It’s difficult to imagine a garment more basic than a plain T-shirt. A menswear essential in every sense of the term, this humble base layer has long enjoyed a reign as one of the universal staples of every man’s wardrobe. Yet despite its popularity, it can still prove exceedingly difficult to find a good one.

The search for the perfect plain T-shirt is an eternal struggle that has, at one point or another, plagued all of us. The reason being: while a T-shirt may seem like a simple thing to get right, there’s actually a lot that can go wrong. Poor fit, shrinkage, subpar stitching and cheap fabric being some of the most common issues.

It’s all too easy to settle for less and let your style fall flat, but the perfect tee is out there. Allow us to break down everything you need to know about selecting a quality T-shirt, along with a selection of brands that, in our experience, are making the finest options around.
What Makes The Perfect T-Shirt?
First and foremost, fit is crucial when selecting a T-shirt. It doesn’t matter if it’s woven out of fabric spun from the hair of angels, if it doesn’t sit right, it’s never going to look good.

The most important aspects of fit to consider are length and shoulder width. The seams that connect the body to the arms of the shirt should sit right on the corners of your shoulders. Any less and you’ll look as though you’re about to burst out of it. Any more and you risk looking like it was handed down by an elder sibling. The one exception to this rule is if you’re deliberately going for an oversized look. In which case, be careful not to take it too far. Remember, it’s a T-shirt, not a muumuu.

In terms of length, the hem should hover just above the hips. Don’t go any lower. Yes, longline T-shirts do exist. No, grown men shouldn’t wear them.

Quality fabrication and construction are two more areas in which many T-shirts fall short. The material should be 100% cotton and soft to the touch. How thick or thin it is depends on personal preference. However thicker fabric tends be more durable and hang better, for those of us harbouring a bit of a paunch.

The Best Brands For T-Shirts
From high-street heroes to basics specialists, these are the only labels you need to consider when it comes to bolstering your T-shirt rotation.

L’Estrange London
In a world dominated by overconsumption and fast fashion, L’Estrange are on a mission to change the way men buy clothes. The label’s modular system comprises the building blocks of any successful capsule wardrobe, giving you versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched for any occasion while eliminating waste.
The London-based brand only offers two T-shirts, but both are exceptional. Its Tailored Tee is crafted from weighty 100% organic cotton and features elevated details such as a back pleat for increased movement as well as a side split and subtle curved hem that makes it ideal for layering. The second is the limited edition Kapok Tee, which offers a silky-soft blend of kapok and organic cotton for all-day comfort. You can’t go wrong with either.

ISTO is focused on producing high-quality, timeless staples – the type of garments that never go out of style. There are no trend pieces or seasonal collections here. It’s the type of brand you could easily build an capsule wardrobe with, and feel good doing so: the independent label only uses sustainable materials and works with factories that adhere to strict social responsibility and work standards.
The brand’s T-shirts are a case in point: cut from the finest organic and extra long staple Supima cotton, they are handmade in Portugal with either a tailored or straight fit that flatters every body type.

Available in a wealth of versatile, modern colourways, stock up and wear them to death.

Vilebrequin has been producing luxury resortwear since 1971 and – as you would expect – the T-shirt plays a core part in each of its collections.

Cut from high quality cotton, the French brand’s tees come a wealth of summer-ready colourways and vibrant graphic prints that can’t fail to turn heads whether you’re lounging by the pool or sitting in a beer garden.