Building Your Back to School Wardrobe: T-Shirts

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Hey gang, Nicole Longstreath here from The Wardrobe Code.

If there is a garment which is quintessentially American, it’s the t-shirt.

The French have berets, the Scottish have kits. But Americans claimed the t-shirt sometime around 1955 – perhaps to honor the memory of one famous t-shirt wearer, James Dean.

Ever since then, it’s been a favorite of the young and rebellious.

So, as the students of America head back to school this season, I’m lending some helpful hints to help them build a proper t-shirt collection – as well as some advice on how to pair this favorite garment beyond it’s traditional partner-in-crime, jeans.

How to Build a Proper T-Shirt Collection

Above all else, focus on quality. Check the fiber composition – mostly cotton? Good. Over 50% synthetic (like polyester)? Bad. Look for pilling (those tiny fuzz balls that turn up around the underarms) and make sure a washed t-shirt’s side seams aren’t warped, giving the shirt a “twisted” appearance.

Err on the fitted side. Despite what the trends might be, baggy t-shirts are rarely flattering on anyone. It doesn’t need to be tight, but we need to be able to see your shape a bit.

Go for lots of character and variety. Never buy multiples of the same shirt in different colors. Choose a variety of colors, knit weights, necklines and material on the front.

Also get plenty of solid colors and crisp whites. Not every shirt needs some kind of logo or drawing on the front.

Secondhand is your best bet. Previously-owned t-shirts have a special, broken-in quality about them. And, the best part, by buying used, you’re making an environmentally-friendly, sustainable choice.

As I said, t-shirts pair just fine with jeans, but that’s definitely not your only option. To add some interest to your look, pair t-shirts with something unexpected. Make the most of high/low drama and combine t-shirts with suit blazers, fancy skirts, colored chinos and anything else that feels exciting.

This brightly striped v-neck is paired with a vintage metallic gold skirt

This brightly striped v-neck is paired with a vintage metallic gold skirt

A neon yellow printed t-shirt is paired with mauve chinos

A neon yellow printed t-shirt is paired with mauve chinos

A green longsleeve t-shirt is paired with an Escada paisley mini skirt

A green longsleeve t-shirt is paired with an Escada paisley mini skirt

A gray BCBG henley is paired with printed pajama pants

A gray BCBG henley is paired with printed pajama pants

A gray men's t-shirt is paired with a suit jacket

A gray men’s t-shirt is paired with a suit jacket

A printed purple t-shirt is paired with a men's suit vest

A printed purple t-shirt is paired with a men’s suit vest

A bright red t-shirt is paired with white chinos

A bright red t-shirt is paired with white chinos

School’s already in-session! Is your wardrobe going to make the grade? If you’re not stocked up on t-shirts, you’d better get down to a Goodwill of Orange County location to build your collection for a fraction of retail. You’ll be adding great style to your wardrobe, but also helping Goodwill provide assistance for those facing barriers to employment. Goodwill of Orange County helps real people in your community obtain jobs that provide purpose, pride and dignity.

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