Add your own spin to the wildly popular streetwear staple
You may or may not be familiar with the term longlines, but there’s no doubt you’ve seen them. You may have even heard them referred to as tall tees, elongated tees, or oversized tees; though those names don’t do them justice. Without getting technical, longlines are those really long shirts you’ve seen on everyone from your local skaters to Kanye West. They hang a few inches below your bum, and often the hem in the back is a tad longer than the front. The cut of the hem even resembles the shirttails of woven dress shirts on many versions.
As their name suggests, these tees are long but not oversized. They maintain standard shirt proportions except for length. That’s why names like oversized or tall don’t accurately describe them. Oversized indicates a shirt that doesn’t fit anywhere-length, shoulders, torso, etc. The perfect longline fits you like your favorite t-shirt; it’s just longer.
Though longlines are a regular occurrence in men’s fashion right now, they started out as a more exclusive buy. Back in 2014, Yeezy made the longline sweatshirt a must-have. But even before him, A$AP Rocky established his fashion prowess by rocking numerous longline designs. And labels like Hood By Air and Rick Owens were frequently sending longlines down the runway in their avant garde presentations.
The rise of the longline t-shirt signaled a change in the shopping habits of men. For so long, we’d been stuck in a rut, focusing our shopping habits around essentials, staples, and basics. The longline tee wasn’t an obvious choice, but once it caught on, it showed that a new generation of male shoppers was ready to take some chances. Men’s style was no longer a one-trick pony. And since its popularity has taken off, a whole world of experimentation has risen to the surface in menswear.
The Longline Rules
You may adore Kanye’s style and pin several images of his iconic looks to your Pinterest boards. But his aesthetic isn’t one size fits all. Though longlines are a symbol of a men’s fashion industry willing to burn the rule book, there are still some guidelines for pulling them off with style.
1. Test the Waters
We can all agree that longlines are cool. But wearing a shirt that’s extra long requires an adjustment. For so long, menswear has focused on minimalism, skinny fits, and custom tailoring. After a decade of chasing the perfect fit, it might feel a bit strange to go in the opposite direction. It’s best to start with one piece before you reinvent your entire wardrobe. Try one t-shirt that’s a little bit longer than what you’re accustomed to. Wear it a few times to get a feel for it, and once you feel comfortable, slowly start adding additional pieces as well as additional inches.
2. Caution: Casual Situations Only
We hate to break it to you but your latest style move isn’t appropriate for professional settings. If you work at home, you can wear what you want. But if you’re posted up around a boardroom table for the majority of your day, save the longlines for the weekend. This is a casual garment, and its length is obvious. There’s no way to discreetly add it to a work look. So don’t even try it.
3. Adjust the Proportions
When you first introduce a longline tee into your look, it’s best to let it take center stage. If you think baggy jeans or oversized jackets will add to the look, think again. In order for it to pop, your pants need to be skinny and any additional layers should be cut slim. Too many longline layers or oversized pieces will make you look sloppy. If you want to pull this off correctly, your tee should be the only longline piece in the bunch.
4. Keep It Solid
Longlines are a pretty bold statement, especially for a guy who’s made a sartorial name for himself with the perfect fit. Bright patterns and colors are fun to experiment with in fall, but when you’re playing with hemlines, they can lead to fashion disasters. Stick to neutral, solid colors. You want your longline to stand out because of length but not because of poor color or pattern choices.
5. Cotton and Polyester, Please
The key to a great longline garment is the stretch it provides. Not every fabrication can achieve this. Cotton and synthetics like polyester lend themselves to great stretch and some dramatic draping. But other heavier fall fabrics like wool and corduroy do quite the opposite. If you find longlines in these other fabrics, run the other way.
6. Mind Your Height
Clearly, the taller the guy, the better a longline will look. But it doesn’t mean you need to be an NBA player to wear one. If you’re on the shorter side, opt for a longline that’s a little shorter. You’ll get the same effect without looking like you’re drowning in your clothes.
Ways To Wear Them
The most basic way to wear your longline is by itself. Even in a plain black or white style like our Basic Round Neck Longline T-shirt the entire look still comes together. The dramatic drop on the hemline is a bold statement. Paired back to some simple slim or skinny jeans and either sneakers or Chelsea boots, the look is equal parts simplistic and cutting edge. For extra dramatic effect, go all-black with everything. Add in some subtle details like a brightly colored watch to break up the darkness.
Stick with the overall piece count of the Classic look, but rock a graphic longline for some added depth. Our American 96 Quilted Longline T-shirt has the feel of a modern jersey with its floral-accented 96 sprawled across the torso. But this longline helps you pull off the desired look with just a little extra flair than the solid tees.
In the skating community, longlines are a stylistic move but you still need to function; you need agility. So the pieces that you pair back to your longline are more important. Your jeans should still be skinny, but you need a flashy high-top sneaker that gives you stability on the board and looks great when you’re not skating. Throw on a bomber over your longline, and you’ve got a look that evokes prime Chad Muska.
As fall moves along, it might get a little too chilly to rock a longline on its own. But one of the best things about them is their layering capability. Find a lightweight sweater or another longline tee that has side zippers along the hem. Drop it over your main longline and unzip the sides. Be sure the layering piece on top is a couple inches shorter than your base piece. Your front view already shows a nice play on proportion, but the side reveal takes your look to the next level. Be sure to pick pieces that are neutral and solid but that create a great contrast when paired together. For example, rock a white tee underneath a black or gray sweater. If you choose two pieces that are the same color, your look will be flat and you’ll end up looking bulky without any real differentiation between the garments.
Though longlines existed before Kanye started wearing them, he’s the guy most responsible for bringing the style to the masses. And because of this, he has the most iconic longline looks. Top your longline with a flight jacket and pair the pieces with a pair of distressed and ripped denim. Another way to pull off Yeezy’s style is by layering a longline hoodie under a bomber jacket and rocking them with skinny jeans. Our Longline Short Sleeve Hoodie with Side Zipper is a great, lightweight piece to add into your look.
Rock ‘N’ Roll
For some extra edge, add a strong leather jacket over your longline. Leather jackets work in this scenario for a few reasons. First, they allow you to rock an all-black look without looking too monochromatic. The sheen of the jacket will contrast nicely with a black tee even though they’re the same color. Also, the motorcycle cut of leather jackets makes for a nice play on proportion that’s just as badass as it is fashion forward. And last, instead of softening up the look, leather jackets give it a masculine toughness.
Dress It Up
You might not be able to rock longlines to the office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress them up. Take a strong business casual look with a blazer and trousers. But instead of a woven dress shirt, swap it out for a longline. While the overall look is still refined, the longline adds in a high-fashion element of casual cool. It shows that you take yourself seriously, but you also know how to have a little fun.
Fad or Here To Stay?
As with any big streetwear trend, you’re probably concerned that longlines are just a fad that’ll fall by the wayside as soon as Kanye changes up his style. But rest assured, despite how their popularity may change in the future, longlines are here to stay.
Though they only started to gain traction in 2014, they had been in existence for quite some time; just with a different aesthetic. Remember back in 2007 when Andre 3000 popped up on the remix of DJ Unk’s southern rap classic, “Walk It Out”? Then, almost ten years ago, he advised guys to stop wearing oversized tees. “Make your mama proud/take that thang two sizes down”, he rapped.
The longline tee was a big part of hip hop culture even back then and for many years prior. But instead of the skinny jean and Chelsea boot pairings of 2016, rappers were rocking their tees with baggy jeans and Jordans. And their tees were truly oversized. They were shopping up in size instead of finding shirts with regular fits and longer hems.
In a sense, hip hop culture and fashion listened to Andre 3000. They took the size down but not the length. The modern day version of the longline is a more accessible, mainstream, and stylish alternative to the sloppy style of the mid-2000s.
Quite frankly, anyone who tries to predict the death of longlines is simply out of touch with the greater movement in fashion. When it comes to fit and silhouette, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s to come. The New York Times recently highlighted the trend of so-called “hashtag fashion”. Among the many styles highlighted in the rising trend was the longline tee. The general public, fashion journalists included, is still trying to figure out what longlines are and how to wear them.
There’s no danger in this style becoming extinct at any point in the near future.
The key to diving into this new world of longer hemlines is to dip your toe first. Just like any new adjustment to your personal aesthetic, you need to feel your way around and understand what works for you. How long is too long? What’s too short? What’s just right? It’ll take some time and experimentation to find a longline style that works seamlessly with your pre-existing style. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t chase trend. As with any other garment, there’s a way to work it into your looks and put your own spin on things.
Longlines don’t need to inspire anxiety. You should be less focused on color and more concerned with layering, details, and nailing the perfect length. Once you’ve mastered these nuances, you’ll have free reign to start building up your longline reserves. They’re an acquired taste that must be tried on for size before becoming fully immersed.
Do what’s right for you so that the move feels authentic yet still fresh. You can evoke peak Yeezy or peak skate culture or even peak Hood By Air, but do it in your own way.