styling guides

Graphic Tees

One of the many things I love about fashion is its ability to take me back to a specific time, place, and/or event. Just as we learn in Psychology, hearing a particular song or smelling a distinct scent can transport us right back to where we once heard this song and smelled this aroma. Garments are used in the same way – trends from 15+ years ago come back to us today, whether it be used in a similar notion or something completely different. I found this especially easy to do with graphic tees. Every time I go through my drawer of t-shirts, I’m instantly reminded of where and why I bought it. I was never a graphic tee, plain jeans, converse shoes type of girl, so I spent most of my time wearing them at home. Recently, however, I have noticed that a wave of stylish celebrities and high fashion designers are sporting visual graphic tees, and not just in a casual manner, and had to try it out myself. So today, I would like to discuss the popularization of the graphic tee in some detail; first, a brief history lesson, the trend now and what you can do with it, and finally where you can find this garment yourself!

Graphic tees are making a large comeback in the fashion world. After a long hiatus from the popularity in the 1970’s-80’s, tees are back on top, whether it be on the streets or on the red carpet. We first saw printed tees in the 1950’s, with characters from Disney and big holiday resort names. Nowadays, the possibilities are truly endless as to what designers include on a t-shirt.

In the 1950s, the invention of Plastisol, the most commonly used ink for screen-printing onto fabric, allowed designers to become extremely creative with their prints. Later on, social freedoms and revolutionaries of the 60’s focused on bands, attitudes towards sex and drugs, and political notions, which were then incorporated into designs. The 70’s and 80’s was a time of DIY, where hippies and the like focused on sending out a message through their wardrobe. The 90’s saw this trend to expand independent labels and enable anyone with enough money and creativity to have a few shirts printed up and sold. Basically, the t-shirt was the perfect matter for anyone to express themselves.

Technology has become so widespread (even cheap), that the process of designing and selling a great looking graphic tee has become very accessible to just about anyone with a PC and a copy of Photoshop. Tastes have also become so diverse that the limitations of graphic tees are endless; high fashion designers have included their own version of graphic tees on runways, and have a number of celebrities sporting these in various ways. We even have young, creative minds coming up with their own DIY projects, whether it be for themselves or to promote a band or something of the sort.

 How would you go about wearing a graphic tee? It almost seems self-explanatory – throw it on over some jeans, slip on a pair of flats, and go! Although it is typically associated with casual outfits, with a bit of imagination and creativity, you can expand this piece and make it very fashion-forward. The more we look around the easier to notice that graphic tees are obviously making a huge statement into not only mainstream clothing trends, but high fashion as well. Take a look at the following outfits (way below) I put together, and see if you can come up with any on your own! Don’t be afraid to toss aside your plain jane jeans and shoes, and go for something more exciting, even out of your comfort zone for a change!

Now where to find these remarkable graphic tees at low prices (or some designer ones if you’re looking to splurge!)? I examined the runways for even more verification of this popular trend, and discovered a number of designers who featured this garment in their collections, including: D&G’s S/S T-Shirt feat Mickey & Minnie ($110), Miss Sixty’s Lizzy Winter S/S T-Shirt ($89), and Betsey Johnson’s Graphic Cheetah Tee ($98). If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, here are a few (of my favorite!) stores you can take a look at: Forever 21, ThreadlessDelia’s, KarmaloopUrban Outfitters, and tokidoki. And remember, you can always DIY an amazing graphic tee from a simple t-shirt!

rough romance

Now go ahead and coordinate your own outfits and comment to what you have come up with, or any ideas you have for me and anyone else. If you have any suggestions or need help putting an outfit together, please let me know!

Until next time,

3 thoughts on “Graphic Tees”

  1. Graphic tees are way cool and it's amazing how much they can change an outfit just by pairing them with leather pants, skirts or a flirty pair of silk shorts! Some more examples of stylish womens tshirts for further inspiration. Thanks for providing ideas on some great looks!


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