Casual chic: how to add polish to a graphic tee outfit

Graphic tees can add personality and a touch of insouciance to your look. Here’s how I styled a graphic tee outfit for an elevated casual look.

I know they’re not everyone’s cup of Darjeeling, and tend to be a polarizing fashion item. Women over 50 have often been told that we should “retire” our graphic tees, but I beg to differ! I think if you like graphic tees and they suit your style, there’s a place for them in your wardrobe at any age.

I don’t own a lot of graphic tees, but the few I have often carry some personal meaning. You many not know this about me, but I’ve always been a bit of a geology geek. 😜 I used to collect rocks and fossils when I was young, and am still fascinated by geology and our earth’s history.

Susan B. wears a graphic tee outfit with a long camel cardigan, jeans, layered necklaces green bracelets, tan mules and bag.
Elevated casual” graphic tee outfit

So this quirky “Minerals Rock” tee appealed to my inner science nerd. 🦕 I think one of the keys to wearing a graphic tee is that it’s not just random, but rather has some personal relevance.

Adding polish to a casual graphic tee outfit

The cardigan, shoes, and bag in neutral colors and clean, simple shapes make the whole look more polished. (Again, I think mixing levels of formality in an outfit keeps things fresh and modern.) Going a little bit “matchy” can be another way to add refinement to an outfit, but I like to mix textures in pieces of the same color.

And I’ve added some gold and stone jewelry as a finishing touch…

Susan B. wears a graphic tee with prints of minerals, and two gold chain necklaces.
I love how the Prehnite stones in the necklace coordinate with the tee!

One of the things I love about French Kande jewelry is the use of unusual stones in the designs. This gold chain necklace (gifted) features beads of Prehnite, which is a lovely milky green colored gemstone. I thought it paired brilliantly with this “minerals” graphic tee. The lariat necklace is one I wear often, as it layers well with so may other pieces.

Susan B. wears a stack of 3 bracelets, gold French medallion with a green band, triple strand chain, and green Aventurine beads.

The gold “Chevaux” medallion bracelet (gifted) is also from the new “St. Germain” collection. I’ve been eyeing that style for a while, but the green sealed the deal. (It comes with two interchangeable bands; the other is black.) It’s a statement piece but also “plays well with others.”

The green Aventurine bead bracelet is no longer available, here’s one with a similar look. And the triple strand bracelet with Austrian crystals is also from French Kande.

To elevate this casual graphic tee outfit, I completed the look with sleek and minimal pieces, in sophisticated camel hues. The sculpted wedge heels on these mules feels modern. (Previously shown HERE and HERE.) They look higher than they feel, and are comfortable to walk in, (though probably not for long distances). They’re now marked way down, with all sizes still available.

Susan B. wears a graphic tee with a mineral print, layered gold necklaces, camel cardigan, jeans, camel wedge mules.

Size notes:

I’m wearing size Small in the tee, XXS in the sweater jacket, size 26 in the jeans (they run large) and size 7 in the mules. (Like most Vince shoes, they run 1/2 size large.)

Do you wear graphic tees? Tell me about your favorite one….

And be sure to visit The Style Hub for more outfit ideas and style tips…

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  1. I’m one of those people who is over 50 and feels a little silly wearing graphic tees. It seemed a little try to hard to look youthful, but your idea of dressing it up a bit looks really good. I have 2 graphic tees, one from the Texas Rodeo in Houston and one that is a map of France. They both have meaning to me because of good memories from trips and they’re very nice quality tees. I even have that sweater coat so I may pull them out and dress them up a bit! Thanks for the idea.

  2. I do not wear graphic tees, but only because I feel they emphasize my rather large bust. I love this look and may throw caution to the wind and try one and see how it works out. I’m headed to Charleston, SC next week – good shopping town!!

  3. Great post Susan, and my kind of winter look in southwest Florida. I like graphic tees and especially those with special meaning. A recent purchase is a queen of spades tee from Lucky since I am a bridge player. I vouch for your shoes too — I ordered on your recommendation and I love them (and my feet are 70 years old). I’m not a geology geek but I may order the tee because I like the colors and look. Fun, everyday chic look!!

  4. Super cute look. Reminds me of your very becoming long over short style from years ago, but with your special colors. Kudos!

  5. I know in most of the posts you lean away from white and for that matter black. But I quite like the way it looks on you :). I just bought a pair of the Caden trousers you recommend and I love them. Happy Wednesday and thanks.

  6. This is a great look. It looks put together but still causal. I live in the south and this is a great look for right now.

  7. Graphic tees are my favorite! Goes with my Aspirational Old Rocker look;) You do it it infinitely more elegantly than I.

  8. I love this look on you. It looks modern and stylish. Can you tell me how you, as a Spring, felt comfortable wearing a white tee? I’m a Spring and would have passed this tee by.

    1. Thanks so much, Nancy! The tee is actually a soft, slightly creamy off-white, so I don’t think it’s too harsh for a Spring. (An Autumn could probably wear it too.)

  9. I love this look – comfy, modern looking! Nice! I don’t usually wear many t’s but do have a couple I bought as souvenirs on trips. I say if you love it wear it no matter your age!

  10. I love your whole outfit! You accessorize to perfection. I’m a rock nerd as well – I have several rocks in my home decor :). I bought a JCrew graphic t-shirt in white with flowers last year. Subtle with pretty colors, but I haven’t seen much available this spring that isn’t large words. I own the JCrew sweater blazer in the same color. I’ve debated about adding this sweater jacket because I am a winter and just not sure this heather khaki is best for me. I have enough black and that seems more for cold temps. I always feel polished and classy wearing the blazer however. Any thoughts on this? I have the same question when it comes to which khaki/off white/white colors in pants/jeans.

  11. My absolute favorite look is a graphic tee with a top layer. I was told twice at work last week it way my “look” which was a huge compliment coming from two people 20 years younger than me! I work on a college campus and wearing our specific college’s new t-shirt with black pants, boots, and black blazer. Professional but fun! The women my age said I gave them inspiration to “dress it up” to wear at work. We’re not really formal but we don’t want to look like college students. Etsy has some awesome options for graphic tees. I would wear a graphic t-shirt daily. Love your entire outfit!

  12. I own a few graphic tees. One is my nickname, although strangers wouldn’t know that. I like it as an inside joke.

  13. Lovely spring colors! I like how you have embraced your colors.
    I have a challenge, maybe you could have some advice for. I will be packing a 25” suitcase for two months ( September and October) in Florence and Paris.
    My coloring, true summer is somewhat challenging to co ordinate for my petite pear shape.
    And I have sensitive skin so I stick to natural fabrics mostly. I have pale skin and grey hair. Any ideas are much appreciated.

    1. Hi Eileen, thanks so much! If you’re interested, I’m going to be launching a personalized travel wardrobe planning service later this month. You can read more about it HERE. Otherwise, check out my Travel Wardrobe resource page, and look for new new travel wardrobe ideas in the coming weeks.

  14. The outfit does look great. Graphic tees on me, no matter my age just aren’t my cup of tea. They look great on others though. It all comes down to your style personality. I really don’t like any kind of embellishment or logos on my clothes. Ralph Lauren button ups are my favorite but I won’t wear them because of the horse.

  15. My daughter was a geologist and has some really cute gemstone / rock graphic tees. I can’t say I’d wear them, but I would give your look a thumbs up. Maybe I’ll add an AllTrails or climate-related tee to my casual wear.