You guys might remember me linking to this tshirt on Etsy quite a few blog posts back – and saying someone should buy it. Well, my Mum bought it…for me! What a champion of a lady. Much like the kids in my life who want to play with all their new toys immediately, I exercised zero self-restraint and wore it the very next day for a day of pootling about with Mum in the city. For this post, I made it a little more corporate. And then went to the seaside. Everything I do makes total sense.
I think tshirts with a great design feature are entirely appropriate for the office (sorry dudes who are still rocking the suit and tie – life is pretty tough, hey). Smarten them up with a pair of dressy trousers, like these ones from Maison Scotch that I picked up from Goodness here in Wellington. When in doubt, chuck a blazer over your tshirt and you’re away laughing. In this case I think the Matisse-inspired design has strong enough “fancy art vibes” to go it alone. If that Matisse reference is wrong, forgive me. Let’s just say I bowed out of Art History after one year due to the high degree of pretentiousness exhibited by some of the kids in the tutorials. First year egos plus art wankery equalled that’s quite enough of that for someone who was already going to a bunch of tutorials with competitive law students.
And now I’m back from my university flash backs - obviously I played strong to my preferences and pulled on a pair of heels, but there’s no reason they can’t be replaced with flats.
I couldn’t care less if the people in my team are in button down shirts or pencil skirts or suits or ties. I think you should have the right to an element of personal expression, even at work – so long as you could go to that hypothetical meeting with the CEO, tshirts are an entirely legit option. In fact, in my last job my boss was a master of the work uniform, which in her case was a base of black trousers and a great quality black tshirt, topped by an array of beautiful designer jackets. Through observing her, I learned the secret of the work tshirt.
As we go into warmer months here in New Zealand, I’m slowly moving down the wardrobe from long sleeve shirts, through short sleeves and soon enough I’ll be in sleeveless town. Tshirts are a superb warm weather work option because they meet my “can’t see through it, up it or down it” rule, especially in the crew neck style I favour. I can bend over a desk to point to a document or grab a pen and there’s no chance of anyone seeing anything that, trust me, nobody wants to see (ugh, the discomfort for all concerned makes me want to climb out of my skin. Ugggggggh!).
Although I’m not massively into Fashion Rules around here, I do think that tshirts are probably just controversial enough in conservative industries (like mine!) to warrant a few do’s and don’ts:
DO: go for a design that is strong, inspired by fine art, or abstract
DON’T: wear the promotional tshirt you got at a law school function
DO: go for a fabric that’s a little heavier or rigid, both because it will last longer and because it will look newer for longer
DON’T: go for tshirts that are super thin, thus requiring a tank top under them. This is pointless, and looks like you think it’s “barbecue at a mate’s house on a Sunday arvo” time instead of “gainful employment” time
DO: think about your neckline and sleeve length – I like crew necks (me and 14 year old boys, we know what’s up) and I avoid cap sleeves at all costs. What is the point of you cap sleeves, what is the damn point
DON’T: grab a tshirt that’s seen better days and is faded, stretched or has holes in it somehow. It’s already a casual item of clothing, so if you want to get away with the pure comfort of a tshirt on a Wednesday, you have to bring your tshirt A game
DO: pair your tshirt with something unquestionably work-appropriate, to make it clear to the casual observer that no, you didn’t get confused about what day it is
DON’T: forget the “through it, up it or down it” rule