Back to Basics: The Classic Tee

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Tee shirts are not something I really thought about being flattering or not until recently. As the "tissue tee", a very thin and very soft cotton, began to rise in popularity, I started to notice that sometimes a basic tee shirt is not a girl's best friend. Tissue tees are great layering pieces but they can reveal some unflattering situations like back fat, ill fitting bras and muffin top. With that in mind, the search for the perfect tee shirt began. It's an ongoing adventure but one that's taught me a lot about fabrics.

After a few bad tee shirt experiences at the Gap, I decided to head over to American Apparel, a place long revered by hipsters for their tee shirts. And I'm sold. My personal favorite is the 50/50 women's tee (50% combed cotton and 50% polyester) which is a little on the thin side but not so thin that you're advertising the goods. They also come in great colors. If this is your first time shopping at American Apparel take the time to talk to the very knowledgable sales staff about their unisex options. In women's styles, I would recommend buying one size up if you don't wear your tee shirts super snug. Definitely lay these shirts out to air dry after washing to get the most milage out of them. American Apparel tees run around $20 each.

Two other brands that are very popular are Caslon Tee Shirts (available at Nordstrom) and Banana Republic's Timeless Tee collection. Caslon tees come in a a variety of flattering necklines and colors and run around $39. These tees cost a little bit more but they last a long time and have a very loyal customer following. Banana Republic's Timeless Tee run between $20 and $29.50 depending on the sleeve length and are made out of prima cotton, a durable and very absorbent cotton. In my personal experience, tees that are between 95-98% cotton tend to last a long time and wash and dry well. One drawback to purchasing prima cotton is that it can hold stains because the cotton is so absorbent. However, this is something to take into serious consideration only if you depend on tees as a daily staple. If you do stain the cotton use a stain remover a soon as possible, wash it in cold water with like colors, and do not put the shirt in the dryer until you are confident it's removed. It may take a few round of stain treating and washing in cold water but it should come out if you don't expose it to heat, causing the stain to set.

Two other quick tips about tee shirts. The first is that tee shirt hems are cut much longer than they used to be ("Is this a tee shirt or a dress for a college freshman?"). To best flatter your proportions look for a tee shirt that hits at your hip unless you have a long torso. If a tee shirt hits below the hip and you wear it with jeans, it will look sloppy pulled down over the back pockets of your pants. And, it doesn't do your booty any favors.

Second, when wearing a white tee shirt it's usually a good rule of thumb to invest in a nude bra that is smooth (no lace, no bows, no nothing). If you are wearing a very thick cotton, you can get away with a white bra underneath but just to be safe, a nude bra will rarely fail you.

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