A Guide For Men: Five Rules for Wearing T-Shirts

Whether we like it or not, the basic men’s t-shirt has become the apparel piece of choice for most of us guys when we are everywhere other than at work, out on the town or anywhere else where some more adult fashion sense should be adopted. Glenn O’Brien who writes a column for GQ magazine, has called the imprinted t-shirt “the worst thing that has ever happened to Men’s Fashion”. I struggle with this a little, as I make my living selling imprinted apparel to college bookstores, high schools and other retailers. That being said, it’s very infrequent that I actually wear imprinted t-shirts.

Just not my thing, I guess.

In any case, the t-shirt is clearly here to stay.

So, here’s my Guide for Men: Five Rules for Wearing T-shirts.

5. A t-shirt should fit you properly, slightly fitted but not skin tight. Sleeves should fall somewhere around the middle to lower portion of your bicep. The waistband should rest on your hips. It can bunch up slightly, but it should not cover your ass. A good rule of thumb is if your t-shirt sleeves are covering your elbows and/or touching your forearms, it’s probably too big.

4. Unless you are wearing a t-shirt as part of a uniform, you should NEVER tuck it into your shorts or pants. If you are wearing a US Marine Corp t-shirt with your Marine issued fatigues or a Scout uniform, or a work uniform, any of which likely requires a specific uniform belt, then sure, go ahead and tuck it in. If you are wearing a t-shirt with your Madras cargo shorts and you have it tucked in and you’re wearing a belt, you look like a dork. Never tuck in a t-shirt. Unless you also wear socks with your sandals. In that case, we’ve already lost you and you can do whatever you want.

3. If you are over age 30, you should limit (not eliminate, just limit) your wearing of t-shirts imprinted with sports teams, colleges, rock bands, tourist attractions, Abercrombie and Fitch or Hollister logos, stupid adolescent jokes, offensive slangs, giant flying Eagle images stretched over the back shoulders, skulls and crossbones, company logos (that you got free at your last work conference), etc. Sure, if you are at a professional sporting event, or rooting on your favorite team, or even your kids sporting event, proudly wear the team colors! But sorry, after age 30 you have definitely become an adult. Stop dressing like you’re twelve.

2. NEVER wear t-shirts that don’t have sleeves unless you are cutting your grass or doing other work around your house, or leading a meeting of the board of directors at a white trash trailer park. There’s a reason these shirts have been dubbed “wife-beaters”. This includes tank tops too. T-shirts also shouldn’t have pockets on the front. Seriously, what the hell could you possibly want to put in that pocket?

1. Cotton t-shirts still reign supreme. I know Under Armour style performance wear has become the latest trend. I get it, the fabric is typically soft and comfortable and it wicks away sweat if you are doing something athletic. But are you really doing something athletic? Plus, people are also finding out that performance wear fabrics eventually start to hold your stink, even after they have been repeatedly washed. Who needs that? Being smelly is okay if you are at the gym, not so much if you are hanging out with your buddies.

So next time you decide to buy a t-shirt, find one that fits properly, that isn’t imprinted, that has both sleeves and no pockets and that is made from good, high quality cotton. White is a good color.

And for God’s Sake, don’t tuck it in!

*Unless it’s one of these t-shirts! 🙂


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27 responses to “A Guide For Men: Five Rules for Wearing T-Shirts

  1. Haha! Exception: If you’re one of those douches wearing your pants halfway down your ass, your t-shirt should definitely hang at least to your knees.

  2. javaj240

    Great advice — let’s see how many people actually listen, LOL!

  3. bigsheepcommunications

    You’ve performed a great public service, Steve. The world thanks you.

  4. My husband still wears his Beastie Boys shirt almost every day, but I let it slide because he doesn’t tuck it into his pants. And besides, the Beastie Boys kick arse. But there’s no rules for women who wear them, right? ’cause I’m currently wearing a huge Nirvana t-shirt mainly because it makes me believe I’m still 21.

  5. Solid, simple rules.
    No further comment.

  6. Hahaha! This was good, #4 was perfect….

  7. I love this…all of it, number four is definitely my favorite though.

    Never tuck in a t-shirt. Unless you also wear socks with your sandals. In that case, we’ve already lost you and you can do whatever you want.


  8. I’m posting these rules on my refrigerator! My son tucks his t-shirt into his shorts and wears a belt. Goes perfectly with the socks and sandals. Ugh. My husband insists on t-shirts with pockets. You’d be amazed at what he can fit in that pocket… cell phone, small pad of paper, pen AND his glasses. Of course, the neck of his t-shirt is stretched down to his belly button, but who am I to say? I’m just the wife. Maybe they’ll listen to you! LOL!

  9. Very wise advice – never be a Timmy Tuck In!

  10. Thank you for your support.

  11. Am forwarding this to my hubs immediately. He needs someone other than me telling him to untuck. Apparently I’m not alone. Maybe you could print these instructions on t-shirts and save us all a lot of embarrassment! 😉

  12. Margie

    Excellent rules. I think they mostly apply to women’s T-shirts too. I wear them nearly every day, no imprints or logos. My only variation is sleeve length – long ones for cooler weather.

  13. Luca

    I totally get eliminating printed t-shirts once you have entered full-fledged adulthood. But what about white leather scorpion jackets?

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