I am a T-Shirt fiend. I am compelled at bands’ merch tables, vintage stores, manga shops, beachside souvenir shacks–it’s a problem, especially because the typical basic or merch-y tee seemingly has NO styling potential. If you Google “how to wear a graphic tee” you will be barraged with articles suggesting you “pair it with pants” or, if they’re mavericks, a “fun skirt.”
Here are a few styling ideas that address common issues with these kinds of shirts: stained, not exciting enough, bad logo emblazoned on the chest, etc. If you want more, I will be releasing a SECOND WAVE of T-shirt stylings as a bonus post on the HR Patreon, which costs $2/month to receive (and for more money, you get cheap and thorough personal styling, access to the HR hotline, and more!). If you appreciate me (*wet eyes emoji*), let me know on Instagram, share with your brethren, and/or tip me on Ko-fi.
Your Bane, a Stain
I got this shirt for free from a yard “sale.” I am a card-carrying Schoolhouse Rock proponent with an Interplanet Janet tattoo, and this cost zero dollars, so its acquisition was a no-brainer. It fits great and is in perfect quality… except for what I hope and pray is a bleach stain on the collar. Of course I washed it before wearing, and the stain isn’t the end of the world, but I don’t love its placement or color.
A great way to deal with stains is just patch over ’em, but if a patch isn’t available or would look weird in the spot the stain is in, or if you just want to give the T more dimensionality and movement, tie a scarf or bandana into a bow or knot and pin it so it covers the mark. I like the way this bandana frames my shoulder and creates a gesture over my armpit. The fit is a little elementary school, but I’m pretty sure any outfit centered around Schoolhouse Rock would feel a little regressive. I kept it fun with my new favorite striped jeans I copped on sale and tabi sneakers in a chilled-out color (you know how I feel about “kidcore” (IF YOU SUB TO MY PATREON, THAT IS…) and I didn’t want to veer too hard in that direction.
This technique could actually come across as really elegant if you used a flowy scarf or a silky bow on a classier tee or blouse, and it would look just as interesting and hide a stain just as well on the chest, hemline, wherever.
It’s Just Too Big
I got my favorite Jujutsu Kaisen (the animanga that anyone who knows me IRL knows comprises 78% of my personality) tee on Mercari and didn’t realize the extent of the size discrepancy.
Instead of cropping a too-large tee, especially one with a sick graphic that it would be tragic to mess with (though my internet friend Bailey and I decided it’s actually legal and correct and not unhinged to get T-shirts tailored if need be), try wearing it either with a skirt that ruffles out just a few inches below the hemline (I tried to get this skirt even shorter, but was rolling up a maxi skirt and it started looking ridiculous so I stopped where I stopped) or a midi/maxi skirt like this Sunnei number. Either way, try to emphasize the boxy, billowy silhouette as opposed to fighting it with skinny pants or tighter shorts. You’re tryna get Roblox body here. Well, I am, at least. The short version works well with calf-length boots to further accentuate the clunkiness of the fit, while the longer version is more streamlined and pairs better with slingbacks like these. Cap referencing a different anime required, just to keep the other weebs guessing.
Emblazoned With Logo of Ex’s Venture
Turned inside-out in the above pic for his sake (he’s a nice dude and his venture is cool, he was just 33 and “not ready to consider his future” which, fair, but not for me), this shirt has a nice color and construction, with a high collar and thick material, but I didn’t loooove repping the venture. Maybe you have a few tees like this too, like, uh, a Warren 2020 shirt or something?
Anyway, my solution was to bunch up the tee in random ways that created lumps and bumps and a hemline I enjoyed, while hiding the logo, and pin it with big safety pins I got from the 99c store. Very Foo and Foo but cost me 99c instead of *redacted amount* (the guy I “dated” [we were very NOT official] gave me the shirt for free after i begged and whined for months and we “broke up” 3 days later, so the shirt was free). This is my favorite way to freak a tee. Worn with the same jeans (I’m very attached already) and now sold-out Nodress shoesies.
I like this tee’s graphic, but its shape is very boring: no structural integrity, fabric not thick, collar not robust, a little too long. So, inspired by Phlemuns‘ classic tee (below), I cut a high arc into the back of the shirt, starting an inch or so away from the seams on each side (It would look weird if you started right at the seams, we’re going for a proper “U” shape, not a shallow parabola).
I was very rough and sloppy with this and it turned out pretty good. If you made a stencil and chalked out the arc, it would probably turn out amazing. You can make the arc as high or low as you want it and it’d look cool (as long as, as stated above, it’s a true “U” shape! If this doesn’t make sense, DM me on Instagram and I’ll explain). You can wear it just like this (looks especially good with cup marks ;)) or tie it in front with a ribbon, bandana, or piece of cloth (more on that below). Shorts are these, shoes are these, I think you can tell I kind of stopped thinking about the fits at this point and was mostly thinking about how to freak the tees. Oh well, use your imagination (or sub to the HR Patreon for more real, hard, life changing fits)!
This would also look sick cut in the front to show some underchest if you’re into that!
I went into the 99c store by my apartment “inebriated” one day and in a great mood. I left with $20 worth of random crap I couldn’t really wear because I am autistic and the fabric felt like it was woven with fiberglass, that’s how uncomfortable it was. Ah well! Heinous/uncomfortable/offensive/too small shirts are ripe for the scavenging. My favorite way to do this is to cut them into strips and use to tie other, BETTER shirts (as in the previous section) either at the hemline or around the shoulder, demonstrated below with a bandana. You can also tie these strips into bows and use them for stain coverage as I suggested in the first section.
Perfect Pit Stains
I stole this shirt from my sister (who will only know this if she reads my blog, great litmus test, right) and it’s the perfect size, material, and cut for a white tee but has noticeable pit stains (from both my sister and I, I will not let her go down without going down alongside her. This remedy needs some workshopping, but I think I’m on to something: create a mini-shirt by cropping a 99c store tee way too short (like, over your nipples if you can) and pinning it in an interesting way (like in the center of the chest, as below) or letting it hang over the undertee.
This creates kind of like a harness that allows for the bulk of the undertee to show and its comfort to be enjoyed while looking interesting and strategically covering the sweat stains. I’m gonna be real with you, the rest of this fit was not up to HR snuff, but I think there’s something here? Maybe? DM me if you have any workshop notes.
Does Not Spark Joy
I love the show, of course, but this shirt was just not doing it for me! I sliced it open like a frog in a 9th grade bio lab, realized too late it looked cool with just the collar attached, took a fake photo to show how it WOULD have looked cool, then pinned it down the center with the trusty ol’ 99c store safeties. This would look cool and give you more coverage with a BUNCH of pins down the front, equally cool with just one at the collar or right in the middle.
It might even look cool if you pinned it off-kilter, like buttoning a normal shirt with each button 1 hole too high. You could also cut 2 different shirts of similar size in half and safety pin them in both the front and back. Maybe I’ll try that on Patreon! Maybe I’ll find something that says “____ Cowgirl” so I can have a shirt that says “Cowboy Cowgirl.”
And that’s what being nonbinary means to me. Thanks for reading. Share if you’re Cher or if you’ve ever heard of her. Share with Cher if you know her, PLEASE!!!!!