Any sport requires good fundamentals. If you’re good, you have them mastered. If you’re great, you know that you never will. Dressing well isn’t exactly a world-class sport, some would argue, but there are some basics you should have locked down — underwear, your socks, your basic blue jeans and, of course, your basic white T-shirt.
The world’s not short on basic T-shirts, especially at the cheaper end of the price spectrum. While we could spend lifetimes sifting through the countless options on the market, it’s probably a better use of everyone’s time to get two of the best tees on the court, 1v1.
The Hanes Beefy-T was first introduced in 1975 as a heavier and roomier alternative to other tees on the market. Meanwhile, Uniqlo’s renowned designer Christophe Lemaire has his Uniqlo U Crew Neck Tee that has developed a reputation as one of the best basics on the market, taking attention away from Uniqlo’s main line of plain tees.
Both have been touted as great options, with many a staunch fan for either side. But which team should you be rooting for?
Fabric: The Beefy-T uses a reasonably thick jersey fabric made from 100 percent ring-spun cotton. It has a dry, but peachy and soft feel that sits comfortably against the skin. At 6.1 ounces per square yard (~188 GSM), it’s got some heft that doesn’t feel flimsy or sheer.
Construction: The collar uses an inset “layflat” collar with seam-binding at the neck for comfort against the skin. Hanes is known for its line of tagless tees but this is not one of them. The sleeves and hem are finished using double-needle construction and the body is tube-knit, meaning that aren’t any side seams to cause irritation.
Fit: Though the fit is marketed as more of a relaxed or even boxy fit, I’d peg this more as a regular fit. It’s not what most people think of as boxy, but also is certainly not a slim fit.
Price: At just $7, the Beefy-T costs about as much as a quarter pounder with cheese meal with some change left over. If you opt for multi-packs, the cost per unit gets even better.
Uniqlo U Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
Fabric: Though Uniqlo doesn’t have as much product copy to describe its fabric, it is made of 100 percent cotton. It does feel a touch heavier than the Beefy-T, but also has a rougher, dryer hand.
Construction: Uniqlo U’s tee uses double-needle construction to finish the hem and sleeves, just like the Beefy-T. However, the two main differences are the bound rib-knit collar and the sewn side seams. The bound rib-knit collar feels more substantial, which some will like, while the side seams might annoy T-shirt enthusiasts (a real thing, and a thing that I am). Unlike the Beefy-T, Uniqlo’s offering is tagless.
Fit: The measurements for between Uniqlo U and Hanes are quite similar, for the shoulders and length. But the width of the body on Uniqlo U’s Tee is wider by 2.5 inches, firmly setting it into the “boxy” category. The collar also sits wider on the neck compared to the Beefy-T, fitting the proportions of the Uniqlo U tee.
Price: The Uniqlo U tee is more than twice the cost of Hanes’ Beefy-T. While that puts some people off, the fit and fabric make a compelling case for others.
Which One Is Right for You?
Hanes Beefy-T: The Beefy-T has been tried and tested for 45 years and is the go-to for countless people. It’s a good T-shirt.
Its substantial feel speaks to the quality of the knit, just as the soft hand speaks to the quality of the cotton. Some surprising construction details like the tube-knit body are a delight for the self-prescribed snob and the fit is classic and democratic. The fabric tag seems like such an easy fix that would garner even more fans, but at $7, you’d still be getting your money’s worth and even a bit more. Plus, if you’re one of its current fans, you know this already and you know what you’re getting.
If you care about value, Hanes’ Beefy-T is what you should go with. It’s hard to beat, especially at that price.
Uniqlo U Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt: The official product name of Uniqlo U’s competing tee isn’t as marketable, but that’s just one surface-level gripe. The fabric is denser (though, less soft) than the Beefy-T, so you’d theoretically be replacing it less often. And though the fit might be different than the Hanes classic, that’s really where Lemaire’s design sensibilities pull ahead. You could certainly wear this under a shirt or sweater, but this tee is well-suited to be the star player.
Sure, the side seams might frustrate people, but it’s boxy enough that it shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, when it comes to any garment, the silhouette is paramount. If you like everything about the Hanes Beefy-T but it just doesn’t fit, well that’s a tee you’re simply not going to wear.
If $15 is still within the realm of acceptability and you want something with better fabric and a more contemporary silhouette, Uniqlo U is your t-shirt.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.