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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

The art of the smart t-shirt

Is it ever acceptable to wear a t-shirt to a formal occasion? It is not a question I have ever really pondered because I've thought the answer was simple: No. That is until this weekend.

To mark Father's Day on Sunday, my sister Kate and I had got our dad tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong. Apparently it's very funny, but I can't speak from personal experience. We were meeting at Christopher's (which I can recommend from personal experience) for dinner afterwards. But S and I were planning to be at West End Live during the day.

What does one wear to an open-air concert in Trafalgar Square during the day, which they can then wear to dinner in a West End restaurant and cocktail bar in the evening? A t-shirt.

Many of you may be staring at your screens in disbelief. T-shirts and blazers are a not uncommon look.

Some would say it is an outdated look, but that is personal preference.

The problem for those of us at the shorter end of the height scale is that the t-shirt and blazer combo can make you look a bit like you're heading to the school disco circa 2001. Even with a wonderfully fitted blazer, it can be a difficult look to work. This is partly because mismatched jackets and trousers accentuate a lack of height, but that is another point for another day.

So for this outing I had equipped myself with a simple plain navy tee from H&M and a pair of grey jeans. It was simple, but I am learning very fast that simple is very, very effective and useful.

I accessorised the t-shirt with a pendant necklace over the top, which shows some thought has gone into it. Never underestimate the value of an accessory.

Shirts on the shorter man can pose a problem: too big and you look scruffy, too small and you can teeter between too formal or 'I put the washing machine on too hot'. But a block colour t-shirt which fits negates all these issues.

Body length in tees can be a problem. The H&M ones aren't bad but I would not call them ideal, it depends which cut you have got. If in doubt go for a muscle fit as it will hang less which leaves less chance of an awkward bunch up where it meets your jeans.

Basic rules to remember?

Block colour - t-shirts with more than one colour will usually not cut the mustard in a formal setting

Good quality - a cheap t-shirt won't work. Don't go there

No slogans - it doesn't matter how hilarious it is, no slogans

Make sure it fits - obviously


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