It's impossible to overstate the impact of the plain white T-shirt. Donned by silver screen demigods like Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and James Dean, referenced by rap artists like Dem Franchise Boyz, Travis Scott, and J. Cole, and worn by seemingly everyone at least once, the white tee is ingrained not only in popular culture but our psyches, too.
It's as Americana as it is metropolitan, unique as it utilitarian, and everything adjective in-between. Versatility has gotten the white tee far; perfect as a top layer under the scorching sun or a jack-of-all-trades underneath another garment, there's nothing it can't work with — and well, for that matter. As such, toiling over the intricacies of different brand's versions may seem counterintuitive. It'sjust a white T-shirt, right? Wrong! Fit, feel, and, of course, affordability are important considerations.
Fortunately for you, we've weighed the options, of which are there millions, and rounded up a list of our favorites — from the $15 budget buy to the $65 splurge.
Contrary to its name, Kotn's Box Crew isn't terribly boxy (or unflattering). Sure, it's a tad oversized, but it fits snug across the chest, comfortably over the shoulders and under the arm, and it hits at just the right spot on your hips. Plus, it's plenty thick. I've tried to stray from it in favor of others but I keep coming back.
Velva Sheen's classic Regular Tee is made in the US from 100-percent cotton. Best of all? It has gone largely unchanged since the early 20th century sportswear brand debuted it. Touch a piece of history with this T-shirt.
The Uniqlo U T-shirt made its rounds earlier this year when Tyler, The Creator was spotted wearing one around LA and on stage during one of his album premieres. His made its way into the crowd and concertgoers confirmed its identity. The revelation caused the shirt to sell out almost instantly. At just $15, it's a hell of an option — and it's beloved by those that could afford something much pricier.
This option is American designer Todd Snyder's premium iteration. Made in LA from 100-percent garment dyed cotton jersey, it'll get the job done — and then some.
What's slub? It's a process prior to weaving that affords cotton an irregular, largely aesthetic texture. It does lend a unique softness, too, though, making these types of T-shirts sought after for both their feel and their retro-tinged look. Buck Mason's blends both old and new. "It’s a new tee that looks and feels a lot like your old favorites," the brand states.
Lady White Co.'s Our T-shirt is a bicoastal beauty. Made in LA from cotton grown in North Carolina, it's a classic that doesn't comprise. Tubular (meaning there are no side seams) and double binded at the collar, it'll not only stand up to constant wear but break in beautifully, too.
T-shirts made from recycled cotton aren't necessarily a dime a dozen. They're increasingly common, sure, but rare still, it seems. Entireworld's trying to change that. The brand's Type A, Version 9 T-shirt — made from 100-percent recycled cotton, obviously — fits slimmer through the body and comes with some natural pilling at purchase.
Made in Portugal, NYC brand Knickerbocker's The Pocket T-Shirt trades lightweight blends for 100-percent heavyweight cotton. Weighing in at 7 oz, it'll drape nicely without making you wade in a puddle of your own perspiration.
"You don't have to be Marlon Brando to look good — just wear this T-shirt!" reborn German brand Merz b. Schwanen writes on the box of their 1950's Crew Neck T-Shirt. The brand shuttered a couple of decades after its founding in 1911, but a pair of Berlin business partners revitalized it in 2011 using rare, 100-year-old loopwheelers. The quality remains, and the brand embraces traditional, albeit old, way of doing things.
This Premium Weight Relaxed Crew is everything you and I both have come to expect from Everlane. It's a T-shirt that's quite nice, transparent about its construction, and budget-friendly.
Adapture sells its T-shirts in three different fits, Standard, Slim, and Relaxed. This is the straight-down-the-middle pick, aka Standard. Neither too bulky nor too long, it's designed to fit the way most like a T-shirt to — and the fabric is moisture-wicking.
You'd be hard pressed to find a better T-shirt at this kind of price. For the going rate of a good beer, you can get yourself a solid unisex T-shirt that's made in the USA from a blend of cotton and polyester. Soft and lightweight, these are machine washable, too.
Well, well, well. You should've known you'd see slub cotton again. This version is what kickstarted label Alex Mill. The brand was founded upon an original T-shirt design its creators felt was the best available option — "perfect," they said. Would I agree? Not entirely, but it's plenty nice and a polished option at an attainable price at the very least.
Outerknown's an obvious add to most lists. The brand covers so many categories. But, we'd never add a brand based off faith alone. This T-shirt's a good buy, brand aside. It's made from sustainably and humanely sourced 100-percent organic Peruvian pima cotton that's been pigment-dyed for a worn-in look and feel.
The best T-shirts are hefty without being heavy, if that makes sense. Full without making you faint. American Trench's Interlock Tee is just that: roomy and relaxed, structured and yet very soft.