Quality Basic Tees For Every Budget

One of the things I feel crankiest about is that most basic clothing made today (especially women’s clothing) is flimsy, thin, and poorly stitched together, so that we’re encouraged to replace it every season or supplement it with more junk clothing. Besides being personally annoying, it has a terrible effect on the environment. So I’ve tracked down a few companies that make basic t-shirts that are way, way less likely to just fall apart on you, and way, way more likely to be comfortable for a long time.

The ‘basic, unadorned t-shirts’ part is a little reluctant, since weird asymmetrical shirts are my favorite, but I don’t expect them to be everyone’s. And I want to help!

#1 Recommendation for Women: Ureshii Design

($42-$56 for bamboo rayon/cotton t-shirts.  All sizes available.)

ureshii-tiny-tee

 

Also offered: shells, blouse-like jersey shirts, hoodies, skirts, pants, dresses, accessories, underpants, swimwear

 

Ureshii Design is my favorite clothing company, hands-down.  They check just about every box you could consider for coziness, style, and ethics.   Their stuff is well-fitting, well-constructed, and extraordinarily comfortable.  And I mean well-fitting for every woman: they make clothes to your precise measurements.  Everything is very customizable in color and in fit, and the owners are the seamstresses, which means everyone gets paid ethically.  Also, said owners are basically the nicest possible people.  I’ll be writing a longer review of Ureshii Design relatively soon, because again, they’re my favorite.

Right now’s a good time to give them a try: Ureshii Design is having a $25-off-anything promotion until 3/31 with code LOVEYOURLOOK.  The pictured Tiny Tee would then be $17; their looser-fitting Easy Peasy Tee would be $21; and if you are into weird asymmetrical shirts, their Flowy Tee would be $27.  If you don’t want something made-to-measure their sample sale section is always worth a look.

 

#1 Recommendation For Men: Ministry of Supply

($20-40 for cotton/polyamide or coffee-infused-polyester tees.  Up to XL.)

ministry-of-supply-atmos

Also offered: dress pants, dress shirts, blazers

 

Ministry of Supply is about solving clothing problems with technology– which made their Atmos shirt perfect for my constantly-overheating fiance, Justin.  It’s got relatively unobtrusive ventilation holes in strategic areas to vent extra heat.  They’ve cut down on the colors it comes in, though, which is a real shame: right now it’s only available in black and white, where it used to be available in greys and blues.

If you’re into polos, they have polo shirts made partly out of NASA-engineered Phase Change temperature-regulating fabric.   Justin speaks highly of it too.  Also, if you tend to have trouble finding shirts that are broad enough in the shoulders/chest while being narrow enough in the waist, Ministry of Supply’s shirts are a surprisingly good fit off the rack.  If you don’t constantly overheat, but tend to be kind of pungent, their CORE t-shirt or the Aeon long-sleeved shirt might be for you.  They’re both infused with coffee grounds to absorb odor.

They have kind of a lazy 1-in-1-out program where you send them clothing and they donate it to Goodwill for you, which is… good if you aren’t near anywhere local that needs your clothing, I guess?  And they donate a portion of their sales to support kids learning science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

 

Other Options, Researched but not Purchased

 

Budget Pick: Grana ($15-$29 for pima cotton tees).  Up to XL.

grana-crew-neck

This Hong-Kong based supplier has inexpensive, well-reviewed options for both men and women.  The founder’s mission was to combat “a lot of inefficiency” in the fashion industry– “products are poor quality, markups are high, and fabric quality is really poor.”  My kind of company.

Short-sleeved t-shirts are generally $15, long-sleeved between $25 and $29.  Petite women: the Internet (AKA Reddit) says that Grana generally has a more petite-friendly fit than Everlane.  More interestingly and relevantly, they have really comprehensive size charts on their site if you know your measurements, which is a delight to me.

 

Mid-Priced Pick: Everlane ($15-$45 for cotton tees, average price ~$25.)  Up to XL.

everlane-cotton-v

You probably have heard of Everlane by now.  If not: they’re an online-only retailer known for their transparent manufacturing and pricing practices and for having very high-quality clothing.  $45 is for their heavyweight long-sleeve shirt option.

 

Expensive Pick: Cuyana ($40-$55 for cotton or cotton/modal tees).  Up to L.  Seriously, Cuyana?

cuyana_v-neck

I almost don’t want to put this on here because Cuyana’s sizing excludes anyone average-sized or larger.  However, I think the detailing on this shirt is neat (it has a seam in the middle of the back), I like the materials it’s made of, Cuyana has a reputation and a mission for long-lasting quality, and I like the work they do on behalf of domestic violence survivors.  So if you’re looking for a very fancy, expensive t-shirt and you’re a L or smaller, you might like Cuyana.

Relatedly, petites, Cuyana’s silks have a petite-friendly fit.  I also emailed them about their silk tees, and they’re 21.5″ long.  Also, anecdotally, I’ve found that Cuyana’s t-shirts are the most likely of their collection of clothes to show up on eBay other than Cuyana’s extremely famous totes.  But only in S or XS.  Not sure what that means.

Their Other Products Are Definitely Cool: Brass ($25 for a cotton/modal t-shirt, $60 for a 3-pack)  Up to XL.

brass-scoopneck-back

Brass is a pretty neat company.  They’re well-reviewed, they have transparent manufacturing, and they’re deliberately cutting out the middle-man so they can sell “designer-quality” clothing to consumers more affordably.  Their real standouts are their dresses: even without Ureshii’s made-to-measure option, they offer dresses for a wide variety of body types, which they actually show on different body types on their website.  … as long as you’re an XL or smaller.  Sorry, plus sizes.

They also offer t-shirts as of late last year.  My suspicion is that the material is a little thin, given that you can faintly see outlines of the model’s bra through the shirt:

brass-tshirt-front

But it might just be a bad bra.  Regardless, if it’s a cotton/modal blend, it’s going to be very comfortable, I love the pintuck-detailed yokes on the back, and I have previous good experience with one of Brass’s products, so I’m going to recommend it anyway.

 

Sporty, Durable T-Shirts: Duluth Trading Company.  ($15-$64.50)  Up to 2X (Women) and 3X (Men).

duluth-trading-company-longtail

Anything Duluth Trading Company makes is durable enough last you forever and either super-comfortable or so sturdy it’s uncomfortable.  They offer longer t-shirts, which both Justin and I appreciate.  They also offer t-shirts designed to do different things, like wick moisture or cool you down.  Their women’s tank tops have little button plackets inside the shoulder straps to keep your bra strap from slipping, which is an innovation I immediately felt like should be on every piece of sleeveless women’s clothing.  Unfortunately, I don’t really like the style of most of their stuff, but if it’s your style, I highly recommend it.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Have you tried Pact? I haven’t tried their t-shirts but the tights I bought from them are basically the best tights ever and they’re fair trade.

  2. I have not! I’ll have to look into them. What makes them the best tights ever? How comfy they are, how opaque they are…?

    1. They are both comfy and opaque (https://wearpact.com/women/legwear/tights in orchid). They are also warmer than my usual tights, more like sweater tights, but all the sweater tights I have ever bought are always not very stretchy and endlessly falling down. These, on the other hand, are gloriously long and stay where you put them.

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