Graphic Tees & Sweatshirts That Are Cool, Not Cheesy

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This graphic designer adores designing my outfits. At this point, I think it’s just second nature, but bringing in elements of pattern, color, texture and prints really makes an outfit feel more “me.”

The easiest way to add one of these elements is through a graphic tee. I wear mine with blazers, under jumpsuits, and of course, just with jeans or sweatpants too. Graphic tees have been a go-to closet staple for me for as many years as I can remember.

Don’t Settle For Cheesy Graphic Tees: 12 Cool T-Shirts To Add To Your Closet

I realize it’s sometimes tricky to pick a graphic tee that will still look on-trend(ish) and not delve into cheesy territory. I’m really picky when I’m choosing my graphic tees & sweatshirts, and I’ve pulled together a handful I’m loving right now. I could round up a bazillion more I love, but let’s keep it easy and start with these!

Some of my favorite places to shop for tees overall? Free People, Anthropologie, Saks Fifth Avenue, Etsy, Clare V. and Nordstrom.

Graphic tees can get real cheesy real fast, so I'm picky about 'em. Here are 12 cool T-shirts that just feel like "me" (think: Anthro, adidas, Aerie, Gap & more).

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12

1. Clare V. “Egalite”: Clare V. makes hands-down some of my favorite designs. The tees are super-great quality too. Not too thin, not too thick. Lovely. TTS. These T-shirts go fast, though!

2. Anthropologie Letluv The Doors Ringer Tee: I love a good retro-style ringer tee. This would be adorable with ivory wide-leg jeans and Converse high-tops.

3. MOTHER “Ziggy Stardust” Crewneck Sweatshirt: This Bowie fan is also a real fan of these new MOTHER tees and sweatshirts. Love the design!

4. Clare V. “Lumiere”: This is that faded kind of treatment I love in a graphic tee that makes it look just perfectly worn in without having holes or being distressed. Click through to see how cute it is with one of the checkered bags!

5. Adidas X Farm Rio Graphic Tee: It’s rare that I choose a pink graphic tee, but this collab is so lovely and fun! I’d wear with lighter-wash jeans and a white blazer.

6. J.Crew “Tennis League” Cropped T-Shirt: Give me ALL the retro tennis vibes. I love that whole aesthetic. XXS to 3X.

7. Anthropologie “Big Sur” Graphic Tee: Super-cute cutoff-sleeves vibe with a fun, happy graphic. I forgot to mention, some travel tees are another great category!

8. Anine Bing Tiger Logo T-Shirt: I may have a little addiction to Anine Bing tees and sweatshirts. I have the tiger sweatshirt in black, but I’ve been eyeing this tee every season. The quality of the cotton in Anine Bing tees and sweatshirts is just super-high quality, and they last forever.

9. Anthropologie Rolling Stones Ringer Tee: I’ll be honest, I’m over a lot of the giant Rolling Stones logo tees, but this one is a less overdone design, and I’m loving it.

10. Aerie Smiley Oversized Boyfriend T-Shirt: I’m honestly surprised that this is my only smiley-face tee in the mix! Aerie makes some cute, affordable designs in soft tees. I don’t love all of the graphics, but some are really great!

11. Etsy Pressed-Flowers T-Shirt: Etsy has SO MANY graphic tees. I really like to have a bit of an idea what I’m looking for when I head there. Like on this one, I was specifically searching “floral graphic tees” for something a little springy.

12. Gap TLC Graphic Tee: I mean, how could this ’90s girl not include TLC? Gap is hit-and-miss with graphic tees, but sometimes it nails it, and right now it is! Click through for Whitney, Biggie and more!

How I Choose Graphic Tees To Wear

My three favorite categories when shopping for graphic tees are: sporty tees, French-inspired tees and band tees. That may sound kinda specific, but graphic tees can get REALLY cheesy really quickly.

My 3 fave categories when shopping for graphic tees are: sporty tees, French-inspired tees & band tees.

rebel tee (S)

Typically, these categories will keep you from entering the cheese factor too much. Gimmicky tees are funny, but not too much when it comes to fa-shion, friends — wear those as PJs like I do. But if you want to look fly on the go, maybe stick to these categories. At least it works for me! 

There are a few more bonus categories that sometimes work: brand tees, art tees and vintage tees. Obviously, vintage tees can be all over the map on their graphics, and sometimes cheeky, funny vintage tees work, but those get tougher and tougher to find. These are the tees you typically have to thrift.

There are a few more bonus categories that sometimes work: brand tees, art tees & vintage tees.

Bing sweatshirt (S)

Brand tees, well, it depends on the brand, but I’m thinking of you, Anine Bing (above), plus Emerson Fry, MOTHER, adidas, Nike, Superdry, Isabel Marant. Designer brand tees usually work well and still have a cool factor, and surf brands like Billabong tend to do OK in this realm too.

Sports brands are also usually a safe bet. And when I’m talking about art tees, my favorites are from small brands and typically handmade, but these can also be just pretty artwork you love…on a tee.

A Few More Graphic Tees I’m Loving For Spring + Summer

Like I said, it’s hard to keep it to just 12 when this is totally my jam. Here are even more that pass the test for cute/cool tees and sweatshirts to add a graphic pop to your looks.


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Hope this helps with some updates to your spring and summer wardrobe. My fave way to style a graphic tee for spring? Under a white blazer (like this one)!

Until next time…

xo,

L

Graphic tees can get real cheesy real fast, so I'm picky about 'em. Here are 12 cool T-shirts that just feel like "me" (think: Anthro, adidas, Aerie, Gap & more).

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