It’s easy to see why t-shirts have become so popular. In the age of athleisure, comfort is king and formal clothes are becoming less and less common. There’s hardly a more comfortable garment than a well-fitted t-shirt, which is neither too tight nor too loose, without scratchy labels or irritating collars.
They’re also the most versatile of clothes. Some will only toddler tees for activities which demand no fashion—sport, sleeping, lounging around at home. But t-shirts are also an opportunity to show your interests to the world around you, whether you’re buying one or designing a custom t-shirt for your business, brand, event or group. If you show others what your favourite brand or movie is, you might find some new friends with something in common come and introduce themselves.
But just because they’re comfy and versatile, it doesn’t mean t-shirts can’t be fashionable. A solid-colour tee is a classier look, especially paired with smart trousers and shoes, while colour-blocking with complimentary garments can make for a striking effect. You can put a tee under an open shirt for a relaxed formality, or tuck it under a jumper for a bit of extra warmth.
There are plenty of joys to be found in the t-shirt, but that’s only if you can get one to fit right, which can be harder than it sounds. That’s where we come in, so check out this handy guide to the perfect fit.
What’s your size?
A perfect fit will mean different things to different people, but you’re generally going to want a shape of tee which is flattering to your body shape. Sizes change depending on the brand — you might be a medium in one shop and a large in the next.
How to know if a t-shirt fits
A tee shouldn’t be too loose, or it’ll hang awkwardly and make you look shapeless. Too tight and it’ll show your least flattering contours — even if you have a perfectly toned torso, you might look a bit showy in a tight tee. If you’re slim, choose a green t-shirt with a tailored torso so you’re not swallowed up. If you’re larger, choose a structure which gives you some extra room.
If you lift up your arms, the hem of the tee shouldn’t ride up to expose your belly. As a general guide, it should hang lower than your hips, an inch or two below your belt-line, but not all the way to your legs. That said, in certain circles, like skaters, oversized tees are all the rage.
Shoulder fit is the easiest way to tell if a t-shirt fits you right. The seam along the shoulders should extend across the centre of your shoulder to the very top of your arm. If that’s right, everything else should fall into place. Meanwhile sleeves should go halfway down your upper arm, though some men’s tees have stitched sleeves for a ‘muscle fit’, which is flattering to the definition of your biceps.
Choosing a t-shirt according to style
Slim fit t-shirts are best for those after an athletic, “muscle” or body-hugging fit. This is a cut that will hug the body more tightly, with sleeves that will be tighter around the arms. For a really sporty fit, choose t-shirts that have a more elasticated material that means the sleeves can stretch around the arm muscles while keeping the rest of the t-shirt tight around the body .
The classic cut is smart and flattering, with well fitted shoulders and sleeves that have a comfortable amount of space around the arms. It should hang straight, just below the waist without excess material.
The oversize t-shirt has become much more popular in recent years. You could choose a t-shirt specifically cut in this way – which means it will fit around the upper body better – or opt for a size or two bigger. While the baggy shirt has been associated with the skater or hip hop look, recently it’s become a smarter style too; a crisp oversized t-shirt in black or white can look just as smart when worn right.
Other important tips
Consider the fabric
There are a range of fabrics to choose from, but 100% cotton is generally a safe bet. We like it here at ICON because it’s soft, strong and breathable. You might want to consider cotton blends, which are less likely to wrinkle or shrink in the wash, but with a quality, pre-washed cotton shirt, this shouldn’t be an issue. You want your t-shirt to fit even after frequent washing.