How to Style a Basic Tee

Wardrobe staples are something you can never go wrong with wearing. You want to look nice but essentially you don’t want to go with a button-down all the time. Let’s go back to fundamentals. The sight of a plain t-shirt seems excessively underwhelming… unless you understand how to dress it up. Basic tees are ideal because this gives you range on how you can conceptualize the vision for your look: from casual to upscale. If you’re someone who tends to love the simple things, keep reading to discover the many ways to create a uniform fit.


 The most convenient way to pair an ordinary shirt is with a casual outfit. Jeans and your favorite tee. While that’s the easiest setup, you need a stylish touch—include an outerwear option for a layered effect. Even including a layer between your top and the jacket gives a nice aesthetic. A corduroy jacket, flannel, and tee is the perfect choice. Have the shirt peek through for depth. The contrast between the three different materials adds a chic element. Shoes can be a nice sneaker, even boots will suffice. 


 A step above that would be a business casual look. Swapping the jeans for chinos is ideal in this case. I am sure the idea of a tee doesn’t tend to mesh with the idea of office wear at the surface. Where your shirt speaks relaxed, the rest of your attire needs to speak formal. To exemplify the most professional feel, crewnecks are a must. Steer away from a v-neck. Incorporate a softer fabric like cashmere or tri-blend. Here you have it, a nice top and chinos. Get creative with accessories as well. Have your belt coordinate with your shoes for added refinement. Elevate it by choosing a sophisticated pair such as a loafer. 


The more upscale approach to the basics is incorporating a suit. In comparison to the business casual look, in this scenario you don’t have to emphasize as much for a respectable impression as your suit does all the talking. Since you're using a standard tee, you can’t rely on the typical woven button-down to uplift your outfit. For a conservative environment, stick with a neutral colored palette. If your surroundings welcome freedom of expression, adding some patterns like windowpane or plaid can bring your desired fashion to life. Balance them with a solid shirt that has a soft hand. It’s always helpful to introduce accessories that further elucidate elegance: a matching watch and oxfords is always classy.

The great thing about fashion is it’s all about perspective. This is art. This is YOUR Stately style. Yes, dress codes definitely exist but you can always add your own flare to your wardrobe. It’s not always about the “right” way to groom for a particular event. Fashion is founded on trailblazing. Whether a button-down or a simple t-shirt, don’t feel pressured to conform. If you want to stand out, be different and showcase your growing styling skills.




Kayla Washington
Stately stylist, writer, and designer based in Los Angeles, CA