When Is a T-Shirt Really Worth $30?

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Putting away the laundry the other day, I suddenly realized how many t-shirts I have stuffed in my drawer. I have a lot of them. Then I started wondering how much I paid for each one. Some were pretty cheap; others were more expensive. There was one particular t-shirt I remember paying about $30 for.

That got me thinking, when is a t-shirt really worth that much money? I could go to my favorite big box department store and buy two or three budget priced t-shirts for the same amount. Is a single shirt worth $30? But wait. T-shirts can be even more expensive. I have seen them priced in excess of $50 in some places. I’m sure prices go even higher.

What’s Important to Me

The t-shirt price question is normally not earth-shattering. But in the moment, I couldn’t let it go. I started thinking about what is important to me as a t-shirt owner. Here is what I came up with:

  • Comfort – A t-shirt has to be comfortable or I won’t wear it. That goes for all my clothing.
  • Fit – I think it is important that t-shirts fit correctly. They cannot be too tight or too loose.
  • Cut – I am pretty particular about how my clothing is cut. I don’t make an exception for t-shirts.
  • Color – Color is important to the extent that I want my t-shirts to match whatever else I’m wearing.
  • Messages – Unless I am wearing a plain t-shirt, the message matters.

As far as the messaging aspect goes, there is something for everyone. Sports fans have tons of choices covering everything from individual sports to championship teams. Pop culture fans probably have even more choices when you consider the vast galaxy that is music, films, TV, etc.

All sorts of specialty messaging are possible, too. Consider the Plurawl brand based in New York City. Plurawl caters to the LatinX community with a message of pride and authenticity. Their messaging is as unique as their brand. It turns out their customers love it.

You Get What You Paid For

All this t-shirt soul searching led me to the conclusion that you get what you pay for. If I want a Latinx t-shirt that meets all five of my criteria, I am going to spend more for it. The likelihood of me finding such perfect t-shirts for five bucks apiece isn’t very high. I might find shirts that are comfortable and fit well, but their colors don’t impress me. I might find t-shirts with great messages that don’t really fit.

Something else to consider is brand. The advantage of buying at the discount department store is that you can find less expensive brands without a whole lot of effort. You will not find the most expensive brands that sell of the highest prices. For those, you have to hit clothing boutiques that specialize in high-end products. That’s where you’ll pay $50 or more for a single t-shirt.

When You Find What You Want

I finally came to the conclusion that a t-shirt is worth $30 – or more, for that matter – when you find what you actually want. That is the big thing. Shopping for clothing is one of the most frustrating experiences in retail. You can spend hours and still walk away with nothing. That being the case, finding exactly what you want can be a joyous occasion. That is worth paying for.

Truth be told, I only have a few expensive t-shirts in my drawer. They tend to be the most valuable, but not because of the price. It is because they meet all of my expectations.


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