Friday, May 2, 2008

To a "T"

I realize it seems I’m always coming back to my big boobs and short waist but I think, given the context of this blog, they are relevant facts. Now, neither in its own right is a particular misery. (I know many of you would suggest that big boobs are never a misery and I’m sure the majority of men would agree…) A short-ish waist is not a problem on a toothpick. Large breasts have their plus points – and are quite delightful on a number of frames. Put them together on a small, curvy girl and you’ve got some shopping challenges. Not that I’m the kind of girl who shies away from challenge. Hell, I court challenge. Challenge and I have a thing going.

Yesterday I promised I would write (a la technical stylist with a show on Bravo) about the way to wear a most classic piece: the white T. If you are really tall, medium-boned with an athletic frame, smallish breasts and a flat stomach, chances are I’m not talking to you. Having said that, I invite women of this description (all 6 of you) to write in and tell me how it’s hard for you too :-) However, let’s say you are not so tall, not so flat, not so medium. Them lumps and bumps just seem to glow when dressed in white, non? Then add pallor to the mix and it's a party...

I am of the belief, as I’ve mentioned many times – and have photographically sampled styles outside the “safe” zone for my shape – that everyone can work every trend (some better than others natch) to some degree. You wanna wear the high waist, there’s a pair of pants that will enable this. Strappy ankle straps on thick legs, there’s a trick. However, for my money, the white T has always presented with issues:

  • Thin fabric = TMI
  • Short style = waist lumps (even on a slim waist)
  • Seriously lowcut = pornographic
  • Too tight = sausage casing effect
  • Too loose = boxy and chubbifying
  • Stiff fabric = too loose in the waist and shoulders / too tight in the chest

You can see how so many of us have our work cut out. Alas, the T is NEVER one size fits all, so even as I make suggestions you will have to take them with a grain of salt and use this post simply as a guideline, as an opportunity to think about your own shape that much more mathematically (not that you gorgeous readers aren’t perfect as you are).

The most universally flattering cut, IMO, is:

  • A thin (but not see-through) cotton with a tiny bit of lycra (or very good denier)
  • A scoop neck – for some that scoop will be more on the crew side of the equation, for those with awesome decollete (that isn’t tres voluptuous) go scoopier
  • A cap-sleeve that isn’t too short – idea is to bring the sleeve to the slimmest part of your arm (The sleeve must not be too tight but, lord, don’t let it be loose a la 1978…)
  • Waist skimming – almost too tight but not
  • Hemmed at the hipbone

Now this is one variation on a piece of infinite varieties. (I hate it when, having blathered on ad nauseum, I can’t even scratch the surface!)

So let me leave you with this: Regardless of your shape, the white T is a classic, sexy garment – not an afterthought. The eye is drawn first to the tits, then to the shoulders. It’s got to fit in both of these places (depending on your shape and comfort zone, you can work this loose-ish or tight-ish but the proportion has to work on your frame). Moreover, the proportional relationship between these body parts must be balanced by the cut of the T.

Work this and you will be unstoppable. Trust me.


  1. "Scoopier."

    I love that.

    Now, it's time for you to model all your T Dos and Don'ts!

  2. I love this post! Incredibly informative. I also have big boobs and you're right, it does make for a challenge (except I'm quite tall for my age, which you'd think would make it all better, but alas it only worsens things, in some cases)...
    I have pale skin, so mostly I tend to shy away from white Tees anyway, but I will definitely use this advice for T-shirts in other colours! :)


  3. You are absolutely spot on! Denier is so important, as is the sleeve cut. Anything that makes me look like I have 'Nana' arms(read great big turkey wings) is a BIG no!
    While I love the classic white T, I must admit I don't own a one. I think that comes down to their magnetic ability to attract spaghetti sauce.

  4. I need to add a white tee to my wardrobe but am having great difficulty. There's also the challenge of not looking like a member of the wait staff. In fact, I don't own a white shirt either, because, on me, they scream cliche. But as I truly do need a white tee for summer, perhaps you might recommend a few brands you love?

  5. Useless fact: Jane Birkin widens (is that a word?) the neck of her T-shirts by stretching them over her bent knee. Well I think it was Jane Birkin, maybe it was Lou...or Charlotte? Ummm...never mind. (PS, I like loose flappy sleeves a la 1978.)

  6. What about the flat-chested, wide shouldered men, snake-hipped men who read your!!! Brilliant post and now I have retorts when confronted with this question "Does this make my tuck-shop arms look big?"

  7. Enc: I'm not nervy enough to model the don'ts!

    Romany: I'm so glad it was useful to you. Sometimes I get so polemic when I start doing my bossy posts

    SKM: LOL - What is it about the white T and sauce??? I can wear black all day long and not spill a drop.

    Miss C: You raise such an interesting point I neglected - the "uniform" component. I can't believe, though, that you don't have a white T. I imagine you as the original classic girl! With a tiny edge of subversive :-)

    IM: I LOVE that you loved this. I love that I have a male reader. It makes me feel immeasurably relevant!

  8. Rollergirl - Those Birkins are so insanely cool that I'm sure they get together to widen their Ts while smoking a gitane and drinking some beaujolais. Like the french hipster version of the Mary Kay party :-) Of course, some women look fantastic in the retro sleeve. I'll save that one for the T shirt masterclass...

  9. It's so hard to find white tees though! And I always shy away from things I am afraid will stain when I'm doing something rolling in the gras...

  10. OK, for your rockin', nature loving lifestyle, maybe the white T is a bit of a challenge, Clothes Horse :-) But there are some good ones to be had lately. I think H&M is having a good moment. I also think La Senza does a good T every now and again. (Oh, and if you want to spend too much, there's always James Pearse!)

  11. I accidentally wore a tight white 3/4 length sleeved t on stage and Simon asked about the puffy sleeved shirt I was wearing. Note to self don't wear white unless it is peaking under something to make my boobs look bigger not my arms.

  12. Marth: Dare I suggest that Simon's not the ideal person from whom to take style notes :-) But I hear you. I've had many a bad white T moment, as you may recall... K

  13. Just saw a fine example of the see-through sausage casing look today!
    Great post, k.line; I'm always on the hunt for that elusive perfect white T.

  14. Thank you IHeart. I'm so glad you liked the post. It's amazing how many examples of sausage casing there are on a daily basis.

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