To quote Jane Austen and Linda Grant at the same time: “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” that no matter how serious my mood or how bleak life may seem in any given week, I will soon shake it off and be once again happily “thinking aloud about clothes.” That’s how I roll my friends, or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say, that’s how I bounce. So let’s talk fashion philosophy, shall we? More specifically, let’s talk about spring fashion and white tee shirts.
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As I’m sure you are tired of hearing, I have a fashion philosophy. I like to be organized, to make lists, cull my closet, and try to shop wisely, and consciously. Sometimes that doesn’t work as well as it should, and I end up with a hard-to-style cream crochet sweater. Ha. But most of the time, I buy pieces that work well with the rest of my seasonal wardrobe. I shop for the long haul, usually going for quality over quantity. Of course, that depends on one’s budget; not everyone can afford to shop this way because quality garments almost always cost more.
But I believe that when you buy quality, you are making an investment in next year, and the year after, and, with some pieces, even ten or twenty years after. If you have room to store your really good pieces that still fit, you might be rewarded years down the road. Like I was with my Max Mara linen safari-style blazer bought in the late nineties, and dug out, and worn again last year. Or my Max Mara navy pantsuit from 2002. Or that Cerruti jacket I unearthed last week for the first time in over a decade.
Okay, okay, I’m sure you’re also getting tired of hearing about my closet archaeology. It’s fine for me to preach this, but it doesn’t help if you don’t have any treasures to dig out. One day I must have a good rummage around on second-hand sites to see if I can find any choice vintage treasures that might interest you.
But of course, not everything in our closets will last for years and years. Like white tee shirts. Unlike good jackets, white tees don’t last for many seasons. Each year I inspect my white tees to see if they are good for one more year. Or if they are stained and yellowed beyond redemption and must be relegated to camping wear.
Part of my fashion philosophy is that most of us need a white top for summer. A crisp white shirt, perhaps a white silky tanktop, and a white tee shirt. Maybe even several white tee shirts. White tees have long been a spring and summer staple for me. I’ve worn them for years under summer suits, with skirts, with jeans, or with pretty much any pants I own.
There is no such thing as “just a white tee” in my opinion. Every brand has a different cut, different length, different weight of fabric. And each of us has our favourite, in the style that looks best on our body, whether we prefer a crew-neck, boat-neck, v-neck, whatever. I’m a fan of the classic crew-neck. Mostly because I don’t like my neck. And even though the fashion experts advise apple-shaped women like me that a V-neck will lengthen their upper body, that doesn’t work so well for me.
So all four of my white tee shirts are crew-neck. But that’s where the similarity ends. At the moment, I own three short-sleeved white tees. One is a basic Vince tee, below. This is my favourite white tee. I have it in black as well. The short sleeves, the length, the Pima cotton fabric, and the way the shirt falls a bit away from my body all suit me. I buy it in a size large so it’s not too snug. I wear this with jeans, with dress pants and even with skirts. Today, I’m wearing it with my new Frame straight-leg jeans, my white Theory blazer (similar) from last year, and my Stan Smith sneakers.
I also own a white graphic tee from Zara, below. It has “some heartfelt words” printed on the front, literally. I don’t normally shop at Zara. But a couple of years ago, I wanted to participate in the graphic tee shirt trend, and find something a bit different to wear with my navy Veronica Beard suit and my red loafers. I wanted a graphic tee, either with flowers in shades of red and blue, or plain white with red printing on it. The quality of the Zara tees surprised me. This one in particular is quite heavy, looks tidy under a jacket, and has washed up well in the years since I bought it. I’m liking it here with my new high-waist Frame straight-leg jeans (similar), my Earth loafers, and my Moncler baseball jacket.
My other short-sleeved white tee is a loose-fit, elbow-length sleeve Eileen Fisher tee with a shirt-tail hem, below. This tee is made from soft cotton, and works well with a jacket or without. It’s loose enough that I’ve even worn it alone with skinny jeans and sneakers. I still prefer it under a jacket though. Then again, I generally prefer everything with a jacket or blazer. I should title my autobiography: Jacket Required. Ha. I’m wearing my EF tee with my Rag and Bone Simone pants, my Stan Smith sneakers, and my old Max Mara suit jacket.
The last white tee I own is a loose-fitting, linen, sleeveless “muscle shirt” from Vince. Photo below is from 2018. Can I just say that, on its own, this so-called “muscle” shirt looks like nothing much. But pull on a jacket over it and it is perfection… in my books. One of the best tees I have ever owned. I wear it a lot with my Max Mara pants suit or with my old Burberry denim skirt, sneakers and my Veronica Beard jacket. It’s slubby texture and loose style takes a structured jacket or suit from business-wear to casual-chic. It has disappeared from the Vince website, but you can still find it on sale here.
There are certain items in my wardrobe that I always keep an eye out for when I’m shopping. Sandals, for one, because my foot is so hard to fit. The perfect summer dress. And tee shirts or casual tops that fit loosely but aren’t too flowy. I may have a specific shopping list, but these are things I will pick up if I find them, because I so rarely do find them.
Recently I’ve been on-line shopping for tee shirts, not because I need a new white tee. At least not yet. But because I want to experiment with other brands, and I’d also like to have one or two tees in other colours. So many of the tee shirt brands I’ve worn over the years have let me down. I no longer wear Gap tees. I used to rely on their basic crew tees, but now I find them too slouchy, too easily wrinkled, with a baggy crew neck. Luckily, Vince filled that gap in my wardrobe a few years ago. Pun intended.
Lately I’ve been looking at Everlane tee shirts. I’ve ordered this one. It’s part of Everlane’s new organic cotton line, is short-sleeved and has a boxy cut. I measured my Vince tees and compared the numbers to the measurements on the Everlane site. I have great hopes that it will fit. Fingers crossed. It’s much less expensive than the Vince tees, and Everlane has a good record as an ethical company. I’ll let you know how I get on. I’m excited.
I know, I know, it’s just a tee shirt. But, really, a tee shirt is never just a tee shirt. Not if it’s the perfect one for you and your body: perfect weight, perfect length, flattering cut, right style for the outfit you’ve chosen. You know.
It seems I am happiest these past couple of years in a tee shirt, quite often a white one, pants or jeans, sneakers or loafers, and a good jacket. It’s an outfit formula that always works for me. Easy to haul out of the closet, throw on, and feel good. Makes me feel like me.
But an outfit formula only works if I’ve done my homework, shopped wisely, and chosen my pieces carefully. Especially with closet basics like a white tee shirt, which goes with so many different outfits. My fashion philosophy tells me that it’s important to be diligent, and patient enough to shop around, in order to find the perfect tee. Or the perfect pair of jeans. Or whatever. Perfect for me, I mean.
If I’ve been lulled into complacency by a fetching cream crochet, or shopped too quickly like with a certain Eileen Fisher tunic a couple of years ago, I end up with something that only causes me grief. Okay… maybe not grief. But certainly annoyance. Big time.
Now if I just had somewhere to go to wear my perfect tee (plus jeans, jacket and sneakers) … I think I could be perfectly happy.
How about you, my friends? What is your fashion philosophy when it comes to summer closet staples?
P.S. There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission.
P.P.S. Apologies for the audio in that video. Because of the noisy wind… and my unruly hair… I almost deleted it. But I decided to leave it. I tried to use my sunglasses to hold my hair, to no avail. You can see them starting to slip sideways off my head. I’m trying not to be too vain when I take these videos. But one day we’ll have to talk again about bad hair. And chins. Oh, don’t get me started on chins. 🙂