If you regularly find yourself blankly staring at your closet in the morning, trying in vain to decide what to wear as if you were trying to make sense of a whiteboard in the college macroeconomics class that you missed three weeks of, it might be time for a wardrobe reset. No, you don’t need to throw out everything you own and buy an entirely new wardrobe comprising of all the latest trends. You just need to stock up on some fresh essentials, chief among them, the white t-shirt.
A men’s white t-shirt is simple and basic, but that’s exactly why it’s perfect for a wardrobe reset. Sure, there are some days when you want to wear your wackiest, most statement-making shirt. But for the days when you want an outfit that you know will look good and can work in almost any situation, and especially for those days where you just can’t decide what to wear, the white tee is there for you. It wears perfectly with black jeans, like a dream with blue jeans, or it can be used to ground some more fashiony pants, whether that’s a pair of plaid dress pants or slim-fit cargo pants.
Like so much of what we wear, the white t-shirt emerged from military origins. It was initially issued to US Navy sailors as an undergarment, and, to stay cool, sailors would wear the tees on their own. It quickly became a standalone piece and a symbol of youthful rebellion. Because of its origins as an undershirt, a white tee is also the perfect layering piece.
A white t-shirt sits more comfortably under a sweater than a dress shirt does, and you can also wear it on its own with denim jackets or under an opened button-down for a more casual look. The flipside of this versatility is that it’s easy to end up with a tee that looks too much like an undershirt. This is exacerbated by the white color, which is more see-through than other common t-shirt colors like heather gray and black. That’s why the best white t-shirts will be opaque enough to be worn on their own, and they’ll be cut in a way that has a satisfying drape so they won’t feel like a fitted undershirt.
Besides avoiding anything that too much resembles an undershirt, there are a lot of factors to look at when buying the best men’s white tee. Many of the choices have to do with personal preference — that’s why there’s no one perfect men’s white t-shirt. Do you prefer a thinner, looser collar or a beefier fitted one? Do you want a fitted shirt with sleeves that cling to your biceps, or would you rather wear something boxy and streetwear-inspired? Or, do you just want a simple, no-frills white tee with a classic collar and straight fit?
The truth is, all of these might sound appealing, and that’s because different white tees can suit different outfits. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite white t-shirts for men, including splurge-worthy premium tees, classic bulk basics and even some undershirts that work well on their own. For this roundup, we’ve stuck to crewneck short-sleeve shirts with no graphics. If you’re looking for v-necks, long-sleeve shirts or graphic tees, we have roundups in those categories, too.
1. Buck Mason Slub Classic Tee
Buck Mason is best known for their flattering curved hem tees, and they also make great classic white tees. It’s cut from slub cotton, which is technically cotton that has imperfections in the yarn. This gives the fabric a unique textured look and feel. Similar to summery fabrics like seersucker, slub cotton is breathable and not as clingy when the weather is warm. The tee is made in the US from 100% cotton. You can also get classic non-slub tees from Buck Mason, which are cut from premium Pima cotton.
2. Calvin Klein Men’s 5-Pk. Crew Neck Undershirts
UNDERSHIRTS THAT WORK ON THEIR OWN
It’s no surprise that the reigning champion of boxer briefs also does other undergarments very well. While you should be wary of tees that look too much like undershirts, there’s nothing wrong with undershirts that look like the best men’s white tees. With an opaque fabric, a revealing but not too short mid-bicep sleeve, a thin but not wimpy collar and a hem that isn’t too long to be left untucked, Calvin Klein’s white undershirts are surprisingly great on their own. You can buy them in multi-packs of all white, all black, or white and heather gray. They’re a good value too — five shirts are included, which works out to about 12 bucks a pop, and they frequently go on sale. We might dock one point for the logo at the waist, but otherwise, these are damn near perfect.
3. Theory Essential Tee in Slub Cotton
Casual yet refined defines the Theory brand, and their essential tee fits that ethos to, well, a tee. It’s cut from airy slub cotton, which gives it a unique visual texture and pleasant hand-feel, while also promoting breathability on a hot day. The sleeves are on the shorter and tighter side, and the hem sits comfortably below the belt without being too long. It’s impeccably soft, too, and made from organic cotton grown in Peru.
4. Entireworld Recycled Cotton Classic T
Scott Sternberg made his name on expensive, ultra-slim preppy clothing at Band of Outsiders. Now, he’s making relaxed, reasonably priced clothes at Entireworld with a focus on loungewear, which is ideal for budget-conscious shoppers who need cozy WFH clothes. Entireworld’s men’s shirts come in so many great colors that it feels wrong to just recommend the plain white t-shirt, but it’s a great one to get. It has a classic fit that’s on the trim side. Best of all, it’s made from recycled cotton, making it an eco-friendly option.
5. J. Crew Broken-In T-shirt
BEST POCKET TEE
Preppy dudes go there for the polos, sneakerheads go there for the Nike Killshots, Prince Harry goes there for the suits — J. Crew is practically shorthand for stylish items that are investment-worthy but not expensive. As the name suggests, the broken-in tee will feel as soft as a shirt you’ve owned for years. It comes in classic, slim or tall fits, and it has a chest pocket. You can also choose slub cotton versions as well, and you can go pocketed or pocketless.
6. SUNSPEL Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt
Made in the UK is treated as a stamp of quality when it comes to clothes (maybe not so much cars, though). That’s usually in regards to tailoring such as suits, ties and dress shirts, but Sunspel proves the Brits have casualwear down pat, too. Yes, this white tee is pretty pricey, but it’s cut from long-staple cotton that’s made to wash well and be durable. If there’s a men’s white tee you could wear with a tuxedo, it might just be this one.
7. Uniqlo U short-sleeve T-shirt
BEST BOXY FIT
Uniqlo is beloved for its basics, but as such a big brand, it can be hard to know the difference between all the different versions of each garment type. Take the crewneck white tee. There’s the dry color crew neck, the Supima crewneck, the Airism crewneck, the DRY-EX crewneck — the list goes on. But the best of the bunch might just be the Uniqlo U T-shirt, which has a thick collar, loose fit and uniquely beefy and almost coarse cotton construction. Basically, it’s a tee that you don’t have to be too precious with. The sub-20 dollar price doesn’t hurt, either.
8. Carhartt Men’s K87 Workwear Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Workwear may be on-trend, but it’s not like Carhartt is going anywhere — it’s a timeless brand, no matter what’s trending. The brand’s beefy t-shirts are cut wide and long, making them a more comfortable option if you’re a bigger guy. Carhartt’s tees are also durable, comfortable and the pocket is big enough to actually put stuff in. This is the only tee on our list with a prominent logo, but the iconic Carhartt logo is worth wearing proudly.
9. Hanes Men’s 6Pk Crew Neck T-Shirt
Need a fresh pack of tees and don’t want to spend too much? Hanes has your back, literally. That’s because their men’s white tees are made from soft cotton, and the tagless design eliminates any itching. The affordable tees come in a pack of six.
10. Everlane The Organic Cotton Crew
Everlane’s focus on ethically-made affordable basics has quickly rocketed it from a niche label to a global brand, and while they’ve since branched out to everything from suits to sneakers, their classic t-shirts are still great options. The lightweight tees are less than $20, and they’re made from organic cotton. It can be somewhat on the thin side, which is why you might also want to consider their heavyweight tee if you’re wearing it alone.