I hope I don’t offend anyone with this title, but does anyone else struggle with graphic tees now that we’re in our 30s? I want to like them. I really do. They are everywhere these days, and sometimes the design or the phrase just speaks to your soul…but you don’t know how to wear it in a mature way, right?! Well, I’ve been working on it and I’ve come up with three ways to wear a graphic tee and still look sophisticated as a thirty-something professional woman.
Let me explain my aversion to graphic tees. I’ve always thought they required a tremendous amount of confidence because they are so declarative. There’s nothing wrong with confidence, mind you. Confidence is the sexiest accessory. But you better be able to stand by that phrase – whatever it says – in order to pull it off with gusto.
From there, the best way to keep the look sophisticated and mature is pretty simple, and pretty genius. The key is to match the design and color of the top to another item in your wardrobe so that the look is intentional and stylishly coordinated. If you dress with intention, the confidence comes naturally. In each of these three looks, I took a color from the graphic tee and matched it to something in the pants, skirt or jacket.
The easiest way to wear a graphic tee is with your favorite pair of jeans, a dark blazer and neutral pumps. The blazer and pumps elevate the t-shirt vibe instantly but still keep you looking cool and collected. Wear a look like this to a casual meeting, brunch with the gals or on a weekend shopping trip. In terms of the matching I mentioned – the two blues of the ‘Tres Chic’ match the blue of the jeans and the blue of the blazer.
Turns out you can definitely wear a graphic tee (or sweatshirt in this case) to a party or out on a date! It’s a great way to stand out or spark a conversation, and it looks super-cute tucked into a flared skirt with sparkly heels and coordinated statement earrings. This colorful midi has a blue base, so I matched it to this J.Crew ‘Oui, Mon Cheri’ sweatshirt. I’ve had it forever so unfortunately I can’t link it, but they have a lot cute french-themed tops right now!
Okay, so I confess I wouldn’t wear a graphic tee to my workplace. Our dress code doesn’t go for that, BUT, I do think there is a way to make it look professional and work-appropriate if you work in a modern or start up or advertising agency type of environment that allows you to wear whatever you like. Pair it with flared trousers, a sassy jacket and some booties and you look like a boss babe in control with a killer sense of humor. I paired the yellow and white in this tee (by Weird Empire) with two of this season’s best trends – white booties and tailored track pants.
WHERE TO BUY
My personal opinion is that a higher-end chain like J.Crew is a great place to buy cutesy graphic tees with of-the-moment messages. The Tres Chic and Oui Mon Cheri tops are both from there. For irreverent and feminist tees, I’m a huge fan of Weird Empire. Next up, I’m thinking of snagging this Freaky Femme tee in mint green!
If you’re not convinced, no offense taken. Graphic tees aren’t for everyone, but if you follow my tips, you’ll looks sophisticated while trying. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below and any other graphic tee outfit ideas you have. Send them my way!!
P.S. Like this 3 Ways to Wear post? Check out my recent post featuring Stylish Sweaters Three Ways! Or if you’re starting to plan for warm weather special occasions, why not check out my What to Wear to a Summer Wedding post!
All photos by Morgan Hayes Photography
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