Great children’s T-shirts can be surprisingly difficult to find. The fabric has to be able to withstand spills, keep its shape, and be resistant to colour-fading (despite frequent washing). But, as well as being resilient, a truly stand-out kids’ tee will be an item a child will actively enjoy wearing (a challenge with any child from the age of 3) and one that appeals to parents too (i.e., one that doesn’t feature Paw Patrol). We asked seven parents with great taste, including a model, a mum of ten, and a podcaster to share their go-to brands for children’s T-shirts. Read on for their top picks, from budget buys to designs worth splashing out on.
The best overall kids’ T-shirt
Two of our experts recommended these organic cotton T-shirts, which come in a range of 18 colours, including Scandinavian muted shades, such as orange-toned brown, peach, and olive green. Mum of two Alex Stedman, editor of The Frugality says they’re a staple in her kids’ wardrobes, as they are “great quality and a great shape.” Jess Bowen, mum of two and founder of Model Mother, also has this style in several colours for her son. “He wears them as his ‘uniform’ for preschool, so they’re in high rotation and they wash really well,” she explains. “It’s also reassuring to know they’re part of Arket’s basics range so I can always get more as he outgrows them.”
The best budget plain T-shirts for kids
Stu Oakley, dad of three and host of Some Families, a podcast that celebrates LGBTQ+ families, has struggled to find good plain T-shirts for his kids. “Everything is always patterned and with the amount of patterned leggings, trousers, and shorts out there it’s hard to find good pairings,” he says. The solution? He finds himself returning to Fruit of the Loom time and time again. The brand’s white T-shirts also got a mention in our feature on the best white T-shirts for women — which is good to know if you’re into matching as a family.
“Like my mother and probably her mother before her, I get a majority of my daughters’ staple clothes from Marks and Spencer,” says Gina Knight, mum of two and founder of Gina Knight Wig Design. “Both girls wear the unisex pure cotton school T-shirts. They come in an array of colours and they hardly bobble or discolour. At two for £5 they are so reasonably priced we’ve used them for school, gymnastics, even creative projects such as tie-dye and print-making.”
The best plain children’s T-shirts to splurge on
“The Simple Folk is one of my go-to brands whenever I want to update my kids’ wardrobes, especially now they ship from within the UK,” says Bowen. “I love their philosophy of minimalist, unisex, ethical, organic and comfortable clothing for children. With another baby on the way I know that what I buy for my daughter and son now will be worn again by the new arrival, too. The clothes are made to last, which helps justify the higher price tag. I recently bought the Oversized Tee for both my children and they proved to be very versatile and comfortable, even in hot climates on holiday.”
This tee made from soft GOTS [Global Organic Textile Standard] certified organic cotton, features lovely, subtle details, such as rolled sleeves and sustainable coconut buttons. The brand is influenced by elements of traditional African design and comes recommended by Nina Malone, mum of two, talent agent, and founder of podcast Dope Black Mums and safe space @dopeblackmums. “I love the quality and love to support Black-owned businesses,” she explains. “Kamso kids was set up by British African single mother Seyi Sokoya and I was really inspired by her story.”
The best printed tees for kids
“I basically dress my daughter in striped T-shirts and leggings/cycling shorts every day for nursery — chic, unisex and easier to hide stains,” says Stedman, who loves that Lindex is “affordable yet sustainable” and that the tees are made using organic cotton.
Another print that’s forgiving of stains, this tie-dye T-shirt-and-shorts set is available in four colours: orange, blue, black, or purple. Malone ordered the latter for her 3-year-old after seeing a friend post about launching the brand in the Dope Black Mums Facebook group. “I love that this T-shirt is fabulously retro,” she says. “I’ve also found the fabric is extremely robust and will survive multiple washes without fading.”
“If I could afford to dress my child solely in Organic Zoo, I would, but instead I try to support the brand by shopping in the sale, or asking family members to get it for birthdays,” says Stedman (the brand gifted her a onesie outfit when her second baby was born). “I have found a few bits on eBay too, as the quality lasts so well.”
The best slogan tees for kids
“These T-shirts are a great blend of cool culture and sleek design,” says Tinuke Awe, mum of two, CEO of Mums and Tea, and founder of Learning with Ez and Friends. “They are also sustainably sourced using organic cotton, so it’s a win-win.” The tops come in adult sizes, too, so Awe says they’re great if you like the whole family to match.
“I’m a big fan of the Spark Company, a female-founded and female-run company,” says Danusia Malina-Derben, mum of 10 and founder of School for Mothers. “Their T-shirt slogans are on point in addressing gender equality and they champion expression and finding your voice. On top of this, the quality of the T-shirt material is soft, thick and so comfy. My BGB [boy, girl, boy] triplets love them.” She adds that they wash well, and “they’re ethically made using ecofriendly vegan dye. The company has a zero-waste policy and is committed to plastic-free packaging. I love that they declare ‘We’re all about not being a dick to planet Earth’.”
“These ‘Rookie’ tees are a lovely quality,” says Stedman. “They’re GOTS-certified FairTrade and from a small UK business I discovered via social media.” The brand was founded by a mum of two with the goal of supporting blended cultures and diverse families. A share of proceeds from the sale of each tee will be dedicated to charity, for the brand’s launch they have chosen FiveXMore and Refugee Action.
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