There are few wardrobe pieces as enduring, versatile, or democratic as the T-shirt. The same humble tee can play nice with jean shorts on the weekend, slide under a sleek blazer for work, and offset a fancy skirt for an evening look. The right one — or two or three — are outfit lifesavers.
Here, we’ve gathered 11 of our editors’ go-to T-shirt brands for everything from crop tops to office-appropriate styles. We left out mass retailers like H&M and Uniqlo, instead focusing on specialty brands that nerd out on specs, designer diffusions that make extra-special tees worth the cost, and a few inexpensive stock-up options. Our picks range in price, fabric, and style for a variety to fit all body types and stuff all dresser drawers.
This is a great place to look if you’re picky about the combination of your tee’s neckline, sheerness, and fit. Alternative Apparel makes crewnecks, U-necks, V-necks, burnouts, solid colors, prints, oversize — you name it and it probably comes in eight color options. Sustainable fabrics are used in the majority of products, too, along with non-toxic dyes and other planet-friendly measures.
This 100 percent made-in-LA brand makes some of the absolute softest T-shirts we’ve ever felt — and they’re made of hemp! Most shirts are under $50 (and there are several under $40) and come in a relaxed, boxy, laid-back cut. The brand’s graphic tee options are also extremely solid if you want something beyond a solid color.
This savvy Italian brand aims for Instagram-obsessed teens with its inexpensive, trend-driven styles. The tees — which come in just one size — are adaptable enough to suit grownups, too, erring on the casual side with plenty of crop tops and semi-sheer fabric. Most everything is priced around $20.
The OG of the direct-to-consumer wave, Everlane discloses the real costs of manufacturing each product — broken down by actual materials, labor, and transport costs — on the website. The tees themselves are laid-back but stylish, the kind of thing that works with sleek trousers during the week and jeans on the weekend. And the prices are great: Most T-shirts, from a scoop neck micro-rib to a boxy pocket tee, ring in under $30, and many are under $20; the brand’s new $15 tee will definitely see use in any wardrobe.
Nothing says “relaxed rich person” like a T-shirt from LA’s James Perse. The shirts have a magical, universally flattering combination of neckline, drape, and hue that make the admittedly high price tag worth it. Tank tops and short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts are in supply year-round in basic black and white, as well as soft seasonal colors.
Another LA-based brand, Lacausa makes the kind of flowing-but-edgy Los Angeles cool-girl clothes you want to live in: oversized sheer maxi dresses, roomy jumpsuits, and perfectly worn-in T-shirts. The label’s even based a whole collection around the latter called Uniform, which launched this past summer and features six different T-shirt styles in a whole slew of neutral colors and washes.
This San Francisco-based company boasts an “absurdly soft” feel that comes from its own custom fabric, a blend of pima cotton and micro modal. Turn here for an array of basic cuts, from tank tops to long sleeves, in easy-to-style colors. Most pieces are around $40; save a little dough with the three-for-$100 bundles.
Publish just expanded its casual-cool menswear line to womenswear this spring, which includes a selection of slightly sporty tees. Everything has an interesting detail — like a cut-out on a collar or an unexpected jacquard texture on a crop top — that’s still easy enough to style with jeans or joggers.
One of our favorite indie shops also serves up an excellent in-house line with especially good tees. Styles trend asymmetric; there are plenty of deep cowl-draped backs, hemlines that lurch lower on one side than the other, and slouchy, loose sleeves that slope from the shoulder. Beyond-basic T-shirt dresses are another highlight from the US-made line.
This “innerware” brand makes dependable and adorable socks, underwear, bralettes, and T-shirts. Styles aren’t super extensive, but they cover all the essentials: a pocket crew, a muscle tee, and a flattering scoop neck. Prices for all three hover in the low $30s.
The man that made his name dressing the off-duty model does great things for casual T-shirts. In his diffusion line — literally titled T, if you needed more reason to trust it — you’ll find perfectly cut muscle tank tops, draping short sleeves, and body-skimming long-sleeve styles. They’re definitely pricey, but it’s not hard to find the label on sale at online shops like The Outnet, Saks Off 5th, and Barneys Warehouse.