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Illustrations By Thea Milinairé

T-shirts are ruling the fashion world

January 25, 2017, 12:00 am

T-shirts are a staple in every closet. Buttery and threadbare, a comfy tee can be the holy grail of clothing. It might not inspire a Friday night outing or be considered your Sunday best, but you can practically live in one, and they often become more a part of you than any specific occasion frock.

When it comes to my wardrobe, tees make a regular appearance. My boyfriend’s old holey white Hanes is among my favorite pieces of clothing. I’ll wear it with anything and everything: my jeans, as pajamas, with maxi skirts and dresses and camis. And I am not alone. Just a few weeks ago, I salivated over an Instagram photo of a lithe lady wearing an oversized, long-sleeved black tee under a powder-blue velvet maxi dress. This is one of those things that’s hard to make sound as good as it actually looked, but the combo helps prove my theory: You can wear a good T-shirt with basically anything to add just the right amount of effortlessness.

Plus, tees have been more popular than ever lately. Hollywood is in the midst of a vintage rock shirt craze and you can easily do a Google search and find the unlikeliest of stars wearing thrash metal tees—and probably pissing off Slayer. They’ve even seen a fast rise to the catwalk and joined the ranks of high fashion. Think Kanye West churning out $260 sweatshirts or French design collective Vetements producing $1,000 graphic tees, and you just know that cotton tops are at the forefront of the fashion world.

Full disclosure: My wardrobe rotation also relies heavily on an oversized Rolling Stones shirt. The fact that it’s too big for me only makes me like it more, and that may be partially owed to the style world embracing sizing up. Fashion forward ladies like Rihanna have blurred the lines between big tee and tiny dress as they wear XLs and ditch anything else. In fact, if my own rock tee were just a bit bigger, I may go full-on trend and wear it alone. I mean, there is something inherently feminist about saying “fuck you” to pants, and this girl is a huge fan of just about anything you can sleep in, roll out of bed in and fashionably wear that day. Come to think of it, I’ll probably write about robes soon.

Aside from being insanely easy to wear, T-shirts can also make a statement. Emblazoned with your favorite band’s logo, a witty feminist saying or an artist’s work, you can bring your “this-is-who-I-am” subliminal messaging to the surface. There’s never been a better time to dress to impress something upon others, especially if you believe in it.

Thea Milinaire


A ton of tees are made right here in Santa Fe (all of which you can nab for much less than $1,000) which support locals. Eliza Lutz, founder of the local independent record label Matron Records, says that while band tees are a great way to generate cash, they can be about more than that. “You are also extending a hand to your fans to come and be a part of what you’re doing,” Lutz says, “On one hand, you are presenting your love and your fandom for something, and on the other hand you become part of a community because you are branding yourself as being into that.”

Find locally designed and printed tees for Lutz’ bands like GRYGRDNS, As In We or Future Scars under the “store,” then “merch” tabs on ($18). Even cooler? Each one comes with a free streaming code, so you’ll get some new music as well.

Local artist Christopher Merlyn also creates his own tees and works with other designers and artists like tattooer Crow B Rising, owner of Talis Fortuna (913 Shoofly Way, 490-6749), an appointment-only shop that also carries enviable shop tees. Much of Merlyn’s imagery is pulled from New Mexican ephemera, like on his High Desert sweatshirt ($35), an explosion of cultural emblems like Zozobra and the Virgin of Guadalupe settled among instantly recognizable starbursts a la Louis Vuitton.

Merlyn says collaboration is part of what he loves about designing. “I believe that 10 heads are better than one,” he says. “I love working with artists because you are always going to get something that you wouldn’t have otherwise.” You can catch Merlyn at local events, like last year’s SFR Music Fest, or check out his current stock online at

Graphic tees can even support movements. Women’s Marches around the world this past Saturday featured a spectacular array of feminist statement tees, which spurred me to immediately look for one of my own. There are quite a few out there, but these are my two favorites:

Google Ghost’s Nasty Woman tee ($25): Half the profits from this silkscreened shirt are donated to Planned Parenthood. They’ve raised over $100,000 so far, and this is tee would be especially cute with a red maxi skirt or for Valentine’s Day.

Otherwild’s Venus Tit Tee ($30): This small shop based in Los Angeles, California, has a few powerfully relevant statement tees, but the mauve one is my favorite and would be a dream tucked into jeans.

No matter what you support, you know you’ll be comfortable. And it’s always nice to have options when it comes to which tee to throw on tomorrow.


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