4 Ways To Take A Plain White T-Shirt To The Next Level

Written by Charlie Anderson

Photo by Stocksy

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Let's talk plain white T-shirts.

They evolved from underwear, scientists tell us that we find men most attractive when they wear them, and there's even a band named after them (well, hey there, Delilah). So why are plain white tees so popular? Just like the LBD, their secret lies in simplicity; the plain white tee is not there to be your look; it is there to support your look.

And for the shopper striving to tread more lightly, this is great news. By constructing an ensemble around this perennial basic, there ceases to be a need to slavishly buy up full looks of every new trend and you have a straight-up antidote to "fast fashion"—in other words, with some natty styling you can get a lot of ecological mileage out of a plain white tee.

Here are four simple ways to take your plain white tee to the next level:

1. With a bandanna

If your ultimate style heroine is a combination of Joan Jett and off-duty street style, then the bandanna is the perfect way to elevate your look. Tie it neatly round your neck, tuck your tee firmly into your highest waisted denims, and slip into a pair of Chuck Taylors for day or mid-heeled slingbacks for night.

  • Super-soft handmade washed silk bandannas from Ozma.
  • Japanese-inspired bandannas from Kiriko.
  • High-waisted raw-edge jeans from & Other Stories.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free sneakers from Keep Company.
  • Mid-heeled loafers from ethical label Cri de Coeur.
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2. With embroidered patches, badges, and pins

The proliferation of fabric patches and enamel pins shows no sign of abating, and why would it? Adornment of this kind adds instant humor, whimsy, and wit to your existing look. Your adorned tee will look great with an A-line skirt and knee-high boots (double fashion Brownie points if you manage to thrift yourself an original '70s pair).

3. As an underpinning

Invoke the art of layering and wear your plain white tee under your brami. Brami? Yep brami, a term coined by Free People to describe this new hybrid garment that is a little bit more than a bralette and a little bit less than a camisole top. The classic color combo of black over white works beautifully for this trend. Pair with Annie Hall–esque wide-leg trousers and some Adidas Gazelle's (for that true '90s look).

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4. With a menswear touch

Enjoy proportion play and embracing the masculine/feminine blur. Borrow or thrift a men's belt, cinch it tight round the outside of your baggiest white tee, tie the excess length in a knot, and team with an oversized pinstripe jacket, skinny jean, and a flat mule. Haven't got a baggy tee? Then while you are borrowing the belt, tap your dad/boy's/bestie's/etc. for that, too.

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