In a totally unscientific experiment, I decided to try to find the perfect white T-shirt. Why? Because I’m in my 40s now. Which means that all those jolie laide thrift-shop cute outfits I covet in Anthropologie make me look like I shopped a Salvation Army sale rack. So I’ve decided the chic option is to wear jeans, a scarf, and a fitted white, 100% cotton, short-sleeve T-shirt.
For years, I wore Banana Republic’s “Organic Cotton” T-shirt. I had one in pretty much every color. But they don’t seem to make them anymore. I put a call out to my Facebook community and received some great suggestions for alternatives.
Then I went online and ordered about 50 white T-shirts. Here are the results of my incredibly fascinating sartorial study. I included photos of my favorites in a gallery below.
The ones I ruled out:
1. Old Navy – Not 100% cotton.
2. Chico’s – Couldn’t find a short-sleeve white T-shirt this late in the season.
3. Ann Taylor Loft – Wrinkle city! Every single shirt I own from Ann Taylor Loft looks like I wore it for a week, washed it, drove over it with my car and then wore it again for another week. Regular Ann Taylor? Mostly Modal with a tiny bit of cotton thrown in. Boo.
4. J. Crew – I know they’re supposed to have great T-shirts, but the quality didn’t win me over. The “Tissue Weight” cotton T-shirt is just an excuse to charge a ridiculous amount for what amounts to, literally, a tissue. The “Painter’s T” is as wrinkly as Ann Taylor Loft’s, and for more money. And their “Perfect Tee” (short-sleeve) was not available in stores – the long-sleeve version I did try on was bunchy, made of a bulky, thick weave of which I’m not fond.
Ralph Lauren (Outlet)
On sale – $8.00. Good deal for a nice-fitting T-shirt. I bought a Small. I would have prefered the Medium, but the fit is a bit awkward and sizing up only made it bulky. The shape is fairly good, though the weave is a bit thick. Wore well through the day. Gets a B.
Custom-made, direct to you, free shipping, and 100% cotton…for only $15! I ordered a Small and a Medium. The quality is good – easy, drapey. A weekend T-shirt for sure, but slightly too sheer for me to vote it the best. I give it a B+. (Disclosure: If you purchase through the link I’ve included, I get a discount for the referral, so if you prefer to register directly, just go to the site.)
I tried on the Perfect Tee and…meh. I actually ended up buying a V-neck in a Medium (photo not included), but The Gap’s shirts suffer from two design flaws – the material is fairly thin and the look is a bit boxy. The crew-neck shirt just made me look like I’d borrowed my boyfriend’s undershirt. C+.
Like Shania Twain says, the Banana Republic Timeless Crew-neck Tee is “still the one.” The reason I’m a sucker for BR? The weave – it’s soft AND thick. The fit is impeccable and the quality is fantastic. I ended up with a Small in the crew-neck and a Medium in the V-neck. Both look brand new and freshly ironed, even after a wash. A+!!