Before bombastic graphic tees began taking the world by storm, the simple plain white t-shirt arguably set the standard of coolness in the fashion world and did so involuntarily, given that it was originally worn as an undergarment. From Marlon Brando to Brad Pitt and every common man in between, it’s easy to assume that everyone has owned a standard white t-shirt at one point, but was it a good one? You could tell yourself it doesn’t matter, but let’s put it this way: do you prefer to wear good jeans or bad jeans?
We can go on and on about this, but it all comes down to getting what you pay for — which is why even finding the best white t-shirts possible can help make or break your outfit based on their distinct feel and cut. At first glance, no one would argue that any two white tees are different. And while it might be difficult to pin down any specifics without trying each option on in a dressing room, there are countless options that contrast one another. In an effort to help you notice these differences, we’ve scoured online stores and boutique labels to deliver you a comprehensive buyer’s guide to the 18 best white t-shirts to wear all year long.
UNIQLO U Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
If you’re familiar with UNIQLO’s U collection, then you already know why this is more than your average white tee. The world-famous Japanese clothier’s line is overseen by Christophe Lemaire, the French designer best known for his eponymous high-end label. And so, the Crew Neck Short-Sleeve tee from his assisted line is one of the best starter options around. It is crafted from carefully-selected, high-quality cotton and is perfect for any occasion.
Los Angeles Apparel Short Sleeve Garment Dye Pocket T-Shirt
This choice from Los Angeles Apparel is sewn from nothing but American-grown cotton. Most importantly, the garment-dyed top is shrink-free, so you won’t have to worry about throwing it in the laundry if a stain ever shows up — at the end of the day, it’s a plain white shirt, and accidents happen. Lastly, the worker conditions at L.A.A are excellent, which makes it a great brand worthy of your support.
KOTN Essential Crew
Although you may be familiar with the previous brands, KOTN is an up-and-coming clothier that’s still making a name for itself. The seven-year-old label’s slim-fitting Essential Crew is crafted using 100% Egyptian cotton with a remarkably soft feel. Plus, it’s worth noting that it is made with OKEO-TEX-certified non-toxic dyes, assuring it’s non-hazardous from top-to-bottom. Lastly, the shirt comes available in a longer size in case you prefer a different fit.
Buck Mason Slub Curved Hem Tee
This is the product that put this L.A.-bred boutique on the map, so it only makes sense to give it the appreciation it deserves. The Slub Curved Hem Tee is as comfortable as a t-shirt can get and has plenty of famous and non-famous fans alike. It is crafted from breathable cotton jersey and features a curved hem for optimized freedom of movement and a flattering fit. Lastly, it’s finished off with a slub texture and then garment-dyed for a lived-in look.
American Giant Classic Cotton V-Neck Tee
No matter how you feel about it, it’s hard to argue against the V-neck’s popularity. Whether you’re looking to make a statement or are seeking enhanced breathability, you can’t go wrong with American Giant’s staple option. As the brand’s name suggests, the shirt is crafted in the States using 4.8-ounce cotton for a solid midnight feel. For added stability, it has double-needle straddle stitching and a ribbed collar to maintain its shape.
Everlane The Premium-Weight Relaxed Crew
You’ll love this choice from Everlane’s Uniform collection if you prefer a bulkier feel. The Premium-Weight Crew is made with dense 6.2-ounce cotton that’s durable enough to take on years of wear. On that note, the shirt is backed by the brand’s Uniform 365-Day Guarantee, meaning Everlane will replace any shirt that gets a hole, shrinks, or loses its color within the first year of purchasing. You’ll probably never remember what life was like without this shirt once you pick it up.
Taylor Stitch The Heavy Bag Tee
Taylor Stitch claims that this shirt feels like “your favorite decade-old tee” that’s undergone a boatload of upgrades. The Heavy Bag shirt is built to take on gusty winds thanks to its 8-ounce makeup and fully taped shoulder seams. Plus, like most pieces you’ll find from the NorCal-based brand, it is sustainably made using a blend of upcycled cotton and recycled polyester.
Flint and Tinder Heavyweight Pocket Tee
If you’re searching for a shirt with some sturdiness, this top from Flint and Tinder is a no-brainer. It’s cut from 100% quality cotton for a thick, substantial feel that serves as an ideal base layer on windier days. Then, the Huckberry house brand garment dyes the piece for a more lived-in look. Lastly, as its name suggests, the shirt features a functional chest pocket that’s the perfect size to hold a pair of shades.
Reigning Champ Midweight Jersey T-Shirt
The athleisure label’s flagship tee might be available in a variety of colors, but Reigning Champ has said that its primary palette revolves around three shades: grey, black, and white. As a result, the latter is a great option in that category. It has a soft hand feel albeit a sturdy composition, so it’s practically the jack of all trades. The Midweight Jersey also features extended sleeves and a wide-ribbed collar to tackle extra wear and tear, so you can even work up in a sweat in this Canadian-made top.
Todd Snyder Made in L.A. Homespun Slub Pocket Tee
As we veer our heads into more premium territory, we figured Todd Snyder’s catalog was a great place to start. The popular New York brand’s L.A.-made Handspun Slub Pocket Tee is sure to give the West Coast brands that appear here a run for their money. It is crafted from premium imported cotton, then garment-dyed for a deep color and rich texture, assuring that it will age with nothing short of grace. Plus, it’s the perfect size to wear under a jacket or summer suit but could easily be worn on its own.
Velva Sheen Regular Tee
The heritage brand behind this minimalist top was allegedly a favorite of the late, great Steve McQueen, which left us no choice but to toss it in here — after all, what’s cooler than a co-sign from the King of Cool? Velva Sheen’s plain white tee is a perfect base layer for any outfit and is made in the U.S., which is merely one notable element of its refined composition. It features a standard-fitting ribbed crewneck for a timeless look.
Billy Reid Washed Tee
Billy Reid is another brand we stand behind with every step, as it simply knows what it takes to make quality pieces. Its lightweight Washed Tee is made from plush Pima cotton for an enviously soft feel. It is touched up with all the other traditional elements, too, including a subtly stitched chest pocket and garment-dyed finish for a look that could never get old.
Norse Projects Niels Cotton-Jersey
If you’re aiming for an upgrade in the fashion department, you can thank the minimalist Scandinavian clothier for its Niels Cotton-Jersey. It’s crafted from organic cotton with a formidable feel that’s still perfect in the summertime. Unlike a handful of the other shirts that appear here, this option isn’t garment-dyed, so you’ll want to be a bit more careful when laundering this one.
Levi’s 1950s Sportswear T-Shirt
If you want to channel an old-school look, this is the most appropriate choice. The American heritage brand’s 1950s Sportswear Tee offers everything there is to love about vintage garments, while actually serving as a brand-new shirt in your wardrobe. The mid-century silhouette maintains its beloved integrity thanks to its relaxed boxy shape, chest pocket, and a pair of short sleeves. Lastly, the ‘50s-era Levi Strauss & Co. logo is the pièce de résistanceiece.
Sunspel Classic T-Shirt
While it’s up for debate, Sunspel is often heralded as the clothier responsible for manufacturing the original white cotton tee, leaving us with no choice but to acknowledge the British heritage brand that’s been churning out a version of this top since 1860. Today’s luxe version is crafted from California-sourced Supima cotton, which results in an unrivaled level of softness and comfort. Whether you’re wearing it with a pair of jeans, a denim jacket, or even a whole Canadian tuxedo, you’ll love this shirt from the second you throw it on.
Lady White Co. Two-Pack Slim Fit Cotton-Jersey
Similar to Buck Mason, SoCal-based minimalist label Lady White Co.’s claim to fame stems from its simple cotton t-shirt. Now, you have a chance to add a pair of them to your closet. The slim-fitting, cotton-jersey crafted white tee from LWC is a perfect blend of business casual and beach day-ready, offering a nearly-tailored look while you still get to stay as comfortable as you would on any day off. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this North Carolina-sourced cotton makeup and brand of meticulous craftsmanship.
The Real McCoys 2pcs Pack Tee
As another brand that puts craftsmanship at the forefront, it’s just as hard to go wrong with this 2 pack of tops from the Real McCoys, a brand known for remaking classic American pieces. It has an old-fashioned tubular construction to provide you with the best fit every time, and the Japanese garment maker has claimed that this set of shirts garners Inspiration from the old-school, pre-packaged t-shirt trios of yesteryear.
A.P.C. Jimmy T-Shirt
As goes for any piece of attire you pick up from A.P.C., the Jimmy T-Shirt is meticulously crafted and offers a perfect fit. It is cut and sewn from 100% cotton jersey, then rounded out with a traditional crew neckline featuring a sewn-on trim. The straight hem tee is then finished off with an embroidered, tonal A.P.C. logo on the back, deeming it a subtle, top-notch choice from the Parisian clothier.
The 18 Best Summer T-Shirts
A white tee will get the job done on most summer days, but there are a number of other perfect t-shirts to consider this season. Dive into some other colored options using our handy guide.