No matter who you are, something about warm and long days inspire a more laid-back attitude. Windows get rolled down, people spend just a little bit more time hanging out in front of cafes, music gets played a little louder, and our sartorial choices change in favor of lighter and more simple pieces. This is partly out of a desire to stay comfortable, and then partly to reflect our own more care-free mood. The most common change that comes with the seasons is that you’ll see more guys sporting plain tees.
While t-shirts are just about as basic a clothing item as they come, they are not all made equal. There is a whole world out there of shirts with wildly different cuts, fabrics, varying weights and designs. Because no one guy is alike and each person has their own preference, we tried to run the gamut when assembling a list of the best summer t-shirts for men on the market today. You’ll find everything from super technical wear, to old classic throwbacks, and some new styles from great designers that you can pick from to relax with in style.
Everlane Air Crew
This crew neck from the Manhattan-based designer embraces the tee in its simplest form. Made from 100 percent cotton it is light enough for even the warmest summer days and fits on any frame perfectly. On top of it all, the brand’s transparent pricing practices make it so you know you’re getting a fair price.
J. Crew Broken-In T-Shirt
If a t-shirt is supposed to be anything it is most definitely meant to be comfortable and laid back. J.Crew has nailed this with their famous cotton broken-in t-shirt that gives you that great ‘had this for a year’ feel from when you first throw it on.
American Giant Classic Crew Tee
Usually the color choices you get when it comes to tees are pretty stark; white, black, grey, or some other bright color. This brand’s USA made shirt made with 4.8 ounce 100 precent cotton shirt embraces much more earthen and organic tones that help it stand out without making a loud statement.
Taylor Stitch Crewneck Pocket Tee
I used to scoff at the idea of a pocket t-shirt. ‘What are you going to put in there?’ Then, I got one and was humbled. Not only do shirts like this American made offering from the California based clothing brand look great, but provide handy storage for pens or cards while you are on the go. These 100 percent cotton jersey is tailor fitted for a closer fit and are pre-shrunk.
Buck Mason V-Neck Slub Tee
V-necks got a really bad rap in the mid-to-late-aughts. They got so deep that they essentially became a kind of unfunny joke that people kept on telling. Shirts like this one are rehabilitating the style, however. Made with a small batch low-tension loom right here in the U.S., these tees feature a nice textured set of horizontal ridges across the shirt that make for a light fit.
Frank and Oak Linen-Blend Henley
Henley shirts are great for more than just throwing under your flannel before heading out into the fall or winter chill. This four button shirt is made from a cotton and linen mix, features a slim fit, and side-slits along the bottom of the shirt.
Iron And Resin Chesterfield Pocket Tee
Generally speaking, having too much flair on an item that is supposed to be basic and straightforward defeats the entire purpose. This shirt finds the perfect line between adding something extra and keeping things simple by including a couple of rivets on the top corners of the cotton shirt’s pocket.
Iron and Resin Garvey Tee
The raglan style has to be one of the best retro looks out there when it comes to summer t-shirts for men. It communicates a distinct mid-20th century vibe that brings to mind baseball games, trips down to the river, and pretty much every other super American activity you can think of.
Apolis Pocket Tee
Inspired by the military issue undershirts worn by our men and women in the service, this washed organic cotton jersey has a tapered fit and a soft feel perfect for kicking it in the shade under a tree or for heading out into town in the evening. The soft pre-washed 5.5 ounce jersey is light enough to make the most of warm breezes on hot days.
Reigning Champ Cotton Jersey Tee
This cotton jersey tee is all bout comfort and style. The designer of the shirt makes the most out of the men’s basics item by building it out with a relaxed fit and reverse flatlock seams.
Todd Snyder X Champion Classic T-Shirt
A collaboration between the revered designer and the storied athletic apparel brand, this shirt embraces a kind of retro look to it without going overboard. A small C is added on the left shoulder of the 100 percent cotton shirt, while the tag looks like it may be something from the 1940s. This shirt comes with a broken-in and relaxed fit for comfort right out of the box.
NAU Basis T-Shirt
On first look, everything about this shirt would lead a person to believe that it is not that unremarkable from others on the list. It is 100 percent cotton, it features a bound neck and shoulder seam, and classic short sleeves. But what is truly remarkable about this shirt is that it is finished off with a natural enzyme that makes for a smooth feel that feels great and helps the shirt last that much longer. Sometimes its the stuff you don’t see that matters most.
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve
While cotton can be great, when it really gets hot even the idea of having anything but synthetic material on you can be stifling. Perfect for wicking sweat and keeping your cool, this seamless four way shirt is just as good for running or training as it is for throwing on during for those warmer weekends outside. To top it all off, thanks to its X-STATIC technology sewn into the fabric this shirt also inhibits odor.
Aether Momentum Tee
When you pick up a synthetic tee like the American made Momentum from Aether, you’re really getting a two for one deal. On more mellow days, it can function as a gym-shirt, while while on those days when the mercury rises higher than you dare look, the jersey made from Outlast material can work just as well for wearing to work.
Alchemy Equipment Merino Single Jersey
While the majority of people go for synthetic when things get really hot out, a great classic fabric choice is merino wool. This shirt from the New Zealand-based Alchemy equipment is made from an 18.5 micron merino that is great at regulating temperature (in either hot or cold) and mitigating odor. The material isn’t the only thing that sets this shirt apart, however. It also features a nice high thread-count cotton yoke and buttoned left breast pocket.
Levi’s Vintage 1950’s Sportswear Shirt
Looking like something ripped from Stand By Me, this iconic shirt worn by the likes of Marlon Brando and old-school street gangs of the mid 20th century is making a return thanks to Levi’s Vintage. Constructed from 100 percent knit cotton, the shirt features a single chest pocket, capped sleeves, and a whole lot of old-school cool.
James Perse T
From the fabric to the droopy crew-neck and long sleeves, just about everything on this shirt is relaxed. A slub tee made with a mix of linen and cotton, this basic shirt drapes over the shoulders for an extremely light and comfortable fit that moves along with even the slightest summer breeze.
RRL Striped Pocket Tee
When it comes to graphic designs on a t-shirt, it is incredibly hard to beat a simple set of blue-lines. It is a classic nautical look that can bring a kind of lightness to even the hottest and most land locked of places. Given the price on this slim fitting shirt, we suggest throwing it on before you head out for cocktails on your yacht or seaside villa.