Tshirts – Make or Break Details


Tshirts – everyone has their favorite, whether it’s because of it’s worn-in comfort, the great graphic design, or the memory it evokes. With tshirts being such an everyday item, we don’t often think about the small details that can make a shirt our go-to favorite, or buried at the bottom of the drawer.

“Six years I’ve had this t-shirt. It’s my best one. I call him Golden Boy.” – Jerry, in “The Marine Biologist”, Seinfeld tv comedyanatomyoftee

Take into consideration what preferences your group will have when ordering tshirts. You may want to mix styles for men and women to appeal to both. Some features to consider:


The wrong neckline can ruin the feel of a shirt. Ever had one that just didn’t lay right or stretched out too much? Or maybe a crew neck just gives you that strangling feeling!

  • Crewneck – soft rounded look, close to the base of the neck, also available as a ringer (contrasting color)
  • Scoop – a lower rounded neckline, usually for women, varying depths
  • V-neck – more common for women, but seen lately in men’s styles
  • Notch Crew – a slightly deeper crew neck option for men’s styles


Softer fabrics are the current style and offer a higher perceived value. If you want to ensure your apparel will be worn after your event or occasion, choosing a soft fabric combined with a great design makes all the difference.

  • Open-End Cotton – less expensive, less refined, good value – used for very basic tshirts
  • Ring Spun Cotton – smoother, stronger and softer than open end
  • Combed Ring Spun Cotton – even more refined and softer than plain ring spun
  • Poly and Poly Blends – performance fabrics with moisture management properties
  • TriBlends – combination of three threads – polyester, cotton & rayon to create a heathered look with a soft, drapey feel; very popular in fashion styles, and softest fabric


Weight is determined by the weight of one square yard of fabric. The trend lately has been towards lighter weights, but consider who will be wearing the shirts and when they will be worn.

  • Lightweight – 3-4.5 oz; usually for women’s, fashion and performance styles
  • Midweight – 5-5.5 oz; most standard tshirts, holds up well
  • Heavyweight – 6 oz+; durable, holds up best to frequent washings


Be aware of the size range of your group and choose accordingly. Mixing women’s styles in with standard adult sizing makes your apparel more appealing and comfortable.

  • Adult Sizes – unisex fit, but really made for men with longer sleeves and boxier fit
  • Ladies – slightly more contoured than adult sizes, with shorter sleeves
  • Ladies Fashion Fit – more contoured with shorter sleeve lengths
  • Junior – most contoured and body-hugging for slimmer silhouettes

For a comprehensive guide and graphics on tshirt styles and sizing, Sanmar has put together this handy chart:  Sanmar Tshirt Fit & Style Guide



Puffy Jackets Are Back – Building Lasting Impressions

Puffy jackets were all the rage back in the 80’s and we thought we’d seen the last of them. But these past couple of years, puffy jackets have made their way back onto the scene.

But this time, it’s different. They’re lighter, warmer and the bulk is gone. No more Michelin Man or Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man look. Some options are even compressible and packable – a great option for traveling.

These jackets are water resistant, insulated for warmth, and wind proof, with the added advantage of being light weight and easy to pack.

Try some unique decorating techniques for a truly custom look: run it vertically along the pocket zipper, a smaller imprint on the upper back shoulder, down the sleeve, or a tone-on-tone look to keep a polished look. Using a heat seal decoration technique helps to prevent water seepage which can occur with embroidery.

Jackets are proven to be a top item for creating a lasting impression with the recipient. Every time it gets worn, they’ll remember and appreciate the giver. They make a great item for employee gifts or incentives for safety and wellness programs.

According to research by the Advertising Specialty Institute, outerwear is highly memorable. 85% of recipients will remember who gave the item to them. In addition, on average, it’s keep for at least a year and a half. The more useful and attractive it is, the longer it’s held on to. (Infographic)

It’s a great way to strengthen your business relationships – from employees to valued customers, it’s an item with incredible staying (and advertising) power.

Karrine Quilted Jacket Puffy Jackets

Storm Creek Karrine Quilted Jacket

Kerrin Quilted Jacket Puffy Jackets

Storm Creek Kerrin Quilted Jacket

It’s Getting Cold Out There

We hate to say it, but it’s that time of year again…Frigid temperatures, snowfall and harsh winds are just around the corner.  It’s time to put away the shorts and tank tops and replace them with sweaters and long johns.  

Thankfully, to help us embrace the bitter weather and still look stylish (because who really looks good in long johns?), the latest trends in outerwear are making fashion meet function.

“Distributors are now keeping their eye out for garments that are designed with fashion in mind, but encompass integrated functionality, performance and comfort,” says Elson Yeung, Director of Private Label Design and Merchandising for one of our favorite apparel suppliers, Alphabroder.  

Apparel suppliers are taking authentic styles such as the varsity and letterman’s jackets or the bomber jackets worn by the military during WWII, and putting their own twist on them. Adding all-day comfort and special imprinting techniques such as embroidery, debossing, and heat transfers brings these retro styles into today’s fashion.  You can essentially design and create your own customized jacket which will further promote and market your brand.

Some of the top picks of jackets this season:

bombers jacket debossed jacket trimark jacket trimark decorated jacket puffy jacket soft shell jacket

Digital Design – Hot Trend for Fall

Seems like the new thing for apparel this fall is digital designs or textures.

The latest from Sanmar and Ogio are fabric colors with a digital pattern. It’s similar to a heathered look, but instead of different colored threads woven together to create the look, it’s a printed pattern. We’re seeing this look on moisture-wicking, poly apparel.


The poly fleece jackets offer a very comfortable alternative to a sweater, with a more professional look than the standard solid color performance fleece.



Ties, Scarves & Socks – Oh My!

Custom imprinted apparel isn’t only about shirts, hats and jackets. Neck ties, scarves and socks make great options as accessories with wide appeal. Not only are they attractive and professional-looking, typically they are one-size-fits-most so sizing is not an issue.

For a professional look, a combination of ties and scarves customized with your organization’s colors and logo makes a great unifying statement.


Come in a variety of fabrics, including silk, microfiber, and polyester. Can be custom woven with your logo or design, or imprinted using embroidery, screen printing or laser etching.


A variety of styles and fabrics, including infinity and various rectangle or square shapes.


Always a fun accessory, options in socks include dress, sport, ankle, crew, tube and performance socks. Socks can be fully customized by choosing thread colors and woven designs, or imprinted with transfers, appliqués or embroidery.


Tee It Up – We’ve Got Your Back

Typically, you may not think of a promotional products company like The Creative J to be your best source for screen printed tshirts. However, you just might want to think about that again. Apparel is a BIG part of our business, and an area at which we really excel.

No, we don’t have our own equipment and no, we don’t print them here at our offices. However, this offers our customers an advantage over traditional tshirt shops:  Options – and lots of them!


Since we are able to combine the best sources for your specific order, you’ll receive our expert marketing and creative input on each project. We won’t just slap your logo on the left chest and call it good, we’ll work with you to make sure you project the image you envision.

So, why should you use The Creative J for apparel?

  • More apparel brands and options
    • Since we’re not tied into any one source for our apparel, we offer a wide variety of brands, styles, and price points for our customers.
    • We customize each order by choosing the apparel source, the decorator and the shipping method in order to fit our customer’s specific needs for style, budget and time-frame.
    • Need more than shirts? We’ve got it – shirts, caps, pants, jackets, accessories, even shoes!
    • Brands such as Eddie Bauer, Ogio, Columbia, Carhartt, Red Kap, Greg Norman, Adidas, Nike, Puma, Ralph Lauren/Polo, Izod, Dri-Duck, Lacoste, American Apparel, Champion, Gildan … the list goes on and on.
  • Customization
    • Want to customize the apparel tag with your own brand? We can do that.
    • Want to create your own custom color and style combinations? We can do that.
    • Want to shorten sleeves, add pockets, coordinate laces, create shirt/cap combos? We can do that.
    • Want to combine various decorating techniques? We can do that.
  • Multiple Sources
    • We can pull inventory from multiple warehouses and suppliers, so we have more options when stocks run low.
  • Schedule Flexibility
    • Since we work with multiple decorators, we aren’t tied into any one decorator’s schedule. If Decorator A is booked, we can move to Decorator B to meet your event date.
  • Creative Decoration and Design
    • We utilize decorators across the country in order to bring our customers unique options that will truly set them apart, such as:
      • laser etching and applique
      • oversized screen printing
      • specialty inks, including metallics, puff, suede, clear, glow-in-the-dark, foils, soft-hand, distressed and more
      • full color heat transfers, sequins, rhinestones, and embroidery
      • full color overall sublimation printing
  • Safety Compliance for Youth Apparel
    • We make sure all youth apparel is properly tested and tagged according to federal safety regulations.
  • Upfront Pricing and Details
    • As always, we’ll provide you with complete order details and costs before you pay a penny, and we stand by our quotes. You won’t find us sneaking in additional charges on the final invoice.
  • Guided Options and Choices
    • We don’t expect you to come in knowing exactly what you want or need. We’ll help guide you through the process to narrow down the specific styles, brands, decoration and budgets which will work best for your unique situation.
So, now that you know a little more about us, we’d like to know more about you. Tell us about your next project and see how we can help.

Custom Apparel – Makin’ It Your Own

If you’re looking for a truly unique way to outfit your employees and make your organization’s apparel program really stand out, consider custom. With as few as 48 pieces, you can create a totally unique look which reflects your colors and your style.

With our reliable manufacturers, you now have the option to create custom apparel which is delivered in 35-45 days. Just let us know what types of apparel you are interested in, we’ll get you electronic mock ups of several ideas for your review. (Click here to see sample mockup presentation.)


Then just review the presentation and make tweaks where needed. Once you’ve decided on the details, you’ll receive a fully-decorated production sample for final approval.

The options are endless. Pick your colors, fabrics, styles and decoration to create one-of-a-kind apparel you won’t find anywhere else.

What better way to really set yourself apart from the rest!

Since the apparel is created and sewn from the ground up, you now have more options than just your standard left chest decoration. And what’s really great, pricing is still very similar to good-quality stock apparel.

Pop Your Pocket – Not Your Basic Tee

Looking for a new look for your basic tshirt? Pop Your Pocket!


With our Pop-Your-Pocket program, you combine a tshirt color and a pocket color along with a variety of decorating techniques for a truly custom look.

Decoration can be applied on top or beneath the pocket, as well as on or above. By combining unique color combinations along with a variety of screenprint techniques and inks, you’ll have a tshirt like no other.

Minimum order is 72 pieces. Contact us for a free virtual concept.

Golf Shirts – Understanding Fabrics

In the very popular category of golf and polo shirts, you’ll find a wide array of fabrics, technologies and styles. Below is a quick guide to the most popular types of fabrics and features you’ll find in this apparel category:

Fabric Types

Cotton – This universal fiber comes in many varieties, in order of softness:
Carded: Process which removes the debris in the fibers.
Combed: Shorter fibers are removed, leaving a higher-quality, softer cotton.
Ring-Spun: Fibers are spun into yarn, creating a softer, stronger thread.
Pima: Premium cotton which is very fine, lustrous and strong

Microfiber – Ultra-fine fibers which make a very soft, silky fabric.

Polyester – This fabric has become extremely popular for it’s excellent wear and quick-drying properties.

Spandex – Stretchy fiber which is now often added to materials to create a bit of “give.”

When it comes to polo shirts, the trend is definitely towards polyester or poly blends which also incorporate various technologies.

Finishes or Added Features:

Moisture Wicking – moves moisture away from the skin and allows it to pass to the surface for evaporation, keeping the wearer cooler in hot temperatures.

UV Protection – Protects the fabric from fading and the wearer from harmful UV rays.

Snag-Resistant – Resists snagging and thread-pulling

Odor-Fighting or Antimicrobial – Resists odor caused by body bacteria and increases the garment life.


Jacquard Knit
Ottoman Knit
Pique Knit

Weaves or Styles

Jacquard – Intricate pattern woven into the fabric, typically with two or more colors

Ottoman – Tightly woven horizontal raised rib texture

Drop-Needle – Knit fabric with vertical lines within the cloth

Herringbone – Zig-zag pattern knit into the fabric

Mélange – Mix of different colors knit together to create a heathered look

Nailhead – Jacquard knit with a design similar to small nail heads

Pique – A knitting method that creates a fine textured surface similar to a waffle weave


Trends: Athleisure – Fitness + Fashion

Athleisure or Sport Luxe is the term being used for fashionable fitness wear. According to our main apparel source, Sanmar, this is a growing trend as the market for comfortable activewear increases while the demand for denim jeans decreases. Taking a look at my own closet, I’m finding I’ve added mainly these type of pieces to my wardrobe this past year.

Some of the trends and details to look for in this new category:

Sophisticated Colors:
Neutral palettes (think grays and browns) are replacing bold, neon colors, making these fashions more suitable for the office.

Long sleeve shirts with textured hoodies, topped off with tech-fabric jackets to complete the look.

Varsity Details:
Team-inspired details such as baseball jerseys or letterman jackets are popular.

Materials & Detail:
Textures such as mesh and lace add visual interest. Accents of metal or contrast piping elevate the sporty styles to the luxe level.

Click on image above to read more on this trend.

Shop the trend:  Click here to view Sanmar’s Sporting Luxury items