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What’s the Best Black T-shirt for Men?

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White T-shirts get a lot of attention, but let’s not forget their equally versatile counterpart, the black T-shirt. It’s a staple that you can wear to work, the gym, on a date — and, as Brandon Stinchfield, a nonprofit grants director, puts it, they’re “perfect for a casual weekend in the neighborhood or a trip outside the city when you want to display to everyone you meet that you are a New Yorker dressed in black.” But, like most basics, there are actually lot of variations on the deceptively simple black shirt. We talked to 18 stylish guys about their favorites, and they recommended cotton-linen blends, V-necks, crew necks with especially thin necklines, recycled T-shirts, and more. Here are the shirts they love most.

Best overall black T-shirts

Gildan Men's Classic Cotton Short Sleeve T-Shirt

“Yeah, I know. The blank T-shirt used by your favorite Big Cartel brand in 2016 — and also by Kanye for his The Life of Pablo” merch — isn’t terribly glamorous. But these shirts, made by a 35-year-old Canadian company, have several essential elements: cut wide but not in any way boxy, and with an unflappable crew neck. And they’re durable. While they start out stiff, the thinnish material is surprisingly sturdy — run it through the wash a couple of times and the personality begins to emerge.” —Jon Caramanica, pop critic and mens’ Critical Shopper for the New York Times

Uniqlo Men’s Supima Cotton Crewneck Short-Sleeve T-shirt

“Uniqlo is the best place to shop basics. Their Supima cotton crew neck short sleeve tee is hands-down the best black T-shirt I own. They’re light and breathable with a bit of stretch. You can literally wear it with anything. I think the first time I went to Uniqlo, maybe six or seven years ago, I bought two of them and — don’t judge me — they’re still in my weekly rotation of tees. (Uniqlo, call me.) A great basic is cheap and lasts long. Under $10, you can’t really beat this.” —Matt Schonfeld, creative marketing manager at Rowing Blazers

Uniqlo Packaged Dry Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt

“At some point I realized that I couldn’t tell the difference between Uniqlo’s packaged dry crew neck and their slightly pricier Supima cotton crew neck. So whenever I’m in a Uniqlo, I leave with an armful of shockingly affordable packaged black T-shirts. They’re light, durable, and no frills. Perfect for a casual weekend in the neighborhood or a trip outside the city when you want to display to everyone you meet that you are a New Yorker dressed in black.” —Brandon Stinchfield, nonprofit grants director

Best three-packs of black T-shirts

Calvin Klein Men's 3-Pack Classic Crew Neck T-Shirt

“I’m embarrassed to admit I used to think black T-shirts were only for biker dads or angsty teens. Recently though I’ve come around to them as a kind of versatile statement piece — one that can say ‘maybe I’m a biker dad’ but can also say ‘maybe I’m an angsty teen.’ Importantly for this shirt in particular, there’s no tag — the label is printed on, a very futuristic feature.” —Zach Halberg, publisher of Newest York

Supreme Hanes Tagless Tees

“I like the Supreme/Hanes Tagless Tees because they’re clean — you can tuck it in and avoid showing off your branding — or fuccboi because you can subtly wear it untucked without being super-obnoxious. They’re cheap and easily destroyed (I use them to play soccer in), but you can also wear it easily to a dinner. They come in a three-pack … they’re played out, but also not played out like a CDG Play shirt that sits at the bottom of my T-shirt drawer (RIP).” —Sam Mark, account manager at Vice Media

Best black T-shirts for work

J. Crew Essential crewneck T-shirt

“I always buy these in bulk … I like solid colors, and have been buying these for years. They’re soft, never change dramatically in style, or fit, and luckily, I’ve never paid full price for them because they’re always on sale.” —Sebastián Sarmiento, gallery director

MHL. Basic T-Shirt Cotton Linen Jersey

“I wear T-shirts almost every day. But I’m fickle by nature and always hunting for imperceptibly nuanced variations of things that I already have. So I’ve traveled out of my way to find Margaret Howell clothing, which seems designed to embrace menswear’s fundamental dullness and sameness. Everything is well-constructed, tactfully understated, almost oversimplified — and of course not cheap. Their T-shirts fit a little boxier, the sleeves are a little shorter — they don’t reach the elbows, thank god — and the linen-cotton blend has breezy texture, as if petted by sunlight.” —Tynan Kogane, editor at New Directions

Rag & Bone Base Tee

“Wearing black is an industry standard on film and photo sets — and the Base Tee because it’s something I feel good in on fashion sets or around the Ghetto Gastro guys and all their ‘Rick Owens drip’ when we’re traveling the world. It’s a quality shirt that sits just right on my shoulders, but also tapers through the middle without being form-fitting. I’ll buy a bunch because you can never have too many on any given day.”Jose D. Cota, director and editor, Ghetto Gastro

Sunspel Short Sleeve Crew Neck Tee
Photo: Tony Birckhead/2015 All rights reserved
Sunspel Short Sleeve Crew Neck Tee

“The Sunspel looks good when I wear it on its own or under a sweater, and what really sets it apart is the thinness of the little rib at the neckline. It’s also just got a perfectly well-proportioned sleeve and body length. Note: If you machine-dry rather than hang-dry them, you might want to size up, as they will shrink just a bit.” —Michael Friedberg, marketing, Dummies

Best V-neck black T-shirts

American Apparel Men’s Fine Jersey Short Sleeve Classic V-Neck T-shirt

“I like to put my creative energy into my work and not my clothes. Like many artists I know, we gravitate toward a self-imposed uniform, and the A.A. V-neck black tee works in the studio and looks good at the opening. The best part about the T-shirt is that it gets so much softer with time. It doesn’t shrink. It doesn’t fade. It just feels better and better. My wife, Jenni, makes me throw them out because it’s hard to let go, no matter how many holes and cuts they endure.” —Barnett Cohen, artist

Hanes Mens Luxury Essentials 3-Pack Black Dyed V-Neck Undershirt

“My favorite black T-shirt is Hanes. (Really.) But not just any Hanes — it has to be the Luxury Essentials V-neck, which starts out in the deepest of blacks and as it ages takes on the perfect softness and most beautiful faded black ever. There are three in a pack, so I can never have enough. I actually wear them with suiting, or just casually with jeans. They’re my go-to.” —Wouri Vice, stylist

Gap Classic V T-Shirt

“I wear so many black tees that I feel borderline tropical if I so much as branch out into gray palettes. My favorite black T-shirt is the Essential V-Neck by Gap because it’s one of the few I can find in a medium-tall size. I’m six-foot-four with a slender frame. If I buy a large, it’s almost the right length, but I’m swimming around in it like scrubs. If I buy a medium, it fits better in the abdomen, but with the unfortunate side effect of showing off my happy trail to innocent bystanders. The medium-tall Gap V-neck hugs my shoulders and chest and stays slim down past my waistline. It’s versatile, too: works just as well at the gym as at the restaurant.” Hayden Frank, musician and EMT

Best soft black T-shirts

Anvil Men's Lightweight Tee

“It’s really soft and ruined other shirts for me because whenever I order a T-shirt that doesn’t actually fit and is made of scratchy material I want to die.” —Ben Fama, poet and author of Deathwish

Everybody World Recycled Cotton Classic Trash Tee

“Our favorite black t-shirt is hands down the Trash Tee from Everybody World. Not only does it have a great roomy fit, and a durable but soft feel, it’s made from 100% recycled material collected from the waste at cotton factories. We firmly believe in paying workers fairly and using materials made here in Los Angeles, and Everybody World is at the forefront of ethical and sustainable clothing practices. The cut of the tee is also super dope and reminiscent of boxier tees from the 90’s- we can’t recommend it enough!” —Elijah Funk and Alix Ross, Online Ceramics

Mack Weldon Pima Crewneck T-shirt

“I recently started getting Mack Weldon shirts because I love their underwear. Their focus is on comfort, which is perfect for me because I’m usually running around. The classic pima also has a higher-quality feel than you’ll get in a normal cotton (it comes from Peru) and in black is perfect for almost all situations.” —Will D’Agostino, founder, Nutshell

Best slim-fit black T-shirts

Uniqlo U Crewneck Short Sleeve T-shirt

“My favorite is this Uniqlo shirt. I’m tall and lanky and it’s hard to find shirts that are long enough and still slim. The medium size fits me perfectly — it’s tall enough for me but not so wide that I look like I’m wearing a sack. It also stands up to being washed without shrinking. That’s pretty much the only black shirt I own these days and I have tons of them! I wear them at least three times a week.” —Noah Sylvan, senior product manager for electronics at Uber

Calvin Klein Men’s Cotton Stretch Crew-neck Undershirt 2-Pack

“Lately, I really like the Calvin Klein black crew neck tee in the two-pack. It’s the best, as the cotton wears well, and over time, I think it fades really well. It’s got elastane in it, which you should know, because some people don’t like that clinginess. If you like V-necks, theirs isn’t so deep that you look like J.Lo if you go out, though I prefer crew necks these days. I also find C.K. a lot more durable than other brands (I’m looking at you, Polo).” — Parker Wertz, vice-president, Merrill Lynch

H&M V-neck T-shirt Slim Fit

“After being a loyal consumer of American Apparel’s V-neck tees, I have found my new favorite go-to tee to be H&M’s V-neck slim fit. It feels great on, fits my slim frame, keeps it’s shape all day long (5 percent spandex), and since it’s less than $10, I can replenish them as often as needed without feeling any guilt. I wear one every day either as an undershirt or just on its own.” —Jude Scott, New York City event coordinator

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What’s the Best Black T-shirt for Men?