The tee shirt is about as ubiquitous of a garment as there'll ever be. People just love wearing tee shirts and over time, they've continued to find new ways to sport the tee. What has always been worn as an undershirt then also started to be worn on its own, but primarily by those with certain jobs that allowed for it to be worn. But today, the tee shirt is worn everywhere, by everyone, and in seemingly every environment. We've gone on a tee spree, and I'm not sure about you, but I sure as heck hope it never stops.
As the tee has evolved, so have the number of options that one has when buying one. There are a number of styles, fabrics, and even, necklines, to choose from. With more options come more choice; but with more choice comes more confusion and uncertainty. Luckily, you can't really go wrong, but this week we'll highlight some of the things to take into consideration when buying a tee and today, we'll start with necklines.
The crewneck: that which is tried and true; one that will never let you down; the garment that we all know, and most of us love. In summary, that's the crewneck.
The crewneck tee is the most common and standard tee. It's the one that started it all yet over time, while it's never lost sight of its roots, it too has evolved. Over the years, as we moved from the “tees = undershirt” era to the “tees = potentially everything” era, the neckline of the crewneck tee has dropped ever so slightly, to add some comfort to the standalone tee, and to pose a serious threat to the revealing v-neck tee, often worn by those looking to show the world what their momma gave them. But that's not to say that those who long for the good ole' days can't find a basic, undershirt that fits like the one your grandfather once wore. Undershirts are still primarily made the way the used to be, with the high, conservative, semi-suffocating (in a good way) neckline.
But, for the most part, the tee of the 21st century, even in its crewneck form, has evolved. The neckline is a bit looser and lower, yet still structured. And a well made tee's neckline should stay that way even after wash and wear. It shouldn't loosen significantly or tighten materially after wear or wash. So, rest easy knowing that if you invest in a quality tee, how it fits your neck today should be a pretty accurate indication of how it will fit tomorrow.
The v-neck tee is relatively new, when it comes to the history of tees and as a result, it's still evolving and finding its place in the tee shirt world. But today, the v-neck tee can generally be categorized as either a “deep v” or “regular v.”
The v-neck tee, as mentioned earlier, is a newcomer to the game and it took off no more than a decade ago, in reaction to what was then the only crewneck option: a restrictive and high necked shirt. So, the v-neck was a lot of what the crewneck wasn't, but the most prominent difference between the two was, as evident by its name, the neckline. The v-neck had a v-shaped neckline, with an “opening,” if you will, near and below the Adam's apple. Initially, this entrant into the market made some groups delighted, and others uncomfortable. But, over time, the v-neck, like the crewneck, evolved and separated into two camps: the deep v and the standard v.
The standard v-neck shirt became more accepted and popular among the masses, serving as a welcome respite from the crewneck. The v-neck also gave those who wanted to show some skin, or highlight their physique, a safe, comfortable way to do so.
For those who wanted to highlight their physique in a prominent way, the deep v emerged as a viable alternative to the tank top. In fact, the tank top and deep v differ so greatly that perhaps it's unfair to call one an alternative to the other. Nonetheless, the deep v mirrored its v neck brethren when it came to length, etc., but was a stark contrast when it came to the neckline. The deep fell 2-3 inches below the standard v and has never fully been integrated into mainstream culture in the same way the v-neck tee has. That being said, if you're looking for something to highlight your body in a prominent way, the deep-v can be found on the streets of fashion forward places and occasionally, even on the streets of other cities.
I am fairly partial to a well-made roll neck tee shirt, but it has to be a well-made one.
The roll neck tee couldn't be called a happy medium between the crewneck and the v-neck as it resembles the crewneck tee much more closely, but it can be compared to the v-neck in the sense that like the v-neck tee, it offers some more comfort and space around the neckline.
A roll neck tee has characteristics of an unstructured garment, but it's anything but unstructured or unthought out. A well-made roll neck tee is not unfinished, it's deliberately finished and the less formal features of the shirt - wider neckline, looser neck - have their benefits. Primarily comfort.
Furthermore, a well made roll neck tee will maintain its shape over time, despite what one might assume after a cursory glance.
So, in my eyes, the roll neck is the best of all options.
That being said, whether you go with the crewneck, v-neck, or roll neck, you're purchasing a garment that can be worn anywhere by anyone.