T-shirts seem pretty simple and straightforward until you start looking into them and realize they come in so many different styles, designs and fabrics. With hundreds of terms and features thrown at you all at once, the world of t-shirts has a way of getting a bit...well, complicated. If you feel like you need a back to the basics review of t-shirt terminology flashcards before you buy a top to finish off your classic t-shirt and jeans look, you are not alone. Lucky for you, class is in session, t-shirt class that is. Get out your notebooks. It is time for a quick t-shirt vocab review sure to make finding your next favorite tee a snap.
A crewneck t-shirt is the pinnacle of all layering t-shirts. The crew refers to the neckline of the shirt. It has a round neckline, sitting a little closer to the base of your neck, without feeling too tight. The rounded neckline design makes it a great layer, but certainly can be worn alone. Wear a crewneck t-shirt under a v-neck sweater.
When referring to a "scoopneck t-shirt" what is really being pointed out is the specific neckline design rather than a certain style of t-shirt. Any t-shirt (or top for that matter) could be designed with a scoopneck, which is basically just an easy way to refer to a neckline that is deeply curved, exposing more of your collar bone. Scoopneck tees are one of the most popular t-shirt styles worn by women today. They can be easily put on or taken off without doing too much damage to your makeup or hairstyle ... huge plus.
V-neck is simply a term used to describe the cut of the neckline. In this case, referring to a t-shirt as a v-neck t-shirt means the neckline forms the shape of a "V." V-neck t-shirts are great for everything from loungewear to a base layer for work or even a night out. General rule: if you're wearing an open cardigan with a v-neckline, opt for a V-neck tee.
Many layering t-shirts or active t-shirts advertised as being "antimicrobial." Sounds ... clean, right? But what does fabric with an antimicrobial finish actually do? An antimicrobial finish can kill microorganisms and stop their growth. Microbes are the cause of odor on fabrics that are worn against your skin, making an antimicrobial finish a must have when you are purchasing athletic t-shirts. Think post-workout armpits. An antimicrobial finish helps the fabric resist lingering smells. Of course you still need to launder shirts, but this odor-resisting finish goes a long way in keeping your t-shirts fresher longer.
Moisture, sweat, wetness...They are unavoidable. For this very reason, moisture wicking fabric was invented. Unlike an untreated cotton t-shirt, which is highly absorbent, a moisture-wicking t-shirt has the power to draw wetness away from your body. However, this is still a relatively new t-shirt technology since moisture wicking fabric wasn't invented until the 1990s. Receiving a few tweaks along the way, today's moisture wicking t-shirts not only wick the moisture away from our skin, but also allow that moisture to rapidly evaporate. By doing so, moisture wicking t-shirts keep us cooler and drier than other tees can.
You may think all cotton tees are created equally, but they are not. Supima® cotton t-shirt is American grown, primarily in California, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas. Supima has long staple fibers, which make Supima cotton t-shirts stronger, softer and more fade resistant than other types of all-cotton tees. Supima is also highly pill resistant, with outstanding durability. Supima cottons produce very little lint, are extremely breathable and actually become softer with each wash. Supima is actually a carefully monitored grade of cotton, certified by the USDA.
When picturing a rib knit tee, try to envision the type of long sleeve t-shirt someone would be able to get away with wearing for a casual night out. If your mind conjured up a long sleeve t-shirt with the appearance of vertical lines in the knit, you are on the right track. Rib knit tees display alternately raised and lowered lines, nearly impossible to see at a reasonable range. The most common places to find small doses of rib knit would be cuffs, neck bands, waists and the trim of socks because rib knit is far more durable than other knits, is highly elastic and keeps its shape. The ribs can be any width. For example, a "2x1 rib knit" consists of raised lines that are twice as wide as the lowered lines of the knit.
Jersey knit is a single-knit fabric. It is the go-to knit for all-cotton tees. It has a smooth side (a "right" side) with visible v-shaped stitching, and a not so smooth side (a "wrong" side) with purl stitches. Made popular in the 1950s and still going strong to this very day, it comes as no surprise that jersey knit is the fabric we turn to when hoping to achieve that beloved t-shirt and jeans style.
The name says it all. Interlock knit is exactly that, a fabric knit by closely interlocking stitches. Similar to jersey knit and rib knit, interlock knits set themselves apart in a few key ways. The interlocking stitch technique creates fabric that is stable enough to stretch without getting stretched out or curling up at the edges. Interlock knit works equally well with both natural and synthetic fibers, making it an ideal knit option for both all-cotton t-shirts and synthetics.
Have you ever noticed a little slit in the bottom side seams of a t-shirt? Those are side vents. Side vents are generally reinforced with tape. Their main purpose is to allow for ease of movement, which they do by giving you a little extra room through the hip. Side seams do make fitted t-shirts easier to sit in. However, some side vent lovers don't necessarily need side vents for comfort or freedom of movement. For them, side vents are simply a stylistic choice.
Taped seams mean extra fabric is placed over the rough seam edges, so there's nothing to irritate your skin. They also add a bit of finishing to any exposed seams, like the edges of your side vents. The best place to find taped seams might be along the neck. It's an especially nice feature when shopping for more fitted t-shirts. Taped seams also prevent puckering and fraying, increasing the longevity of your favorite shaped t-shirts.
A hem is a folded edge that is sewn while finishing a t-shirt or other garment to prevent the seam or edge from unraveling. A curved hem is one that scoops down in front and/or in back at the bottom, and comes up along the sides just enough. It's a great feature in more relaxed cotton t-shirts.
Rayon is a broad term used to describe fiber manufactured by the textile industry. It is not synthetic, nor is it cotton. Surprisingly, rayon is made from wood pulp. Modal is a specific type of rayon milled from beech pulp. Modal can be used on its own, but is most often found in combination with cotton and spandex. It is absorbent and breathable without trapping odor or wetness. Shaped t-shirts made with rayon modal help you stay cool even when the temps rise.