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When Are T-Shirts Appropriate?

From the White House, to the workplace, to the red carpet, and everywhere in between, dressing down is trending up. While some occasions still require a suit, a tie, and patent leather shoes, casual dress is becoming increasingly acceptable where formality was once the rule. T-shirts used to be relegated to the bottom dresser drawer, nestled between old pairs of underwear and mismatched socks. Now they are seen as a fun way to liven up a wardrobe, not just on the weekends, but every day of the week.

T-shirts are no longer off-duty from 9 to 5. Many employers now encourage their employees to embrace a more flexible corporate culture, which often includes a more casual dress code. For some workers, jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops are the daily uniform. Even if that look is too dressed down for your office, there still may be room for a t-shirt or two in your wardrobe. A t-shirt can be dressed up with a tailored blazer and crisp slacks, adding a splash of warmth and color to a no-nonsense business look. Sharply dressed young men often layer traditional button down shirts over playful t-shirts, spicing up the corporate look with a bit of youthful fashion sense. With a little imagination and style, anybody can incorporate t-shirts into a professional wardrobe.

Wearing a t-shirt to work makes it easy to transition into going-out garb at the end of the day. Take off that jacket or undo another button or two, and you’re left with a fun, flirty look that will carry you through the evening. Graphic tees, emblazoned with words and pictures, are a far cry from Grandpa’s plain white undershirt. Today’s t-shirt makes a statement, and can be as unique as the person wearing it. It’s a look that’s absolutely appropriate for a dinner out, grabbing drinks with friends, or even going to a party. If Sharon Stone can wear a t-shirt to the Oscars, you can wear a t-shirt to your buddy’s birthday party.

Of course, the t-shirt’s bread-and-butter is relaxation. T-shirts are soft, flexible, easy to care for, easy to wear–the perfect garment for lounging around the house, for vegging out in front of the TV, or for taking a Saturday afternoon nap in the hammock. College students–the gurus of relaxation–practically live in t-shirts. There’s no better choice for someone watching Sunday afternoon football or staying up for an all night study session. And for those weekend activities that aren’t so relaxing–washing the car, painting the garage, mowing the lawn–t-shirts are the only way to go. T-shirts let you get through any tough job in style.

Once upon a time, you couldn’t wear stripes with plaid, you couldn’t wear white after Labor Day, and you couldn’t wear t-shirts if you weren’t doing chores or going to the gym. But times have changed. Society has embraced a more expansive and flexible set of fashion rules. These days, people are free to choose the clothes that they like best. T-shirts are now appropriate in a whole range of settings and situations, meaning we can look good and feel comfortable at work, at home, and out on the town.

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