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The Best Men’s Basics T-Shirts To Wear All Day, Every Day

Best Basic T Shirts for Men 00 Hero

What few people realize is that the t-shirt got its start only a little over 100 years ago — around the turn of the 20th century when laborers would cut their jumpsuits in half in order to keep cool during the warmer months of the year. However, once the U.S. Navy got word of the veritable garment and its benefits, it wasn’t long before it began to see widespread implementation. Everyone from factory workers to farmhands wanted in on the action, and as it became increasingly popular throughout these labor-intensive industries, it also took on a cultural significance unto its own. Thus, by the time the 50s rolled around and Brando and Dean had donned a t-shirt on the silver screen, it was already well on its way toward becoming a staple element of every man’s wardrobe.

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone without at least one tee in their rotation. Because let’s face it. Even if you prefer business casual to active apparel, you’ll at least need a solid undershirt to get you through the day. As such, there are more t-shirts on the market than ever before. And, while the variety is good for the inherent competition that it brings, it also means that you’re left with the unfortunate task of choosing between them. If it’s loud and covered with graphics, it’s easy enough to make that determination for yourself. But when it comes to the basics, it can be considerably trickier. After all, there are only so many kinds of cotton that any one person can reasonably understand. Rather than going it alone and making things harder than they have to be, give our list of the best basic t-shirts for men a look. You’ll thank us.

The Best Basic T-Shirts Breakdown

What Exactly Makes A Good Basic T-Shirt, Anyway?

Material: While a quick pack of tees from Costco or Target may do the trick in a pinch, high-quality materials are what you should be paying attention to if you’re in the market for a good t-shirt – especially if you want long-lasting basics. Generally speaking, basic t-shirts are made with some variation of a cotton blend, as opposed to activewear and other garments that use synthetic material or wool. It’s preferred for breathability and comfort, with higher-quality cotton providing more of each, along with other benefits.

Fit: How a shirt fits you is a balance between subjectivity and objectivity. A good fit can make or break a shirt, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what that means. Most shirts have varying seams, hems, collars, and pre-washes, so you may need to experiment a few times before you find the right fit if you’re not sure (or visit a tailor). A shirt’s fit also intersects with style, so being confident about yours certainly helps narrow things down.

Caring for your Tee

Most of the time (if not all the time), primarily cotton shirts should be cleaned with cold water, preferably in a gentle cycle or hand-washed, then air-dried. This is to avoid shrinking and wear as warmer water/temperatures damage the fibers and dyes.


  • Guaranteed replacement if damaged within a year
  • Durable yet afforable
  • Issues shrinking in the wash – even in cold water

The Best Budget Shirt: The Organic Cotton Crew is a part of Everlane’s Uniform series, an assortment of 12 everyday essentials that are as handsome as they are hard-wearing. The brand is so confident in the quality of the collection that it’s given it a 365-day guarantee, meaning that should the shirt shrink or develop a hole, it will be replaced no questions asked. And when you consider that it comes with a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, it makes for a value proposition that’s pretty hard to beat.

Material: 100% organic cotton


  • High-quality cotton grown in the US
  • Made in Los Angeles, CA
  • Might be a snug fit for some

The Best American-Made Shirt: If you’re after a basic shirt that boasts a quality American-made construction, look no further than Forty Five’s Supima Crew Tee. Cut and pressed in Los Angeles, California, it’s made from 100% organic cotton and preshrunk for a perfect fit. Add to that a wide variety of garment-dyed colors, a set of tailored sleeves, and a length that’s ideal for tucked or untucked wear, and the result is a shirt that’s earned a spot in any menswear wardrobe.

Material: 100% USA-grown Supima cotton


  • Lightweight
  • Extra durability thanks to the hemp
  • Another possible tight fit for some
  • Tapered shoulders might not be for everyone

The Safest Bet: Although Taylor Stitch’s Cotton Hemp Tee is technically considered a menswear basic, in practice it’s anything but. That’s because it’s made with 70% organic cotton and 30% hemp, a combination that allows it to be incredibly durable while still being both soft and lightweight enough to be layered. But the best part is that because it comes pre-shrunk with a tailored fit, you don’t have to worry about losing your look in the wash. On the contrary — it makes for an offering that’s as at home on its own as it is under a blazer.

Material: 70% organic cotton and 30% hemp


  • Soft cotton
  • Strong stitching
  • Short near the torso

The Best Everyday Shirt: Tired of sorting through sub-par underwear and socks at the local department store, Brian Berger founded Mack Weldon specifically for the purpose of bringing better basics to mainstream menswear through first-rate fabrics and original designs. This crew neck t-shirt is a case in point, for though it’s made from super-soft Pima cotton (like some of the other options on this list), it’s also been given an eco-friendly enzyme bath to make it even softer. And because it’s been made with a robust recovery collar and some strong ladder stitches, it’ll be with you for years to come.

Material: 100% Pima cotton


  • Classic design and texture
  • American-made
  • Shorter sleeves may not appeal to all

The Best Vintage Inspired Shirt: As is often the case, Buck Mason manages to do what everyone else does, but better. For instance, their Slub Classic Tee comes with a vintage-inspired straight hem as well as a slightly shorter body and sleeves. Complimented by a lightweight loose-knit cotton fabric construction, the result is a new shirt that wears just like any old favorite. In fact, you’ll be so happy to slip this one on that you’ll have to make room in your rotation for more.

Material: 100% cotton slub fabric


  • Quality without harmful synthetic materials
  • Made in partnership with local Peruvian farmers
  • Loose collar
  • May shrink even if washed correctly

The Best Sustainable Shirt: Once Kelly Slater wrapped up his sponsored surfing career, he started Outerknown, a brand built on the express purpose of furthering sustainability throughout fashion. The Sojourn exemplifies his philosophy to a tee, using only the highest quality organic Peruvian Pima cotton. Sourced from over 390 local farmers throughout Peru, the Sojourn skips on the chemicals of conventional cotton in favor of providing safer conditions for workers. All that is to say — you’d be hard-pressed to find an offering that does more for the planet and its people.

Material: 100% organic Peruvian Pima cotton

Los Angeles Apparel heavy fleece tee

Los Angeles Apparel Heavy Fleece Tee 1
  • Good workout shirt
  • Made in the USA
  • May have to size down

The Best Heavyweight Shirt: Los Angeles Apparel prides itself on not only the build quality of its garments, but the fair support of its staff and customers as well. The heavy fleece tee is yet another quality shirt from the LA-based label; the boxy, oversized fit is not only great for casual or active wear, but will keep you warm (in temps down to 50°F) thanks to the 14oz of quality cotton. Additionally, the shirt comes pre-washed to keep it from shrinking and garment-dyed.

Material: 100% US-grown cotton


  • Garment-dyed so color won’t fade
  • Good base layer
  • Los Angeles based and produced clothing
  • Prone to stretching

The Best Jersey T-Shirt: If anyone knows how to make fashion-forward men’s apparel, it’s Todd Snyder. As its name implies, this classic jersey t-shirt adds to the brand’s Los Angeles-manufactured line, a collection of clothing items that work well year-round — no matter the weather. Available in everything from ‘Heather Grey’ to ‘Greenstone,’ these shirts come garment-dyed for a fuller color and texture that only gets better with age.

Material: 100% cotton

olivers apparel convoy tee

Olivers Apparel Convoy Tee 1
  • Great all-arounder
  • Activewear features
  • Might get hot in warmer temperatures

The Best Merino Shirt: For our wool shirt pick, Olivers Apparel Convoy Tee is a versatile shirt made from 100% Merino Active Jersey fabric. Although Merino wool is typically used for colder situations, the Convoy Tee is great at regulating hot and cold temperatures, and also includes many features seen in activewear like anti-microbial and moisture-wicking capabilities. The relaxed fit and soft material is the cherry on top of this flexible garment.

Material: 100% Merino wool

The Best Men’s Shorts To Wear

Photo: Taylor Stitch The Easy Short

With summer coming and shirts taken care of, it’s time to get some shorts. Head over to our best men’s shorts guide to get ready for some fun in the sun.