Whoa! Wading through a pile of T-shirts can be really confusing. And if youre shopping online, hard to tell what you will end up with with all the new fabric content and treatments that are coming out each season.
To help you pick a T-shirt that is right for you, Ive created the original Style Binge T-opedia. Let the choosing begin:
T-shirts were 100 percent cotton before they were anything else. You remember the basic T-shirt something like Hanes, shrunk to fit, it lasted forever, but wasnt exactly elegant with dull colors and rough hand. Back in the day, these were always cut and sewn in boxy, unisex styles.
Cotton T-shirts today are sold by weight. A standard one is 6 or more ounces while tissue weights are closer to four. Interlock shirts are heavy and dense and good for winter, but not as stretchy as other weaves such as rib.
Combed cotton is softer than uncombed. Pima and Egyptian cottons are considered the best.
Polyester is back and when mixed with cotton, it is virtually undetectable. In fact, polyester has been so improved that even if a T-shirt is 100 percent poly, youd never know it by the finish or the hand. Poly is a good pick if you detest shrinkage, are looking for fabrics that wick away moisture, or for shirts that wont fade. Youll find poly in finished shirts with a heather appearance as the mix of cotton and poly absorb dyes at different rates.
BTW, melange is another name for a heathered look.
Spandex and other stretch fibers are now often added to the weave in small doses for a closer, clingy, feminine fit. Look for 2 to 4 percent, the ideal amount of spandex in my opinion. Ten percent spandex can make the hems curl and the fabric look dull.
Lycra is a brand name of stretch fiber.
Rayon, bamboo, viscose and modal
Consider these softeners. Rayon, bamboo, viscose and modals are wood pulps. Any percent of these add a slickness or buttery feel to the hand. Designer T-shirts can be purely stretch rayon rayon + spandex. Since rayon drapes beautifully and spandex hugs your curves, consider these options only if bulges dont bother you.
Wash wood pulp T-shirts by hand as they are famous for pilling.
Printed designs go on top of the fabric after it is woven, but before it is sewn. Screen printing occurs after the T-shirt is sewn.
T-shirts made from yarn dyed fabrics will have the deepest colors as the fibers are dyed before they are woven into cloth.
T-shirts that are garment dyed or garment washed are dyed after the shirt is sewn. You get a softer, pre-faded look with this treatment and usually some degree of pre-shrunk bonus.
A popular treatment that occurs after the fabric is woven when designs are burned out of the fabric with a laser. Makes for a very sheer T-shirt that you can see through in parts.
Slub, rib, baby rib and thermal are all ways to add texture in the weaving stage. These textures are mostly about preference and feel, although ribs do stretch more than other weaves.