There is nothing wrong with wearing a T-shirt. In fact, “the tee” in a sleeve length and neckline of your choice has become a fashion statement in a fluid fit when partially tucked into just about any style of bottom. It works well as a layering piece, and can be dressed up or down. I shop for tees with clients right through the year because they are comfortable, super casual, versatile, easy to launder, and usually inexpensive.
That said, I do have clients who prefer NOT to wear T-shirts in casual settings because to them they feel sloppy and unpolished. In this case I recommend five on trend alternatives. Some create a similar casual vibe, whereas others are a tad dressier. The first two options are knitwear, and the last three are woven. The visuals provide a good representation of each item.
1. Linen or Cotton High-Low Sweater
The super lightweight linen or cotton pullover has been a revelation over the last few seasons thanks to the bumper knitwear trend. It is slubby, texture-rich, very soft and drapes like a dream. Despite a slouchy fit, this option is a little more structured than a tee, especially with a raglan style sleeve. Special shout out to J.Crew’s linen high-low hemline sweater, which I bought myself and has been a winner on clients. It’s also available in non neutrals, and is currently on sale.
2. Pointelle Top
The pointelle pullover is an even breezier option than the linen or cotton sweater because it’s full of holes. Of course, it requires a tank top as a layering piece. It is a way to wear a tank top with coverage, and feel just as ventilated. Pointelle tops don’t snag as much as you think they do.
3. Silk Tee
Also known as the shift blouse or T-shirt blouse. It’s a silk top cut in the shape of a short sleeved T-shirt. Some options are silk, some silk-rich, and others 100% polyester. Hemlines can be straight or curved.
4. Silk Tank
This is a sleeveless version of the silk tee and has a built-up shoulder. Some call this a shell top. Some versions have buttons down the front and look more like a soft sleeveless blouse. Great for hot days and dressier than jersey knit.
5. Boyfriend Shirt
This option is the least common because of a general aversion to button-down shirts. You have to appreciate the androgynous vibe to like this combination. The collared versions do seem better suited to a straighter body type, which makes sense given the boyish look. You’re after a cotton or linen shirt — either soft or stiff — that is fluid or oversized. The roomier fit is essential for a more casual vibe, otherwise you’ll feel like you’re going to the office. Fully or partially tuck the shirt, and scrunch or roll up the sleeves.
None of these tops require a topper to look fabulous in an outfit. Choose any colour or pattern and by all means duplicate the style if it becomes a wardrobe essential. Remember to add structure to the outfit by tucking, or choosing a style with a high-low hemline or curved hemline for an untucked look.
I only wear T-shirts as sleepwear and my favourite alternatives are a linen or cotton pullover or a boxy tuxedo shirt (my style of boyfriend shirt). I also wear casual button-down linen shirts. For cooler weather, I wear a boxy upscale sweatshirt or a cashmere pullover as a long sleeved tee alternative. All roomy to achieve a current look.