When I travel, my default these days is a blouson over shirt and trousers. 

It makes a nice switch from tailoring during the working days – perhaps a little more comfortable, but more importantly just a change that feels as good as a rest. 

The weight of the blouson can be varied for any weather. A heavy fur-lined suede in winter, something reversible when it threatens rain, and in summer a featherweight piece like the linen/cotton ‘giubbino’ pictured here. 

The advantage of a casual jacket to travel in, of course, is that it’s easier to fold up and store than an overcoat, yet also has the pockets that knitwear would lack. 

The example pictured is from Connolly, and its material is so light that it was comfortable in the 40-degree baking, valley-trapped heat of Florence.

I like the slubbiness of the material, the high but floppy collar, and the fact the hem can be cinched in or not – turning it from a tight-waisted blouson into something longer and straighter. 

There is also a covetable version in red corduroy. 

 

 

The thing I wanted to focus on in this article, however, was the fully fashioned T-shirt underneath (also from Connolly). 

I’ve written before how much I like T-shirts like this – short-sleeved but fully fashioned like knitwear, in a fine cotton or wool. 

But I don’t think I’ve ever used images to illustrate. So I thought I’d use these shots from Pitti in June to do so. 

 

 

Wearing the neckline of a T-shirt under something, rather than a collared shirt, has an immediate and significant impact on how smart or casual it looks. 

I think the effect is similar to wearing trainers rather than welted leather shoes.

Swap leather loafers for white trainers under a suit, and the impression is hugely different. It’s greater, I’d argue, than similar changes like swapping a jacket for knitwear, or flannels for jeans. 

This effect, of course, is why so many like the idea of a T-shirt under a suit. Like trainers, it immediately dispels any stuffy or business associations the suit might have. 

 

 

T-shirts under tailored jackets don’t suit everyone, however. Personally I think they require a certain physique – stronger shoulders, perhaps slightly shorter neck. A beard helps; age and wrinkles do not. 

Magazines write too many articles about ‘how to wear’ a T-shirt under tailoring. The fact is, it just suits some body types – and therefore some people – more than others. Not something magazines are usually happy telling you.

As a result I tend to wear T-shirts under things with higher collars: shawl-collar cardigans, safari jackets and blousons. 

 

 

The advantage of a fully fashioned T-shirt rather than a cut-and-sewn one is that it looks a few degrees smarter. 

(Normal T-shirts are also knitted, just like sweaters. The difference is in how they are put together: cut into panels and sewn along the edges, or knitted together into the seams you see on knitwear.)

A regular T-shirt would certainly have been OK with this outfit. But the neckline would not have been as clean and sharp, and nor would the small amount you can see of the body. 

Given the cream-cotton trousers are fairly smart, as are the brown-suede Sagans and the blouson, a smarter T-shirt felt more complementary. 

A regular tee would have been better with jeans, a chore jacket and canvas trainers, perhaps. 

 

 

This T-shirt is a better substitute for a collared shirt – and indeed, that’s one reason fully fashioned ones like this are useful when travelling, as they tend to work with more of the tailored wardrobe I’m also carrying. 

Connolly’s tees are luxurious but also expensive. More affordable (and in a greater range of necklines and colours) are those of the ever-reliable John Smedley

I’m wearing one in this piece on layering knitwear here

 

 

The bag is from Acate Borsa – a Japanese brand I visited in Tokyo earlier in the year, which sells high-quality pieces made in Italy. 

The leather of this one, for example, is a real shrunken calf, where some just copy the texture (made popular by Hermes) by printing a standard calf leather. 

The work, including inking and small points of hand sewing, is well done, and it’s lined in a lovely Alcantara. 

I’ve always loved this warm-grey colour, and don’t find it effeminate as some do. It looks particularly nice against navy, such as a worsted suit. 

The only thing I’m not sure of is the tassels. But they can easily be taken off and on as my mind switches back and forth. 

 

 

The sunglasses are 1950s Ray-Ban Caravans in filled 12k gold-filled wire, from Retrospecs.

More on those here – and of course Retrospecs will now be at the pop-up in September, so anyone can come and see their range there. 

The made-to-measure trousers are from P Johnson, in Loro Piana denim. 

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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StuartR

Hi,
Blouson looks great! Is the red cord version available in the Connolly store do you know? I spent ages trying to find a “perfect” fitting T shirt and never really succeeded. Recently I’ve had them from Saman Amel so the fit has been just right – for me. Have you tried them?

P.F.

One thing, I believe, that influences whether people can wear (or not) t-shirts and still look smart, is certainly the amount of hair around the neck. Unfortunately, for the more hairy types among us, a collar is a must in order to look smart. In a t-shirt, you get the “Yeti trying to be smart” look.

Could you explain a bit more what is the difference between a normal t-shirt and a fully fashioned one?

As always, thanks for your lovely posts!

L.N.

Sorry for my ignorance, but what is a fully fashioned t-shirt? I’m struggling in understanding the difference from a regular t-shirt.

Anonymous

Simon
Where can I find affordable garment washed rugby shirts? Desperate for one!
Ta
Gregory

StuartR

Rowing Blazers – available from The Rake or directly.

Jason

Hello, have you tried the T-shirt from Mr Porter own brand ? I reckon they fit pretty good too.

Sam

Simon – general comment but could you use a slightly more distinctive coloured text for your hyperlink anchor text? I read at work normally, and I only notice them when I mouse over, feels a bit like a hunting for clickable pixels in an old point and click adventure. A slightly brighter blue or purple would probaby do it!

limekiln

This is a great look, and to my eye the impact of the outfit flows from two aspects. The lovely contrast in the colours – the cream trousers against the darker top prevent it looking a little sombre – and the loose weave texture of the blouson and trousers which go together very well. Even after your explanation of “fully fashioned”, I still don’t get the importance of the t-shirt since all I can see of it is the neckline. You’d achieve that same line with a standard boat neck t-shirt such as those from Armor Lux or St James (albeit striped).
I am very keen on this approach for travel – for example a marinière under a linen shirt is a classic and very practical combination with similar appeal.
Overall though, excellent.

Ben

What you’re talking about here really has everything to do with the fabric rather than the construction. The Merz B Schwanen t’s I wear don’t have side seams at all and don’t have the drape/texture advantages you’re citing here.

I’m not a big fan of the recent trend of woolen t-shirts. It seems impractical to have wool be the first layer to touch the torso, esp. since I hand wash my woolens. It also looks a bit affected if worn on its own. Primarily cotton t’s with a bit of spandex or polyester mixed in will give you a cleaner drape without these problems, but their texture is obviously different from that of woolens.

Your observation about physique and going collarless is a keen one. A scarf can also help if you’ve a slighter build.

Scott

Would a Sunspel t-shirt, the riviera model for example, also work in this situation?

anon

What do you mean by “less forgiving?” I like wearing short-sleeved merino tees on their own with denim and suede loafers or other casual shoe; sort of a 50’s / early 60’s elevated sportswear vibe that I can dress up slightly if it gets cold with the right shawl cardigan or casual coat. I’ve found that a similar option for summer is the cotton knitted tee from Anthology with heavy ribbing, and vintage-inspired short boxy body. The Anthology tee is definitely suitable for wear on its own, or with denim. I’d appreciate your views on this.

anon

I appreciate the input, and I agree as to the “less forgiving” perspective. I’m curious, how casual would you tend to go, as a general matter, with the fully-fashioned tee? Dressier chinos (e.g., Incotex or Trunk’s in-house)/cords?

Jordan Healey

a wool base layer is the best material to have against the skin if warmth is a priority

R Abbott

Do you have a link to the blue blouson you’re wearing in this article? Is it still available?

Anonymous

The blouson looks terrific but would you know of any cheaper options? I find Connolly’s range to be excessively pricey, compared with other brands like Trunks or Private White.

D

You’re certainly right, but I find even A&S to be more reasonable in price and Connolly at times frankly outrageous.
Will have a look, thanks Simon.

Peter

Would you ever do a V neck t shirt? In what context if any?

Joseph

Simon, might I venture a guess? I imagine it’s the v-neck’s neck-lengthening effect. People who have slightly longer necks (such as you or me) might not find it very appealing.

Anonymous

I like the outfit, it’s intelligently put together with each element combining with the whole but individual in its essence (not too ‘matchy’). However, as the T is the feature there is not one clear image of it to properly show texture, shape or drape. The ‘fully fashioned’ element has stumped a few readers – how simple to do a few close-ups (all too rarely used on PS…) of seams/edging to illuminate and describe the feature?

Anonymous

Agreed

There are several photos of your face, but nothing at all that does the subject justice.

Jordan Healey

I have a longer than average neck and I think I look good in the tshirt/blazer combo, however I also have shoulder length hair and that fills the awkward void between head and shoulders.

If you are wearing a tshirt under a jacket no one can see any of the seams except the collar seam so IMO that is the most important thing to focus on after the quality of the fabric and the colour. I often wear a hemp tee in the summer and a merino or thick cotton in the winter – Christian Kimber did a nice navy/cream stripe tee in 2018 with a mini boatneck that looks great with a jacket.

KG

I’m curious about sleeve length; given the comparison to knitwear would these T-shirts be long-sleeved?

Richard Murley

This also answers superbly my question about what to wear for flying in your recent Holiday Snaps post.

I shall have to investigate which Blouson/t-shirt combination works best for me!

Anonymous

…only it’s not knitwear, it’s ‘fully fashioned’ cotton…in a blog that is about fit, craft and style fashion oriented images (i.e. those that attempt to show a veneer of ‘lifestyle’) are not always helpful in reflecting the substance of the text. It also reflects a lack of forward planning (or pre-production) wherein the images aren’t planned with sufficient detail to reflect the article’s intent (demonstrating the advantages of fully fashioned construction vs. an ordinary T construction). I’m not having a go just outlining the reason for my previous comment.

Robin

Appreciate this article but for me it raises several questions .
At the risk of being misunderstood ( why I’m toning down how I come across !) let me state I ask these questions politely and with no ill will .

Firstly, the t shirt in question , is something similar available from the high street as Connelly seem to only sell through a select few channels ? What particular technical points should one look out for when buying something similar ?

Secondly , why is such an item more expensive ? I believe something like this is over £80 .
Is it a case of cost of production ,(with profit margins staying the same ) ?
Or is it a case of marking up to give the impression of high quality ? Similar to what fashion brands do .

For me such an article on the t shirt works if it clearly demonstrates how it’s different from other more mainstream products (close up photos of neck, side seams etc) and then readers can appreciate the cost of such an item .

Although I appreciate PS may not want to go in this direction which is fine but just giving my ‘cents worth ‘.

Maël

Hi,
Beautiful T-shirt, had no idea fully fashioned one existed !
Have you had any experience with sonofatailor ? They do MTM T-shirt and they look quite good, was thinking of giving it a try.

Nick Inkster

Archibald London make a good T shirt. Actually a very interesting business overall.

anon

Hi Simon,

What do you think of merino tees (slim fit with ribbed sleeves, waist, and neck) for layering in winter, maybe under a cardigan (I think you had a similar post about wearing a cream cardigan over a gray fine-knit crewneck sweater) or even under a blouson or a light coat in the fall?

ABRAHAM BENMOHA

IT LOOKS LIKE THAT BLOUSON IS WEAR BY DANIEL CRAIG IN THE NEXT BOND FILM ¨NO TIME TO DIE ¨

GD

Great pics and words.

May I ask what size you are wearing in the Jacket?

GD

Much obliged for the prompt reply, Simon.

Craig

Hi Simon,

The Connolly blouson in this article is certainly a stand-out piece! The slub linen texture is beautiful. I’m curious, what size are you wearing in the photos above? And may I ask, what size do you commonly wear? As this blouson is meant to be worn relaxed, I’m interested to hear how best to size this.

Anonymous

thanks for your reply.

Anonymous

Simon, would like to know what your experience has been with this giubbino jacket? Thinking of getting one myself. Thanks.

Anonymous

It does, thank you very much! I was actually weighing this against a linen Valstarino that The Rake has in stock, and your thoughtful opinion has made my mind. Thanks again!

Jon

Hi Simon
Could you recommend a t shirt with a close fitting neck?

Anonymous

Warehouse 4601 (which Simon now has)

R Abbott

Simon: Is a blouson the same thing as a shacket? If not, what’s the difference? Thanks.

R Abbott

Thanks for clarifying. Based on your description of a blouson, it seems a lot like a bomber jacket. Any differences? Perhaps just a slightly different vibe?

R Abbott

To follow up my previous response, it looks like blousons (like shackets) tend to have a collar, and some are buttoned as well, which gives them a slightly dressier and less edgy vibe than your typical leather bomber.

For someone who is relatively short (at 5.8), it’s a good look. One problem with shackets is that they have the length of a sports jacket but not the shape, which can give them a sloppy (or if you prefer, a laidback look). A laid back look is probably the point, but I don’t think it’s very flattering for shorter people.

PS, sorry about the iterative posts; feel free to delete my earlier reply.

Vinay

Hi Simon,
Interesting article.

For a casual weekend wardrobe, do you prefer Sunspel (cut and sew) or Smedley (fully fashioned) as your base t-shirt to wear on it’s own or under knitwear / jackets?

Also, does the quality and style of Trunk Clothiers t-shirts compare to Sunspel?

Thanks.

Vinay

Thanks Simon.

I assume that is why you recommended white and grey Sunspel (cut and sew) t-shirts as part of your core casual wardrobe (April 2019 article) alongside your bespoke Levi’s, chinos, blue oxford/denim shirts and navy crewneck knitwear.

It seems as though they are more versatile than a fully fashioned t-shirt as they can be worn separately as well as under knitwear and other items.

Regards,

Vinay

Great. Thank you.

Vinay

Hi Simon,

Which would be your pick out between the Sunspel and Trunk t-shirts for a core staple of a casual wardrobe? Unfortunately I am unable to try either in person so I have to make a guess as to my size.

Also, is the Riveria Sunspel t-shirt just a slim version of their classic t-shirt or is the fit completely different between the two?

Thanks again for your advice.

Neil King

Hi Vinay, I have a few Riviera t-shirts from summer 2019 and they keep their shape much better than the polos (mine are in L and I got them darted along the side seams but they do stretch out a little more quickly given the waffle fabric). The Riviera tees aren’t too slim fitting and don’t have the waffle texture. I have a 42-43 chest with a diminishing gut and they still fit beautifully with no bellying out/stretching.

Peter

I can’t believe no one has spoken on that bag!

It is amazing Simon! Do you still have it?

BTW, just got the Bridge coat, it is amazing! the details, the feeling.
Purely Perfect.

Neil King

I picked up a few of the John Smedley Sea Island tees in willow green, charcoal and navy earlier in the summer and they are very smart under a safari (nice one from Private White still on sale via the website) or shacket/overshirt. I see JS is now making the tees in a merino/Sea Island in a very limited colourway for AW 20/21.

Bernie Leung

Hi Simon,

I hope you are doing well. Just curious, who is your favorite fully-fashioned T-shirt maker nowadays and what is your preferred model? Looking through the archives, it seems you recommend both John Smedley and Sunspel, thank you!

Bernie Leung

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts! I will check out John Smedley and Connolly.

I do have a few Anthology shirts and would have to agree about them being chunky and retro, cheers

Bernie Leung

Hi Simon,

Do you know of any fully fashioned t shirts which are meant to be worth with higher rise trousers? John Smedley is nice but they are a bit too long, thanks!

Anonymous

What distinguishes a blouson from a shacket? Both usually have a collar and buttons down the front. Would you wear the two in similar situations?

Anonymous

Would it be fair to describe the shacket as slouchy in style (e.g., due to the length and lack of shape) and more suitable for taller and slender people? Perhaps for a person with an average height and athletic frame, having something that rides on the hip (like a bomber jacket, or like a blouson) might be more flattering.