Woman wearing a graphic tee and flanel top

Flannel Tops & Graphic Tees

Graphic tees are timeless staples–they have never gone out of style,  and never will. They’ve been popular in practically every decade, starting sometime in the 1970s. These are the true “statement” pieces of clothing, with all their different pictures, logos and comments. And as long as there are commentaries, things to make fun of and double entendres to be expressed, there will be a graphic tee somewhere to express it.

The Vast Array of Tees, Both Specialty and Personalized
Graphic tees are for sale everywhere, with all sorts of sayings and illustrations. It’s pretty common  for practically every business to have a tee shirt bearing their logo. Some are reserved just for employees, but most can be purchased from the merchant directly. Funny too, because it’s advertising for them, and yet consumers must pay for these items. Go figure. They’re big business, and you can never have too many. People have these tees printed up with personalized details for events like weddings, family reunions, family day events and more. Clubs, sporting events and churches have them specially made. And people who buy and are given these tees usually have a few drawers or another dedicated spot at home where they keep them all, to record time and tell a story of where all they’ve been and what all they’ve done. They come in all colors, and can be printed in one or two colored inks or a full-color layout. Some more creative DIYers actually design and make their own, in a homemade silkscreen contraption. And of course, there are a myriad of different types of fabric paints you can buy at craft stores to make your own without going to the trouble of silkscreening them.

Taking the Graphic Tee to the Next Level
There’s a company called “Thinkgeek” that has been selling some really amazing graphic tees that are also “performing tees,” with different instruments on the fronts that the wearer can actually play. There are electronic components buried within the backside of the instrument, which must be removed before laundering, but it’s easy to do, and these tees make fabulous gifts. No matter the color, saying, graphics or size, a tee is still just a tee. And tees are not capable of being anything more than low-end casual, even those tees that feature a graphic of a tux front–they’re still just a tee, and nothing more. But when you pair one with a flannel shirt, it becomes more suitable for a higher level of dress–certainly not fancy, but at least, men it seems, are getting away with showing up in an imprinted tee and flannel over shirt at more and more somewhat formal occasions and rocking them.

A Timeless Match
In many ways, it seems like the oversized flannel shirt and the graphic tee are one and the same, or two components of something bigger. You can wear them with jeans, with the tee tucked in and the flannel shirt unbuttoned and billowy, or you can wear both untucked and free. You can take front two corners at the hemline of the oversized flannel and loosely tie them together at your waist or below, with the tee showing underneath. Scrunch up those flannel sleeves and add some bangle bracelets on your arm, or leave them down and long. Colored denim makes the duo pop, and gives your whole ensemble a different meaning. The best aspect to layering your trendy flannel shirt over your graphic tee is that you can wear both year-round. Take care not to go too big on the flannel shirt, but also not too tight. The best plaids are fairly simple and straightforward in their patterns.

Upcycling Trend
When your tees and flannel shirts have reached their limit, you can take pieces and sew them together to make cool accessories like purses, scarves and even home accents like pillows. There are some cool tutorials on cutting tees to make things like fringe. Try making a lampshade with yours. Get creative–the sky’s the limit!

Where to Shop
Practically every department store sells both flannel shirts and graphic tees, but the more well-made and more detailed shirts will come from more high-end sources. Eddie Bauer, American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, Duluth Trading and J Crew are some of the best sources for flannels, and for tees, try Pay It Forward Foundation, Busted tees, Urban Outfitters, Junk Food Clothing, Snorgtees and believe it or not, Etsy. Shopping for graphic tees is particularly fun to do with friends.

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