So you don’t look like a 1980s throwback
Wearing a t-shirt under a blazer can be a contentious issue. While it may not spawn a debate as full of vitriol as going “sockless” or whether or not the rules of style are made to be broken, it nonetheless does divide the community of sharply dressed men.
We happen to be in the camp that says there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t wear a t-shirt with a blazer. However, there are definitely some guidelines to follow to make sure you don’t look like a 1980s throwback. Let’s get right to it.
Before diving in, it’s worth discussing why one would substitute a t-shirt for a traditional button-up under a blazer. I personally like the combination for a few reasons. First, it’s casual – an even more casual take on sharp casual. Sure, a button-up with an extra button unbuttoned looks casual and relaxed, but a t-shirt has a completely different kind of relaxed vibe. It’s a bit sportier.
Second, it’s hot during the summer. A t-shirt’s short sleeves remove a layer of fabric on your arms, which makes donning a blazer that much easier. Now, you might ask why wear a blazer in the first place if it’s so hot? It may be required to be dressed appropriately for a particular restaurant or bar. You could certainly try just wearing a button-up, but for me, a button-up without a blazer doesn’t look as put together. And if the vibe seems to be casual but not too casual, opting for a jacket is the best choice.
Now let’s talk about how to do it right. If the goal is to look put together, choose a crew neck over a v-neck. You’ll look more respectable and a lot less douchey. Give the neck of your t-shirt a little tug to stretch it out and give it more of a casual edge.
Fit. Keep it loose. I’m not talking baggy, but make sure it’s not form-fitting. The goal for this combination is for it to look cool and easy. A tight tee will appear as though you’re trying too hard and too eager to show your gains at the gym, which again will make you look like a douchebag. Nobody likes a showoff.
When it comes to style, it’s almost more instructive to talk about what to avoid. Stay away from bright colors. Same goes for overly bold patterns. And, of course, don’t even think about a graphic or ironic t-shirt. Play it safe with a solid or thin stripe.
Finally, when is a blazer and t-shirt combination appropriate to wear? As a summertime-only combo, here are several situations that this would be a great look: a weekend brunch, early evening drinks or dinner al fresco, a casual second or third date, on vacation for a meal at your resort, airport travel.
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style