Tuesday, April 9

T-Shirts at Work

Maybe it's my age, but I have a pet peeve about guy's fashion that I have to beef about.

T-Shirts at work.

Listen, the look of a well-worn t-shirt can be awesome but there are a couple of rules for your own personal branding that every guy should be aware of, at least IMHO.

First of all, no logos at work.  Logo shirts are ok for home or the gym, but not for work.  Nike is an athletic brand for the gym.  Your local "fun run" shirt is great for washing the car.  And a t-shirt with your favorite brand on it is fine for watching a movie ... unless of course it's a vintage shirt. 

If you are going to wear a t-shirt to work, make it a fashion t.  One that makes it look like you've thought about how you look.  And ideally wear it under a blazer or a cardigan ... or partner it with a cool scarf to look like you take this job seriously.  Put some thought into your brand!

Secondly, make sure it's clean and properly fitted.  Yes, dare I say clean ... you should see some of the stuff we see in NY!  And yes, even a t-shirt should have a proper fit.  Nothing worse than a t that is either too small (yuck) or too big (ugh).  Fitted is the key.  Fitted at the top and around the arms for a nice clean look ---- and a little loose (just a little) around the bottom so that it falls around the waist just right.  Perfection.

A shirt that's too big and too long makes you look sloppy, no matter your fitness. And ironically, the less fit you are then the less you want the t too big.  Ironically.

So go ahead and wear a cool t- shirt to work - it can be a great look.  Provided you are cautious about fit and style.

Yeah, I guess it is my age.  But it's your personal brand that you should be concerned about. And conscious about.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
- President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
- Author, The Experience Effect series
- Professor, NYU
- Contributor, Entrepreneur


  1. Having read your previous post about "Mad Men", I am surprised that t-shirts are so common in the workplace. Dress codes aside, I would think that the influence "Mad Men" has had on fashion in recent years would be evident in offices around the U.S. I am very much a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy in my free time, however, I wear suit to work everyday. I believe that I should look serious if I want to be taken seriously. This is a lesson that I learned from my grandfather, who was a successful wallpaper hanger for over 50 years (back when people still had wallpaper in their homes). After he finished work, he would go home to take a shower and put on a suit before going out to do estimates. He did this for 2 reasons - out of respect for the potential customer and their home, and because he knew that none of his competitors would take the extra time to do it. His thought was, "if I look sharp, neat, and clean, the customer will be confident that my work will look the same way". That was one of the ways he built his brand.

    -Cornelius Walsh, NYU

  2. How inspirational! Love that story! Jim.