Everyone, at one point in their life, has had that t-shirt – the favorite one that gets worn frequently and for years on end, and even when it is too worn out to wear, you still hold onto it folded in the back of your closet.

Sometimes this shirt lands the title of “favorite” due to sentimental reasons like the one you bought at the best concert of your life, or the one from your senior year of school before life got so complicated, or the shirt you got at the last family reunion you shared with your grandma. And sometimes, the favorite t-shirt just has some indefinable quality that just speaks to you.

If you are trying to design a t-shirt, it can be difficult to pinpoint the “it” factor that makes people want to actually wear your shirt when they get it. Here are a few tips on what makes a t-shirt someone’s favorite, so you can design shirts people will wear for years.


One of the best acronyms to live by and to design shirts by is KISS, which is short for Keep It Simple, Stupid. A busy design can easily look cluttered on a t-shirt and can actually take away from your purpose of the shirt all together. The most important thing you can do as the designer is to consider what your message or purpose is and take away anything that doesn’t directly communicate it.


While this does not directly refer to the design, the fabric and quality of the shirt you choose absolutely will affect how people feel about it. There is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to choosing fabric either, as different fabrics are appropriate for different uses. For instance, the fabric for a corporate golf retreat should be different from that of a local band. Again, knowing the purpose of the shirt should help drive every decision about how the shirt is made.

Design Placement and Size

When you finalize the design for your shirt, don’t just send it off to then be printed on hundreds of shirts. The size of your design and where it falls on the shirt while it is being worn should be factors to take into consideration.

You have several options in terms of placement like whole back, whole front, pocket, or a small design in the upper right or left portion. You should also consider who will be wearing your t-shirts. If your shirt is meant for athletes, a smaller design would likely be better received. If the shirt is to promote a charity or organization, a larger, more prominent design will draw more attention.

One method of testing out your design size and placement is to print out the design the exact size you are thinking of on paper and pin it to a shirt that is being worn. Move it around to find the sweet spot. You might realize that your design is actually too big or too small and end up making small changes that could save the overall look of the finished product, so you end up with a t-shirt that looks great that people love to wear!

Trying to finalize your t-shirt design, or ready to send it for printing already? Contact RiverCity Screen printing & Embroidery, a custom clothing shop in Austin, San Marcos, and San Antonio.