I’ve learned about myself, through some painful trial and error, that I count on subtlety over garish, loud statements to feel and be seen as stylish. At least to do it comfortably.
Early on, I was offended that mostly unknown, some “underground”, designers charged what they did for simple basics. After all…why wouldn’t I save my spending for more interesting, unique pieces?
And more importantly, why would I spend a ton on an unknown label? Look how far I’ve come!
There is a place for splurging on statement items, from emerging or established brands. I can see choosing a rare combination of texture, material, and color, if it adds personality and depth to an outfit…if only worn once in a while. You can’t wear the same pink pants every week, can you? For reference, I loved a pair of Paul Smith hot pink trousers from last season.Â We only wear pink on Wednesdays, duh.
In any case, I have explored so-called ‘luxurious basics’ over time, and now see their value: sure, they wear out, have to be replaced regularly. But we all must live in the moment, enjoying the present, not pining for the past, or looking forward to the future. With that in mind, why not upgrade your everyday wearâ€”the stuff you live in?
Hence…my refocusing from accessories I seldom use, to everyday wear. In Florida, in the summer, that means t-shirts. Round-neck, vee-neck, tanks. Polos, maybe. But the plain tee is a staple, no matter your skin tone, body type, or gender.
Let’s explore the offerings.
I’d say there are three price ranges for tees: dirt cheap (Mossimo at Target, Topman, Gap, Uniqlo), accessible luxury (James Perse, Vince), and obscene (Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino).
The first category works well enough for most people, however I notice that fibers degrade and the fit or finish devolve over time. Pilling is a common and unsightly problem.
With anything, I prefer items made domestically, or in Europe. Prices follow from high to low in Asian countries of production: India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh…etc. I raise my eyebrow at $120 T by Alexander Wang shirts made in Vietnam, but most people don’t care about those things as much as I do.
I’ve been wearing James Perse clothing for a while, and it is great stuff. Very soft, in earthy tones. Seems high-quality and long-lasting. Fits well, if not sometimes on the looser side. And, made in America. Wait for them to go on sale at Nordstrom and you’ve got yourself a fine deal.
To my disappointment, after purchasing a $180 Saint Laurent tee, in a fine black and gray striped viscose, I wore it and washed it, and it shrank into a baby tee. It was supposed to look Parisian chic! Alas…wash carefully.
I’ve never been tickled by Vince clothing, but after a conversation with my fashionable godmother, I gave the label a second look. The collection is, and has always been, similar to James Perse. Slightly higher-volume and more New York than California, but sleek enough for most. Also an easy sale purchase.
At London Philips, I found a GANT Rugger pocket tee, in white, with a flowy, light disposition. It fit nicely without being too tight, and felt great in the heat. True love.
Also of recent…my brother gifted me a synthetic-fabric tee, almost akin to a workout shirt, from Ministry of Supply. It fits and hangs very well, just has a slightly distracting sheen that I don’t love. Still better than lululemon. They’re dead to me! *spits*
Otherwise, though I haven’t tried them all…
Everlane makes attractive basics and has social consciousness to go with them. They’re a web-based brand that will tell you all about where their products are made.
Seconds by Robert Geller has a downtown vibe, and they’re made in Japan! Wait for the sale.
Uniqlo makes a tee out of “heattech” fabric that is designed to retain body heat. Maybe not the best for our climate, but what a fabulous fit! And price.
Apolis is LA-based, also socially-conscious, and well-priced. No idea on how they fit.
Somewhere between Rick Owens drapery and James Perse is John Elliott + Co, which I’d not heard of until finding it on Roden Gray, a store in Vancouver.
Right now, I have my eyes on Acne StudiosÂ bright white and Silent by Damir DomaÂ earthy, moody brown for future tee purchases. Balmain if I am splurging.
And, since we’re on tees…even though this isn’t a basic…it’s so fun! Versus. More interesting than tired ole’ Medusa motifs at the line’s parent, Versace Collection. I have no idea how something as simple as that costs $800.
Whatever your budget, there are options. I wore Target tees for years…they are comfortable and fit nicely (in fact I often was asked where to get them)…their only downfall is breathability (a little thick), and consistent sizing/quality of construction. Some arm-holes were tighter than others, etc.
Since we humid folk have to coverÂ at least the top-half in the summer, at most establishments anyway, but little else, why not explore all that is available in the field of tee-shirts?
Happy shopping! Ask a question via e-mail or in the comments below!