Men’s fashion isn’t all oversized lapels, designer ‘fits, and streetwear-chic. Sometimes, you have to take it back to the basics and build from there. That’s why this article is focusing on the best plain t-shirts for men.
Because without a good styling base, you can never achieve the fulfillment of your own personal style. Aside from boxer shorts, socks, and oxygen, it doesn’t get much more “basic necessity” than men’s plain t-shirts.
What constitutes the best plain t-shirts for men? Well, let’s start with the obvious. It isn’t a graphic t-shirt. While the graphic tee might be the plain t-shirt’s trendier, edgy cousin who’s much more likely to break the law, the plain tee is more solid and reliable. It provides the foundation for interesting layering or stand-alone spring/summer sophistication. (Apologies if you have a lisp).
Throughout this guide, we’ll be examining the full spectrum of the best high quality plain t-shirts for men. That includes pockets, tones, shapes, and materials, guiding you away from the nasty and regrettable towards classic, sturdy, and refined. So, if this sounds alright to you, do read on.
There are three main considerations when looking at the best plain t-shirts for men. The shape (or fit), material, and color. The color is the least integral and will simply dictate what other colors you style it with day-to-day. The shape will dictate when you wear it.
A t-shirt with baggy, drop shoulders, like Wax London’s elegant tee, or a long-sleeved t-shirt, like the Asket tee, both work by themselves. Whereas more natural fits are good by themselves in warmer months and as layering in the winter. Material is also a key consideration. High-quality fabric maketh a good t-shirt, so I picked the CDLP Heavyweight T-Shirt as the overall best quality plain t-shirts.
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Yes, this is a black t-shirt. But it’s anything but generic. The
In contrast, pima cotton, known for its extra-long fibers, provides texture and a natural drape. The heavyweight nature of the t-shirt ensures a richer drape compared to midweight alternatives. Over time, the natural characteristics of the fabric will allow the garment to gracefully fade, adding to its charm.
Talking of softness, the 330 gsm heavyweight t-shirt brings a wonderful quality feel and sustainability. This might be the ultimate black tee.
Material: 67% Lyocell, 33% Pima Cotton | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 6
What cuts the wheat from the chaff when it comes to white plain t-shirts for men? Well, I would point to the fit, the color, and the quality of the fabric. This Wax London t-shirt ticks all the boxes. It comes in a trendy boxy fit but with sloping shoulders for a relaxed feel and shape. The quality of the garment is cemented by its use of 100% organic cotton and the sheer heaviness of the fabric. And the white is as pristine as a set of new bleached dentures.
This t-shirt is ideally worn as a “transitional” piece (as the fashion lot want to call “spring” and “autumn”) in mild temperatures.
Material: 100% Organic Cotton | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 3
Asket does staples. Not the little metal things, but foundational and durable wardrobe necessities. That’s what
Generally, long-sleeved plain t-shirts for men are oft-neglected. Yet, almost owing to the fact it is forgotten about makes it a stylish and slightly alternative layering option. (Word on the street is that rash vests are back?)
For this piece, I recommend experimenting with a gilet over the top. Perhaps a fleece gilet or a light puffer style that happens to be reversible. Match with trousers/jeans of choice, sneakers, and a chic cap of some kind. The stylist I was working with this week wore a Columbia sports cap that looked killer.
Material: 100% Cotton | Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: 5
This organic cotton tee by L’Estrange blends lightness, comfort, and softness. It’s the perfect day-to-day t-shirt. But it’s the t-shirt’s tone that offers a stylistic opportunity. Here’s why…
I once bought a light gray t-shirt (cool story, bro), and it opened my mind to the possibilities of what I thought of previously as a dull color. I now style my light gray tee with some chunky wide wale cord trousers in black by Corridor NYC (but I also recommend Massimo Alba’s wale cords), a vintage Aspinal black belt with contrast stitching, and a pair of Vans x Krink shoes (try a pair of black and white Old Skools).
Sometimes, I throw on a black Supreme coach jacket for good measure (a Vans Torrey coach jacket is a rival equivalent). No longer do I think of a light gray tee as dull, but quite the opposite, in fact.
Material: 100% Organic Cotton | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 6
From cords to plan t-shirts, what can’t Corridor NYC do? This regular-fit navy tee is made in Lima, Peru, using Pima cotton, which is a long fiber fabric. Meaning that the feel and touch of the garment will be softer and more glorious than many other t-shirts you will have felt.
Then there is the little chest pocket. There is the intrigue and mystery of a man who wears a t-shirt with a pocket. What could he possibly have in there? A tiny little Zoolander phone? God only knows. Anyway, perhaps not the most practical, but the chest pocket certainly adds panache.
Material: 100% Pima Cotton | Sizes: S-2XL | Colors: 8
Why is this
Not only does this create a better finish, but it also uses less dye and fewer resources, which results in less waste. The lyocell also brings a particularly silk-like feel to the t-shirt, giving it a sheen and a comfort-shiver-inducing softness. If it’s in your price bracket, it just makes sense.
Material: 67% Lyocell, 33% Pima Cotton | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 6
To call the crew neck t-shirt “standard” is to do it dirty. It is ubiquitous because it is the best. It’s versatile styling-wise; it can be worn by itself or as a layer, and it feels secure and comfortable. This Hamilton and Hare oversized t-shirt brings a premium feel with a fashion-forward slant.
The longer arms give it a Scandi-summer feel, while the heavyweight fabric lets it sit nicely off the body. While the navy is lovely, the ecru tone is just perfect. Plus, if you don’t have an ecru t-shirt in your wardrobe, that needs to change. Immediately. It’s such a brilliant color to style.
Material: 100% BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) Cotton | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 1
Okay, so this t-shirt isn’t entirely plain. But, designer t-shirts, by definition, like to let the world know who they were designed by. Hence the embossed logo on the chest. The adept subtly of this logo means that it’s about as “plain” “designer” as that oxymoron can be. The cotton fabric has been garment dyed, meaning dyed post-production.
This gives the tee its designer-quality softness and subtle fade. The fabric is lightweight to the point of even being a little sheer, so it’s best saved for the summer months. With Gorpcore and skatewear still dominating modern trends, a white Stone Island long-sleeved t-shirt is hot property right now.
Material: 100% Cotton | Sizes: S-2XL | Colors: 2
The fabric is naturally going to be the main differentiator (and you better make sure it’s natural, too). Supima cotton is a strain of cotton plant with extra-long fibers that make it one of the softest and strongest cotton fabrics globally. According to ISTO, it “represents less than 1% of cotton grown in the world.” The strain is also resistant to pilling and absorbs color efficiently.
Essentially, it’s among the best t-shirts for men. ISTO has a simple range of colors. You could wear only ISTO t-shirts, and you would have a lovely life. One can only dream.
Material: 100% Supima Cotton | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 5
What To Look For In The Best Plain T-Shirts For Men
Cotton is the industry standard for t-shirts. So if the t-shirt is made from cotton, you’re in safe hands. It’s easy to wash, holds color, plus it’s durable and natural. There are varying qualities, from regular to Supima: the softest, most color absorbent, and most durable. Look out for lyocell, too, made from sustainably sourced wood pulp.
This has a slightly silkier finish than cotton. Also, pay attention to the weight of the fabric. Compared to lightweight fabrics, heavier cotton is naturally more durable and insulating but not as adept for warmer weather.
Plain t-shirts are the backbone of a good wardrobe. Make sure you have some good quality white, navy, black, and gray t-shirts. Then, pastel or faded tones are great for summer.
A boxy, oversized tee with dropped shoulders and perhaps longer short sleeves is the trend at the minute. Plus, they’re comfortable for a wide range of body types. A natural or regular fit t-shirt is good for layering since they don’t add too much bulk. They can also be worn by themselves, making them perhaps the most versatile choice.
The top of the best plain t-shirts for men list comes CDLP Heavyweight T-Shirt. This has to do with the supreme quality of the Supima long-fiber cotton. The Goodthreads t-shirt stands out because of its affordability. And finally, the Stone Island piece is noteworthy for its sheerness and subtle branding.
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a personal preference. All I can say is an intelligent graphic can elevate a t-shirt, and a bad graphic can destroy it. So, in this sense, a plain t-shirt is always guaranteed to be at least not offensive, and if you’re unsure of your style, it’s a brilliant building block for the rest of the outfit.
Plain t-shirts excel in their versatility. They can be dressed up or down as needed, i.e., by adding a blazer over the top or with jogging bottoms and trendy sneakers because they don’t distract from other more stylish pieces around them. They can also be layered with ease. Worn on its own, the plain t-shirt works. Worn simply as insulation in the winter, it works. They are like the background paint on an artist’s painting; it’s the stylist’s base layer.
For ultimate agency over one’s own look, a man should be adding as much variety as possible to his wardrobe. Going back to the artists’ analogy, it’s naturally more limiting to paint with only two or three colors. By experimenting with as much variety as possible, you begin to hone in on your style or deviate into new and exciting territories. The short answer is as many styles as you can get hold of.