. Here's a lowdown on what to look for in a t-shirt.

1. Scoop neckline
Let's face it, the scoop neck is flattering on 99% of the population. It has a slimming effect which is always desirable. Secondly, the neckline is low enough not to be seen if you're planning on layering.

2. Slim sleeves
Most jackets these days have narrower armholes and sleeves. It's annoying and unflattering to see creases forming along the arm or that the sleeves bulged up somewhere near the elbow. Most uncomfortable and unsightly.

3. Fabric
Much as I prefer my clothes to be made of 100% natural fiber, it just doesn't work on a t-shirt. A semi sheer fabric which contains a mixture of modal, viscose or rayon seem to drape better and tend not to crease as badly.

4. Slouchy fit
I've never been overly fond of tight fitting clothes. Unless of course, if I have a model like figure. In which case, I'd prefer to wear bikini and bandage dresses from Herve Leger everyday. The reality is I prefer a slouchy boyfriend cut which is far more forgiving and flattering, not to mention more comfortable in summer.

5. Length
Most pants or denim seem to be either mid or low rise. I'm not a fan of baring my midriff nor butt crack, both of which should only be seen at the beach or in the company of your significant other who loves you, flaws and all. The hem should hit the hips or below. You can always tuck it in or leave it out. You can let out a sigh of relief that you wouldn't be flashing inappropriate amount of skin whenever you have to raise your arms.


What do you look for in a t-shirt? Would you buy designer tees?


39 comments:

  1. I didn't enjoy this Festive time either as normally due to agressive germs too. How I understand you ! Hope you're feeling much better now!
    Have a Lovely and Trendy Year 2013 !!
    I don't know if i'm still in this Winter's oversize trend, but I don't see myself in a tight tee-shirt. In addition, i noticed that some sleeves tend to shorten a bit after several washes... I'm not sure my daughter will always agree if I keep passing them on to her. So I would tend to go for better quality, even if the price has to follow an increasing trend...

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  2. Welcome to the rise of heathy days and Happy New Year. I had been sick with a cold from Christmas through New Year too. Not a fun way to welcome holiday season.

    LOL at butt crack. I totally hate seeing such sight, bad pet peeve ever. Great tips on t-shirt shopping. My t-shirts dont even last six months. I guess i should invest.

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  3. I don't, but I always end up eating my words too!

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  4. Welcome back! May the rest of 2013 treat you far much better!

    In shopping for t-shirts, I look for round-neck or crews and the quality of the fabric. I tend to prefer fitted tees over loose-fitting ones as I think they are more flattering on me. :)

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  5. I need about 40 of these! So far, James Perse and the Vintage line by Jcrew (try these - amazing fit and fabric) are my faves. Must have a Helmut Lang soon!

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  6. Welcome back! We've missed you! I need to look at these - I layer with a t-shirt everyday - I used to buy cheap ones as I wore them so often and replaced them often - but they always lost shape really quickly. I agree with you about the need for a bit of modal in there!

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  7. Welcome back! So glad you are better! And happy new year :)
    I never saw the point of expensive tees, until I tried out a silk-blend tee from Kain. I now own three (in addition to a couple from Aubin and Wills and Vince) and absolutely love them. Silk and linen blend tees are such luxurious basics, and they fall beautifully on the body.

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  8. Lovely to have you back! Like I said, it's not the same without you!

    I haven't bought any expensive ones yet but currently perusing the NAP site as the sales are on and considering a Splendid tee. I've been looking for the perfect grey marl tee since I don't know when and they look to have a few good ones in the sale at the mo ... so I might just bite the bullet. But only because they're on sale otherwise I don't think I could ... especially not a white one. They're the first ones to lose their colour and even if I didn't manage to shrink it or anything, I wouldn't be able to guarantee it would keep its brightness.

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  9. Glad you are feeling better. I was laid low with something on Boxing Day for a week. Couldn't leave the house.

    Re T-shirts, I notice the Helmut Lang one is dry clean only. Do you follow the instructions on the label?

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    1. Rachel, I've hand-washed and dumped my AW t-shirts into the washing machine. They both have dry-cleaning only on the care-tag but seemed perfectly fine. I haven't washed the HL t-shirt as I've only just worn it but I would most definitely not dry clean. In fact, most of the care tags on my clothes state dry clean these days but the dry cleaners I've used have urged me NOT to do so because the chemicals tend to weaken the fibers on the fabric.

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  10. Hi there! Fabulous post and thanks for the review on quality tees, this one from Helmut lang sure looks like a stylish investment buy!

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  11. My requirements are similar to yours, and I am currently seeking something quite similar (preferably in dark grey and a dark rose colour) but not having much luck. I too am a little reluctant to spend much in this dept. so not sure how to proceed. True that the cheaper tees fit dreadfully, and even if very slim with no 'extra' bumps I find that many tees still cling unflatteringly, as they show the bulk of the clothes which lie beneath them (bra, waistbands, etc)....so it's tricky! I'm also attracted to linen, which Zara stock quite a bit of, but their necklines are insanely low and I am unsure of the quality.

    Also thankyou for reviewing the Isabel Marant new season items in a previous post - your comments really saved me from taking a very silly risk purchasing the Maverick sweater, which I had feared might be too short on the body. x

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  12. I haven't ventured into the designer tee market yet. So far, I've been very lucky in finding exceptional quality in the mens departments in the XS size which on me gives just the right amount of slouch. I look for the same things as you and I don't mind if the neckline is a little higher as they tend to be with the men's tees. I have the JCrew vintage range and like it a lot but the rest are all men's. Without exception, all the tees that fell apart or ended up looking like rags were all from the women's stores! Tees don't get worn much in favour of shirts/blouses in Spring and jumpers in the Winter so I can't justify the cost per wear of designer currently.

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  13. Glad to hear that you are feeling better! The Flu has been really bad this year. I need to invest in good t-shirts. I use to swear by the Gap ones but they are horrible lately. I'm going to try the Helment Lang ones! Thanks!!

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  14. Wang and Kain are 2 of my fave t.shirt label! The modal material they use is so soft and falls perfectly. I also like the longer sleeves design from them. Glad to hear that you are better

    Greetings from:
    MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES DAILY
    http://mrsjackofalltradesdaily.blogspot.com/

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  15. Does this Helmut tee have to be dry cleaned???!!!

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    1. Every t-shirt I have from AW or Helmut has a care tag attached stating dry clean only. I've dumped them into the washing machine on normal wash and so far, I have no issues. I wouldn't put them into the dryer though.

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  16. Welcome back Marlene! We've missed you. Glad to hear that you're feeling better. Was relieved to see a comment from you this weekend.

    T shirts are my bugbear. I admire ladies who can make them look chic, but you will never see a glimse of a tee by itself or under a jacket on me. I'm just so scrawny and flat chested that t shirts don't do me any justice. I use them solely underneath O neck sweaters. That being said, Kain, Helmut Wang and AW make a T's that drape really beautifully. I also love The Row's t shirts- the construction and seams are just amazing.

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  17. I really like Cos tees and they're not too expensive either. X

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  18. I'm addicted to Petit Bateau V-neck short-sleeved T-shirts.

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  19. oh glad you're back on your blogging feet ;)

    i think two years ago i'd totally scoff at the idea of spending so much on designer tees but i picked up a few and they definitely are a step up from the high street basics i used to buy. and last a lot longer too. helmut lang and AW are faves, though i like james perse and vince too. and yup, everything goes in my washing machine..

    steph / absolutely-fuzzy.com

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  20. Dear Marlene, I have been missing you ! glad you are back :P love this post as well, great info about T Shirt.

    Take care...regards, Shan Ty

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  21. Happy New Year! Glad you're feeling better.
    Great post! I love me some quality t-shirts!!! ;)

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  22. Oh my! Just realized a viral infection had knocked you out! I've been trying to keep away from all the sickies at my office and so far, it's worked. *crossing fingers* Well, I'm glad you're back and happy new year! This post is near and dear to my heart because I love t-shirts. They're great for layering and look good simply with jeans. You've touched on all the top points for a good tee. It's funny you should mention that your favorite tee is Helmut. One of my favorites is a tissue cotton white Helmut tee that falls at just the right length and drapes nicely. I love that seam in the middle of the back of the Kinetic! Not sure if I'm in the market for a tee at this time, but I will definitely keep these in mind for later. They look like they should belong in any wardrobe foundation. BTW, don't know if you guys have Target around, but I've actually found some great tees there (under their Mossimo brand) even though they're not expensive. Surprisingly, they have help up really well!

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  23. Happy New Year! Good to have you back and to hear that you have recovered from the flu! I like to invest in a few more expensive designer t-shirts, but with adding a few cheaper ones for those super casual days. I have a few from Wang and IM and the cheap ones are mostly from Zara and COS. :)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I just read your comment on my blog. Come on! You don't have to apologize for anything! I'm just glad to hear that you've fully recovered. :)

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  24. So glad you are all recovered and agree with you about the importance of a basic t-shirt. I have one's from Gap and ones from Isabella Olivier both are of very good quality although I have always wanted to try Splendid ones x

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  25. happy new year and glad you're better! i love myself a splurgey tee, but only if they're on sale. it's such a humble basic that i can't justify spending a bunch on it! :P

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  26. Happy New Year Marlene!
    You show your butt crack on the beach? Brave girl.
    I have a few American Vintage tshirts but tbh they flare from just under my boobs which actually is really unflattering as it makes me look huge.
    My favourites are Zadig. they are mostly just 100% cotton but the fit great, are flattering and last forever.
    I have been wondering whether to try an Alexander Wang one so I might give it a go. But as I said, the flared shape doesn't me :o(
    I recently sold a Splendid tshirt on eBay that I didn't like anymore. I was bought by a girl who sat three desks away from me at work, something that I found out when I went to the post office to post it. How weird is that?

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    1. You're kidding??! Just 3 desks away from you? Did you post it in the end? I'm not exactly very skinny and I've got boobs. So far, the AW tees fit really well. Give them a go but you can always return them if they don't fit well. I'll have to check out Z&V ones. Have you ever been to their outlet on King's Rd?

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  27. Marlene, as you know I wasn't in the blogosphere for like a month and so I had no idea that you were sick. I'm very happy to hear that you're doing okay and feeling better. The flu is definitely no fun.

    I love tees and yes I buy both designer and non-designer ones. As for what I look for, it really just depends on what look look I'm going for. :)

    xxTheresa

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  28. Hi and Happy New Year!! Uniqlo is still my go-to place for tees; recently found some comfy and ever-so-slouchy men's thermal tees (size S) that have been great.

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  29. Brilliant tips for what to look for in a tee Marlene. I have a 50/50 mix but maybe own 6 tees total. At present, my splurge tees are my T by Alexander Wang which just wear beautifully. I can't help but buy cheap tees for home though.

    xx Mandi

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  30. What a well written and insightful post. It's making me think twice about investing in all those so called "investment" pieces that never really get worn. I mean seriously, I think I've only ever worn my Burberry trench coat once in the two years I've had it... I've been wanting to buy some Wang tees but wasn't sure how they hold up in the wash. Do you usually throw yours in the washing machine? How does the colour hold up?

    xx Jenee C.
    {camo meets couture}

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    1. Jenee, I actually just chuck them into the washing machine on normal cold wash and then hang them up to dry. I've worn mine so much. One of the two has a little hold that I've patched up but I'm not sure if I'd snagged it one a zip or something.

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  31. I have finally cleared off all my emails!

    Love how the tee looks on you, Marlene:) It is such a versatile piece. Once I find those with a cut and fabric that is kind on me, I try to stock them up. For me, the neckline mustn't be too low and it should be cotton as far as possible. I am so sensitive to breathability these days that I become almost instantly aware if its not 100% cotton..lol! I found some great ones from Lowrys Farm, this brand from Japan that sells very inexpensive basics.

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  32. My best tees come from either Target or Gap. Sometimes a trick is to go sizes up to get the slouchy fit, but I've bought men's even maternity tees. The perfect tee is not thick, not too thin either, very soft, crew neck that isn't too low or too high either, and not tight under the arms.

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