The Simplicity of Chic

Here’s a random fact: 99% of women want a man in a plain white t-shirt or a plain black t-shirt, v-neck or round-neck, along with a pair of jeans – although that part is almost irrelevant. Personally, I would opt for white. It is effortlessly chic, makes boys look tanned, if not already emphasizing a tan, and for some reason gives them the appearance of having an amazing body (regardless of what it is actually like) all because of the connotations associated with a simple white t-shirt. Think about the man in the Diet Coke ad during the 11am Diet Coke break and how he drove the girls in the office crazy. It has nothing to do with his muscle bound physique – trust me. It’s the effect of the white t-shirt.

Let us go back to basics – we are talking primitive. How many episodes of desperate housewives do you have to watch to see that clothes sometimes associated with menial work are attractive. Marlon Brando in A Street Car Named Desire. James Dean in A Rebel Without Cause. Iconic films, iconic images, iconic men – iconic white t-shirt. A white t-shirt in the right fit costs nothing. It has no social associations with it. Anyone could wear it. The emphasis is on the man himself, not the clothes, the accessories or the pretense. It takes confidence to rely on nothing but a plain white t-shirt – and everyone knows that confidence is every man’s best accessory.

The idea of something that is accessible to all and yet so good is summarized in the philosophy of Andy Warhol…He talks about Coke in the same way that we can view the ‘White T-shirt’. Slightly paradoxical that I should be using an artistic genius with a confused sexuality’s ideas to illustrate why men should dress a certain way – but here it goes. Replace ‘Liz Taylor’ with ‘James Dean’, ‘Coke and Coca Cola’ with ‘White T-shirt’ and ‘Drinks and Drinking’ with ‘Wear and Wearing’: “America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it….”

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The idea that anyone can wear a white t-shirt, and everyone looks good in one, is the same as the idea that anyone can drink a Coke and everyone (ok, almost everyone) likes the taste. Fashion is all about perception and associations. What do we associate the White T-shirt with? White t-shirts on men is like the underwear as outerwear trend for women. Cool, so un-metrosexual it’s great, the white t-shirt is a non-statement piece that makes a statement, or if you prefer, the statement piece that doesn’t. Nobody would ever think that a man is wearing it because of any of the above, even after reading this article, but when they do, the effect will be almost lynx like.

Style is in attitude. What a cliché, but it really is true.

 On a final parting note, I wanted to highlight a few more pertinent facts vis-à-vis the plain t-shirt. First, if you stick to white or black t-shirts – a girl I was speaking to about this today even recommended grey – you are guaranteed never to make a fashion faux pas. What I hear? “Fashion is about being daring. About trying out new things, about being original”. Well guess what! Wearing a white t-shirt is daring and original but for some reason, it still gives the impression that you just don’t care. Why? Because you are not a brand or logo slave – you see P-Diddy and Ashton Kutcher with their t-shirts saying silly things like: ‘I’m a teenage Millionaire’, ‘Jesus loves me’ and ‘Gucci’ or to bring girls into this ‘J’adore Dior’, ‘Team Jolie’, ‘Team Anniston’, ‘My boyfriend is out of town’ and ‘I’ve got the golden ticket’. Do you really want to look like some other kid in Hollywood? I’m even bored of ‘I love NY t-shirts’.

Anyway, I don’t want to slate logo bearing t-shirts too much, because they can be quite nice, and certainly fun and facetious. All that I am saying is that simplicity never goes out of fashion, and there is something natural and therefore attractive about it. By the way, I am half joking when writing this lauding article of an item of clothing that so many men take for granted, but boys: if you don’t believe me about this whole white t-shirt thing, ask the first girl you see after you read this. I dare you.