This is the sort of article my eye would normally slide right past. I read it only because the title mentioned $5 Hanes T-shirts, which they sell at Dollar General and is the absolute apex of cedar rat fashion. More typically the well-dressed hermit wears a macho $.50 thrift store creation boasting a sporty advertisement for a fun run six years past. When it lays there in your bottom drawer it doesn’t wear out at all, and that makes it all the more valuable when you finally sweep it from the fringes of your life. And thanks for giving an old man this link to that forgettable weekend when you played along with what the wife wanted.
None of this, of course, is what your well-educated fashion snob has in mind.
The first is a 5 dollar Hanes black cotton t shirt with a crew neck. It is perfectly plain, 100% cotton, and longer than average, and quite nice for these reasons. I recommend it amply. It is perfectly generic, and I can hardly think of a cheaper alternative.
I’m pretty sure ‘perfectly generic’ was meant as a sneer but I could be wrong. It’s likely this fellow and I are separated by a common language, among many other things. I will add, since it’s unlikely the writer knows, that if you care about preserving the original color it is vitally important not to leave these hanging on a clothesline a microsecond longer than necessary because colorfast they are not. Other than that, everything he says above is quite accurate. Now we delve into areas about which I knew nothing even when I owned a shiny car…
The second is the fabled Rick Owens double layered “unstable” tee. This is the $450 usd shirt I think some people refer to when they critique expensive t-shirts. I cannot speak for any other t-shirt (especially those in the 150 to 350 price range coming from more commercial brands like Alexander Wang or Prada). The Rick Owens shirt is quite interesting, so much so that it prompted this whole thread. It has two layers, but only one seam. That means the fabric folds into itself and is stitched only at one end. Because of this, there really is no lower hem. The double layer means there is always fabric behind the fabric. This makes the fabric cling to itself producing a wrinkled pattern that adds a lot of patterned detail to what would be otherwise a plain featureless surface on which the eye would simply slip. The shirt can be worn wrinkly and short or loose and long, and this is quite nice for it allows some silhouette play with visual proportions. My favorite feature comes from the fact that the back seam is a diagonal cut–this is where the “unstable” in the name comes from. This means that, even when laid flat, the shirt won’t be wrinkle free. Like the grain in a slice of wood, the wrinkles all flow pulled in one direction giving a very interesting effect of motion even when static. It’s like a frozen drape effect. The Hanes $5 dollar tee lacks any of this plasticity.
When I was married and had to pass inspection before leaving the house, wrinkles were considered a bad thing. Now apparently you pay extra for them.