The perfect t-shirt. Sounds simple enough, until you recall that perfection is not actually possible. Simply trying to get as near perfection as we can is all we can do. However, that need not be quite as depressing as it sounds. Yes, I have spent years (like most of my teen and early adult years) searching for that t-shirt that stands out from the hordes, distinguishes itself by drape, length, material, cut, neckline, sheer-ness, and value. I have also purchased many t-shirts from Walmart, Target, Abercrombie, Ann Taylor LOFT, Madewell, Free People, James Perse, Rag & Bone, and other brands – too many to count. There are so many t-shirts out in the world it can be difficult to determine which ones are really going to be what you want. So, I am going to share my t-shirt favorites, a couple I dislike for comparison sake and t-shirts other style gurus suggest as well. Because, face it, this isn’t the first t-shirt blog ever written. Or even the one thousandth. But, I know I can always use additional opinions, so I am supplying my own!
The aspects of the t-shirt that truly make the difference are material composition, cut, sleeve length, and the value (price vs. quality). The four of these together comprise the most perfect t-shirt you can find. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the cost is, if the t-shirt isn’t something you feel amazing in, (or delicious, depending on what look you’re going for), then it is too much.
It is important to take into consideration the fabric content of the t-shirt. This will affect the value of the tee as well as the drape and the sheer-ness of it. Depending on the style you desire, the fabric can give a boxy look, drapey, or fitted. The strength of the fabric determines the way it fades as it is washed – or even if it can be washed.
Depending on the style of the t-shirt that you are looking for, cut is key! If you are looking for boxy, you would want the tee to a be shorter length, fitted tees should hit the top of the hip, while a drapey tee should be longer in length to achieve optimum drape. If you are like me, round butt and curvy hips, the length is even more important. The best t-shirts can go bad when they are the wrong length whether it results in the constant tup down, out, or getting stuck under your butt or hips.
Sleeve length can make a boxy tee look very boxy or a slouchy tee look oversized. Some t-shirts have elbow sleeves. This can be cute rolled or long if you have thin arms. If your arms are larger, then a sleeve mid arm length is best.
Quality vs. Price. Very important! It doesn’t matter how affordable the t-shirt is if you have to buy 20 of them for every one at a higher price.
Banana Republic – The Supima Cotton Crew $29.50
This tee is 100% cotton but still washes well. It doesn’t shrink or fade, nor is it thin. I love the sleeve length, just long enough to cover the largest part of the arm but not tight. It is fitted as well, with a feminine shape but not too narrow. The length is also ideal – not too long, hitting at the upper hip.
By far my favorite t-shirt. The fit gives me that “Dang I look good!” feeling and dare I say, feel sexy with how it hugs the right places. But, as you can see in the picture, is not clingy or too tight on the torso.
Madewell – Whisper Cotton Crewneck Tee $24.50
By far one of my favorite non-boxy, boxy tees. It features a drop shoulder and a straight cut with room for a curvy shape. The sleeves roll beautifully yet remain an excellent length to cover the largest part of the arm without being tight. It is made of a light slub cotton. Is not thin enough to be sheer and doesn’t need a layer.
The length is perfect for this fit of t-shirt. Looks great tucked or left out. Has a slight shirt tail cut to the back of the tee with side cuts that remain modest. The only downfall, it says it is machine washable but they hold up best if hand washed.
Free People – We The Free Free Fallin Tee $58
One of the best purchases I have ever made! Certainly the tee is THIN. Anything you wear underneath will be a tad visible. Which makes this perfect for a racerback bralette (FP has a Galloon racerback that is perfect, I will link it).
The top is long all around and runs large. I would suggest sizing down at least one, maybe two sizes. It is perfect with leggings or knotted to the side. It is a drapey fit in a polyester, cotton, and rayon blend. It is a longer short sleeve with a sewn fold. Perfect drapey, lived in look.
J Jill – Pure Jill Scoop- Neck Elliptical Tee
The best part of this t-shirt is the cut. The Elliptical tee is a longer length in the back, (comes in petite as well), so it is perfect with leggings. The seam along the back just below the natural waist gives definition to the tee so it doesn’t look so blousy in the back. The front of the tee lies flat and just above the hip joint. Super soft cotton that doesn’t fade or shrink makes it a favorite!
This tee is perfect for lazy days with a long pendant necklace. I love it on the days when I am feeling bloated because the cut is so flattering and slimming. It has a built in shape but is cut generously to allow for a long, lean look.
Abercrombie & Fitch – Relaxed V-Neck Tee $18
Looks super cute on the model, I agree. And, if you are her size, the tee will look great. However, if you are any larger than a size 6, the tee shirt is small, tight and sheer. In addition, the neckline is very low, especially if you have a chest. The sides are also cut rather high. I generally like their items, and yes the tee is soft, but it is not a great fit.
I also don’t care for the sleeve length because it is so short and tight fitting. Also, this tee does not hold up well in the wash. It needs to be hand washed and it still frays, pills and looks dingy after a few wears.
Ann Taylor LOFT – Vintage Soft Pocket Tee $24.50
This LOFT tee is my least favorite. While I worked for the company, I tried many times to like this t-shirt. I probably purchased ten trying to find one I liked but I never did. For one, the cut is short. On the model it looks fine, but in real life, the longest part barely comes to the top of the hip. In addition, the tee is cut wide with small sleeves. The tee is bulky on the shoulder because of this and if both arms are forward, the tee bunches in the chest. In addition, the shirt shrinks and the seams twist when washed. My least recommended t-shirt.
Let me know if you like these tees or if you have your own favorites I should try!