Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Praise of the T shirt

Chanel may have started the clean, uncluttered look but Chanel always meant suits with little chains, and braid doggedly making its way round every collar and cuff and pocket, announcing "I'm Chanel. Who are you?"
Well, I'm the one over here in the classic T shirt, the real clean, uncluttered look that makes even tailored shirts look fussy.

A well-fitting T shirt, like a good education, can take you anywhere, especially in South Florida. But acquiring the right one, like a good education, can be tough. Even the best ones, after a few washings, have a tendency to droop. (Hint: treat your T shirts like silk - wash only on the Delicates cycle.) But the problem of droop has been mostly cured by the "...and 5 percent spandex" formula.

This essential garment, in fact, has started to be taken seriously not just as a way to tell the world to Save the Whales or Join the Marines or visit Jimmy's Bike Shop but something that can accompany you to lunch, and maybe with a lower neckline, fine for dinner.

But this unfortunately has led to the tarting up of the T shirt. From ruffles and lacy bits to flower and fruit prints, to sequins and beads and puffy sleeves. And finally the classic neckline has taken a dive down to the area usually reserved for the name of your team or your favorite soda. This gathered up concentration on the bust has created a slutty Empire line look, best described as Jane Austen meets Old Navy.

We purists can only intensify our hunt for the classy version. But even a cheap T shirt, if brand new, will take you through an event so always have one in your drawer. And even a cheap one will do fine if you check your colors carefully. No Crayola colors, please. Of course, there's alway black, though Christian Dior did say: Never wear cheap black. Easy for him. White is great. And if only one could find charcoal or midnight blue! The men get all the best colors. A rich velvety brown, of course; the essential olive, and oatmeal -mushroom -khaki, whatever you call that color and always sidestep the cliches. Not pink but salmon, not baby blue (No!) but ice blue and a delicate amethyst or turquoise. And watch out with navy. My advice? Never. Only exception if you are actually on a boat. Even when brand new, a navy T shirt looks too much like Dade Correctional Institute or the Parks Department.

Naysayers may counter: How dull! But what makes the T shirt a perfect canvas for prints of your new baby or favorite candidate, is what makes it the perfect background for your beads, your pendant or pearls, that Italian silk scarf and your fancy gold or silver with pashima for a dinner out. You can load a T shirt up with everything but the kitchen sink and you will still look cool. In fact, you will have achieved that goal that so often eludes the eager or worried dresser, especially in hot and steamy South Florida; you will never get that hit right to the stomach, as you enter a party or special event, that Oh oh! because you will never ever look as if you tried too hard.


  1. Even a navy V-neck; fitted? I consider it a staple.

  2. Navy for a beautiful blond like you Amanda? OK! But still...Even with jeans, black is better.You know, I've just realized.. my school uniform was navy....from eleven years old till eighteen. ..OK But I STILL insist this is a totally objective judgement! Mary