If the idea of a graphic tee makes you think band t-shirts or teenagers in hoodies it might be time to re-evaluate. Logos and graphics are growing up and you don’t have to be a 19-year-old toting a skateboard to take advantage.

Clothes have become more casual in the last 50 years with the idea of dressing up properly for work, the theatre or even church falling by the wayside as smart-casual becomes the new normal. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (there can’t be many that miss the fuss of a three-piece-suit) it does mean that items that would once have been relegated to the corner of the wardrobe that houses gym clothes – tracksuits, hoodies, logo tees – are now commonplace. The catch-all name for this is 'streetwear', but like smart-casual or workwear, this encompasses everything from those previously mentioned skater boys to smart wool trousers worn with a logo tee.

The best way to avoid the teenage look is to apply a light touch. If you’re so brand-slathered that people could mistake you for an F1 driver, you need to dial back. “Stick to logos not slogans,” says Thread stylist Millie Rich. “They date better and there’s less chance of accidentally causing offence.” Remember, you can always add more, but it’s harder to take away. “The cooler months are a great time to try new styles because you can add in something like a long-sleeve logo tee as a layering piece. It grabs attention without being too in your face.”

Graphics always tip things more casual, so they won’t dress up as easily as, say, a white tee. But then, odds are you aren’t going to wear a Supreme hoodie to a wedding. But their big advantage over plain pieces as that they’re an easy way to add a little bit of life. “In general it’s easier to go for a logo top rather than trousers,” says Millie. “Just wear it with chinos and trousers and you’ll generally be good.”

Five ways to make graphics feel grown up


Pick one place for your graphic
“Arms, chest or back,” says Millie. “Stick to one, otherwise it becomes overwhelming and not as stylish.” If you do pick arms or back, then a subtle chest logo is fine. Just make sure it’s not competing.

Don’t be afraid of colour
“Lots of guys opt for black or white, and that’s fine but there are some great brighter options. Just stick to one or two shades to avoid looking like a colouring book.”

Unless you know what your t-shirt says, don’t wear it
“Be wary of foreign languages or anything that thinks it’s funny. It probably isn’t. And if it’s a band t-shirt, you need to be able to name at least six of their songs on the spot.”

Consider your graphics
“A logo or pattern is often easier to wear than an image, particularly photography. It can be quite distracting. If you are opting for photography, make sure you know what, who or where it is before you wear it loudly.”

Less is more
“If you’re unsure, stick to the less is more theory. Keep the logo to one place, the colours simple and you can’t go wrong.”

 

WORDS: NADIA BALAME-PRICE
PHOTOGRAPHY: JON CARDWELL & CHRIS HOWLETT
STYLING: MILLIE RICH