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Yes, You Can Dress Up a T-Shirt—Here’s How

Young woman wearing black pants, blazer, t-shirt, and sunglasses

When most people think about putting on a t-shirt, they’re probably not planning on going to a bridal shower, baby shower, or brunch. T-shirts aren’t often considered dressy attire. But, when you know how to style a t-shirt the right way, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the comfort of wearing one—even on more special occasions.

There are countless ways to wear a t-shirt, and even if you’re going somewhere where the attire is more dressy casual, you can make a simple tee appropriate by dressing it up and adding the right accessories.

So, whether you’re tired of finding fancier outfits for special occasions or just looking for more comfortable work attire, knowing how to dress up a t-shirt can make a big difference in expanding your wardrobe.

Pair With a Skirt

Young woman wearing long flowing skirt and a white t-shirt

One of the easiest ways to wear a t-shirt to a dressy casual event is to pair it with something a bit, well, dressier. Consider wearing a t-shirt with a nicer skirt if you’re heading to a shower or brunch.

A midi or maxi skirt is a great way to add more flow and elegance to your outfit, and by tucking the t-shirt in or doing a “French tuck,” you’ll give the ensemble a cleaner, more put-together look, so you’ll be comfortable from head to toe while still looking the part for a dressier occasion.

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A longer, flowy skirt is the perfect way to dress up a t-shirt.

Add a Blazer

Young woman wearing white t-shirt and red blazer smiling at her phone

Want to be more comfortable while you’re putting together work outfits? Add a blazer over your favorite fitted tee, and you can wear it in the office, out to a business lunch, or even for a morning running errands.

Blazers add a sharp touch for both men and women, but they’re more widely accepted nowadays as dressy casual attire. Plus, you can find them in cuts and materials that will allow you to stay comfortable, even while looking your best.

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Wear a Button-Down

Man wearing a white t-shirt under a plaid button-down shirt drinking coffee
Just dance/Shutterstock.com

Wearing a button-down shirt is typically the norm, especially for men who are trying to tap into the dressy casual style. But you don’t have to feel uncomfortable or confined when you pull on a button-down.

By wearing a t-shirt underneath, you can layer with a long-sleeved button-down shirt and mix comfortable, casual, and professional all into one stylish outfit. It’s one of the simplest, most sophisticated ways to wear a t-shirt. Plus, you can always take the button-down off when you’re done with work or in a more casual setting without having to completely change your outfit.

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Choose a variety of t-shirt colors to work with multiple button-down options.

Go High-Waisted

Woman wearing white t-shirt tucked into navy high-waisted pants

High-waisted pants are back in style, and you can take advantage of the trend by pairing them with a tucked-in t-shirt. By tucking your shirt in and including an interesting belt, you’ll give yourself a much more tailored and sophisticated look than simply pairing an untucked tee with low-rise slacks.

Want to take things one step further? Add chunky heels or a jacket to complete the outfit and make it even more dressy.

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Play With Patterns

Close-up of woman smiling wearing a red and white striped t-shirt
Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock.com

When you think of traditional t-shirts, a plain white tee is probably the first thing to come to mind—and no, not the band. You might start thinking about a few different solid color choices, but if you’re limiting your colors and patterns, you’re also limiting the different ways to wear a t-shirt.

Don’t be afraid to go bold with different patterns and colors, especially when trying to incorporate a t-shirt into your work attire.

You can keep it simple with stripes or go for florals or geometric patterns. They add more interest to a basic tee, making your top seem more interesting and dressy casual. Plus, the more versatile your t-shirts, the more options you’ll have for mixing and matching with pants, jackets, and accessories.

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Simple stripes go a long way in updating a basic tee.

Stick With Similar Colors

Woman standing on the street wearing a white mini skirt, beige top, and strappy high heels
Nick Starichenko/Shutterstock.com

This might seem contradictory to the previous tip, but if you want to make your t-shirt a part of a complete outfit, consider sticking with the same color on the top and bottom—or two shades from the same color family.

For example, you could pair a beige t-shirt with a beige maxi skirt, making the ensemble look more like a dressy two-piece set rather than a simple tee and skirt. A lot of your success with this technique will depend on how you accessorize. So, if you’re not feeling quite “fancy” enough, break out your favorite jewelry to dress up the outfit.

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Always Accessorize

Young dark-haired woman wearing glasses laughing in front of her computer in a coffee shop
Lyubov Levitskaya/Shutterstock.com

Speaking of accessorizing, you should probably be doing it no matter what kind of t-shirt ensemble you’re trying to dress up. When it comes to how to style a t-shirt, you can only do so much with the shirt itself—you’re going to need the rest of your outfit to pull its weight, so to speak.

One of the easiest ways to do that is by adding some simple accessories. A statement necklace, chunky bracelets, or even a pair of sophisticated glasses can go a long way in changing the look and feel of your outfit.

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Choose the Right T-Shirt

Blonde woman with sunglasses wearing a basic black t-shirt

All of these tips can make it easy to transform a t-shirt into something more dressy casual. But they won’t work as well if you’re wearing the wrong t-shirt to begin with.

It probably goes without saying that you should avoid tees with any offensive language or images on them. That doesn’t mean graphic t-shirts are completely out of the question. But make sure you aren’t going to ruffle any feathers at work or in your social circle based on the images or words you’re showing off.

It’s also important to consider what’s appropriate for the specific dress code you’re supposed to follow. For example, you might not want to wear a deep v-neck t-shirt to work if it could be considered too revealing. Additionally, while thin, soft shirts are in style, they might be too see-through for a dressier setting. Shirts with holes in them—whether intentional or not—should also be off-limits.

Choose the right t-shirt for the occasion as your starting point, and build upon your outfit from there.

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Choose the right tee for the job!

If you want to know how to dress up a t-shirt, consider what you can add to it to make it feel like it isn’t so casual. While you might not be able to wear your favorite tee to a wedding, there should be no reason you can’t dress up your look so that it’s appropriate for a shower, brunch with friends, or even a day at the office.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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