Finding a go-to, works for everything, won’t shrink or stretch, straight solid basic white t-shirt is not only one of the best feelings in the world, but also one of the hardest accomplishments to come by when it comes to my closet. It always seems that each time I buy a basic white tee, the color greys out quick or the neckline stretches in the first use and no one can seem to get the damn formula right. Sure, I can just throw away and repurchase the t-shirt every time they go bad, but I hate shopping with a short-term mentality. The clothes I invest my money on should pull through for me wash after wash, white tees included. And since a plain white tee is a life-long staple just like any other wardrobe staple, it’s worth finding a brand that works long term.
I’ve tried a bunch out over the years and while I’ve come up with personal favorites of mine, I wanted to compile a list that can work for everyone at every price point. So, without further explanation, here is a guide for the best white t-shirts for the under $20, $50, and $100 range:
UNIQLO SUPIMA COTTON CREW NECK T-SHIRT $9.90
This is a no-brainer. If you haven’t tried out the Japanese equivalent to Gap, Uniqlo’s basics are cheap, functional, great, come in a whole spectrum of colors, and are the best bang for your buck. Made from 100% Supima cotton (known as the finest cotton on the market), the durable and breathable fabric makes for the best basic white tee under $20. Highly recommend and one of my favorites.
Gap Vintage Wash Crew Neck $17
While technically $25, it’s all on sale now for $17 so teeeechnically under $20. This is one of my favorite plain white tees as it’s a little thinner than most but not too slouchy, not too fitted, always looks crisp, washes well, and can be easily dressed up for office events or worn casually on the weekends. The vintage wash on these give it a more relaxed feel that I’m personally more keen to.
Everlane Cotton Box Tee $16
For those who are unaware of who or what Everlane is, it’s an online-turned-retail store that believes in 100% transparency with the consumer, specifically by listing out exactly what goes into the cost of every garment throughout their entire website. However, at $16, I’m more than willing to pay for their cotton box-cut pocket tee without needing the full cost breakdown. It’s a clean fit, the perfect boxy shape to tuck into anything, and for the price it’s a great and affordable option.
Honorable Mention | Target Mossimo Supply Women’s Short Sleeve Softest Crew Tee: While this shirt tends to create holes after a few washes, the material is ridiculously soft and has a substantial weight that drapes so perfectly over the body, I’ll suck it up and just keep repurchasing this one. Plus, the convenience of simply driving to a Target and picking it up n minutes versus ordering it online makes it that much more beneficial.
American Giant Premium Crew T $36.50
Dubbed by many in the fashion industry as “the perfect white tee,” American Giant has custom made their own cotton-slub material that gives this tee a weighty, textured feel that oozes quality. These shirts are always on backorder so don’t be surprised if it takes you a few weeks longer to get a hold of one. Definitely love what American Giant did with this staple.
Rag and Bone Base Tee $45
I feel like Rag and Bone randomly come out with really good pieces, this shirt being one of them. Their Base Tee offers a basic silhouette, simple detailed stitching and a back middle seam that offers a small design element, and is overall another fan favorite. This one also seems to constantly be out of stock. Gahhh.
Levi’s Perfect Pocket Tee $29.50
Levi’s aren’t just good with their jeans; they kill it with their tees as well. Made of 100% pima cotton, this perfect pocket tee is exactly as advertised “a classic fit and broken-in feel.” It just feels like a vintage tee without the pre-worn aspect but also, the pocket is perfectly placed and a substantial size so it frames the chest well. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much I love this shirt.
James Perse Sheer Slub Crew Neck $75
This LA brand has gained so much notoriety for their impeccable basics. He’s a celebrity favorite with Chrissy Tiegen and the Kardashians known as his fans. Not just because of all the hype but the man does have great pieces, super soft and supple fabric, rounded hem, thinner than your typical white tee yet still gives a great clean shape on the shoulders. At $75, I don’t think it’s the worst price to invest in one of his pieces, but you can more likely than not find his goods at places like Nordstrom Rack for like $35 (which is where I bought mine).
Current Elliot The V-Neck Tee $78
If you’re not familiar with Current Elliot in general, feel free to start with this tee, then work your way to their jeans and their jackets and prepare to fall in love with the rest of us. This t-shirt has a lot more relaxed vibe but is the PERFECT slouchy tee without stretching, shrinking, pilling, or any other issues I had that made me want to write this guide in the first place. Distressed edges offer a more lived in look that make it perfect for warm weather (aka stock up for you summer rotation). A personal fave of mine.
RE/DONE The 1960’s Slim Tee $78
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I haven’t had the need to purchase too many white tees in the $50-$100 so I can’t say I have personal experience with this brand BUT I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews and am confident that if they’re anything like their custom vintage Levi jeans, their t-shirts also live up to the hype. On the company website, the RE/DONE “perfect tee” is described as “the classic crew neck tee with its slim body has the look of a vintage tee shirt that has been washed and worn hundreds of times. The tee shirts are made of 100% combed cotton, developed exclusively by RE/DONE | Hanes, knitted and sewn entirely in the USA.” Not much to give away, but then again word of mouth says otherwise. I would give it a shot
Honestly, I really don’t think there is much of a need to spend over $100 on any basic white t-shirt. Luckily, a lot of brands have stepped up to the plate as far as quality, sustainability, and overall experience with their clothes go. There are plenty of options in between, it just takes a bit of patience and some trial and error to find your perfect tee. But trust me, once you find it, the t-shirt testing will be worth the wait.
Do you have any favorite I should know about? Let me know! I could always use a few more staples in my closet.