How To Wear a T-Shirt and Still Look Like An Adult-y Adult
Here are some ideas of how to rock a t-shirt and still dress for the job that you want, not the job you have, instead of resorting to your go-to black Aerie leggings that you’ve already worn to the last three events.
Daily Office Wear – Updated Jeans and T-shirt Outfit
As an intern for a political campaign office, I essentially live in t-shirts (campaign t-shirts, Democratic Party t-shirts, etc.). When I put together this outfit, I had an awful case of the Mondays – as well as an awful headache – so comfort was key for me. Comfort does not have to be synonymous with boring when it comes to style. I styled a t-shirt that references one of my favorite podcasts (Pod Save America) with a pair of medium wash skinny jeans, my trusty Birkenstocks, and a headband that hid the greaseball that had replaced my hair. This outfit made me feel comfortable, confident, and showcased my personal style – which I classify as “Comfy Boho Meets Third Grade Soccer Mom Who Used to be Cool”.
Because I work in an office and I get cold very easily, I added a cardigan in a dark emerald color over the shirt that I had on. It added a pop of color to an outfit that would otherwise be border-line boring. Cardigans are also a great transition piece for when the weather is changing. When it comes to color, one of my favorite things to do is to add complementary colors – for example: purple in the headband with yellow on the t-shirt – when accessorizing and when adding layers to the outfit. Another trick that I like to do is to pick one color in the t-shirt and coordinate the outfit and accessories around that color. In this case, I focused on the yellow writing on the shirt.
An easy way to dress up this outfit for the unexpected meeting with your boss is to replace the cardigan with a black leather jacket and replace the open-toed sandals with ballet flats or sneakers. Comfort will still be maximized, and you still won’t have to change out of your t-shirt: a win-win in my book.
Business Casual – Statement Skirt
There is a joke that business casual is whatever you decide it is, and I have decided that t-shirts can qualify business casual if you do it correctly! When I attended the College Democrats of America Conference in Chicago this summer, I needed an outfit that was cute, fit the business casual dress code of the first day of the conference, but was something that I could wear when I walked through the city. Black and white is always, always, ALWAYS a safe option. To add some personalization to my outfit, I paired one of my favorite t-shirts with a black and white patterned skirt and incorporated a pop of blue into my outfit with shoes that are electric blue (not pictured).
This trick is also one that I like to use when I am attending events like fundraisers and other political events where casual is not appropriate, but a pantsuit isn’t necessary either. My roommate Megan and I had a similar idea for our outfits for the Indiana Democratic Convention, and both rocked the t-shirt and patterned skirt look for the day. The key to combining a skirt and t-shirt is to either coordinate the colors of the skirt with the colors in the t-shirt (like my outfit on the right) or to wear neutrals with the t-shirt (like Megan’s outfit on the left). A business casual dress code is no reason to not flaunt what ya got!
Business Professional Babes – Monochromatic Patterns
Occasionally, a business professional dress code cannot be avoided. In these instances, a t-shirt is an awesome way to express yourself, and to standout from the sea of white button up blouses and still maintain your professional demeanor. The trick to wearing a t-shirt and still looking business professional is to do a monochrome look, and to keep it simple.
Drew Ficociello, Outreach Director for College Democrats of Indiana (and my favorite Italian sassmaster), showcases a perfectly put together business professional look that incorporates a t-shirt. In the sea of sharp pantsuits and campaign t-shirts, Drew’s personal style was showcased while she still met the business professional requirement for the event. Drew stuck to all blue shades: a light blue blazer, blue patterned chino pants, and a navy blue t-shirt. Because Drew was attending the the Indiana Democratic Convention, she paired a simple pair of nude heels on with her outfit (not pictured).
If you are afraid of mixing patterns, follow Drew’s example and mix patterns that are the same color. A monochrome outfit looks put together – and monochrome patterns are an effortless way to incorporate pattern into your wardrobe without looking like you dressed yourself in your grandmother’s quilt that has adorned the back of her couch for as long as you can remember.
So next time you are attending an event where you have to wear a t-shirt – whether it be sorority letters, a campaign t-shirt, or PR for your college or university – don’t head straight for your leggings. Instead, choose to showcase your personal style without sacrificing your title as a Real Adult-y Adult.