The simple t-shirt may seem like a straightforward item of clothing, but when you start to think about it, there are many different variations in style. They can be made from a wide range of different fabrics, from pure cotton to manmade fibres, sometimes mixed with luxury fabrics such as silk and linen. T-shirts are also cut in a variety of different shapes and styles and come with an infinite choice of details such as breast pockets, rolled edges and contrast stitching.
Handling the material and trying on the garment gives you the best impression of its quality. But even when you are buying a t-shirt online, any good retailer will give a description of the fabric. The most common t-shirt material is either pure cotton or cotton mixed with other fibres. This can be polyester, lycra, silk, linen, etc. Increasingly, new fabrics such as modal are being used instead of cotton. Woven in a jersey stitch, the t-shirt material should be soft to the touch and slightly stretchy.
Even with a 100% cotton fabric, the variation in quality can be huge. There are different types of cotton from different producers, and they can be woven in different ways to produce heavy, lightweight, stretchy or super soft fabric.
Mixing cotton with other fibres can create lots of different effects. For example, adding lycra or elastane to the mix gives it extra stretchiness without it pulling out of shape. Similarly, manmade fibres such as polyester help keep the garment’s shape and prevent shrinkage when washing. Some fabrics are even pre-shrunk, while others are woven in a ribbed knit which gives a different texture to the t-shirt.
When it comes to all the different styles and shapes you can choose from, the choice can be baffling, so here are some areas to consider.
T-shirts come with long, short, or mid-length sleeves, they can have capped sleeves or sleeves with two layers.
Every shape of neckline can be found in different t-shirt designs, from a simple crew neck to sweetheart, scoop, square and V-neck to off the shoulder or asymmetrical shapes. Decorative necklines are also popular, making use of buttons and other accessories.
Length and Width
Fitted t-shirts are figure hugging and create a body conscious lean look, whilst loose baggy shapes are comfy and casual. Although most styles end at the waist, longer lengths or short cropped tops create a whole different look.
T-shirt designers can make a feature out of the seams, with an ‘inside out’ effect, or using contrast coloured stitching or piping. Some t-shirts are even seamless. Different techniques such as a scalloped edge or a double edge can also add interest to necklines, sleeve edges and hems.
Collars and Cuffs
Traditionally a t-shirt has no collar or cuffs, but some modern versions such as the baseball style have very small collar and cuff details, often in a contrasting colour.
So, when you actually look into the subject, t-shirts come in a massive variety of shapes and styles, and it’s the little details that make all the difference.