For Holiday Parties This Year, Let’s Get Behind The Conversation-Starter Tee

In a year when so much (too much?) happened that we're all still trying to make sense of, it makes a lot of sense that graphic tees — the kinds with sound bites, provocative statements, and subversive takes on familiar logos — were so ubiquitous. A tee like these lets you broadcast what you think and feel every second you're wearing it. But isn't it curious that at those events where we tend to need a little help with conversation — awkward holiday parties — clothes that elicit anything other than "That looks nice!" are nowhere to be found?
"That looks nice" hardly ever leads to a deep, buddy-making conversation. And, to be frank, saying, "that looks nice" is also a deflated kind of way to wrap up a year and look forward to the next. Why not say, "Let's be kind toward one another." Or even, "Yes! I see you, Queen!"
So, we're going to be introducing T-shirts into our holiday-party wardrobe for the above reason — and because they're a fresh way to make fancy dresses and separates feel more like something you'd wear, and less like something the Lifetime movie version of you would wear. To help us out in this endeavor, we've turned to six of our favorite illustrators and artists whose work we've looked to for eye candy and wisdom in the past year — and have commissioned six one-of-a-kind T-shirts that communicate exactly what's on their minds.
Because if we've learned anything from this year, it's that we're all better off if we talk to one another.
The statement: "I enjoy writing out my own maxims on Instagram, which are generally about my own vulnerability and fucked-up-ness. I like exposing that and having a dialogue with people."
The ideal conversation-starter scenario: "[They'd say,] 'Hey, I fucking care about shit, too!'"
The styling tip: This is the perfect time to buy one of those totally sheer dresses you've been seeing. Instead of a slip, wear your tee underneath, and tuck it into either a slip skirt or a pair of superhero tights.
The statement: "Someone’s choice in lingerie style reveals more about their personality than any piece of outerwear. But great lingerie can get a little pricey. Enter, The Braless Bra Tee, the T-shirt that bridges the gap between multi-pack, 50%-off, getting-shit-done bras, and embroidered, jewel-dripping, couture brassieres."
The ideal conversation-starter scenario: "It's a great ice-breaker. Walk up to fellow partier with your coat buttoned-up: 'Hi, want to see a magic trick? I can go braless and be wearing a bra at the same time.' Unbutton coat, reveal T-shirt…then walk away abracada-bra."
The styling tip: Instead of a blazer or another jacket, try a pair of evening gloves (yes, really!). Long elbow gloves have been trending hard on the runways for the past couple years, and it's time to bring that look home.
The statement: "I'm never really happy when I draw just one person. I prefer drawing a crowd. Takes the pressure off."
The ideal conversation-starter scenario: "If you wore this shirt to a party, you would be the only one in it, because I made it just for you. [It's a] couture D-shirt!"
The styling tip: To build up the drama, layer on a bustier, a ruffled crop top, or even a fancy swimsuit top. Balance it with a bottom that has a higher waist to streamline your outfit.
The statement: "The statement tee I made is [part of] an ongoing series that I call Journey Journal Tees. Each tee is hand-drawn and inspired by pages from my actual journals."
The ideal conversation-starter scenario: "Sparked-up conversations ignite ideas, and hopefully this tee would become a conversation piece!"
The styling tip: Off-the-shoulder dresses look dramatic, but can be a pain in the butt to wear. Wear a tee underneath — not only will the friction help keep the dress in place (no more yanking!), but the generous cut of the dress is made to show off a great graphic.
The statement: "This is a DIY band shirt for the early '80s band, Marine Girls, featuring one of their lyrics, 'All dressed up and nowhere to go.' I really like the idea of a fan-made band tee. I think more people should make their own!"
The ideal conversation-starter scenario: "Two Marine Girls fans meet because of the tee and bond over their love of emotional early-'80s post-punk. And then she would put their record on and everyone would dance to them!"
The styling tip: A low-back slip dress perfectly frames a tee with a back graphic. Start your night with both layers, and start stripping when — if Karman's predictions come true — the '80s dance party really starts going.
The statement: "[This shirt is] inspired from my For My Girls art series, which celebrates bold and confident women inspired by '90s female hip-hop artists. I wanted the wearer of the shirt to feel like a bad ass! I want them to own the statement, 'For My Girls.'"
The ideal conversation-starter scenario: "I hope that when a woman sees another woman wearing this shirt, she’s like, 'Yes! I see you, Queen!'"
The styling tip: A pair of suspenders might seem more like a Halloween thing than a holidays thing, but with the right outfit, they can look incredibly festive. With a glitzy skirt and turn-up heels, suspenders can nod to black-tie dressing, without actually going there.
Special thanks to ABC Carpet & Home.

More from Styling Tips

R29 Original Series