I wouldn’t claim to be a professional in many things—well, anything really, BUT I do claim to be one when it comes to basic, everyday t-shirts. I wear a plain tee tucked into jeans every single day unless I have to go somewhere that requires me to look more presentable. Don’t ask why, but I call it my uniform and I have an absurd amount of experience trying to find the perfect tee that you can wear over and over and over again.
I think there are ten thousand ways to wear an average, plain white tee, and there really isn’t anything better than a fresh, clean white t-shirt, is there?
I know many of you may have never had this problem, but to the five of you who haven’t encountered the impossibility of finding the perfect plain white tee, your time is coming. You’ll soon learn, as I have, that there are just about a million things that could be wrong with any given plain white/black/grey solid tee. For example, the neckline can be completely wrong, the white could be see-through, stained, yellowing, or faded–ugh, I’m frustrated just thinking about it—it could have an awkward sleeve or it could hug in all the wrong places. If my shirt has any of these problems, it’s never being worn, no matter how many times I move it to the bottom of the pile.
So I’ve created a list, something I’ve scoured the internet for for hours on end and have never found—the ultimate basics guide, starting with my favorite basic tees because there’s something about a clean, crisp, white t-shirt that makes you instantly look cool and like you really have your shit together.
It’s not surprising that a company with cotton in the name makes some of the best cotton white tees ever. The shirts are great because of their fit, but what I love most about them is they’re not see-through at all and they maintain their shape no matter how many times you wash them, which, in my world, is the ultimate dream. It’s always a faithful tee that is stretchy but won’t get stretched out so you get the best of both worlds.
This brand is the sister-brand of Stoney Clover Lane. They’ve pivoted from this trendsetting jewelry line to a budding comfort empire and their take on the plain white tee is killer. It fits a little on the smaller side—nothing too dramatic—and is perfect to tuck in to just about anything. it’s a great choice if you want a tighter fit that still measures very high on the comfiness scale–I love sleeping in mine!
You probably know Re/Done by their recycled denim, I hadn’t really ever looked to see what else the brand has to offer. They have a few amazing takes on the basic tee, including slim-tee bodysuits that I wear here and there, but I’ve found their other shirts can be a little too thin and see-through for my liking. Their plain white Women’s Classic Tee on the other hand is award-worthy–I bought two they’re so good. The fit isn’t too tight but has enough shape where you won’t look boxy and the sleeves are a bit cropped, which makes your arms look great. It has become a staple in my closet and a tee that can be dressed up with slacks or down with jean shorts.
This is the perfect shirt for the weekend. It’s classic shape–straight body and fitted sleeves–and its ribbed trim make it the ideal tee for a classic-casual look. It has roomy sleeves for a relaxed fit and feels very old-Hollywood cool–just add the black ray bans. I pair mine with light-wash ripped jeans and I love knotting the front to wear it with jean shorts and sneakers.
Anine Bing makes a shirt called ‘The Perfect Tee” and, well, it is. It has a more vintage-y feel and is perfectly cut to achieve that cool, relaxed look, which I’m so obsessed with. I sleep in mine and am guilty of sleeping in one and wearing it out the next day–sue me! The material is the softest thing ever, think enough to not be see-through and has all the feel of your standard vintage band tee, just well, without the band.
If you’re seen more often than not in a shirt and jeans–as in every day– then I’d say splurge on one of these. But if your job requires you to dress formally or you’re just not a t-shirt kind of girl, then I’d say opt for one of the options above to have because who doesn’t need a white tee, or six? Two of my all-time, fancy favorites are The Row’s White Tee and Wolford’s Pure Shirt. The main difference between these and the cheaper options is the overall quality–you can definitely tell the difference in terms of texture and the fact that they don’t ever lose shape and won’t yellow—especially the one by Wolford. But for the most part, they just look a little, well, fancier I guess and will definitely last longer than some of the cheaper options. My vote is this, if you want to invest in a tee you can have for years and years, rather than buying a new one every year or so, then splurge–otherwise, save and grab one of the less expensive alternatives.