From its origins as standard-issue military gear and the Everyman’s undershirt to the super-hyped Hanes collaboration with Justin Bieber’s stylist Karla Welch, the classic white T-shirt comes in many forms. You can now find them for anywhere between $10 and upwards of $100. So, to help you find your go-to white T-shirt in a sea of Supima cotton, cashmere, and jersey, we spoke to 15 stylish guys from different walks of life about their favorite V-necks and crews.
“Reigning Champ does an excellent cut in the modern athletic, slim-fit style. The cotton feels durable but not thick. It’s a T-shirt with details you can think about or easily not have to. I also like Anatomica, an obscure buy from Japan. It’s tubular without side seams. The material is thick, and the thickness or texture of it makes me feel it’ll last a long time.” —Kentaro Sakata, doctor and writer in Melbourne
“I only ever wear pocket tees — and Taylor Stitch makes great ones with a curved pocket hem. Most everything they produce is made in limited batches, and in the last year or so, they switched all their tees to be made entirely of upcycled cotton yarns and recycled polyester — so they save about 1,200 gallons of water per tee, and production only uses trace amounts of CO2, which is a huge plus. But it’s also hard to beat Everlane’s fit and price point.” —Benjamin Stanley, art curator
“A few summers ago, I bought a lightweight, slub cotton, V-neck T-shirt from Theory. It was kind of the perfect shirt. Over the course of that summer, I went back for more, until I had five or six of them. After hundreds of wearings and washings, they have been showing their age. But at about 75 bucks each, I was not excited about replacing them. And then Everlane came to the rescue with their Air T-shirt. I needed to try in person, to be sure I’d be happy with it as a replacement. I went to their Soho retail store and ended up buying eight shirts. I think the Theory version has nicer stitching and maybe a slightly better cut, but the Everlane shirt feels great, and at 22 bucks is a relative bargain.” —Ian Adelman, chief creative officer, New York Media
[Editor’s note: The Everlane Air V-Neck Tee is currently sold out, but the crewneck version is still available.]
“I have two that I’m into now: I normally stock up on Comfort Colors every summer when I go up to Maine. I get them from a local store called Reny’s, and they’re usually like $3 or $4 each. But when I can’t wait till the summer, I buy them on amazon. I like how they feel substantial, a little bit boxy with a worn-in feel, and because they’re so cheap, I can get a bunch of them and wear them anywhere, so I don’t have to treat them like they’re so precious.” —Mickey Pangilinan, design director, advertising, at Harry’s
“My favorite white T-shirt is a simple crewneck made by Save Khaki. Their tees cling or stretch more than a department-store brand and wash very well. It’s like a pretty traditional silhouette that fits perfectly after one wash. I like the seam of the shoulders to hang past the end of shoulders just a little bit. It’s a narrow, tapered fit. Something I can feel comfortable wearing to the gym or to a restaurant.” —Abie Cohen, private wealth adviser (and husband of the Man Repeller)
“There is something magical about a product that does exactly what you need it to do at a fair price. Hence the obsession with brands like Muji and other minimalist design-forward companies. A plain white tee is arguably ground zero of sartorial minimalism, and a well-made one for a fair price makes it that much more satisfying. I recommend the basic white tee by alternative apparel — it’s well-made and easily accessed year-round at a fair price that won’t immediately draw anxiety if you go full Steve McQueen and spill coffee all over it while off-roading in your mustang fastback.” —Brian Slizgi, pharmaceutical R&D consultant
“My favorite T-shirt line is Sunspel, an old-school British luxury line with insanely high craftsmanship — great fit and fabric — while not being as expensive as it could be. I also like Wings + Horn, which has extremely soft cotton shirts.” —Ken Chen, executive director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop
“I really love my Levi’s white tee. Three things I always look for when deciding on a simple tee are length, and collar width and durability. The Levi’s tee is is great because it’s cropped a bit shorter and the collar isn’t as thick as a regular Gildan tee. It sits perfectly on the neckline and allows the ungodly amount of gold chains I wear everyday to peek out the sides.” - Alexander-Julian (AJ) Gibbson, Stylist and Content Specialist
“Velva Sheen makes the best white T-shirt, hands down. And I’m confident saying that since I feel like I’ve tried every brand out there. Their shirts have a substantial weight and drape really well — cut modern enough to wear in 2018, while still looking like something your grandpa probably wore under his work shirt. They hold up well over time and actually look better the more you wear them. I have a bunch of them — all with a pocket, since you never know when you’ll need to stash something away.” —Evan Parker, vice-president of content at NASCAR
“I am into sturdy, heavyweight T-shirts. I bought a John Elliott white tee and had to return it because it was just too flimsy.” —Nathaniel Friedman, editor at Victory Journal
“My number one white T-shirt is the Kirkland Brand Crew Neck Tee. Not only are they super cheap, but they also are very comfortable, long enough to tuck nicely, and more durable than you’d expect. The essential move here though is to cut the collar off with a pair of scissors. The collars are a bit on the larger side so the increased breathing room for your neck is quite nice, but they also look $50 more expensive afterwards.” - Shakeil Greeley, Designer
“I like these shirts from H&M because they work well when you want to layer up, or as something you want to throw on over your sweats for an inconspicuous bacon, egg, and cheese run. As someone who has spent a lifetime crafting a painfully thicc physique, I like my t-shirts to have the slightest bit of flow to them, lest they start hugging my body after eating said bacon, egg, and cheese. These shirts give me enough room to move without looking like I’m wearing a poncho. Also, their slightest bit of sheen make them look like a small-but-important step up from a typical undershirt. And they’re cheap!” - Rohan Nadkarni, Staff Writer at Sports Illustrated
“I put on a white T-shirt pretty much every day of my life as habit … Hanes is my go-to brand. One of the allures of the white tee is that because it comes in a five-pack, there is a level of consistency, and the comfort of knowing you can have the same thing whenever you want it. I think a big reason why I subconsciously wear them is because it’s part of me being a bit old-fashioned. My dad, who was born in 1930, always wore a white T-shirt every day. I appreciate the history of it, and they’ve always had a sort of James Dean appeal of being casual and comfortable, but still cool.” —Walter Binger, owner of Empanadas, Son! Restaurant
“I only buy white T-shirts as undershirts now (I drink too much coffee and usually while walking, so I just kept ruining them immediately). I’m a big fan of the Hanes Tagless tee.” —Alexander Chee, Author of The Queen of the Night
“Earlier this year, I realized that every one of my favorite graphic tees had a few things in common: smooth, heavy fabric, wide ribbing at the neck, and a perfectly boxy fit. Hallmarks, it turns out, of the Everybody World trash tee, which is the blank of choice for pretty much all of the flyest upstart streetwear brands (Noah, Awake) and Shopify merch operations (Online Ceramics, Come Tees) in fashion. Everybody World calls it the trash tee because it’s made of recycled cotton, which is surprisingly cutting edge in the industry (and impossible to find at a sub-$30 price point). Now it’s my blank of choice, too.” —Sam Hine, assistant editor GQ and GQ Style
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