Capsule Wardrobe Building Blocks

The White T -shirt

A Brief History
Many of today’s clothes derive from the Army, Navy or Air Force and the humble T-shirt is no exception. It originated from the British Navy when sailors were ordered to sew short sleeves onto their sleeveless undershirts to prevent underarm hair being viewed during a royal parade.

The T-shirt was always seen as a utility undergarment until the 1950s when cinema’s brooding anti-heroes Marlon Brando (The Wild One, 1951) and James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) were seen sporting them without a shirt over the top. Since then the T-shirt has been adopted by many groups as part of their look and remains a must-have item today.

A Style Classic
The T-shirt is one of the few items of clothing that transcends class, race, gender and time to truly be called a classic. It has been an integral part of many cult looks (think 50s rock ‘n’ rollers or 70s skinheads) and remains just as popular today. Designers are fascinated by its simplicity and lack of exclusivity and are constantly reinventing it in new cuts and materials. There is little reason why the T-shirt would go out of favour as it serves it purpose perfectly and therefore will be around for years to come.

T-Shirts now come in a million and one different colours, cuts and fabrics. Many are adorned with pop culture images or slogans and statements. Unless you are a teenager it is probably best to avoid such frivolity and opt for a classic shaped, all cotton T-shirt in plain white. Chances are this garment is going to get lots of wear, under shirts in the winter and as a top layer with khakis or shorts in the summer. For this reason, purchase the best you can afford. Cheap T -shirts quickly lose their shape, especially around the neck, and become bobbly with wear. Look for 100% cotton examples and ensure that the fit is not too snug, especially if you have a less than perfect shape.

The Knowledge

Never be a billboard, labels should be on the inside.

If you are wearing a T-shirt as your only top layer, do not tuck it into your trousers.

Don’t be tempted to wear a tight cap-sleeve t-shirt. Women do not find them sexy.

A t-shirt should not be visible above the collar of your shirt if you are wearing a suit or tie. This is simply bad form.

The majority of women will say that the most sexy outfit on a man is
1. A white t-shirt and jeans, 2. A tailored suit.


Nick Kamen, Levis 501 and Sunspel boxers