Designed and donned in the early 1800s, the T-shirt has come a long way since then. What used to be a buttoned-down undergarment was popularized by the United States Navy by issuing one for every sailor to wear beneath his uniform. Women’s T-shirts started gaining popularity in the 1940s and were typically worn not just for cotton comfort, but as a statement of rebellion and freedom. While T-shirts are known to have become wildly popular in the 1950s thanks to male icons like James Dean, the women who rocked T-shirts in those days weren’t rebels without a cause. They were pioneers who were redefining women’s fashion who ultimately paved the way for more variety in fashion for everyone.
Today there are many different types of women’s T-shirts and options for how to use them. So many options and so many styles, that it’s best to think of women’s T-shirt guides like this one as sources of inspiration. The torch of innovation is in your hands. How will you carry it forward?
Check out this video for ways you can style our women's V-neck shirt!
Now let’s go over some of the most common types of women’s T-shirts:
CREWNECK OR CLASSIC T-SHIRT
The most famous of T-shirts styles are crewnecks, also known as classic T-shirts. These are T-shirts with a round circular neck. They provide excellent flexibility in that they can be worn as undergarments or standalone pieces.
T-shirts worn as undergarments should fit comfortably snug to your body so that your other clothes fit to your body rather than your clothes. High quality T-shirts are best suited for this because the fabric of high quality T-shirts is thinner and more breathable. So while the T-shirt clings closer to you, you’re not suffocating in it. In fact, it might not even feel like you’re wearing anything at all!
Many women like to pair a classic T-shirt with a blazer or layer their T-shirt under a slip dress.
The best bra to wear with a classic T-shirt would be a plain, basic bra or a sports bra. You can also go braless if you’re feeling bold. In that case it’s best to avoid slim fit T-shirts and light colors that could be see-through. Do you know that we've made our white Classic T-shirts heavier to avoid this inconvenience?
THE BOYFRIEND T-SHIRT OR BOXY
Women’s T-shirts tend to be cut tighter to the body than men’s T-shirts; women’s T-shirts that have a looser fit are known by variants of “boyfriend T-shirts” or “boxy.” The women’s T-shirts we offer are styled after this, because we want everyone who wears our T-shirts to be comfortable as well as stylish. We wanted to mimic the stylish look of men’s T-shirts for women. A boyfriend cut features dropped shoulders, slightly lengthened sleeves and a clean neckline, which conveys a laid-back tomboy look and attitude.
V-necks are T-shirts where the neck is shaped like the letter V. These T-shirts work well to slim down your physique, make you look taller, and are essential to pair with V-neck sweaters and other outer garments. Like the classic T-shirt, women’s V-neck shirts pair really well with a blazer.
Keep in mind that every V-neck shirt has a different depth in the V. We generally advise to make sure the neckline doesn’t fall lower than your armpits, and in some formal settings, showing too much bust can be seen as unprofessional.
V-necks are a great fit for all body types, from androgynous women to ladies with a more extended bust size.
Polo T-shirts typically have a collar and placket with buttons beneath the collar. They’re usually made of wider threads of cotton, giving them more weight than classic T-shirts. Polo T-shirts can be unisex (and often are), but there are also specific cuts for women that feature narrow shoulders, wider chest area, shorter sleeves, and flares at the bottom. Polos lean into formal wear and are the go-to T-shirt to wear on golf fields and tennis courts. Keep in mind that the polo collar should always go down, never held up.
Boat neckline T-shirts feature a wide neckline that runs horizontally across the collarbone. Like the classic T-shirt, they’re inspired by nautical designs but go back farther in time and usually feature stripes instead of a plain color. They create an optical effect that is particularly good for ladies with smaller shoulders and rectangular or pear-shaped bodies.
Cap sleeve T-shirts cover the shoulder but are “capped” under the arm unlike longer sleeves which extend longer. These T-shirts are great for warm weather as standalones but don’t offer the same protection for outer garments when layering. They don’t really qualify as informal T-shirt styles per se, but it’s not recommended to wear them at the office or at formal events, where it’s better to wear a little longer sleeves instead and have your underarms well covered. If wearing longer sleeves makes you feel afraid of pit stains, there’s one simple solution: choose the right fabric. Here’s why organic cotton should be your go-to material.
Long sleeve T-shirts were once layering favorites for colder seasons, and now are becoming popular as standalone pieces both for comfort and style. Some brands recommend making sure the sleeves don’t go past your elbow, and some women prefer their long sleeve T-shirts to be on the larger side to maximize comfort and coziness. Our women’s long sleeve T-shirts fall somewhere in the middle.
It’s important to note that high quality cotton T-shirts will not necessarily feel heavy like woolen clothing, but it can still do a fine job keeping you warm on its own. If you’re spending time outdoors in the cold, long sleeve cotton T-shirts are especially great for layering because of how they help regulate moisture and temperature. They’re also good to be worn directly over your skin when it gets freezing in winter, under cozy knits that would otherwise be itchy. Find out more about why cotton is so comfortable by clicking here.
These T-shirts are feature sleeves that extend all the way to the collar and neckline instead of ending at the shoulder. The sleeves of the raglan T-shirt are generally a different color than the rest of the shirt, and are cut to enable a greater range of motion. Raglan sleeves tees are usually designed with a crew neckline, and the sleeves are often made in a darker color than the core. This makes raglan T-shirts suitable for an androgynous look, and for women with larger shoulders and a sporty attitude. These are informal garments that shouldn’t be worn at work unless it’s (very) casual Friday.
Slim fit T-shirts are a variation of the classic T-shirt; an alternative to what we offer in the boyfriend fit. Whereas boyfriend fit T-shirts are cut to fit well to your body but slightly loose, slim fit T-shirts cling more tightly to your body and accentuate the waistline of slim or athletic figures especially well. When it comes to layering, slim fit T-shirts often work really well under long sleeve cotton T-shirts, especially when the long sleeve T-shirts are quite thin and breathable like ours are made. The reason to wear both is so that you can avoid wrinkles on your long sleeve T-shirt.
A crop top or midriff top is a T-shirt cut to expose the abdomen. They were originally invented for swimwear for women around the time of WWII but then became iconic of the sexual revolution in the 1960s. In the 1980s they became widely popular among dancers, athletes, and even men. Today crop tops are generally worn by younger women to look sexy; they’re great for a night out in the summer, a walk on the beach, for sports, and not many other occasions.
PADDED SHOULDER T-SHIRTS
Padded shoulder T-shirts, also known as padded muscle T-shirts are cut like classic T-shirts except they are sleeveless and appear to be resting above the shoulders. They’re an homage to 80s-style pads. These T-shirts are gaining popularity among girls in their 20s or early 30s especially, thanks to Instagram and Pinterest trends. Wearing a padded shoulder tee is one easy way to keep your look cute and simple, and suits ladies with smaller shoulders and a longer neck.
Graphic T- shirts come in many shapes and sizes, including all of aforementioned necklines. Any T-shirt with a graphic print on it is considered a graphic T-shirt. The graphic T-shirt was first used in the original Wizard of Oz movie. They are great for showing off your personality and interests. The most common graphic T-shirts these days feature scenes from movies or TV series, or slogans. If you’re into sustainability as much as we are, you may want to make sure that your graphic T-shirts have been printed using water-based or eco inks.
SPAGHETTI TOPS/TANK TOPS
Spaghetti tops or tank top T-shirts are usually lightweight and cut to fit close around your body. There are no sleeves, the neckline is typically low, and the straps that fall over the shoulders are thin, hence the name. These tops are usually preferred for layering as they serve to keep your core warm and dry, but are also often worn as standalone pieces in casual settings and warm weather.
Hooded T-shirts are becoming more common with athleisure outfits, and are perfect for the gym, to wear as pajamas, or to travel in. A hooded T-shirt is great during the fall and winter seasons. It will keep you comfortable and it’s easy to layer with other clothes for a sporty or streetwear feeling.
WHICH STYLES ARE RIGHT FOR YOU?
There are a lot of different types of T-shirts to choose from, but we’d be happy to narrow it down to our favorites: the crew neck and V-neck T-shirts. These T-shirts are great to wear as undergarments, layering pieces, or as standalone pieces that make you look your best.
The best T-shirts are made of 100% organic cotton, which will feel soft and smooth to the touch. When you wear them, the cotton should feel like it “breathes” well. This means if you decide to wear your classic T-shirt as an undergarment, it will do a good job protecting outer layers of clothing from sweat and deodorant. Lower quality crewnecks don’t perform as well because of the plastics they’re made of or chemicals they’re treated with, so it’s best to invest in high quality classic T-shirts.
Not all high quality T-shirts are preshrunk, but ideally you want to find ones that are preshrunk so that your T-shirt maintains its perfect fit wash after wash.
At The Classic T-Shirt Company, we offer timeless pieces that are high-quality T-shirts, preshrunk and made of 100% organic cotton. Lightweight, breathable, durable, these T- shirts are our go-to for gifts, whether to yourself or someone you care about. They come with free two-day shipping and free returns. Our classic T-shirts are sure to become your favorite T-shirts!
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