1 Fabric type
T-shirt fabrics are usually 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers or 100% Polyester or a mix of synthetic fiber, cotton and rayon; For thinner cheaper t-shirts a jersey material is used, for thicker t-shirts a sweatshirt jersey is used; for more drapey and costly t-shirts an interlock fabric is used; Cotton spandex is also used for stretchy t-shirts.
Interlock knit (double-knit fabric) is densely made, durable and will not curl like a jersey knit t-shirt would. Jersey fabric is thinner and not as durable.
So How do you know if you have interlock fabric or jersey fabric – Interlock will have Two series of knitted loops per course where as Knit fabric would have only one series of loops. Interlock fabric will look more or less the same on the face and back of the fabric whereas jersey fabric will look different on face and back if you look carefully.
Your comfort level, if it is important to you, will depend on the fabric your t-shirt is made of – and this depends on the place where you spend your time when wearing the t-shirt.
A 100 % cotton fabric is a must have fabric configuration for a T-shirt worn in hot climates. But if you are going to be in an A/C room, even if you live in a tropical climate it does not matter if your t-shirt has Polyester fibers or other synthetic fibers mixed to the cotton fibers. And you may even welcome the synthetic fibers because of the additional benefits they provide – like colorfastness, less shrinkage after wash, stability, wrinkle resistance and easy maintenance.
The cotton fibers give the t-shirt comfort and water-absorbing properties. A Ring spun cotton t-shirt is the softest and most durable as well as lightweight- so if you find these types of t-shirts look no further. Combed cotton is another superior cotton type.
A blend of cotton and polyester fibers make t-shirt fabric easier to care for and durable than cotton ones. A blend of rayon-polyester-cotton makes the t- shirt fabric the softest and very comfortable to wear.
100% polyester fabric t-shirts may not be very comfortable to wear for day to day wear, but they are great for sports activities as they are lightweight, stretchy ( maybe with lycra) and wicks away the sweat from the body and takes it to the surface where it evaporates. This does not happen with cotton. Cotton, even as it absorbs sweat, stays wet for longer. Polyester t-shirts dry quickly. And when you are sweating it out on the field you want nothing to do with that wet feeling on your body.
2 Printed Designs
The designs printed on the t-shirt can sometimes take precedence over even the fabric type or anything else. The artworks, cool texts, quotes etc on the t-shirt fronts are usually what attracts you to one in the first place and all other considerations can pale and fade away if you have fallen in love with one. The above t-shirt is worth its weight in gold for my husband.
3 Size & Fit
I once read of a trend among women to go and shop in the young teen section – apparently, those impossibly small clothes made them look fitter or whatever. Size and fit are important to some more than the others. If you belong to the later category, just select one in the same size as the one that you wear all year around.
Other wise you can go to the shop and try them one by one. But this becomes a problem when you are buying online. The size will vary between brands. The best thing is to take a measuring tape and measure your shoulder width and chest size and then double check the measuring chart given for each brand.
Another thing to note is that cotton shrinks so a t-shirt with more of cotton fibers will need a larger size to account for future shrinkage.
When measuring the chest, measure around the fullest part of the chest under armpits keeping the tape flat across the back.
General T-shirt sizes for men.
Chest 76/79 cms ( 30 -31 inch) – XS
Chest 80/88 cms ( 32 -34 inch) – S ( same as a 36″ shirt)
Chest 89/97 cms ( 35-38 inch) – M ( same as a 38″ shirt)
Chest 98/106 cms ( 39- 42 inch) – L ( same as a 40″ shirt)
Chest 107/115 cms ( 42- 45 inch) – XL ( same as a 42″ shirt)
Chest 116/124 cms ( 46-49 inch) – XXL ( same as a 44″ shirt)
Chest 125/133 cms ( 49 – 52inch) – XXXL ( same as a 46″ shirt)
Women’s T-shirt sizes
Chest 30 -32 inch – XS
Chest 34 -36 inch – S
Chest 38 -40 inch – M
Chest 42 -44 inch – L
Chest 46 -48 inch – XL
Chest 50 -52 inch – XXL
Chest 54 -56 inch – XXXL
I am talking about the purpose of you wearing a particular t-shirt – though even before this, occasion is a consideration. You will not usually be wearing t-shirts to formal events. But where you are wearing one, the type of occasion matters. A trip to the gym or playing a game of football or a night out with your friends – all need different considerations.
For sports, you need t-shirts that will disperse perspiration and dry quickly. A 100% Polyester with these properties is used for Football Jersey t-shirts. For relaxing in your home this may be uncomfortable – you will be more comfortable in a t-shirt made of natural fibers. For winter outings you need a long sleeved t-shirt or even one with a hoodie or even may layer more than one t-shirt.
This is a very important consideration but a very personal one. You buy what you can afford. Nothing more to say.
6 Cut of the T-shirt & Styles
The most common style of t-shirts involves a crew-neck and short sleeves. But it does not end there. There are so many different types of t-shirts and many styles of wearing them including layering many t-shirts one over the other – these are dependent on the trend of the moment and individual fashion style.
7 Color of the t-shirt
This again depends on your personal preference – and a lot of other factors like the best color combinations according to the color wheel and some others as mentioned in this post on choosing the best color for your clothes.
8 Fabric Quality – construction, Shrinkage, Pilling & Color fading
A t-shirt that becomes an impossibly wide, crop top after one wash – the nightmare and reality of some of the t-shirts you buy.
This is a very common thing seen when you wash a new t-shirt – it starts to become wider and shorter- this is usually due to a fault in the knit fabric construction – the already overstretched fibers when washed return to their un-stretched position and make the garment shorter and wider.
So take a look at the fabric structure when buying t-shirts – The knitting should be relaxed, round in shape and not overstretched. Also if it is unevenly knit this maybe a sign of poor fabric construction. Holes may develop after some time.
Know beforehand that cotton fibers are prone to some shrinkage So your 100% cotton will shrink a lot more than a polyester cotton blended one . If the cotton one is not marked preshrunk, choose a larger size.
Another problem is over stretching on particular areas like the neckline armscye etc. Quality t-shirts will have a stay tape around the neckline that will prevent the overstretching.
Shrinkage and overstretching depends on the fabric construction in the first place but can be prevented to an extent if you take some precautions when you care for the clothes. Read more on preventing shrinkage here.
If you buy t-shirts made of cotton choose one made with long staple cotton fibers – they will pill less than any other.
Regarding color fastness, buy from reputed brand as it usually does with inexpensive t-shirts).