5 Complete Looks with 1 White Pocket T-Shirt

5 Complete Looks with 1 White Pocket T-Shirt
Great style CAN be simple. How to wear a pocket t-shirt 5 different ways.
5 Complete Looks with 1 White Pocket T-Shirt

The predecessor to today’s tee became military issue somewhere around the Spanish-American War. The plain white pocket t-shirt entered pop culture style after GI's from World War II brought their government supplied underwear Stateside. Quickly, what we now consider a “basic,” became a benchmark for masculine Americana; whether by the dramatic Marlon Brando, who famously wore one in a Streetcar Named Desire in 1951, the racecar driving Steve McQueen, the working man Bruce Springsteen, rebellious James Dean, or the fashion-forward music artists of today.

Though intended to be worn as an undergarment, young boys and men alike would regularly play and work in cheap t-shirts to keep their nice clothing from getting dirty and worn. It didn’t take long for guys to decide the simple, buttonless jersey cotton t-shirt was more comfortable than other options. Several decades of cultural evolution later, and the t-shirt is the most common form of shirting in America.

The white pocket tee has remained fashionable through wide swings of voguish trend. Regardless of whether things are tight or baggy, colorful or monochrome, intricate or functional – the white pocket t-shirt has endured as a go-to for guys. As t-shirt culture became not only expected but assumed, many men hoping to improve their personal style now push back on the t-shirt as lazy. At Primer, we’re not against t-shirts, but we suggest that when a guy is starting out with dressing better that he defaults to a shirt with buttons and only wears a t-shirt when doing so with intention.

What follows are 5 of my takes utilizing the timelessness and comfort of a white pocket tee for intentional style, spanning preppy to urban.

RibbedTee Scoop neck Slub Pocket Tee

RibbedTee LogoI'm excited to team up with RibbedTee for this post whose pocket tee, with a wide scoop neck and slub texture, adds a modern and intentional touch to each of the looks. Primer readers can save 20% with code PRIMER20.

What is this?

Timeless & Classic

Perhaps only slighty less of a timeless staple is the cotton khaki pant. Paired here with the white t-shirt, tortoiseshell sunglasses, and leather sneakers, what would seem on paper to be boring ends up being a classic look that can take you from brunch to bar to band and everywhere in between. It’s important the chinos are slim and tapered to completely thwart any sense of business casual drone, and I cuffed the bottoms to show a little ankle, amplifying both the modern trend and summer feel.

The Adidas Stan Smiths have become my go-to summer shoe. They look great casually but also dress up well with darker clothing for the evening.

White pocket tee shirt summer style inspiration

Cheaters sunglassesAdidas Stan Smith sneakersThe Fifth watchesDockers Alpha KhakiRibbedTee pocket t-shirt

Monochrome & Modern

Go to any trendy bar in Los Angeles and you’ll see some variation of this Getup. Slim black jeans have often been relegated to certain cultural subgroups, but within the last 5 to 10 years they have emerged as a stylish alternative to blue denim that provides a different look and mood. The scoop neck of the t-shirt also lends to the more urban, evening style. Black with tan? Hell yeah. You could also opt for darker brown boots like a beat up pair of Wolverines and throw on a blue denim jacket for a more weathered style.

White t-shirt black jeans outfit inspiration

Timex Weekender Gray StrapThursday Boots Honey Scout chukkamen's whistle necklaceRibbedTee Pocket teeClassic Specs KnickerbockerGap Black Jeans 1969 stretch

Casual Americana

Doing a hard swing the other way, pairing the t-shirt with slim gray denim, Red Wing boots, our fav American Optics Pilot sunglasses, and a chunky metal dive watch, we get an equally smart, albeit, less fashion-forward look that is stylish and purposeful. American-made aviators and work boots emphasize the cultural history of the white pocket tee, and by choosing the textured slub cotton scoop neck, it appropriately makes us look like we should be sitting in Silverlake 2016, not Smallville 1955.

White T-Shirt Outfit - Red Wing Dockers

RibbedTee pocket t-shirtAmerican Optics Pilot SunglassesRed Wing 875 moc toe boots"Docks

Simple Summer

As we always say on Primer, when your layering options are limited in summer, the key to dressing well falls in the details. Trim fit linen-cotton shorts with a 9” inseam (Read more about how your shorts should fit), the slub texture and scoop neck give a current edge to a simple look. The green canvas watch provides a touch of neutral color to the wrist, and the camp mocs sand a few layers of Prep off of regular boat shoes. The Oakley Latches have a classic silhouette but don’t feel as standard as a pair of Wayfarers.

White t-shirt summer style inspiration

Oakley Latch sunglassesSebago CampMocToms Canvas and leather tote bagTimex ExpeditionJ Crew Factory Chambray ShortsRibbedTee Scoop Neck Pocket Tee

Layered Prep

The scoop neck might amplify this look the most. With a regular crew undershirt you’d run the risk of looking like you just unbuttoned your shirt on a hot day, but with the draping neck and texture of the tee, it’s a clear addition to the outfit, not a default undergarment. The fitted denim shirt adds a twist to the essential “blue oxford, olive chinos Getup,” and our swapped-in boot laces on our frugal Levi’s canvas sneakers contribute a dressier base than standard sneakers alone. Along with the denim shirt, the Brathwait rose gold NATO watch (one of my absolute favorites) gives a standard uniform a splash of class.

White pocket tee outfit inspiration denim shirt

RibbedTeeWaxed Canvas briefcase on EtsyFetch eyewear DashBrathwait Rose Gold WatchLevis canvas sneakersOld Navy Ultimate ChinoLevis denim western shirt

Which one is your favorite? Chat with me in the comments! Make sure to follow Primer on Instagram, @primermagazine!

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • Max K

    like that last look best!

  • Chris

    Great post! I just picked up a new white t-shirt (no pocket) during Brooks Brothers recent online sale and I see some great inspiration for some weekend get-ups here!

  • Matt M

    Damn Andrew, these are solid looks all around!! Hard to choose a favorite, but #1 and 5 are similar to what I’d wear on a regular basis.

    Not exactly a fan of the thin collar on the white shirt, but I do like ribbed tees. Have been wearing their classic heather v-necks as undershirt for a few years now (bummer the coupon code doesn’t work on these).

  • Jeremy David

    Layered prep. Nice mix of class and casual imo

  • Jose L

    Just ordered a shirt! Hoping a small won’t be too long, as I stand at a proud 5’8″.

  • JoeSea

    My lazy butt can’t deal with lint on black jeans. Tips other than a lint remover?

    • Alex Bear

      Don’t wash them as much. This advice can be used for most clothing that isn’t an under garment (unless it is wool socks)

  • Ryan Jones

    Can we see these added looks with included ketchup stains and black dog/cat hair stuck to the shirt please.. for a friend

  • Nick DeBenedetto

    My legs are too big for any of these pants/shorts :(.

  • Zac Silk

    I have the invicta watch from the third look. It’s been through a lot and still looks great. But with it being automatic you need to keep wearing it.

  • Zac Silk

    I haven’t found a pocket tee in a while but what’s great about white t shirts is they’re around everywhere and can be found at any price point.

    Great post as always!

  • Bernardo

    Hi Andrew, I know you’re about my height/weight and usually wear a 30″ waist. What are the waist sizes of these pants and short, so I could have an idea of sizing. Thank you again.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      They range from 30 to 32, depending on the maker.

      • Bernardo

        Thank you and keep up the great work!

  • Mark Acoba

    Any white tee crew neck, with or without pockets is my go to when I’m in a rush or can’t be bothered to think of an outfit. It it make me feel fresh and put together, although the minimal effort.

    Question! What brand would you recommend that has good quality white tees? The reason I’m asking is because the white tee’s that I buy in big box stores like the Gap or BR usually can be very see thru since I am darker in complexion.

    • Bernardo

      My favorites are the broken-in T-shirts from J. Crew (regular or slim). They’re not see through (at least on me) and don’t loose their shape after continuous washing.

      • Mark Acoba

        Thanks Bernardo, definitely going to check them out!

        • Bernardo

          My pleasure!

  • Butch_Zee

    That first photo… Andrew, you’re ripped now! #Adonis

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Haha thanks! ☺️ I’m working on it.

  • Jason

    Hey Andrew I really have to thank you for this blog. The quality of the posts is incredible and the site is very well made. Please never stop.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Thanks Jason, I really appreciate that!!

  • Benjamin Ayer Jones

    Any suggestions on solid, olive colored denim?

  • Jorge

    All looks look great, but I’d had have to go with the last one being my favorite.