How to style graphic T-shirts without looking basic: 10 Style Panel-approved tips
There’s nothing worse than waking up and thinking “I have nothing to wear.” That’s when you reach into the depths of your closet and recall that you have a cool and effortless way to solve your woes: a graphic T-shirt.
Everyone loves and owns a basic graphic tee (or two or three or four), but no one wants to be caught looking basic (duh!). That’s why we’ve gathered our Style Panel to help us take this basic piece to high fashion territory.
From whimsical skirts to power suits to distressed denim, our panel of bloggers share key tips and tricks on how to style graphic T-shirts.
Question 159: How do you style your favourite graphic t-shirt? Read the answers now! »
Amanda Montgomery, 29
Toronto | Latest Wrinkle
I don’t wear graphic tees often, but when I do I like to opt for one that has a cute quote or image. My style is very girly and colourful–whether it be vibrant tones or pastel hues, colour is very important to me, so when styling a white graphic tee, I keep colour in mind for the rest of the look. My go-to styling for graphic tees is a midi skirt and a pair of heels. I also like to add in another print, as I did in this look with the pumps.
This tee is not only adorable, but is for a good cause! Pink Tartan teamed up with Burt’s Bees Canada to create this adorable “Bee Chic” Tee. For each tee sole Burt’s Bees and Wildlife Preservation Canada will plant 10,000 wildflowers!
Barbara Ann Solomon, 28
Toronto | Barbara Ann’s Style Blog
A graphic tee is a perfect way to make a statement without speaking. I usually sport graphic tees when celebrating teams like Team Canada, The Blue Jays or The Maple Leafs, but since the local brand Peace Collective have been showing such pride for my hometown, I’ve been wearing their tees with basically everything. The clothing company, themselves, stand for such a beautiful message, that for every piece sold a portion of the proceeds will go to providing school meals to a Canadian child in need through Breakfast for Learning Canada.
To elevate the basic tee this season, I’ve been pairing it with a power suit and I love this petal pink flared one, that’s perfect for the office straight to the pub to watch the game!
Barbara’s wearing: Suit, Theory. Tee, Peace Collective. Mules, Design Lab.
Becky Kung, 32
Calgary | Velvet & Vino
Admittedly, I am a graphic t-shirt kind of girl! T-shirts are fun, expressive and an effortless way to style a cute outfit, taking me from daytime to evening in a snap. Although there’s many different ways to pair graphic t-shirts, I love pairing mine with a flippy skirt and a layering piece for an effortless look.
For this look I was feeling rebel-inspired, so I opted for a leather vest layered on top to give it a tougher look. Given this was a daytime outfit I wore for shopping in my favourite neighbourhood, I paired the look with a pair of comfy sneakers. To take this outfit into the evening, it would be a simple swap out of the sneakers into a cute pair of booties or black pumps.
Becky’s wearing: T-shirt, My Velvet & Vino for Adorn T-shirt collection. Skirt, Topshop. Sneakers, ECCO. Handbag, Club Monaco.
Carleton Eckhardt, 30
Toronto | Carleton Eckhardt
I’m all about the graphic tee and my personal favourite pick is the vintage concert t-shirt. Paired with ripped denim and high heels you can achieve that casual every day glam look. For cool days or nights throw a leather biker jacket over this outfit to add a little edge.
Carleton’s wearing: Tee, Junkfood. Jeans, Zara. Heels, Oak + Fort.
Conni Jespersen, 35
Toronto | Art in the Find
I love styling a graphic shirt with a sleek pencil skirt. It’s an effortless look that has structure and balance. Because a graphic tee can be quite casual, pairing it with a piece that’s associated with professionalism (like this pencil skirt) creates the perfect blend. Wear the outfit with your favourite wedges, a great spring staple, and you’ve got an updated weekend outfit in a flash!
Katie Rose Decoeli, 29
Halifax | Wild Rosebuds
Being pregnant, I gravitate to a good graphic tee because you just want comfort over your growing belly. Graphic tees are also great because they can tell the public what is on your mind with out you having to say it. It is an acceptable way to communicate your mood to the general public. When It comes to dressing up a graphic tee, I automatically grab a great pair of dark denim, some fun heels and a blazer. It’s a classic look with an edge and can be pulled off if you are rocking a bump or not. I find makeup and accessories can pull this look to the next level if you are hitting the town for the night. Adding a dark eye and a statement necklace will take a great graphic tee and jeans to the next level. But, since my bed time is9pm at the moment, I will stick to an awesome shoe and a great statement blazer like this floral one. The great thing about a good graphic tee is that they don’t seem to be going out of style any time soon, so invest on one with a great soft cotton and a message or photo you love.
Katie’s wearing: Jeans, Citizen Maternity. Tee, Sly Fox Threads. Blazer, Motherhood Maternity. Watch, Citizen. Wedges, DLG.
Kayla Short, 29
Halifax | Short Presents
Leather jacket season is upon us again, and what better time to bust out those graphic tees? I mean you could just keep it simple and wear a graphic tee with jeans, and a leather jacket and call it a day, but you can play with it a bit more. I like to dress them up a bit with say with a skirt, necklace, or colourful lipstick, but then ultimately find balance again with something slightly edgy too like a leather or suede jacket.
Kayla’s wearing: Tee, Short Presents. Skirt, Eshakti. Boots, Vince Camuto. Sunnies, Polette. Jacket, Winners. Bag, Forever 21.
Liat Neuman, 39
Toronto | YomanChic
Graphic T-shirt is an essential basic piece in any closet, since you can style it up or down, depending on what kind of look you are aiming for.
I love putting together unexpected combinations and create my own signature look. My way to instantly transform a look from super casual to super stylish is to pair the graphic tee with a see through maxi lace skirt, simply by wearing it tucked in. This is a great option to add glam to a basic shirt and achieve an effortless appearance, without feeling over the top.
While the maxi skirt and the box clutch offset the casual top, the addition of a silver bomber jacket and flat pointy shoes, give the look an edgy twist.
Mikayla Kuehn, 19
Toronto | MAK Style
Dressing up my graphic t-shirt usually involves adding a skirt! I love adding feminine touches to my looks, so I chose to pair this Clueless movie tee with this adorable blush pink skirt. If the graphic was printed lower on the shirt, I would have also add in a statement necklace to glam it up! I paired this outfit with some white and gold sandals, a matching pink lip, and a pair of my favourite Betsey Johnson sunnies.
Mikayla’s wearing: T-Shirt, Truffle Shuffle. Skirt, Brina Box. Sandals, Sears. Sunglasses, Betsey Johnson.
Rhiannon Berthelot, 27
Calgary | File It Under Style
Sometimes all you need is a great graphic t-shirt and everything else in the style department comes knitting together! To me a great graphic T consists of something dark or interesting printed on. My subconscious likes dark but intriguing designs even though my outward persona might scream cupcakes. I take my oversized graphic T up a couple notches by baring a little midriff and adding spice with a blue leather jacket. Low-rise, tight skinny jeans add sass to my ensemble and snakeskin pointy-toe blue heels drive this look home. Is it two spacemen, or a skull? We may never know but I for one will be repping it in style.
Rhiannon’s wearing: Jeans, Guess. Top, Thrift. Jacket, Danier Leather. Shoes, Spring.