The Honor Roll (white T-shirt edition)

I came, I saw, I consumed. And the verdict is in.

James Dean. Bruce on the cover of Born in the U.S.A. Early Kimye. There’s nothing more American than a white T-shirt, except maybe apple pie (too much gluten) and immigration (who knows how much longer we’ll have that).

In the life of a working woman, white T-shirts are everything. Our dress shirts cost more than a dude’s to clean (and need to be dry cleaned, not laundered, which is worse for the environment). But a T shirt can go dressy (add a necklace) or casual (wear it alone with denim). It can have sex appeal without looking like you’re trying too hard. It works under a blazer or sweater. And it can easily be washed at home. Plus, when it wears out, it’s generally not super expensive to replace.

I have tried (at least it feels like it to me) every white T-shirt known to humankind. And here’s how the most relevant among them rank:

6. Everlane: I love the concept. I love the company’s values, message, and beautiful creative. But these Ts wore out super fast, and felt like a pilled-out rag after a few washes.

Who needs Justin when you have a $280 T? Selena on SNL in her Sabeen by the Row.

5. The Row Sabeen T-Shirt: For a mere $280, you can grab yourself this bad boy (though they often sell out on Net-a-Porter). Or, do as I did and get one on eBay, where they sometimes appear new with tags. I figured this style, favored by Selena Gomez, would be the end-all-be-all of Ts. You feel amazing when you wear it the first few times. Hangs nicely. Feels silky. Looks expensive. Totally work appropriate, even worn solo. But it doesn’t wear well. I washed it in a lingerie bag, delicate cycle, and laid it flat to dry. I still found small holes after about a dozen wears. If you can’t wash it easily, it defeats the point.

4. Splendid pocket T: This is my favorite of all the Splendid T-s I’ve tried over time. It’s pretty transparent, so you need a nude, non lacy bra. It falls easily and doesn’t cling. It’s a good length, but it won’t tuck in with everything because of the little splits at the hem (kind of a pain). You’ll have to experiment. The round neckline is flattering and clavicle-friendly.

3. James Perse: This used to be my numero uno T and still is a go-to. The sleeve is perfect. The neck is flattering (but a little low for work — don’t lean over). They’ve lasted me years. I wash them in cold and hang to dry.

Levi’s The Perfect V via Spring.

2. Levi’s T: This one is a little leaner than what usually gravitate toward, but it’s pretty, very useful, and an awesome value. Great tuck-in. Super flattering neckline. Smooth fabric works well in dressier settings than, say, the flecked Splendid T. There’s a “levis” fabric tag sewn into the seam, so if you’re wearing this untucked, you’ll need to get that removed. They call this style “the Perfect,” and that’s fair. I bought it in black, too + will be buying more.

T-shirt nirvana. This is Re/Done via Barney’s.
  1. Re/Done: This is, in fact, the end-all-be-all of Ts. Not cheap at $78 (a little higher for some styles). But still, T-shirt nirvana. I’ve worn multiple styles. The 1950s version is cropped and boxy. Perfect with high waisted skirts; it will hit the waist band, and you won’t have the bulge of tucking. the classic is the same fit, a little longer. The 1960s is a little more fitted, but not tight, with a flattering, shortish sleeve. And the 1970s boyfriend is the perfect length, and fit, skimming not clinging. Crew neck, but low enough to both flatter and be totally office appropriate. They’re 100% cotton, just a teeny, tiny bit transparent, and have a borrowed-from-the-boys feel (it’s called Re/Done Hanes). Miraculously, they can accommodate, shall we say, me and my “bosom buddies,” without sacrificing a great fit at the shoulder. And they wash beautifully. I suggest buying a bunch on revolve and then keeping your favorite style/size. Though you may want to keep more than one.

You are now officially ready to be a rebel without a cause. Or better yet, with one. Hit the ❤ to spread the word.