A trusty t-shirt is the foundation on which most casual outfits rely…as well as a good pair of jeans, of course. Choose one that’s too tight or cheap and see-through and you run the risk of looking more like a rebel without a clue, than a cause.
The jury’s out on just how often you need to refresh your t-shirt stash, but once they have deodorant stains or are starting to look threadbare, it’s time to upgrade or they might drag down the rest of your outfit. If you want your tees really crisp you could also invest in an entry from our best steam irons list.
To help you build a great t-shirt arsenal, we’ve created the ultimate buying guide on how to sort through all of the best tees for men and help you create a collection of basics to make getting dressed a whole lot easier.
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So, whether you’re in the market for a new graphic tee to freshen up your look, or to bulk buy basics, read on for a pick of the very best.
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Best T-Shirts for men: Quick guide to choosing the best tee
T-shirts are unisex shirts designed with a round, collarless ‘crew neck’ or V-neck. Although you can wear a V-neck as an outer garment, its low neckline allows it to be hidden when worn beneath an outer shirt.
Other designs include the printed (or graphic) T-shirt, the long-sleeve and the striped T-shirt.
The most basic of all tees is the white crew neck. It's the most simple and versatile T-shirt you can own. You can wear it under an outer shirt or as an outer shirt depending on the outfit.
The graphic tee is always a popular choice. You've seen them many times – often loaded with cheesy puns and ironic statements – featuring your favourite bands or cultural icons from yesteryear.
Graphic tees can be nostalgic and fun depending on what you’re after. But their gimmicky nature often makes them short-lived impulse purchases.
Being a basic item, should you spend big on T-shirts? That's a personal choice, of course, but we’d recommend sorting the low-quality tees from the overpriced to find the right balance for your needs and budget.
Being in contact with your skin, along with its central position in an outfit, it's always worth investing in quality. But if value for money is less of a factor, there are also plenty of high-quality designer tees if you're going all in.
Best T-Shirts for men: Choosing the right T-shirt style
When it comes to picking t-shirts, you simply can’t go wrong with picking a classic crew. Think James Dean. Sure, you may not have his body, but by selecting a t-shirt that’s good quality, quite thick and not too tight or too baggy, you can streamline your shape without having to hit the gym.
The most common styles of t-shirt are crew neck or v-neck. There is a theory that crew necks make slimmer men look as if they have broader shoulders than if they choose a v-neck, but we’re not convinced. Wear whatever makes you feel good, but do try and steer clear of the incredibly cheap t-shirts you get in budget retailers – they won’t last and they won’t do you any favours.
The golden rule for choosing t-shirts is to pick the right size and fabric. A nice thick cotton with a little elastane is probably the most flattering, as is a fit that neither hugs your torso nor drowns it. Do make sure it’s not too tight on the shoulders or tummy, but whether it’s tighter on your arms is down to personal preference, as some people think a tighter fit amplifies the size of your biceps. The jury is out.
The T-shirt crew neck was developed in 1932 as an undergarment that would absorb sweat and prevent shoulder pads of American football players from causing chafing, but it was to become the statement of coolness and rebellion in the 1950s and has never been out of fashion since. Choose one with a neat neck that isn’t too baggy. This one from Tom Ford is a premium example with a premium price tag of £255.
Shop crew-neck tees below:
V-neck t-shirts haven’t been in fashion much too recently, but they can make for a useful base layer and something a bit different in your collection. Unless you fancy yourself as an extra in TOWIE, steer clear of a deep V and avoid any material that’s too clingy. This one from All Saints is ticks all the boxes at £35.
Shop V-neck tees below:
There can’t be many men that don’t rely on a number of trusty plain t-shirts to go with pretty much everything. For white t-shirts in particular, quality is king, as a slightly see-through material looks cheap and unflattering, while a thicker quality version that’s cut well will make all your outfits look more expensive and well put together. Mr Porter’s Mr P brand has the perfect plain picks for £65.
Shop plain tees below:
Stripy or Graphic:
Horizontal stripes have a bad reputation for making people look wider than they are, but as long as a stripy t-shirt isn’t too tight, they can actually make your chest and shoulders look broader, plus it’s easy to have fun with colour and they almost never go out of style. Paul Smith is known for his colourful stripes than this £65 tee is a classic. Slogan t-shirts have had a moment in recent years and let your t-shirt do the talking, but avoid ‘funny’ or geeky choices if you want to look fashionable and sophisticated. And last but not least, graphic designs can inject formulaic jeans and t-shirt outfits with some fun or colour, making them an easy way to brighten up your wardrobe for the summer months.
Shop patterned tees below:
- Graphic T-shirts at Mr Porter
- Striped T-Shirts at Mr Porter
- Graphic T-shirts at ASOS
- Striped T-Shirts at ASOS
Best T-Shirts for men: what to look out for (elastane, cut and colour)
The major decision you’ll make when buying a t-shirt is deciding how good the fit is. This doesn’t just mean how much they suit your body shape but also how well they integrate into your wardrobe and style.
T-shirts are highly versatile, so slotting them into several outfits shouldn’t be difficult to do. However, it’s worth looking at the little details and trying on a whole bunch to find the most flattering.
A lot of t-shirts are 100% cotton, but not all cotton is created equal. Soft pima can give a more flowing effect, while thicker cottons can make for a boxy cut that’s a bit stiffer. Cheaper t-shirts tend to contain more polyester – a bad buy, particularly for hot summers – but those that contain a little elastane can be good for a modern fit that’s super comfortable because it has a bit of ‘give’.
You might want to spend a little more on details such as designer logos, clever stitching or particularly striking designs, as these touches will certainly set your t-shirt apart from one of those multi-pack types you can pick up in the supermarket.
Thin, flowing t-shirts are great for summer months, as well as layering in the winter, while stiffer and more boxy versions tend to look a bit smarter and are more on-trend at the moment.
Whatever you’re looking for when deciding how to buy t-shirts, it’s a good idea to start with the basics. If you need a classic white one, go for brands that do great basic, like Levis or John Lewis, or Mr P or even Tom Ford if you have more spare cash
But if you’re looking for a statement piece or know your designer brands, then be prepared to spend extra to achieve the style you want.
Although the type of cut you go for will be personal, it’s a good idea to also keep an eye on what’s 'in' and opt for a boxier crew neck, perhaps made by a skate brand if you really want to be down with the kids.
Best T-Shirts for men: the best T-Shirt brands
Paul Smith may be known for his stripes but his graphic t-shirts are worth shouting about too. Often in a kaleidoscope of colours, graphics sometimes include a little Zebra (a stripy house mascot) but are always amazing quality, as you would expect from this cool but luxurious British brand. This ‘Spiral’ t-shirt will brighten up the most boring of outfits for £65.
When it comes to wardrobe staples, Folk is a brand to know. Described as making contemporary casual clothes, the brand always uses the finest fabrics and cool colour palettes, so while they’re seldom cheap, its clothes will become firm favourites in your wardrobe. This powder blue version is upper soft and on-trend for £50.
From cool leather jackets to dependable denim and perfectly worn-in t-shirts, All Saints is a go-to brand for those who like their clothing a tiny bit rock and roll. All its t-shirts feature a discrete embroidered skull logo, but it’s the soft cotton, flowing shape and colour palettes of the brand’s t-shirts that make them so appealing. Plus, you can get a three-pack to sort all your elevated basic t-shirt needs for £80.
Hanes make super affordable, basic T-shirts. If you don't want to spend a lot of money then you can stock up on these. They're available in a wide variety of cuts and colours, and priced as little as £6.
Affordable premium from Mr Porter's own brand. Mr. P has a range of basic tees that should be a staple of any man's wardrobe. They can be layered in the transitional months, or worn alone on hotter days.
Uniqlo is a Japanese casual wear brand, which sells amazing, sustainable clothes at affordable prices. You can pick up basic, block colour tees, or opt for pieces from the limited edition collections, which partner with everyone from Disney, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Sunspel has been making luxury T-Shirts in England for decades. The current range is super refined. We love the soft, light and comfortable fabrics, and we think you will as well.
Los Angeles Apparel is a basics apparel manufacturer and distributor founded by Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel. The brand is focused on sustainability and efficiency, with all products made in LA and the garment makers paid fair wages.
These are the 10 best T-Shirts you can buy
J.Crew's T-shirt is designed to look a little retro and is patterned with navy, white and mélange stripes. This piece is made from soft cotton-jersey and has a classic crew-neck shape. Layer yours beneath an army-green jacket.
From Mr Porter's own label, this classic black T-shirt is wardrobe essential. A crew-neck tee is the foundation for so many outfits, this one has a regular fit that feels comfortable whether it's worn alone or layered. The cotton-jersey fabric is silicone-washed for a soft handle.
While Lacoste is known primarily for its polo shirts, you can’t go wrong with a quality crew neck tee from the brand. Made entirely of cotton, this is an everyday item that is versatile enough to dress down with shorts and flip flops or for wearing out to casual social events.
If you live in Breton but want to update your look, why not inject a funky new colour into your wardrobe? This Mr P. striped tee is an amazing Pepto-Bismol pink to pep-up your outfits. Exclusive to Mr Porter, it’s made from thick cotton jersey, making it nice and practical and alternates very wearable ecru, navy and pink to add interest. The neckline is ribbed to prevent it from stretching out, and the side slits are reinforced with herringbone taping to keep it looking fresher for longer.
Moncler makes some of the most fashionable skiwear out there, but one of its t-shirts could add a little je ne sais quoi to your wardrobe too. The brand’s grey t-shirt features the French tricolor as a band around the neckline as well as the label’s emblem appliqued on the left arm to help it stand out from the rest. Despite being eye-catching, the t-shirt would easily slot in with your other summer staples and pair well with simple blue jeans.
Whether you look as good as James Dean, or not, every man needs a good white t-shirt to wear with, well, pretty much every pair of trousers, jeans or shorts. Made from super soft Pima cotton, this Depusi T-shirt from HUGO by Hugo Boss is a luxe take on a wardrobe essential. The plain white tee is cut to a comfortable regular fit with a slightly longer length and is subtly detailed with a HUGO logo at the left hip to make this style staple less basic. It’s not the cheapest, but is great quality and designed to be super flattering. We bet if you work out cost-per-wear it will end up being a bargain.
If you love tennis, this Ace Wimbledon t-shirt will help you up your fashion game and win complements game, set and match. This quirky graphic print T-shirt from Ralph Lauren is abstract enough to be wearable long after this year’s tournament is finished, although you may want to retire it in the winter months. Made from pure cotton in a fitted design, the official Wimbledon crest to the left sleeve provides a genuine finish from the official outfitter to The Championships. It comes in a variety of colours.
As well as a plain white and grey t-shirt, it’s great to have more neural options in your wardrobe arsenal to play with. This Reiss Beech melange t-shirt is incredibly easy to wear thanks to its subtle details that add depth and interest to a casual look. Neutral enough to go with pretty much anything, it’s made from a soft cotton blend and would look great paired with chinos and trainers for an a casual but cool look.
If you like your t-shirts plain for wearing with patterned shorts or to layer, then John Lewis’ Supima t-shirts are for you. The crew neck style is made from American sourced supima cotton, known for its softness, strength and longevity thanks to the longer fibres and comes in a regular fit, making it a handy base layer or a neutral main event. Best of all, they are just £15 each and come in black, navy, charcoal, grey marl and white, so you can afford to stock up.
Best T-Shirts for men: Where to buy the best T-Shirts
Mr Porter is an award-winning online retail destination for men's style, combining the best international menswear with expert advice and inspirational content. The site sells over 450 leading international brands, with new products added three times a week. The site offers express worldwide shipping to 170 countries (with same day service in London and New York) and a free collection service for returns and exchanges.
Example brands: Tom Ford, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Common Projects, Polo Ralph Lauren, Off-White, Burberry, A.P.C.
The Hut is an online department store offering new, hand-picked products each season across fashion, homeware, health & beauty, and electronics. The Hut provides free 2-3 working days UK delivery when you spend £30, or free next day delivery when you spend £50 or more.
Example brands: Ted Baker, Barbour, Jack Wills, Diesel, Levis, Tommy Hilfiger, Superdry, Calvin Klein, Champion
Bombinate aims to create a community around smaller, quality driven, menswear brands, enabling each to tell their stories to a new audience. Visitors can gain a deeper insight into each product, to understand where every piece was made. If you live in the UK, every item you purchase on Bombinate will be shipped to you for free. Naturally, returns are free as well.
Example brands: Oliver Cabell, Private White VC, King & Tuckfield, The Workers Club, La Paz, Peregrine, Bask in the Sun
Flannels is one of the UK's leading luxury retailers, specialising in contemporary men’s and women’s designer clothing, footwear and accessories. Flannels continuously strives for excellence, sourcing key pieces and collections from the world’s most iconic brands alongside new and exciting designers.
Example brands: Canada Goose, Alexander McQueen, Barbour, Stone Island, Polo Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith
ASOS is one of the biggest online fashion retailers out there, with a massive 850+ brands stocked in its warehouses. That means you get a huge amount of choice, and an incredibly simple buying process, with free delivery (minimum spend applies) and free returns. You can also try on loads of options and only pay for what you keep with ‘Pay later with Klarna’.
Example brands: Calvin Klein, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Jeans, Levis, Weekday, ASOS Design, Heart & Dagger, Burton