Some days, you want to look good and put in a little extra effort to get your outfit just right. Some days, you can’t be bothered, and slouch around in Taki-stained sweats. And some days it’s both: you want to look good, but can’t be bothered. On those occasions, you need a big shirt. Like, a really big shirt.
The power of the big shirt is twofold:
- It is a shirt, one with buttons and a collar, which means you will look respectable and put-together.
- It is big. Big in a comfortable, enveloping, room-to-breathe way. Big in a boxy, of-the-moment, supremely flattering way. Big in a way that you can wear it with—and over—just about anything: chinos or shorts, tees or tanks. Big in a way that feels tasteful and purposeful, and not at all like you stole a shirt out of your dad’s closet from 1994. (Although, if that’s an option available to you, do that).
The big shirt’s rise is indicative of two sweeping cultural movements colliding. Fashion’s ongoing fixation with all things large and loose shows no signs of slowing—which means squeezing yourself into slim-fit, hyper-tailored clothing is no longer the only way to look polished. (In fact, too close-cropped and hyper-tailored and you’ll look oddly passé, an issue Conor McGregor is dealing with this week.) It probably has something to do with the fact that the dream of the ‘90s continues to thrive in 2021: the same nostalgia-addled impulses that gave us a Friends reunion are now making us collectively wonder, “Was Chandler actually kinda stylish?”
This obsession with the recent past and its roomier silhouettes has been seeping into every designer’s conscience for awhile now, and we’re frankly glad it’s finally reached the point where the slim-fit casual shirt—the one with the too-high armholes and the too-tight chest and the too-short-to-tuck hem— is now all but dead. When it’s humid and sticky and you’re a little hungover, who wants a shirt that fits like plastic wrap? Embrace the lack-of-embrace of a big shirt.
There are a couple ways to join Team Big Shirt. You can buy a regular shirt several sizes larger than normal, whether that’s from standbys like Brooks Brothers or newer-school outfits like Corridor. Or you can opt for one of the deliberately flowy, oversized numbers that everybody from Our Legacy to the Gap is turning out at the moment. We’ve rounded up a dozen of the latter for your purchasing pleasure here. Pick your poison, and then let your new big shirt do the rest.
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