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Fashion Challenge: Style a Graphic T-Shirt


Style a T-shirt

You will never encounter a college campus that’s short on t-shirts. From giveaway shirts, to free student organization tees, to t-shirts adorned with your college’s logo, these babies are sure to be appear on the backs of a few (or a few dozen) of your friends on a regular basis.

Many girls throw up a fashion white flag on their t-shirt days, whether they’re rocking their graphic tee by choice, or are required to wear a specific shirt for a sorority event, volunteer work, club function, or a job. It’s always funny to me how people think you can’t make a graphic tee look stylish – there are tons of ways to make a statement in a t-shirt, and this week’s challenge is to seek out these options so you’ll never feel sartorially stifled again!

Ready to rock this challenge? Read on for some tips then try it out yourself!

Tips & Tricks for Adding Style to a T-Shirt

  • Add some outerwear. If you’re having a lazy day, throw on a denim or tuxedo vest to add some style to your tee. If you’re required to wear the shirt you’re rocking, people in charge may not appreciate you covering up the shirt’s logo, so opt for a cardigan instead.
  • Layer on jewelry. A stack of bracelets, funky earrings, or a few different rings will add interest and a bit of edge to your outfit.
  • Pair it with a skirt. A full-on maxi skirt like Carrie wore with her graphic tee in SATC 2 (pictured above) is probably a bit extreme for most of us, but a t-shirt can look great tucked into a high-waisted or bandage skirt.
  • Accessorize! A hat, scarf, pair of sunglasses, or statement belt can easily spruce up an outfit.
  • Spice it up with shoes. If you have to wear a strict uniform (for a job, a club’s yearbook photo, etc.) add interest with unexpected shoes! The plainest jeans-and-t-shirt combo can look chic when paired with boots, funky gladiators, or brightly colored sneakers.

Three T-Shirt Outfits for Inspiration

Outfit 1


Shirt, Skirt, Bracelet, Headband, Flats

If your campus is like mine, you’ll know that students have gone crazy for American Apparel tees. I love them because of their flattering fit, and every student organization loves to print their logo on them. Every now and then, though, I’ll get a shirt from a club who ordered from a generic or old fashioned brand, leaving me with a short, boxy tee. Not the most flattering cut!

If you find yourself in this situation, try tucking your shirt into a skirt. A high-waisted skirt with a thick elastic waistband will give your body a nice hourglass shape, while looking fashion-forward. Pair your look with girly flats, a sweet headband, and matching jewelry for a feminine ensemble perfect for class.

Outfit 2


Shirt, Shorts, Boots, Belt, Snake Bracelet, Braided Bracelet

I go to the University of Oklahoma, and as cliche as it sounds, cowboy boots are somewhat of a footwear staple here. It’s really popular for boys (especially guys in fraternities) to wear them underneath their jeans with a button-down shirt or polo! Although I’m from Tulsa, I never encountered this until I came to college here! Every girl here owns a pair of cowboy boots, but the level of “western” inspiration varies according to one’s style. They’re especially popular to wear to tailgates, or during concerts worn with a dress.

Even if your campus isn’t cowboy-crazy like mine, a pair of cowboy boots is an unexpected way to add interest to a basic outfit. This look is probably a little too “Daisy Duke” for many, but swapping out the cowboy boots for a funky pair of clogs or another pair of summer boots would also work. Finish with some chic jewelry.

Outfit 3


Shirt, Jeans, Shoes, Watch, Beanie, Bag

This look is laid-back and a bit grungy, which is right on trend for the chilly fall days we’re about to encounter. Pair a t-shirt with some beat up skinny jeans and comfy shoes. A slouchy beanie is perfect for covering up unwashed hair, and will keep you looking put-together on a windy day.

A few months ago, I bought a Michael Kors watch as a gift to myself using the money I earned as an intern. It has quickly become one of my favorite investment pieces. I wear it with almost everything–the chic menswear aesthetic of the watch adds interest to any outfit. This sort of piece is exactly what you need to make a laid back outfit like this look intentional, not like you just rolled out of bed.

Took the Challenge? Send Us Your Pictures!

Did you take a t-shirt and turn it into a fashion statement? Send us photos at fashionchallenge AT along with your name, school, and a description of what you had to wear the shirt for and how you made it stylish. We’ll post the picture here to inspire others! We’ll also link up your blog if you have one. :)

Can’t wait to see what you girls come up with!

What Do You Think?

Do you have to wear t-shirt for different activities on campus? How do you dress it up to make a fashion statement? How often do you rock t-shirts on campus? Do you hate when you’re told what to wear, or does it not bother you? Does anyone on your campus wear cowboy boots? Sound off with a comment!

Posted on on September 9, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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29 Responses to “Fashion Challenge: Style a Graphic T-Shirt”

  1. 1
    September 9th, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Great post! Though I’ll admit, the use of the USC shirt really won me over. :)

    Big graphic shirts are really hard to wear, I feel like if the graphic is too big it distracts from your face. This tips really help though, thanks!

  2. 2
    September 9th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    One of my favourite t-shirts in my wardrobe is a graphic one with Noddy on it. Th material is sort of grey jersey type. Above and below are the words Vote Noddy. I love wearing it with skinny jeans and waistcoats :) Tommorow I’m wearing it to school with high waisted hot-pants, a slouchy waistcoat and grey kitten heels. I love that t-shirt, it was worth every pound I spent on it <3

  3. 3
    September 9th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Very cute outfits! I think I may copy the first look very soon!

  4. 4
    September 9th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I’m not sure, but Miley Cyrus’ style might be exactly the type of look you want to avoid…

  5. 5
    September 9th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Well done! This is by FAR my favorite blog out there! =D

  6. 6
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    this is awesome because every girl owns a t-shirt and now every girl can figure out how to spice it up while still staying casual and comfortable.

  7. 7
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    i have been wanting a pair of TOMS for awhile and after seeing them on this post i when and bought some super cute yellow cord ones so thanks!

  8. 8
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I love your fashion challenges! And I love this one especially, because I’m pretty much addicted to t-shirts. I always buy band tees at concerts, so I have quite a collection, and I am all about wearing them in a way that’s fashionable. In fact, the outfit I’m wearing right now is incredibly similar to outfit number 1. Awesome job :]

  9. 9
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’m from Oklahoma as well and none of the people I know wear cowboy boots. Maybe it’s cause we live in the city or maybe it’s cause most of my friends hate anything cowboy related. But I never really see people when I’m out wearing them either. Which actually makes me happy cause I hate that people just think Oklahoma is some sort of hick town.

    I loved your post, anyway. I love wearing graphic shirts cause if you pick the right ones, they can say a lot about who you are and if worn right, they can compliment your body

  10. 10
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I was always anti graphic tee because I thought they cheapened a look/were too middle school. However, I’m slowly seeing them become fashionable, as long as they’re the right cut and don’t have any childish sayings/subjects on them. Like you said, graphic shirts printed on American Apparel tees are super flattering!

    Recently, I went to a Lady Gaga concert, and part of me really wants to wear my shirt out, and not just to sleep in. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. 11
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I love this post!! I was just thinking about this very issue after I saw the adorable “British Bulldog” tee that Teen Vogue/ASOS will be giving away at FNO this year!!

  12. 12
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    i lovelovelove carrie’s look in SATC!!
    i really like this post- number one is definitely my favourite and my style.
    i love david and goliath tshirts- they’re so fun to play around with,
    my i heart nerds one is my favourite.
    great tips- i love this series!!

    charlotte xxx

  13. 13
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    i was actually thinking of giving my graphic tees away,because i thought i had grown out of them already,but i’m not anymore.i’m keeping them,and i’m definitely trying thing challenge!thanx so much!:)

  14. 14
    September 9th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    6 Degrees of Separation, much, Chelsea! I’m at the University of Tulsa, and have friends at OU. (I’m from Austin, Texas.) And you’re right, no one wears cowboy boots here in Tulsa (or in Austin, for that matter), but they can be so charming, can’t they? Have to say, though, I like outfit one best and often replicate it with my TU and RUF t-shirts. Tee and a skirt is the way to go. I must admit, however, Texan princess that I am, I do not yet own a skirt quite so incredibly, endearingly crinolined as Carrie’s.

  15. 15
    September 9th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    As unfashionable as it sounds, graphic tees are my weakness. Thank you, Chelsea. :)

  16. 16
    September 9th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    iv been waiting fr this
    i have 2 graphic tees n i needed some advice

  17. 17
    September 10th, 2010 at 4:57 am

    another idea I really like for some baggy shirts is to tie a knot at the hem! easy look that looks purposeful!

  18. 18
    September 10th, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I really needed this- at my school I end up wearing t-shirts for band, choir, clubs, etc. an awful lot. The first idea with the skirt is great. I think I’ll try that next time!

  19. 19
    September 11th, 2010 at 6:56 am

    Loved the post! i always used to wear a really baggy t-shirt with a really cute floral skirt and then girly shoes ad accessories.
    Could you do a post on how to style a back pack or can it just not be done?

  20. 20
    September 12th, 2010 at 1:22 am


  21. 21
    September 12th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Could someone post about how to style your clothes with keeping your back pack on mind? I’m in middle school still but

  22. 22
    September 12th, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I love this site! I hate having an outfit not match or just clash with my back pack! Thanks! (sorry for the two different posts)

  23. 23
    November 19th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    My sister gave me an Oregon Duck T-shirt that looks like their awesome black with graphite feathers uniform shirt. Rather than wear it with jeans I styled it with a straight pinstriped skirt in black with faint charcoal gray stripes, black and white ribbed tights and black Franco Sarto heels. In addition to a lot of attention from guys calling “Go, Ducks!” I got compliments from everyone on my “cute” and “edgy” fashion choice. Definitely gonna do this challenge again.

    P.S. I’m 49. I figure if I can pull off these challenges, they should be cake for the college girls.

  24. 24
    January 4th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    We’re having our batch and org photoshoot for the yearbook today and we’re required to wear a certain shirt. I immediately consulted this article for ideas. Good stuff. :)

  25. 25
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    <3 all the looks!!!!!! Except the first one is just not my taste, the only time I wore a skirt with a graphic tee was in middle school when I had shorts under them and took the skirt off at school to get shorts by my parents. Sorry, but I would just never wear that first outfit, but I <3 the 2nd and 3rd outfits! Great post as always! <3

  26. 26
    July 22nd, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Now I know how to wear my Thor t-shirts! Thanks!!! :)))

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