White T-Shirts: Save or Splurge

There may be no one wardrobe item as essential as a white t-shirt, and I’ve tried quite a few over the years, so I definitely have some favorites.

I have no problem splurging on a quality tee that looks great and holds its shape, but white t-shirts can be a bit of a liability, so I also like to keep a few around that don’t cost a lot for the times when fit and feel don’t matter quite as much.

All that to say, I have both “save” and “splurge” versions in my closet, so today I’ve rounded up my top recommendations in both categories.

This list is comprised of white t-shirts I own and love, plus a few others I’ve tried that I like.

Save: White T-Shirts Under $20

Treasure & Bond Twist Detail T-Shirt $20 // I love this twist on a basic tee… see what I did there? I have this in the grey, but it also comes in white. The fabric is 66% polyester, 28% rayon, 6% spandex.

This tee is super soft with a really nice drape, and the rolled cap sleeves and twisted scoop neck really make it stand out. You can wear it alone or as a base layer under a jacket or cardigan. It has a 24 1/2″ body length, and it runs true to size with a relaxed fit.

Caslon Rounded V-Neck T-Shirt $19 // This lightweight slub tee (60% cotton, 40% modal) has been around for years, and I buy a new one almost every season. My only complaint is that silly boob pocket; I don’t know why t-shirt manufacturers do that.

But it’s a good basic tee for an excellent price. Just be aware, it’s a bit on the thinner side. (I don’t wear a cami under mine though.) It’s the longest in this group at 26″, and it runs true to size.

Madewell Whisper Cotton V-Neck T-Shirt $19.50 $16.50 + 20% off // This is another slub tee that has been around for several years, although they removed the boob pocket this season, hallelujah!

The fabric is 100% cotton, and it has more of a traditional v-neck and a split hem. It has a 25 1/2″ body length with a boxy silhouette, and it runs true to size.

Banana Republic Slub Crew Neck T-Shirt $29 $15 // I threw in a crew neck option for those who want it, but this tee comes in a scoop neck style as well. I like the seam up the back for added interest, and it fits a bit closer to the body than some of the others in this roundup, for a more elevated appearance.

The fabric is 60% cotton, 40% TENCEL™ modal, and the body length is 24″. These tees run a bit small, so I take a medium.

Caslon Short Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt $19 // I wanted a 5th option, so I added this one in. I don’t have one of these, but I did try it in a different color so I can attest to the quality.

It’s 25″ long and made of 60% cotton, 40% modal. It has more of a boxy fit than the other Caslon recommendation — more like the Madewell tee, but a bit thinner than that one. It’s true to size; the small fit me perfectly.

Splurge: White T-Shirts Over $20

Velvet by Graham & Spencer Kira Original Slub Scoop Neck T-Shirt $59 // This tee was one of my favorites in last year’s white t-shirt reviews, but I ended up returning it because it was a bit too low-cut for my comfort level. I might try it again now that I don’t need to be so cautious about that.

This tee is the ultimate in softness, and it has a really good drape. You definitely feel and see a difference when you go up in price range. It’s 25 1/4″ long with cropped sleeves, and the fabric is 100% cotton. I also appreciate that it’s made in the USA. The fit is true to size; I’m wearing the small.

White T-Shirt Review: Rag & Bone Jean The Vee Tee

Rag & Bone Jean The Vee T-Shirt $90 // This classic v-neck tee is the one I declared my favorite in my 2020 white t-shirt reviews, but I ended up returning it because it was too low cut. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) It’s made of 100% organic cotton, and it has a subtle slub texture and a nice drape — not too thick, not too thin.

It has a rather deep v-neck with a little bit of trim that makes it more refined than your basic boyfriend tee, but the sleeves are a tad long for my liking. The body length is 25 1/2″, and it has a seam down the back, which is a nice a detail. For this price, though, I would opt for the ATM tee (see below).

AllSaints Emelyn Tonic T-Shirt $45 // This tee is 100% cotton and 25 1/2″ long. It has a raw-edge v-neck tee, and the fabric is more of a smooth cotton jersey. It’s on the thiner side, but not so thin that I need a layer underneath. I actually have this in the grey, as well.

If you don’t like the slub texture, this is a great option. Plus, it’s the most affordable of the “splurge” tees. I would put this in the “spend” category, if I had done three sections. It runs true to size; I wear a small in this tee.

ATM Slub Jersey Schoolboy V-Neck T-Shirt $85 // This is my all-time favorite t-shirt. Yes, it is the definitely of a splurge, but the quality is there, and fit and feel is simply perfection. Whenever I wear it, I get compliments and questions about it, which is saying a lot for a fairly simple white v-neck t-shirt.

It’s 100% cotton and 23 1/2″ long with a slightly boxy, shrunken fit; and I like how the slubbed cotton jersey is thicker than most slub fabrics. This tee does run small, though; I take a medium.

Michael Stars Skyler Ultra Jersey Relaxed V-Neck T-Shirt 57.95 // For some reason, this is the only picture I have of this t-shirt, but it’s a nice basic with a classic v-neck in a super soft modal/cotton jersey fabric.

It has a 24″ body  length, so it’s also on the shorter side, but I actually like it that way. It layers very nicely under a fitted jacket, as seen here. Also, this tee is made in the USA.

Do you have a favorite white t-shirt that is not on this list? Let us know about it in the comments!

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photos: Alison Cornell

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61 Responses

  1. I just purchased the Eileen Fisher white t shirt. It is a basic organic cotton v neck. It’s not too low necked and the fabric is great. Washes well. $68.00. This was a real splurge for me but I love it! It has a little more room in the mid section and you need to size down.

  2. I haven’t bought a white tee in ages — I prefer light gray these days. I finally bought the ATM, hoping to find out what all the fuss is about : ) I still covet the leopard print ATM tee from a couple of years ago that they *still* haven’t brought back : ( Thank you for your post!

    1. Yes, that cheetah tee is one item that never makes the cut when I cull my closet. I don’t wear it a ton, but I still love it. I also love my grey tees. 🙂 I have the Treasure & Bond twist neck tee and the AllSaints in grey instead of white. Let me know what you think of the ATM v-neck!

  3. This is great as this is one item I buy new almost every year. They do get worn out! I disagree with you on the boob pocket sometimes. I think that it’s nice to have one (I am definitely on the smaller, flat chested side though) to elevate the tee from looking like you threw on a white Hanes t-shirt. If the shirt has other details that clearly make it a more than a white men’s undershirt.

      1. Same! I have ZERO button-down shirts! I do see them on “essential” lists and I laugh. I just don’t like the look, plus I have a short neck so the collar hits my jaw and that’s annoying.

  4. Thank you for the review of white t’s, I enjoy reading your posts. I love white t’s, but they are done for after a season. How do you keep your white t’s nice looking? More specifically, the armpit area 🙂

    1. I don’t, they eventually start to get stained. I had to replace my ATM white tee this year, but I was happy to do so. On a cost per wear basis, even though it’s pricey, it is still worth it to me.

    2. I recently read a book called “How To Get Dressed” by Alison Freer, a costume designer. Lots of fun tips and tricks in it. There was definitely a discussion of sweat stains, Apparently, you can buy underarm pads that stick to the inside of the shirt. I’m not sure I would go that far with a T-shirt but silk (even washable), I’d consider it.

  5. How many white tees are too many?! Well, that’s just a silly question!!
    I wear the rag and bone and ATM tees quite a bit but I’d have to say the Frame le mid rise V is hands down my favorite. It’s got a style and elevated polish that makes it a stand out. I’ve had my white for a few years and also have added other colors in the last year. A surprising good one is also the Marine Layer V. I think it’s about 39.00 and was a sleeper for the price and how it launders. Frame is my winner

    1. I don’t know, I keep trying to get rid of some because I don’t like having so many of one type of item, but I like all of them! LOL. I tried the Frame le mid rise V once, nad it was soooo lowc-ut. I guess I could try it again now that I’m smaller, but I feel like it will still be too low on me. I think I have a really short chest or something. This is the one you mean? https://shopstyle.it/l/bIq0A

      1. Yes! It’s perfect for me. I take a small. Or maybe even xs. Maybe try it again now that things are different.

  6. I have the Calson rounded neck tee and also the Treasure and Bond rolled neck tee, both have nice feeling material and fit well. I want to try the All Saints tee, love the details. Another couple I have that is a favorite is the Sanctuary and also Splendid. Thanks to JoLynn tips!

  7. I get so frustrated about holes that appear in the front of tshirts…it’s happened recently on a Nordstroms, JCrew, and Old Navy after just a few wears. I’m told it’s because the tshirts rub against your jeans but that doesn’t ring true. I love tshirts but tend to refrain from buying the better ones for this reason.
    Can you comment about tshirt holes?

    1. Great question! I splurged on a Frame tee and it got holes the first time I wore it so I took it back. So disappointing!

      1. I get the small holes too. I have read it is the rubbing on jeans or if I have often wondered maybe pulling or lifting the shirt up and down, taking on and off,ect the fabric is weaker in that area? LOL one time I asked at Nordstrom and the salesperson told me it was because I had moths in my closet….don’t think so.

    2. I started having that problem when we started wearing our tee shirts on the outside. Now I do the front tuck and have no problems. I do think its the rubbing on the top of jean corner. I use to get so frustrated to have tee’s ruined after very little wear. Most the time when I wore one on the outside, I wore a cami to prevent this, but in the Summer it was too hot to do that.

      1. I started noticing the problem of tiny holes in my T-shirts a number of years ago and realized it started happening after we replaced our kitchen counter with quartz. There are small chips in the edges in places and I must be leaning up against it and it causes the holes. My youngest son was still living at home then, and he also had holes in his shirts. I mentioned it to a friend who has granite countertops and she had said noticed the same thing.

  8. Great post. I love a good white tee shirt. My favorite at the moment is AYR (Jo-Lynne, I know you tried their jeans earlier this year). I like the Supercool scoop neck, $68. If you like V neck, they have one called The Vito, $68 and it doesn’t have a boob pocket. Athleta also makes nice t-shirts. In the winter I live in white t’s under my sweaters. I like to be able to see a bit of t-shirt under the collar – that’s another topic for cooler times maybe ☺️

  9. I love white t-shirts! My husband thinks I’m crazy because I buy new ones every year. I’m older than you, and I enjoy a Talbots v-neck basic tshirt. I get them in other colors, too. I’ve also found nice ones at jJill. This year my favorite white t-shirt is actually from Target! It is so soft! It probably won’t hold up past this summer, but I sure have enjoyed it. I throw it on with colored or denim shorts or maybe a skort and some fun sandals to do my errands or play with my grandkids. 🙂

      1. I bought several Universal Thread v-neck tshirts from Target this year and love them. I leaned toward the slub cotton fabric ones in a variety of colors but they didn’t have white in the slub cotton 😕. I didn’t like the white one they did have. The fabric seemed too smooth and “formal” to me for a t-shirt.

  10. I highly recommend tees from Lands End. The fabric is not see through, they have a nice drape, and they last forever. Since you have such a wide variety as it relates to price points, I would love for you to try one and then share your thoughts with us.

  11. For a white tee that is NOT see-through, I like the Brigitte Brianna basic v-neck tee from Sexymodest (online). This tee is lined with a nude-colored lining. It’s not see through at all for that reason! I wear it with confidence (even teaching middle schoolers at church), it’s good quality, and about $35. Mine last me 1-2 seasons with frequent wear. The lining may bug some people, but that’s why I prefer this tee!

  12. Hey JoLynne! Do you ever have any problem with little holes that come up in your t-shirts. It’s happened with the Loft tees and the J Crew tees. They were both fairly new. They had only been washed one time and I saw the little holes. Since I washed them I didn’t think they could be returned. What are your thoughts?

  13. I love the white T comparison! A white T is something I too get every year, and though I like trying new brands, I tend to get at least one from my old standbys (in my case, Three Dots and Eddie Bauer, both of which are all cotton and maybe thicker than you like). I’m intrigued that you can wear a lower cut now that you have a smaller bust. I know you are not as small busted as me, but I find the low-cut Vs are impossible to wear – they fall too low on me because I don’t fill them out. I usually wear a crew neck for that reason, although I like the Three Dots Vs, which are higher cut. Unrelated, but did you like the AYR jeans? I hadn’t realized you tried them. A friend of mine swears by them, and I’m curious.

  14. This is a great roundup, thanks for putting it together! I agree about having both save and splurge white tees in my closet. I’m so glad you set the cutoff at $20 for true “saves”, so many times on save vs splurge posts the save prices are high enough to be splurges! This is a great range of prices, and I’m so glad you found several without that silly boob pocket!

    1. Yeah, I get that. I could have done save/spend/splurge if I really wanted to divide them up more, but $20 seems about as high as I’d go for a “save” tee. I expect some think that’s still more of a spend.

  15. So funny that I never used to think anything of the silly boob pocket until you mentioned it. But now, I’m like “oh, ugh, it has a boob pocket”. 😂 I guess I don’t mind them if they lay completely flat or aren’t over or under sized. But when they lay loose and floppy at the opening, I mind.

  16. Thanks for this wonderful round up! I was just about to buy an Old Navy White Slob T-shirt for eight dollars but I’m getting the J.Crew one instead. I like the fact that it’s not as boxy and it has the details in the back. Thanks for the tip on the sizing.I think white tees look great with colored denim jackets. I just bought the mint denim jacket from Kut from the Kloth . It’s so pretty with a white tea and blue jeans.

  17. Great roundup and I appreciate all the work this took. I’ll put in a plug for the Garnet Hill Essential Tee, also. Smooth, soft cotton, perfect scoop neck, not too low at all on me. Runs large, I feel. Usually $36 but there are sales. I have several colors and triplicated the grey I like it so much.

  18. Advocate (The Label) is the best white T I have ever tried and I have tried a LOT. It is a rounded neckline which I prefer but if you love a “v” then it isn’t for you. It is 100% organic cotton so it is not see through but it is still soft (I do not like the slub look). It is pricey at $75 but washes and wears so well. I would rather pay $75 for one good white shirt than keep replacing cheaper ones. Also “every piece sold directly supports women and girls who have been the victims of human trafficking” which is a big win in my opinion. They are sold out of a lot of popular sizes right now but seem to restock often. I really enjoy when you do the save vs. splurge! Melissa D

  19. I love the Banana Republic crew neck that you have here. I know I am in the minority but I have always preferred crew necks. I just bought some paper bag waist shorts and I don’t think I have anything fitted enough to wear with them. This tee looks nice and more fitted on you. Do you think it would look good with that type of shorts? I usually wear a medium so should I size up? If you have any other suggestions on what to wear with the shorts please let me know.

    1. Crewnecks look great on women who are smaller chested, and/or with a longer neck…. and also narrower shoulders. I have none of the 3, lol. I still wear them sometimes tho.

      I do think the BR tee would look great with paper bag waist shorts.

    2. I wouldn’t worry about having to wear something fitted on top with paper bag shorts/pants because of their magical waist-defining capabilities. I wear a tucked-in button-down with mine all of the time (e.g. poplin short sleeve, linen long sleeve).

  20. Yes! It’s the tile edges/corners. Check out your bathroom counter-top and see if you don’t lean against it to do your makeup or whatever.

  21. Not sure if you’ve done it already, but I would love a post sometime on white t-shirts that are… not white, ha! As someone with autumn coloring, I do not look good in bright white, but would love a basic tshirt in winter white/ivory/cream that is well made and not see-through.

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