White T-shirts are the most basic wardrobe staple, so you want to find a quality brand. They’re the perfect piece of clothing if you want to look stylish (and casual) without thinking about it, or spending too much. Not every man can pull off just a classic white T-shirt and jeans, but the best shirts should fit well and be nice enough that you could if you wanted to.
If you’re looking for a solid, classic white tee to wear, we recommend the Everlane Premium Weight Crew(available at Everlane for $28.00). For a basic undershirt, we recommend the Goodfellow & Co Lyndale Crew Neck T-Shirtavailable at Target. And, if you prefer to buy your shirts by the bag, the Fruit of the Loom Men's Stay Tucked Crew T-Shirt(available at Amazon) performed the best in our testing for the lowest price around.
We spent a month testing the most popular plain white tees on the market, both cheap and casual, concentrating not on the shirts that look the best out of the box (or the bag), but on the shirts that held up to wear and tear over weeks of extensive wearing and washing. If you want a durable T-shirt that is going to still look great after you’ve worn it for six months straight, this is the list for you.
These are the best white T-shirts for men we tested ranked, in order:
This shirt is a favorite of TJ Donegan, Reviewed's executive editor for core categories. “I’ve found the Target Goodfellow brand has consistently great values and okay-to-excellent quality,” he shared. “In particular, these quality T-shirts are thicker than the other cheap shirts I've owned, with a fabric that doesn't seem to shrink or get wrinkly even when I inevitably leave it in the dryer an extra day.” Goodfellow & Co is a house brand available only at Target.
One major aspect to note, which may take this choice off the table for some people: This was the only shirt in our testing that was a cotton blend: 60% cotton, 40% polyester, to be precise. (When we were selecting shirts to test, Target did not have a 100% cotton shirt available.) This shirt scored well in our shrinkage tests, which is to be expected: Polyester, as a fabric, doesn’t shrink like cotton. While this fabric blend may be responsible for its superior measurement results, it also received top marks in our shirt survey, with one reviewer noting “this is the one I've liked the most so far” and another writing it was “definitely better than Hanes.”
We debated knocking it out of the running due to its polyester construction, but decided to include it in our final ranking due to its combination of performance score and low price. If you prefer a 100% cotton undershirt, we recommend the more expensive Brooks Brothers, our fourth-place finisher.
Sometimes you just want a durable, reliable, undershirt that keeps most of its shape after a ton of washes and doesn’t cost more than $2.50 per shirt. You’re in luck. The Fruit of the Loom Men’s Stay Tucked Crew T-shirt was our favorite of the quality shirts in this category. While our testers judged this shirt to be stiffer and less comfortable than shirts more than quadruple the cost, the measurement and wear testing results—and the dirt-cheap price—proved this shirt to be the best you can buy from a bag.
We’re Megan McCarthy, the executive editor for growth, and Kyle Hamilton, a product test technician here at Reviewed. We are both people who wear clothing, and are both fond of T-shirts. Megan selected the shirts, designed the tests, ran the measurement tests before and after the shirts were washed and worn, and lead the visual tests. Kyle ran the laundry tests—every wash and dry cycle—ensuring that each wash was the same exact procedure each time.
It’s a minor scandal when a celebrity repeats an outfit, but everyday Americans don’t have to walk the red carpet on a daily basis. According to educator and textile expert Deborah Young, the assistant chair for textile science at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), most people wear the same 18 garments over and over again in any given month. So, if you’re an average American, you likely wear the same shirt about two or three times a month. Because we wanted to evaluate our picks based on how these shirts would look after six months of regular wear, we designed our tests to evaluate how well these T-shirts hold up over 15 wash and dry cycles.
The shirts: We decided to test the best white T-shirts for men and the best white T-shirts for women together. We chose our contenders based on suggestions from our product experts, Google search rankings, Amazon results, and other publication’s best T-shirt lists. For consistency, we ordered all the shirts in a size Large. Between the two lists, we had a total of 18 shirts, which ranged in price from $2.50 per shirt from both Hanes and Fruit of the Loom to $350 for a shirt from The Row, a fashion brand founded by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Measurement testing: Cotton shirts are going to shrink, there’s no way to avoid it. What sets a quality shirt apart from a terrible garment is the amount of shrinkage. According to Young, acceptable shrinkage for knits is 5%. We measured the shirts when they were brand new to get our base measurements and after weeks of wear and wash testing, we measured the shirts again to see the differences.
To get our base figures, we used a flexible tape measure to measure four points on each shirt: 1) The length of the back of the shirt, from the back of the center neckline to the center hem, 2) The length of the front of the shirt, from the center neckline to the center hem, 3) The width across the front of the shirt, from armpit seam to armpit seam, and 4) The length of the arm, from the sleeve seam to the hem of the arm, along the seam.
We also weighed the shirt using a Sartorius AY501 scale. Once the wash and wear tests were completed at the end of the month, we repeated the measuring and weighing process with each shirt. We calculated the differences between the before and after numbers to measure the shrinkage of each shirt, and compared the results among the contenders.
Wash testing: We always washed all 18 shirts together in one load, with two white towels added to the drum as ballast. We washed each load in a LG WT7300CW Top Load Washer on the delicate cycle, which used cold tap water. We used an exact measurement of 46ml of Persil liquid laundry detergent, the winner of our Best Laundry Detergent roundup, as the cleansing agent for each wash. When the wash was done, we dried the shirts in the delicate cycle using a Samsung DV431AEP/XAA Dryer. Each shirt was washed after it was worn, and every shirt went through a total of 15 wash and dry cycles.
Wear testing: We anonymized all of the shirts, to the best of our ability, by striking out the brand name with a Sharpie laundry marker and writing a number on the inside back neck of the shirt. We asked our Reviewed co-workers to wear a random shirt for a few hours around the office, and then answer a short survey ranking the shirt for comfort, style, and overall experience. A total of 12 Reviewed employees participated in the anonymous wear testing. This testing phase went on every work day for two weeks in mid-September.
Visual tests: Once the wear and wash testing phases were completed, we hung the shirts on our best clothes hangers and visually evaluated each shirt on a three-point “rattiness” scale. A shirt received 3 points if it looked fairly new and kept it shape, 2 points if it looked well-loved but lived-in, and 1 point if it was beat to all hell.
What You Should Know About White T-Shirts
Ever since James Dean skulked onscreen in a plain white T-shirt, blue jeans, and an attitude, T-shirts moved from military-grade undergarment to a Hollywood-approved wardrobe staple of the modern uniform. A perfect white cotton tee is likely the most popular piece of clothing in the average American closet, and, odds are, you might be wearing one right now.
Classic white T-shirts are 100% cotton, although the type of cotton can differ among shirts. Standard cotton is a short staple cotton called “upland cotton.” Slub cotton includes noticeale imperfections and is popular among fashion designers. Higher-quality cotton, like pima or Egyptian, is known as extra-long staple cotton. (You may have also heard of Supima cotton. Supima is the brand name of a nonprofit organization that promotes pima cotton and licenses that name to different manufacturers.)
The difference between a short staple and a long staple is right there in the name. The fiber in standard cotton is about 1 ¾ inches long, while pima is 2 ½ or 3 inches. This fiber length is essential in ensuring a smooth finish in the fabric. As FIDM's Young puts it, “the shorter the fiber, the more ends you have sticking out.”
T-shirts are also differentiated by the type of knit. A cotton jeresy t-shirt—which is the most common knit—provides a comfortable amount of drape and doesn’t stretch out too far. (Rib knit, another popular option, is stretchier and results in a more fitted look. Due to the fitted nature, rib knits are more popular with women’s styles.)
How Do You Avoid Prevent Pit Stains On White T-Shirts?
While the weight of a shirt can help prolong the stains from forming for a bit—thinner white shirts will show stains on the outside faster than thicker shirts—most stain prevention is best accomplished by pretreating your shirt before you wash it or switching up your deodorant to one without aluminum.
Another trick to keep shirts pristine and white is somewhat counterintuitive: Go easy on the bleach. According to Young, overbleaching your shirt can cause the entire garment to yellow.
These shirts came recommended by Dave Kender, Reviewed’s editor-in-chief. These 100% Supima cotton shirts are, in the words of one of our testers, “less soft and more...slick?”
They scored high on wear and tear tests, and scored high on our visual evaluation. It was also the only non-crewneck shirt we tested for men, which was a plus for some people. “I like the classic V-neck look to it” one tester wrote.
If you’re looking for an undershirt that’s thinner than our Best Overall, but still 100% cotton, this should be your choice.
Mack Weldon is a startup focusing on men’s basics, and this was an early favorite among our testers. Michael Shepard, Reviewed’s logistics expert, served as our male model for this roundup, so he had the luxury of trying on every single one of these shirts for both the before and after photos.
When we began testing, he was a vocal fan of the Mack Weldon shirt—even asking if he could take it home after the testing was completed. He described the initial experience of wearing the Mack Weldon shirt “like living your life sleeping on 200 thread count to one day figuring out that 700 thread count exists.” When he took the “after” pictures, though, his opinion dampened. After 15 washes, the shirt still felt “definitely better than Gildan or Amazon Essentials” he said, but less amazing, and more “like any other cotton shirt.”
Beyond those two scenarios, you can be forgiven if the name Gildan has never crossed your radar. Like the brand itself, this no-frills crew performed perfectly adequately, if not memorably, in our tests, scoring average marks throughout the testing. “The most basic of T-shirts” wrote one reviewer.
We couldn’t resist testing this $350—yes, three-hundred-and-fifty-dollar—shirt from fashion brand The Row available on Mr. Porter, the men’s offshoot of luxury clothing site Net-a-Porter. While we attempted to anonymize all of the shirts in our testing rotation, it was pretty obvious that this shirt was a level of quality far beyond most of the others.
Its construction and manufacturing was smooth and detailed, and the seams were sewn finer than any other shirt in our tests, or, frankly, any other shirt most of us had ever seen. It was also the heaviest shirt we tested, weighing in at 224.8 grams.
As you would hope for a shirt more than 1000% more expensive than our cheap budget buy, this shirt won high praise from our testers for comfort.
“It was one of the softest T-shirts I've ever worn and it was the perfect amount of thickness,” wrote one tester. Samantha Gordon, Reviewed’s e-commerce editor who served as an opacity model for the women’s T-shirts, called it “stupidly comfortable” when she tried it on for a photo. Its excellent construction and comfort, however, didn’t prevent it from showing signs of wear during our testing.
While the Everlane shirt held its shape well in our post-washing measurement and visual tests, The Row shirt appeared a little more beat-up.
If you have an abundance of cash, want something super soft, and don’t plan on wearing it more than five times, you may be interested in this. For people who want to invest in a wardrobe that lasts, however, we recommend you spend that money on 12 quality Everlane shirts instead.
There is really not much to say about this selection beyond “it was fine.” It scored a solid “meh” across our testing results, and no tester felt compelled to leave a comment about its experience. It scored solidly in the pack for our wash and wear tests. And at $3.75 per shirt, it’s statistically significantly more expensive than both the Fruit of the Loom and Hanes offerings, which knocked its ranking down a peg.
This 100% cotton shirt from the Gap was not a favorite among our testers. “It felt sort of stiff to wear” said one tester, who scored it the lowest possible score for comfort. Another tester was underwhelmed by the shirt, calling it “basic” and awarding it middling marks.
Hanes Men's ComfortSoft Crewneck Undershirt 3-Pack
“It is an exceedingly average shirt, with rough stitching and cheap-feeling fabric,” ranted one tester. “The material felt thin and less soft than I prefer,” chimed in another. These scores, in addition to its high shrinkage, landed Hanes in last place.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.