Ask a woman who cares about clothes to recommend a white T-shirt and she’ll either lean in conspiratorially and let you in on her secret — or she’ll admit that she’s never quite been able to identify the perfect white T-shirt and then beg you for intel. The white T-shirt is indeed many things to many women: called upon to sit under a blazer just so, to tuck into jeans nonchalantly, to casually underscore a silk skirt. It might not be the star of the show, but if it looks off, then everything else will too — so getting the white T-shirt right (the fit, the cut, the fabric, the neckline) is a must.
To help with your search, we asked 13 stylish women — including ladies from the worlds of fashion, food, publishing, and the arts — to get their recommendations for the best white T-shirts. Read on for their picks, featuring styles for pretty much anyone — including the best for big and for small boobs, the best for work and for weddings, and the best budget and luxury options.
The best overall white T-shirt
When restaurateur Samantha Lim got married two years ago, she had Raf Simons’s “iconic” Jil Sander spring/summer collection in mind — “the floor-length skirt with a perfect white T-shirt, an all-time favourite mood.” She sourced “loads of different T-shirt options both low and high” before ultimately deciding to opt for a Fruit of the Loom Kids Softspun cotton T-shirt. She generally wears a small in adult clothes, and opted for the largest size available in the kids range. “It has a super-soft feel and slim-fit cut,” she says.
The best plus-size white T-shirt
Writer Bethany Rutter says, “I love all my Levi’s T-shirts, but this one, with the tiny little logo, feels like such a classic, like a ’90s-supermodel look. A lot of people don’t know they do plus sizes but they do and they’re great.” In fact, Levi’s make this T-shirt up to a size 26. A loose-cut tee in a light cotton, it’s a relaxed choice that works for all body types.
The best ribbed white T-shirt
This form-fitting T-shirt is a good choice for dressier occasions. Stylist Victoria Sekrier, who has rules when it comes to T-shirts, is a fan. “I strictly wear fitted T-shirts, sort of ’70s style,” she says. “Everlane has a great one that they continuously stock. The rib is really fine, so it looks formal enough if you wear it with a suit.” One thing to note, however, is “you have to wear a bra, as it’s fairly transparent.”
The best white T-shirt if you’re small with big boobs
“As a 5’ 4” woman with larger than average tits (30E), it’s very hard to find a tee that fits well,” says actor and writer Rosie Kellett. “Either they are too fitted or they are too loose and drop off your chest like a tent, creating a rather unflattering, shapeless look. This ASOS one is different.” The soft jersey fabric (this tee is made from 100 percent organic cotton) means it is gently fitted but not too clingy, making it a flattering choice for those who are petite with big boobs. As Rosie says: “It is a cheapie but a goodie.”
The best white T-shirt for when you don’t want to wear a bra
“I don’t wear a bra, so if I’m wearing a white tee with no jacket, I prefer heavier cotton, which shows less nipple action,” says Lotte Jeffs, author of How to Be a Gentlewoman. “This fit isn’t super-loose, so it can be tucked — but it’s still a flattering shape if worn loose. The round high neck is parallel stitched, which is a nice detail.” (This tee is also a good option for bra wearers who don’t like their bra to be visible.)
The best scoop-neck white T-shirt
M&S has recently overhauled its T-shirt offering, fashion writer and editor Frankie Graddon tells me, “reconsidering details and upping the style factor,” and this scoop-neck tee is the best of the bunch. “The Regular Fit T-shirt has just the right balance of fit versus slouch,” she says, “and is made from supersoft Supima cotton.” Although M&S no longer carry this style, their relaxed short T-shirt has a similar neckline, and plenty of slouch. It is, however, made up of a polyester and viscose blend, as opposed to 100 percent cotton.
The best multipack white T-shirt
Even if you identify a perfect white T-shirt, there is always the possibility (or certainty) that it won’t stay perfect. Sweat stains, makeup marks, lunch — the white tee has many enemies. Buying in bulk is a good idea, and magazine editor Grace Banks invests in these Hanes men’s undershirts, finding them super-versatile. “I lounge around the house in them,” she says, “or sometimes wear them with a skirt.” As these are men’s T-shirts, they are longer than women’s, and you might find it’s wise to buy them in different sizes — small might work for wearing with skirts, while medium is good for lounging or sleeping in.
The best stretchy white T-shirt
“I’m not generally a huge fan of Primark,” says Yomi Adegoke, the co-author of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible and Slay in Your Lane: The Journal. “But when it comes to the plain white tee, they’re unmatched … this one is hugely flattering because of its stretchy material, especially for those of us who are particularly blessed — or, in the context of T-shirt shopping, cursed — in the boob department. For a stretchy option you can buy online, try this one from George: The cotton-polyester mix means there’s flexibility to the fit.”
The best boxy T-shirts
“I love this T-shirt so much,” says Jess Latowicki of the Everlane Box-Cut Pocket Tee. “The short, wider cut works both tucked in and hitting just below the waist.” Like all of Everlane’s shirts, “it washes really well” and the “white feels very neutral — not too blue, not too yellow.” The cotton manages to both be light and structured, she says, so it looks smart and neat while still being comfortable. “And,” Jess says, “who doesn’t love a boob pocket?” [Editor’s note: Everlane have confirmed that this product is no longer available. We recommend their cotton box-cut tee — sans pocket — as a good alternative.]
Although most of publicist Frankie Reddin’s white tees are actually inherited from ex-boyfriends — “I like them big and baggy” — her favourite comes from Daily Paper. Established in 2012, Daily Paper is a Black-owned streetwear brand that produces garments inspired by its founders’ African heritage. “It’s the most expensive T-shirt I’ve ever (and will ever) purchase,” Reddin says, “but I feel like I’m buying into a movement that I believe in.” As for the quality, Reddin says it’s simply “great”, and that her tee has retained its shape nicely.
The best fashion white T-shirts
“Simone Rocha is an absolute genius, especially when it comes to a frock, but she also does a very good T-shirt,” says Samantha Lim, who praises Rocha’s “twists on the classic that add a little something extra.” Puffed sleeves and layers of tulle transform the white T-shirt from trusty staple to star of the show.
Visual artist Jesse Lee recommended this stylish patch tee from Comme des Garçons over on our sister site. Whilst she’s a fan of the logo — “the heart just gives it that little bit of ‘tude,” — Lee also rates the “perfect” length and cut of the T-shirt. “I love that the material on this is just a little bit thicker than on most tees,” she says. “The sleeves on this are just right, too — not too long but not cap sleeves, either.”
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