Can you point me in the right direction for the perfect work t-shirt? Boxy, ribbed cotton shirts seem to be flooding the market. My ideal shirt would be soft, form-fitting, affordable, washable, and last a long time. does this exist? — Jess, Queens, NY
Back in the late 1990s, when Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester ruled the runways, nothing was cooler than a scruffy black pantsuit paired with a white t-shirt. Not just because they look increasingly appealing through the lens of nostalgia, but because those particular styles were existentially grown-up versions of 2000s trends that are currently permeating popular culture. , the combination seems particularly relevant when negotiating this return-to-work moment.
(Note: This is not the oversized pastel jacket and t-shirt moment in 1980s Miami Vice. Don’t confuse fashion precedents, or you’ll be down a very confusing road. It will be.)
Wearing a suit, or simply a blazer and trousers, a t-shirt, whether denim or leather, is the fashion equivalent of having a cake and eating it, and who doesn’t want that? You can be protected and relaxed at the same time. The T-shirt says, “Stoop at home, eat cereal for dinner,” and the jacket says, “Bring your data set.”
This t-shirt is a step up from the old silk shells still favored by many women in Washington. Less cumbersome than a real shirt and often requiring tugging and tucking to sit properly under a jacket, it’s not as stable, says Sarah LaFleur, CEO of MM LaFleur. , said it was “a building block for the modern power casual look.”
However, a t-shirt alone is not enough. You can’t reach into your gym bag and work out your options. Cut, fabric (light fabrics may not be suitable for the office), and neckline should be considered. Boat neck, high round neck, V neck, scoop neck cap sleeves, short sleeves, elbow length?
Personally, I like scoop necks because I like the openness as opposed to lapels. And according to Lafleur, not only the size of the armholes, but also the finish of the neckline is important.
One of the ironies of wearing this simplest piece of clothing is that the smallest details matter so much. Ignore them at your peril, or your wallet’s peril. It’s more cost effective than buying 5 cheap t-shirts that start shredding after washing.
(Furthermore, we strongly believe that t-shirts should not require dry cleaning. A gentle wash should suffice.)
For a while, Ms. Domme Meester was handing out tank tops at her show. They were made of thick cotton, but had a longer bodice and neckline. It is possible to find them on resale sites if you search the Internet, but it is a rather time-consuming and expensive adventure.
Other good places include Petit Bateau, Theory (ditto) and Eileen Fisher, which offer many possible permutations of teas. It’s also worth considering moving away from plain t-shirts entirely and opting for something with a little more personality. There’s no excuse not to wear a concert t-shirt under your jacket. At least this will be a topic beyond PowerPoint.
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In a weekly open thread, Vanessa answers readers’ fashion-related questions. e-mail Also twitterThe question is edited and condensed.