Fashion & Beauty

The Great White T-Shirt Hunt

From left to right, the Modern from Kule, Cuyana’s Classic Crewneck and Sol Angeles Boyfriend Pocket Tee.

DOES THIS sound familiar—hunting through your wardrobe for last summer’s T-shirts, only to find most of them looking a bit “triste” (sad)? A T-shirt or three is an essential buy for me—the underpinning of my go-to summer uniform: a white, black or striped tee paired with cropped jeans/pants or a skirt. That covers me for lunch with friends and/or business meetings when I’ll add a jacket; for casual outings, I’ll lose the jacket but throw a sweater in my bag to correct for too much AC.  What I look for: a slightly fitted torso or a slightly slouchy one, a neckline (either crew or v-neck) that lies flat, a durable material that’s not see-through (must withstand the washing machine) and a price tag of less (a lot less) than $100. Oh, and I like a finished hem with a slight curve.

Instead of blindly browsing the web or local stores and lamenting the high prices of so many labels, I decided to reach out to my most stylish friends, asking them which brands they’ve found that are the best for the buck and quality. To simplify, I specified women’s white T-shirts. Here’s how they replied:

Nancy Gold, Philadelphia lawyer: Gap is generally my go-to for a women’s white T-shirt. They have different cuts and cotton weights. I throw them in the washer and dryer and as long as you get them out immediately and fold or roll, they last and continue to look good. I get extra small for under suit jackets, and small for regular wear. Occasionally you can also find decent quality at Old Navy as well. J Crew used to be good, but their fabric got pretty flimsy. BTW, I have a friend who goes into Target at the beginning of the summer, buys two packs of men’s Hanes T-shirts (three to a pack), and just throws them away at the end of the summer. Economical!

Dasha Karelina, style consultant: I bought a couple from Cuyana that I really like, but they are $45 and I wash them by hand…

Stephanie Gleason, former NYC banker: I like the Petit Bateau iconic women’s white T-shirt and the basic one from Three Dots. Both run in the mid-$30 range.

Candace Johnston, Pittsburgh-based interior designer: I am a Vince fan, have been for quite a while. I used to spend $36 ($28 on sale) for the J Crew basic women’s white T-shirt, which after a few washings was good for sleeping only. The Vince Tees are worth the $$$; it is true that you get what you pay for.

Catherine Clifford, D.C.-based freelance health and beauty writer: Since white Ts have a short life, for me at least (sunscreen stains, drives me crazy), I go relatively disposable. Old Navy frequently has decent quality, great price. The last several years, I have especially liked certain Loft Ts—$ mid-teens or less on sale, nice cut, moderate-scoop neck, light fabric that isn’t too see-through. I recently succumbed to an on-sale-of-course but still expensive-for-me off-white Anthropologie (Sol Angeles) T that I love—substantial weight, very soft, stitched rolled sleeve. P.S. Coincidentally, in Old Navy a day ago, and their T-shirts *@#! Thin, flimsy and see-through. I guess I’m remembering the old days.

Alyse Michaelson, Wall Street analyst: Madewell! I love Z Supply now, but they are big.

—Janet Kelly


Left: Petit Bateau’s Iconic Tee, $46, Right: The fluttery sleeves on Re/done’s Classic T have the good grace not to accentuate upper-arm sags. $78,


Left: Sol Angeles Pocket Boyfriend Tee features a nicely rolled sleeve. Right now it’s available only in peach, marked down from $68 to $39.95, at But you might also like the Kiara Tee,, which features a little bit of texture, $58 in ivory, also at Right: On the pricey end, Vince’s Skinny-Striped Cotton Tee in Optic White/Cream, $85, at


Left: A Hanes X Karla T-shirt from Hanes’s collaboration with stylist-turned-designer Karla Welch. This one is The Classic and it’s $48 at Right: Madewell’s Cotton V-Neck Pocket Tee is easy on the budget. $19.50,


Left: Anthony Thomas Melila (ATM) always shows up as a fave, despite the $85 for this stretch modal V-neck tee. It’s at Right: Cuyana’s Classic Crewneck Tee is $45 at It comes in white, black, navy and heather gray pima cotton.


Left: Gap’s Vintage Crewneck T-shirt for $19.95 at Right: The Modern from Kule, an everyday basic made of light and airy cotton with a boxy cut. The brand’s bi-color stripe signature on the hem (not seen here) adds a preppy accent. $68 at


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6 thoughts on “The Great White T-Shirt Hunt

  1. Candy says:

    Madewell v-neck pocket tee. Great price, so comfy, washes well (hang to dry), not overly low cut, just enough drape. Bought one, liked it so much, bought 2 more on sale recently, then same style in pale peach. The only crew neck white one I like is one I bought last year from Banana that’s mostly cotton with a little modal and elastane, which improves the fit and feels really soft.

  2. Jura says:

    This is one of your annual posts I look forward to. But this year it doesn’t sound like anyone found the perfect white tee. I prefer mine with a high crew neck and about 8 percent stretch and 92 percent cotton. Chico’s has had a great one in the past but this year they are 100 percent cotton. Lousy fit. I would welcome any other ideas.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Have you tried Athleta? I just went yesterday and bought a Breezy Crewneck Tee (the one I got is striped but it comes in white) made of modal and polyester. I’m going to give it a try. Will let you know.

  3. Carol says:

    I also need as many white t-shirts as I can find due to red wine stains 🙂 also like Old Navy but Talbots has nice fitting ones in various styles. I pick up some when on sale at end of the season as they can be pricey for a t-shirt!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Thanks, Carol. Yes, white T-shirts are especially prone to stains — red wine and otherwise.

    2. Jura says:

      Talbots tees are also all cotton and lose their shape quickly. They need a bit of stretch in them.

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