Whether it’s the band tee from our very first concert, a way to rep our favorite sports team or even just a cool looking vintage find, graphic tees have been a part of our wardrobe for as long as we’ve had one (or cared about it). These statement pieces come in all shapes and sizes and possess the unique ability to turn an otherwise simple look into an ensemble with a bit more edge.
Now let’s get something straight, we aren’t referring to your torn up, over worn, pajama shirts. Let’s agree to continue to keep those comfy pieces in the back of our dresser drawer in case of a serious cozy-clothes emergency. Nope, these days, graphic tees are far from frumpy or juvenile. These days, we’re seeing them become as versatile as black denim in that they fit a range of occasions and ensembles. There’s no better time to push style boundaries and let your own interests shine through in the form of none other then a cool graphic tee. Dress it up for date night, dress it down on a scorching summer day or layer it under a blazer for a casual day at work (we’re serious!).
But you don’t have to take our word for it. We enlisted the advice of some trusted fashion authorities, and they definitely delivered. Read on for professional stylist advice on how you can make a graphic tee look put-together.
Styled To A T
Cat Wennekemp Tapper is a Los Angeles-based fashion stylist who has worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment. Her experience ranges from styling clients like Heidi Klum and the girls of Haim to gracing the covers of Variety, Harper's Bazaar and Billboard Magazine. She has always loved vintage graphic tees and said, "I pair a small vintage tee with high-waisted pleated pants and a chic belt for a refined, professional, yet relaxed look." And, when it comes to making the piece look polished, Tapper says, "It's all about the loose tuck!" She even told us that she gives proper tucking lessons to her clients to make sure they get it right. "It's like learning to tie a bowtie!"
Jenny Rodriguez works as a wardrobe stylist for the popular television program, E! News, and is no stranger to a graphic tee. "One of my favorite ways of styling it is with a great pair of jeans (Grlfriend and Re/Done are my favorites right now)," she says. "I like accessorizing with gold necklaces, hoops and a belt. As for shoes, a pump or bootie always adds the finishing touch." While some people aren't used to wearing a T-shirt for more upscale occasions, Rodriguez says, "Don't knock it 'til you try it! I think graphic tees are a great staple for everyone to have in their wardrobe, because they're so versatile."
Jasmine Betancourt is a wardrobe stylist who has worked with major publications such as Glamour, InStyle and Vogue, as well as popular brands like Diff Eyewear and Beyond Yoga. She shares her secrets to styling a graphic tee for a more dressy occasion: "The vintage graphic tee paired with a black pair of skinny jeans is a super cute option for a formal look," she says. "Add a plaid blazer for a more put-together look. It's classy, yet chic! Complete the look with some black heels and statement earrings. You can go from work to a nice dinner with friends."
Just from scrolling her Insta profile, it's clear that stylist Erin Noel loves bright colors, bold prints and whimsical textures. She uses her skills to help clients like Candace Cameron Bure, Olivia Holt and Danielle Campbell look and feel their best when strutting down the red carpet. Noel is also a firm believer in the power of a graphic T-shirt, especially when paired with the unexpected. "I love the idea of pairing a graphic tee with a full formal skirt," she says. "Try a silk maxi in a fun color pop (like red or metallic) and add statement earrings to tie it together."
Her biggest tip for making the look your own? "Spend time looking for the perfect shirt," she says. "And don’t be afraid to use scissors to crop, safety pins for detail or a broach to make it feel personalized. Accessories add to every outfit—so find ways to mix and match what you own, and you will enjoy the piece even more."