It's hard to believe that men's T-shirts were once thought of as an undergarment, a piece of clothing never meant to be seen in public. In the modern world, they're a man's wardrobe essential.
In fact, T-shirts didn't become a popular wardrobe item until after World War II, when men came home from the war wearing their military-issued tops for everyday tasks. They didn't become an ultra-cool fashion statement until Marlon Brando wore one in the blockbuster hit movie A Streetcar Named Desire in 1950. Once T-shirts took off, though, they managed to stay in style ever since.
With all that history, is there anything new to think about when it comes to T-shirts? Absolutely! These are the five kinds of T-shirt that every man needs in his wardrobe this fall.
If you read this and think there's definitely a crewneck or V-neck option already in the closet right now, you're probably right. These two types of T-shirts have reigned supreme as the most popular men's T-shirts for decades. But the start of the fall season is a perfect time for checking on the condition and the quality of the shirts, as these wardrobe workhorses can take a real beating.
After all, these white T-shirts can do a load of work by adding a layer either under a men's dress shirt or a favorite men's sweater to help them look polished, as well as build the foundation of a basic outfit under a denim jacket. But they hide no secrets: Stains stand out, and flaws like pilling fabric and rolling collars really show, which can make even the nicest outfit look less polished.
Check crewneck and V-neck T-shirts for items that have become pilled, stretched, shrunk, or stained, and replace these basics with fresh new ones so that these staples are ready for fall.
T-shirts are great for layering under everything from shirts to sweaters. Options that'd pop under them all are a popular look this fall because they let a little personality shine through even in the most straightforward outfit.
These shirts strive for a little more attention, so make sure to tie the look together with shoes and socks that go well with the color you're highlighting.
Playing with patterns is a great way for men who have serious style chops to show off what they can do. They might play against the shirt's pattern in other elements of the outfit—like a cleverly clashing men's flannel shirt—to make their choices even cooler and more surprising.
Long-sleeved T-shirts are especially great for fall because they provide just a little extra coverage as temperatures begin to dip. Opt for one in any of the colors or patterns that match your favorite layers, or try a fresh look for a style that's totally different. T-shirts are an ideal, low-risk way to sample new colors and see if they feel right.
Long-sleeved shirts can serve as a way to highlight elements in the rest of the outfit. They look great when they contrast with a logo on a sweatshirt, when they match the stripes on a sweater you pull over it, or when they match the plaid on your favorite flannel shirt.
They might have started out as a fashion "don't," thanks to some truly ugly options way back in the 70s, but logo or graphic T-shirts have become incredibly popular with people who have all sorts of different interests and styles.
Find a T-shirt with a logo that means something to you—it could be the name of a brand you love, a funny expression you think could start conversations, or something entirely made up by you (there are several online options to print your own t-shirts).
The logos can be sincere or ironic depending on the personality wearing them, but either way, they'll be in style. Pair them with men's jeans that allow the art to shine.
Henley T-shirts are the stylish, slightly older brother of the traditional T-shirt. They have just a smidge more character than your regular T, with a simple pocket and buttons at the neck.
You can wear them anywhere you'd wear a regular T-shirt (except under a dress shirt, as they tend to look lumpy under the fabric), but they look especially great under thicker top options like a fleece pullover or a men's cashmere sweater.
When you consider their wearability and all the great options for styling them, it's easy to see why T-shirts have stayed on top of the fashion heap for so long.