As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to appreciate brevity above all else. You can see this shift in my writing over the years; gone are the massive, encyclopedic texts with references to material science and acoustics, in are the short, quick-hitting essays on totes. This appreciation of all things short has extended to t-shirts, too. I like the boxy and short-cropped cut of a vintage-style tee — something that seems more and more a thing of the past these days.
Even longer than the hems of tees, though, is every multi-brand retailer’s ‘t-shirt’ category. Recently, I’ve been searching for cool, new, summer-appropriate tees that fit a specific need of mine recently, but that led to hours and hours of scrolling and next-paging — too much effort for such a pedestrian and utilitarian garment. Because of this, I thought to myself: just like shoes are separated into loafers, boots, sneakers, and the like, there should be a better way to break up the ‘t-shirt’ category!
As such, I propose that the category be subdivided into a 2×2 spectrum matrix, with soft-rough on one axes and casual-formal on the other. I had my unpaid (and nonexistent) interns plot me a diagram with all the tees to better illustrate this idea:
From this, we see that the 3Sixteen Heavyweight sits squarely on the rough side of things. Present and correct are the triple-stitched collars, rough hand and stiff fabric that all contribute to its perceived sturdiness. I have never once doubted its long-term durability, but I do worry about my soft, properly moistened (shoutout Cerave) skin after a day of wear as the tee is pretty scratchy. Yet, I do find myself seeking that roughness out from time to time — jeans and boots are no fun if the top isn’t equally uncomfortable, after all!
The Heavyweight’s casualness, on the other hand, can largely be attributed to its easy-fading, garment-dyed, indigo fabric. The tee starts off a dark navy, but fades over time to a beautiful electric blue. Also, the seams and hems, two areas that really show that fading well, have become rumpled and less structured over time, adding to the tee’s dress-down tendencies. As such, it is strictly a tee for workwear ensembles, but a perfect tee at that.
Even as I explore the other 3 quadrants of the t-shirt matrix, and as my style diverges further from my workwear roots, I still come back to the 3Sixteen Heavyweights as the tees I put on when I want to feel something. You can get these at many workwear stores in the US (Self Edge being my favorite) or from 3Sixteen directly. It shrinks about 2.5 inches in length after a few washes, but I say embrace brevity.