Have you guys ever seen those "Closet Must Haves" or "10 Pieces Every Woman Must Own" lists in style magazines? I used to get suckered into them, ending up with pieces that I have NEVER worn. And while I would probably display a list of my personal closet must haves, I don't think I'd ever endorse a list that I'd claim everyone MUST have. I think it depends on your lifestyle and your taste.
Anyway, I'm saying that because a plain white tee is usually on those lists, but I never understood why. It was always just a plain white tee to me, which then translated to me as a plain outfit.
But after like a year of "learning to work my closet" I finally figured out the secret sauce to the specialness of a white tee: accessorizing. Duh, Audrey. DUHHH.
Like I wrote in the last part of the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series, I had no idea how to accessorize beyond earrings, so of course plain white tees never amounted to anything more than that for me.
So, if you have a plain white tee lying around that you only wear with jeans, here are some tips for getting more usage out of it!
(White Tee: H&M - shop similar)
There's not really a step-by-step guide here. It's mostly a jumble of tips to think about to give you some ideas for how to make more outfits with your own white tee.
Basically, get some color and/or pattern in there! Whether it's by pairing your tee with colored or patterned bottoms, layering on a colored cardigan or blazer, or simply adding a colorful necklace or patterned scarf, you can maximize that plain white tee to no end.
Here's a breakdown of each outfit. There is no rhyme or reason to this collection of outfits; they are just whatever I could think of from my closet. And warning--it's kind of repetitive information, but my hope is that the more the tips get broken down and demonstrated, more of your creative juices will flow to help you think of ideas from your own closet.
(shop: similar scarf)
This outfit is the only way I would have worn a white tee, sans scarf. Snoozer. It was made special with a simple addition of a patterned scarf. Easy peasy!
Even though the shorts are a neutral grey, the red blazer gives the outfit some character. I added the necklace down the middle simply because a completely white center column seemed like it needed just a bit of an extra touch. This will be true or many of the outfits to follow.
Yes, I really took a picture with boots, a scarf, and a cardigan even though it was like 87 degrees in my house. Just for you guys. Buy me ice cream and we'll call it even. I figured you guys would appreciate at least one fall outfit, though you can recreate many of these outfits for fall by adding a a few more layers and some boots. Anyway, I loooove this outfit and cannot wait to wear it in the fall. I added color with the cardigan, but the pattern in the scarf really made it.
No pattern here. Instead, we have a bright green skirt and a necklace to fill the otherwise plain white space. Again, the secret sauce is in the accessories.
(shop: striped maxi skirt)
Grab a patterned skirt and, again, fill in that white space with a necklace. The necklace doesn't have to be as substantial as this one. It could be a simple colored pendant, too! Also, easily copy this for fall with a cardigan and boots.
Another example of pattern and color, but this time without a necklace or scarf. Big deal for me, I know. Honestly, it took a lot for me not to throw on a big ole necklace!
(shop: black blazer)
This outfit is kind of outside of the rest because it only has a small drop of color. I love how a white tee can be dressed up with a blazer and pumps! Again, I filled the white space with that simple yellow pendant.
Grab your favorite colored pencil skirt, add a statement necklace, and you're done. Am I sounding like a broken record yet? This is the same formula as outfit #4, but the silhouette of the skirt changes it up. Exchange the wedges for pumps and add a blazer, and I think it'd be pretty work appropriate.
This is the exact same formula as the first outfit--white tee, jeans, and a patterned scarf. However, it is made completely different just because the jeans are a different color and it's a different scarf. Wear it with boots and a cardigan in the fall, and you'll have the formula for outfit #3 in a new way!
And there you have it. Hopefully this helps give you some ideas for utilizing your white tee instead of letting it collect dust like mine did for so long. Dust is not a good accessory. Now, get to working those white tees!
For a list of where you can buy similar items to some seen here, check Where to Buy My Closet Staples.
My white tee is from H&M for $10! Here's a similar one.