"If you can track down the perfect pair of jeans for your figure and a handful of T-shirts that fit you well, you'll have made a serious dent in building your ideal wardrobe. There's really nothing that will serve as a better foundation for putting great outfits together."
- Lauren Conrad
Nothing makes me shudder more than seeing someone going to class or running around town in their pajamas. At least have the decency to throw on a basic t-shirt and some jeans or shorts if you're really in a hurry. Some of you are probably thinking, "Hey. It's no big deal. I don't care what people think of me. So what." This attitude may serve you well in different facets of life, but definitely not when it comes to dressing. I think that putting the effort in dressing, in the very bare minimum, when you step out of your front door in the morning not only communicates to others that you have respect for them, but that you also have respect for yourself. And what's easier to throw on than basic tee and jeans in the morning?! It's the classic American uniform after all, thanks to the almighty power of cotton.
I once knew a girl in college whose color palette consisted of neutrals: black, white, brown, and tan. She hardly wore colors and when she did, I felt like I should check her temperature. This is not uncommon for there are tons of people like her all over the world [People's Revolution founder Kelly Cutrone is one of them.] Some people just don't think they look good in color or just simply don't like them, in which case, a perfect white tee suits them the best. But if you are adventurous and anything like me, you embrace colors like a perfect spring day and probably have owned at least one piece of clothing in various colors that would resemble a Crayola box. So if you're not afraid of color, then pick up a handful of basic tees in various colors other than white.
The beauty of a basic tee is it's lightweight and sheer which makes it perfect for layering. But word of CAUTION, if your basic tee is too sheer, make sure you have another shirt layered underneath or a camisole with the same type of neckline. Due to my OCD tendencies, nothing irks me more than mismatched necklines. There are two types of t-shirt necks. There's the (I) crew neck, or scoop neck as, I'd like to call them, which resembles a half circle and the (II) v neck. If you layer a t-shirt with another t-shirt or a dress (as will be demonstrated below) make sure that the necklines are similar to each other to achieve a much a more polished look. So in today's 1 item = Several Wears, I will be showing you all 7 different ways you can wear a basic tee. There's an unlimited possibility and multitude of combinations that you can wear a basic and plain tee, but there really are four absolute ways you can pair them: with a (1) dress, a (2) skirt, (3) shorts, and (4) jeans.
One way to wear a basic tee is to wear it with a dress. I'm obsessed with strapless dresses and I like to bear my shoulders, but when I'm feeling adventurous enough, I'll usually layer my basic tee over or under a dress. Did you just say over a dress? Yes, I absolutely did! Layering a tee under a shirt is usually the norm, but wearing it over a dress is equally as chic. Dress Design 101: most dresses consists of two main pieces -- the bodice, which is the top half of the dress and the skirt, which is the bottom. Just because the two are sewn together doesn't mean that you have to wear the garment as it is. I once had a dress with an ill fitting bodice, but it had such a beautiful skirt. So as a solution, I just threw on a basic tee over the dress and viola! Crisis averted. Word of caution though: unlike a skirt, you won't have the luxury of tucking in your tee inside the skirt if you wear a t-shirt over a dress. So in order to control all of that excess fabric, pick a t-shirt that's shorter in length or pin all of the excess fabric in the back and wear a jacket to cover your handy work, like featured above with the jean jacket. Rompers and dresses with thicker straps are perfect over a basic tee. Experiment with patterns and accessories, like colorful jewelry and waist cinching belts. Remember, a waist is a terrible thing to waste.
Pairing a basic tee with an A-line skirt is my absolute favorite tee and bottom combination. The easiness of the t-shirt and skirt gives you the freedom to experiment with different accessories to achieve completely different looks. Take the plain yellow tee that's featured above, for example. When paired with an A-line skirt in a fun paisley pattern, a brown braided belt, and a black fringe vest, the ensemble is bohemian chic with attitude to spare. But when put together with a tweed skirt, skinny metallic belt, cardigan, and light summer scarf, the entire look becomes New England prep.
But the easiest basic tee look of all is when it's paired with your favorite denim cut offs. This is my go-to outfit when I'm running errands. Although the ensemble is not only restricted to running around town doing your grocery shopping or stopping at the bank. It's a very appropriate look for warm weather seasons. Wear this on your way to the beach or the pool, to catch a summer flick, or spending the day at a theme park. The No-Fuss feel to this entire ensemble makes it very effortless. The simplicity of the entire ensemble also gives you plenty of room to have fun with your accessories like hats, hair accessories, jewelry, and belts and different types of shoe options like strappy gladiator sandals, ballerina flats, oxfords, and wedges.
In addition, don't be afraid to layer your basic tees! Just remember these few rules when laying your tees:
(1) Make sure that your t-shirt necklines are one of the same (crew neck to crew neck / v neck to v neck, as mentioned earlier)
(2) Mix colors from different color families.
(3) When layering tees of varying lengths, make sure that the shorter tee is the outermost/top layer.
(4) The solution to controlling long/excess sleeve fabric is by cuffing them.
In terms of a nighttime look, my favorite thing to do with a basic white tee is wearing it with my favorite skinnies and a blazer. The casualness of the the jeans and t-shirt is made a little bit more formal by the rigid structure of the blazer. Pair this with a classic black pump and it's completely dinner date/cocktail drinks appropriate. This is also a look that can easily transition from day to night, which is something that a lot of working women or women who are still in school look for. During the day, this look may just consist of the jeans, the basic tee, and some ballet flats. But by changing your accessories and adding a few other pieces like the blazer, a statement necklace, and black pumps this look just transformed into a nighttime ready look.
People always ask me, "Where do you shop? Where do you get all of your clothes?" when a more appropriate question is "How do you come up with your everyday outfit ensembles?" The answer to this is experiment, experiment, experiment! People underestimate the power of playing dress up with the clothes that are already in their closet. But I have to admit that it's definitely fun when you have new pieces to play with. Play around with your clothes and you'll be surprised as to what you come up with!
tees by BDG for Urban Outfitters
jeans with white tee by Hollister / aviators by Ray-Ban
1. dress by Free people / denim jacket by Hollister / necklace by Juicy Couture
2. romper by Pins and Needles / necklace by Charming Charlie
3. dress by Pins and Needles / belt by Forever 21
4. fringe vest and skirt by Heritage 1981
5. skirt by Heritage 1981 / cardigan by J.Crew / scarf by Express
6. shorts by H&M / belt by Urban Outfitters
7. jeans by BDG / blazer by Silence + Noise / necklace by Forever 21