The Grown Man’s Guide to Wearing Printed T-shirts

Rhude T-shirt with print for men

There seems to be no midway. I either see men knowing exactly how to work the trend of printed T-shirts in a daily look (often very, very stylish people, think TikTok’ers) or men who are still stuck in the 00s somewhere – the sad era when printed T-shirts acted primarily as a signboard for provoking slogans. To this day, I still don’t understand why this could ever bear the light of day. Those who know me, and The Curated Outfit, know that I have quite a love/hate relationship with fashion trends, even though my profession requires me to engage in the scene daily. 

Sure, I love trends and follow some, but my priority always remains style. Personal style. Unique and tailored to you. Still, trends regularly pass by that I am only too happy to go along with. And so are my clients, as long as it fits their personal preferences rather than the other way around (I think that’s where many go wrong – making sure they fit the trend). 

Having your personal style work for you is the only sustainable way to build a functional wardrobe that grows with you over the years and stands by you as a stable, say, backbone. In your career, love life, social circles, and family surroundings (for example, having that sturdy cargo pant in the closet that you can comfortably frolic around in with your kids – not once, but about 100+ times before you have to get rid of it). What we need are garments that stand the test of time.

Well, back to the printed T-shirt. Although the revival of the 90s, especially popular with Gen-Z (thankfully), is slowly dying out, the printed, vintage-style T-shirt is a good example of a trail this trend has left. If you ask me, it’s incredibly versatile and appropriate to wear for gentlemen in a wide age range.

How to wear a printed tee the right way

While I’ve always been a fan of a good T-shirt with a playful print, it could be a tough look to pull off as a grown man – and especially if you don’t want to come across as if you put on your favorite soccer jersey from 9 years ago. But it sure isn’t impossible. Here’s how.

Some will label me as shallow, but let’s face it – the brand of the T-shirt already plays a big role, if not the lead role. Every brand has its own aesthetic – if it didn’t, fashion brands would have no uniqueness. Consider it a good thing. 

As easy as it may seem to put on the first T-shirt you come across, I’m here to stop you, to force you to pause and think: what resonates with me? What brand, slogan, or image would I volunteer to be a signboard for…? Of course, this goes for features like fit and color, but the feeling you get when you see the print plays the main role in this category. 

Streetwear

Are you a man with a secret love for streetwear but appreciate a luxury, maybe colorful touch? Go all out with an image. Brands to look for include Rhude, Acne Studios, Manaaki & Bode.

Classic college-core

Are you passionate about the classic, All-American college aesthetics? In that case, think of brands like good old Polo Ralph Lauren or similar. Or opt for Brunello Cucinelli (you’ll never have to compromise on quality ever again).

Sporty sports

Are you into the sporty but minimal style with a boyish (how I’d like to call it) touch? Going for a boxy fit with a more subtle print is your thing. Think Carhartt WIP, Museum of Peace & Quiet, Marni & Bram’s Fruit.

Trying something new?

If you’re testing the waters with printed tees… Take this: you will feel overdressed even if you’re not. Try toning down the print to get familiar with it – layer under an overshirt, vest, or cardigan. Or opt for a tee with an image on the back, so it won’t bother your eyesight too much. 😉

Need some help finding the right T-shirt?

Or just any other outfit, really. Let’s up your style game and build the interesting but functional wardrobe you’ve always dreamt of. Dress your best, effortlessly, in clothes that reflect the authentic you. Let’s elevate your personal brand today with Virtual Men’s Personal Styling.

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Start dressing better today.

Get my FREE E-guide: Define your Personal Style 101 to create a stable base for your ideal wardrobe.