Do you start each morning staring at a closet of clothes, but are still usually clueless on what to wear? You might be in need of a little wardrobe TLC. Building an effortless wardrobe can seem somewhat daunting, but the right basics can be the building blocks to outfit goals, thus creating ease in your everyday life. The best white T-shirts (note the plural! Different silhouettes = different types of looks) are inarguably one of those essential items every person should have in their repertoire, and a good place to begin when tackling the fashion must-haves shopping list.
“A white tee is one of the most essential pieces in a closet because it really is the easiest thing to throw on. If you have a really good T-shirt, you look like a million bucks,” Tess Sullivan, head of women’s design for Buck Mason, tells TZR. “Investing in a good white tee feels like the number one thing you can do, because you can wear it under everything. It is the base of a good wardrobe.” Chloé Bartoli, stylist and co-founder of Éterne, agrees: “It’s classic and goes with everything no matter what,” she adds. “It’s perfect with jeans or a suit and has an impact that gray and black just don't have.”
Wondering where to start when searching for the best white T-shirts? Vintage stores are a great, eco-friendly resource. “In my opinion, the best clothes that were ever made were made a long time ago. Everything was made a little slower, with a little more thought, with the intention of lasting longer,” Sullivan tells TZR. Meanwhile, Mari Giudicelli, creative director for namesake footwear label Mari Giudicelli, says she loves shopping vintage stores (such as Mothfood) and online marketplaces (like eBay) for her wardrobe staples. “I type exactly what I'm looking for and use the measurements provided,” she explains. “I have my perfect shirt and pant measurements in my notebook.”
However, if you are not up to the hunt yourself, design teams are doing the research for you to create the perfect tees, no thrift store digging required. “The line [Éterne] is based on my collection of vintage tees,” says Bartoli. “I’ve taken my favorites and updated the fit and fabrics to make them more modern.” Coincidentally, Sullivan has a similar design process for Buck Mason. “We bought one thousand t-shirts on Etsy, eBay, and vintage shops — everywhere,” she says. “We ended up finding amazing fits with amazing fabric that we just wanted to honor, making it even better and available for more than one person, since vintage is one-of-a-kind at this point.”
Great fabrics are extremely important when finding the perfect tee. “I’ve developed five fabrics specially for Éterne,” Bartoli tells TZR. “My number one priority is the softness and comfort factor.” Sullivan adds, “Typically, a lot of designers will go out to mills that have qualities that are in their library, and that is the normal design process. We [at Buck Mason] developed the fabrics ourselves with the mills, so you can’t find our fabric anywhere else, which not many designers can say.”
Where fabrication is concerned, cotton is a fan favorite. “Both pima and slub [cotton] are our main T-shirt fabrics,” Sullivan tells TZR. “Pima is super smooth and very opaque. It is different from slub, which is textured due to the unevenness of the yarn, and gives it this vintage inspired feel, so it feels like a worn out vintage T-shirt.” Bartoli’s favorite fabric is a thermal knit. “[Our version at Eterne] is elevated and upgraded from the vintage ones,” she says. “I’ve added modal and spandex to cotton to make it cozier and softer.”
Giudicelli also enjoys T-shirts made from a blend of materials. “Organic cotton is ideal,” she says. “Silk blend has a cooler touch to it that is nice too.”
Fit, too, is an important factor when considering the best white tees. “I’ve been a stylist for a long time, and I felt that in the market there was a lack of perfectly fitting, everyday essentials,” Bartoli says. “I started Éterne with a very focused selection of products and really prioritized quality.” Sullivan adds: “All our fits are super intentional. The fit in the fabrics are all for a specific reason. We have what is called the Easy Crew, in the slub fabric, which is slightly off-shoulder, slightly boxier fit. We also have a slim fit in the pima, that is going to be the perfect slim tee. It has a higher arm hole and is really more slim to the body.”
Now that you are ready to create your own lineup, our experts have a few suggestions: Bartoli proposes “a boyfriend tee, casual basic tee, and a baby tee for a sexier, more fitted look.” Giudicelli meanwhile, recommends going very oversized or super shrunken with her picks. “I have a selection of crisp white boxy and oversized masculine ones [tees], and I have some very fitted, almost kid size ones [tees] with a tiny sleeve,” she explains. And Ashley Afriyie, a Fashion Brand Consultant sings the praises of a good crewneck tee. “Finding the perfect V-neck is tricky for me in the chest area,” she says. “I either find V-necks that are too high and don't fit properly around my chest area, or are too low.”
Keep scrolling to shop the essential shapes to build your own white T-shirt wardrobe — and learn some styling tips from our experts.
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Fitted Baby Tees
A ‘90s-inspired baby tee is always a good idea when looking for a slim fit option. “Gil Rodriguez has very flattering and feminine fitted t-shirts,” Giudicelli tells TZR. When it comes to styling, “fancy trousers, a nice belt and heels,” is her go-to formula.
Oversized & Boxy
Borrow from the boys with an oversized, boxy shape. “During the summer, I love wearing classic, basic men’s Hanes tees, but in a very large size,” Afriyie tells TZR. Offset the shape with silky, drawstring trouser pants (bonus points if paired with a matching blazer) for an effortless, relaxed feel. Add a statement pendant necklace for a bit of interest to the classic neckline.
Slouchy Soft Boyfriend
A soft and slouchy, semi sheer tee is a forever classic in shades of white. “I wear the boyfriend tee equally for day and night,” Bartoli tells TZR. “Paired with fitted jeans, high-heeled boots, it’s always in rotation.”
A classic crewneck that hangs off the body just so should also be in the mix. “The best [outfit] combination is pairing a white t-shirt with your favorite pair of jeans and a navy or black blazer,” Afriyie tells TZR. “You can never go wrong with this timeless and effortless chic look.”
The henley adds a new design element (hello buttons!) to a basic white tee. How does Sullivan wear it? “I am very much into set dressing,” Sullivan tells TZR. “Both our Baja chino and Rider jean have a match back jacket. I would wear a tee under as an easy, full look. I am also obsessed with fisherman sandals these days.”