Wearing graphic tees can feel like a young person’s game, but it doesn’t have to be. Graphic tees can look flattering on anyone; you just have to know how to style them. Here are some tips and tricks on how to take a graphic tee from the past and bring it to the present.
Layers on Top of Layers
It’s an unspoken truth that layering takes an outfit from good to great. Why should you limit yourself to just one item in your wardrobe? Layering not only provides the functional purpose of staying warm but also brings depth to an outfit.
If your style is more preppy and structured, try throwing on a button-down underneath your t-shirt. Contrast can really elevate an ensemble, and the contrast between a collared shirt and a fun graphic is sure to make a statement.
If you’ve got more turtlenecks than you know what to do with, a toasty turtleneck underneath a vibrant graphic tee can both keep you in your usual uniform and help you expand your style range.
Additionally, you can take it a step further and throw on your favorite go-to jean jacket, or even that statement jacket you only save for special occasions. Or maybe you’ve accumulated a large collection of your boyfriend’s oversized t-shirts, in which case you can always throw one on over your most beloved hoodie (which also happens to be his).
What’s great about layering is that it makes you think outside of the box. There are no rules that say you can’t pull out that maxi dress you don’t wear enough and throw a t-shirt over it. Layering inspires us to look at our closet from a new perspective and helps breathe a new life into old pieces.
“Presentable but still approachable.” That’s what people will be saying about you around the office next time you show up in your signature suit styled with a graphic tee. The contrast between a tailored, structured suit and a playful, eye-catching t-shirt is the perfect way to make it clear that you work hard and play hard, too.
An outfit like this is extremely versatile and can be worn at a meeting or just a good old meet-up with friends.
If there is one word to sum up this article, it would be: contrast. Contrast can seem intimidating because it makes you think you need to have a solid grasp on not one but two completely different styles. But you may be surprised to learn you’ve got more contrasting pieces in your closet than you think.
Graphic tees and maxi skirts are great examples of this. Maxi skirts are usually associated with a more feminine style, or even a relaxed, beachy style, while graphic tees are often viewed as grungy, rugged, and casual. Mixing a bright floral maxi skirt with a faded band tee may sound odd at first, but all you need is a matching color on top and bottom to tie the whole ensemble together.
The floral tones down the edginess of the top, the graphic tee tones down the femininity of the skirt, and together they create an adventurous yet flirty day look that lets the world know you’re ready for anything.
Decked Out in Denim
Admit it: we all have a section in our closets dedicated to denim, and most of it we never wear. Our four favorite pairs are constantly on rotation, while the other six pairs watch in dismay. That’s why pairing a graphic tee with denim is so perfect because it gives you a chance to finally give those other six pairs a time to shine without being overshadowed by your top.
Because jeans come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, you can pull out this look as often as you would like, and it will still feel fresh. Those who prefer an oversized tee to a fitted tee should consider opting for a more flattering pair of jeans, like a skinny, straight leg, or boot cut jeans.
Whether you want to rock a classic pair of blue jeans or a pair of cropped, black, ripped, or frayed jeans is totally up to you. Alternatively, those who love to go crazy with the scissors and have a whole drawer dedicated to cropped graphic tees should embrace the look of a looser fitting jean, like a boyfriend or even a flared or wide-cut jean.
Turning out looks every single day can be exhausting. Sometimes you just want to wear something that prioritizes comfort over quality, but you also don’t want to compromise your style to do so. So whenever you find yourself needing a break from fashion, that is when you should pull out your favorite graphic tee and some comfortable denim.
Come in Ablazing
If wearing a whole suit is a bit out of your comfort range (or your price range), you can never go wrong with a classic blazer, and graphic tee combo to give you that desired “structure meets relaxed” look.
Blazers have become such a staple in both casual and business attire that you can buy one and get double the use out of it. Whether you’re opting for a leather, velvet, suede, or tweed sport coat, there’s a graphic tee just waiting to be paired with your beloved blazer.
Make it a Leather Moment
Want to dress up a graphic tee for a nighttime look but don’t want the rigidness of a tailored blazer? That’s what leather is for. A leather skirt or pant can always dress up an outfit, even when you keep it casual on top with a graphic tee.
Or, if leather bottoms aren’t exactly your style, a leather jacket can elevate your look just the same. These days, leather jackets come in a range of silhouettes, so it’s great to have a few on hand in different styles for different occasions.
A leather moto jacket is always a chic addition to any outfit, while a leather bomber is great for a chilly night on the town.
Opt for a Crop
If you are feeling a sense of oversized tee fatigue, consider expanding your graphic tee collection to include cropped baby tees as well. This way, you can keep a fresh batch of tees on hand for the summertime without having to abandon the style completely.
You can even go so far as to crop a t-shirt yourself, either by cutting it, hemming it, or simply tying it for a short-term solution. Here a few different ways you can crop your graphic tee for a whole new look to love:
Knot-Tie for a Boho Look
- Gather material in the front or back
- Wrap end around your finger
- Remove finger
- Insert end through the hole and pull
Eliminate the Bulk With the Bunny Ear Knot
- Gather two sections of material in the front, one in each hand
- Cross the left side over the right side
- Pull the right side through the hole
The Invisible Crop
- Gather the end of the shirt in front
- Tuck excess material into your bra for a clean, cropped look
- Repeat on all sides
- Repeat the steps for the boho knot trick
- Tuck the knot into the inside of the shirt
Patterns and Prints
Mixing prints should not be feared as much as it is. It might feel strange at first, but the key to pulling off a dual print ensemble is simply confidence. If you’re confident in your pairing, people will take notice, and not in a bad way.
Polka dots with stripes, florals with polka dots, paisley with stripes, plaid with florals, and zebra print with leopard print are just some of the many exciting pattern combinations waiting to happen.
If any of your graphic tees have these designs on them, don’t be afraid to test out these combos for yourself.
Go for the Graphic
Graphic tees should be an essential basic in everyone's wardrobe. They are a great form of self-expression and encourage an unabashed outward appreciation for all our favorite musicians, movies, and more. But just because they are a basic doesn’t mean they need to be styled as one.
There are numerous ways to feel inspired by your old graphic tees. Whatever your preferred method of styling, just don’t forget to continue honoring the very same self-expression that drew you to that tee in the first place.