The plainest and simplest of clothing, a t-shirt is a blank canvas upon which you can paint whatever image of yourself you wish. It’s unpretentious, unassuming and underrated. Here we remind you of how hard-working a classic crew-neck t-shirt can be with a little help from four style influencers, who have all counted the t-shirt as a wardrobe staple during their time in the spotlight.
She might have one of the world’s most luxurious handbags named after her, but Jane Birkin was all about bohemian dressing. With a free-spirited wardrobe to match her attitude, Birkin relied on artistic flourishes to spruce up her boyish basics. Back in the Seventies, you would most likely find the singer in a white t-shirt, worn-in jeans, ballet pumps and carrying her signature basket bag, which would later lead to the design of the iconic Hermès Birkin.
Though mini skirts defined her signature look in the Sixties, growing older sparked an enduring love affair with men’s suits for Charlotte Rampling. Nowadays you will barely notice the actress’s t-shirts tucked inside her tailoring, but back then her white t-shirts and ivory jeans were iconic. Modern day muse Alexa Chung still cites Rampling as her icon, and frequently borrows her all-white look for classic day wear.
A fashion muse for art house films and a friend of the late David Bowie, Swinton’s style is androgynous, bold and rule-breaking. The cream t-shirts she pairs with wide-legged trousers or abstract skirts are barely noticeable next to her bleached quiff and pale skin. T-shirts, for her, are the background player, there to let her vibrant personality sing out.
During the Sixties Françoise Hardy was considered the anti-Bardot owing to her modish-yet-nonchalant way of dressing. The singer’s style legacy starts with a winged eye and ends on a pair of ankle boots, with plenty of micro A-line skirts in between. Her doe eyes and ability to make a tight-fitting t-shirt look original made her a poster girl for young women, and the muse of both Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan.
Words by Alice Newbold