best in class

The Very Best Men’s Long-Sleeve T-shirts

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Long-sleeve T-shirts are an underrated wardrobe staple. “Short-sleeve tees may get all the love,” explains stylist and fashion designer Jordan Page, the curator of the fashion-history Instagram account @veryadvanced, “but the long-sleeve tee is often the more appropriate choice, for both style and function.” When it comes to style, Page explains that a long-sleeve tee “can look classier than short-sleeve ones” by making an outfit feel a tad more formal, even if, at the end of the day, it’s still a T-shirt. There’s also function in the added coverage of the longer sleeves, which Page says make the shirts “more comfortable for layering because you don’t get that direct, sometimes itchy on-skin contact from outer layers made of more textured fabrics like wool.”

But as our previous reporting on oxford shirts, jeans, and chinos has taught us, not all basics are created equal. To find the best men’s long-sleeve T-shirts, we asked a panel of stylists, fashion designers, and all-around cool people to tell us about the ones they reach for the most.

Best overall | Best pocket | Best heavyweight | Best supersoft | Best for taller people | Best slub cotton | Best splurge-worthy slub cotton | Best performance | Best with hemp | Best relaxed-fit

What we’re looking for

Fit and sizing: As we compiled this list, we looked for a wide range of available sizes, as well as different fit options to suit people of all proportions, whether they prefer a slimmer, tighter fit or a loose, boxier fit. We also looked at whether each brand offers longer-length shirts for guys who are tall or who have longer torsos.

Neckline and style: A variety of details will determine the overall look of a long-sleeve T-shirt, starting with the neckline. The most common neckline is the classic crewneck, but there are also V-neck options and the henley style, which usually has three buttons at the chest, as worn by Ryan Gosling in the film Drive. The sleeves may have cuffs for a snugger fit at the wrists, as well as staying power if you like to wear them pushed up onto your forearms. Or they may be hemmed looser and more open so they have a French sailor shirt kind of vibe, as seen on Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol in the 1950s and ’60s. Finally, some long-sleeve T-shirts have a chest pocket; some don’t. We’ve noted all these details for the shirts listed below, along with how many colors each shirt comes in, so you can find one that suits your personal taste.

Fabric and weight: Most of the options on this list are made of cotton, which is comfortable and breathable as well as machine washable and durable. The weight and type of cotton will determine how heavy or airy the shirt feels and how smooth it looks. Slub cotton, for example, has a bit of a lumpy texture due to how it’s woven, but is extra lightweight and breathable, making it great to wear in warm weather. Ring-spun cotton will be a heavier weight than slub cotton but softer than regular cotton. Regular cotton will be one of the heaviest weights and rougher in feel, but it will also be more durable.

Some long-sleeve T-shirts are made with a blend of materials, incorporating synthetics like spandex for added stretch or linen for added breathability. I’ve also included one hemp-blend option, as hemp is a sustainable natural fiber that can be grown almost anywhere, so it has less environmental impact than cotton. It is also more durable than cotton and gets softer over time, but it comes with a heftier price tag.

Best overall long-sleeve T-shirt

Sizes S–5XL | Crewneck | Cuffs | No pocket | 28 colors | 100% cotton (a few colors are cotton-polyester blend)

For anyone who wants to “improve their look without breaking the bank,” you can’t do better than Gildan, says actor and model Kyle Andrew. He notes the brand’s Ultra Cotton long-sleeve T-shirt is a “great option, especially for layering,” not least because it comes in more than two dozen colors. Andrew is among a growing cadre of guys we have spoken to who’ve recommended Gildan’s long-sleeve tees. Strategist columnist Chris Black has called them a “wardrobe staple,” and pop-music critic Jon Caramanica, former Critical Shopper columnist for the New York Times, told us Gildan’s long-sleeve tees are not only “durable” with an “unflappable crewneck” but that their “personality begins to emerge” after a couple washes.

Best pocket long-sleeve T-shirt

Sizes S–3XL | Crewneck | Cuffs | Pocket | 13 colors | 100% cotton (a few colors are cotton-polyester blend)

Though our top pick is already pretty affordable, those who want to spend even less should consider this Hanes option, which has a handy front pocket and comes recommended by Mark Miguez, a co-owner of the Friend of a Barber barbershop. Miguez describes the fit as “boxy but sits on the body” and says that, like the Gildan tee, above, this one “gets better with every wash.” It’s available in 13 colors; Miguez owns it in black and gray and says he wears both “all the time: at work with jeans and sneakers, on the beach with shorts, and dressed up with a leather jacket.”