The Perfect White T-Shirt

A plain white t-shirt is a wardrobe staple, especially for warmer weather. Then why is it so difficult to find the perfect one? A few years ago, I found my unicorn white t-shirt at Old Navy but of course they discontinued the style the following year, leaving me perfect t-shirtless. I am now to the point where my stash is stained and pilled…and I need a new white t-shirt fix.

What makes a perfect white t-shirt? Here are my criteria:

  • Affordable- no $50 T’s here.
  • Relaxed fit but not hanging off my shoulders
  • Slightly opaque- can wear a nude bra underneath without it showing through but not solid white
  • Thin enough to drape over my body as opposed to heavy cotton that shows every bump and lump
  • Washes well
  • Straight sleeves, not cap sleeves

I mean, is this too much to ask? I posed the question on Facebook recently and had almost a dozen suggestions of everyone’s go-to white t-shirt. I set out on a mission to find my perfect white t-shirt during the time my kids were in school- I work best under pressure. I tried to hit most stores that were suggested (apologies if I missed yours!) but a girl can only shop so much in between drop off and pick up.

Disclosure- this is the perfect white t-shirt for my body…and everyone has a different shape, so you might have different results! I have broad shoulders, a average to larger bust for my frame and a looooong torso. I also have a little mummy tummy that makes an appearance after my annual no kids all inclusive vacation (all you can eat tacos and margaritas will get me every time) that I suck in every time I am in a fitting room. Reflex.

Here are the results! Multiple items are listed clockwise from top left.

The Inspiration
Brand: Old Navy
Price: I think it was around $6 a few years ago, but it has shrunk a bit and pilled. Tears.

Store: Target
Brand: Merona
Price: $8 or 3 for $20; assorted styles
Verdict: I just pulled every white t-shirt from the display to try on. There are a TON more online– 11 to be exact. Unfortunately, I didn’t love any of the styles or fabric in store. Total Goldilocks quandary- too loose or too tight. They didn’t have any plain white t-shirts from the Mossimo brand in store- I usually prefer that brand to Merona since Mossimo is more fashion-forward.

Store: Kohls
Brands: SONOMA, Apt. 9
Price: SONOMA, The Everyday Tee- $9.99; Apt. 9- Essential Crewneck and V-neck- $8.99
Verdict: The Everyday Tee was too stiff for my taste, and the Apt. 9 brand was better but still not what I was looking for. Again, a ton more online at

Store: Madewell
Price: Whisper Cotton Crewneck: $24.50; Whisper Cotton V-neck- $19.50
Verdict: Ok, now I get it! The fabric was exactly what I was searching for- light, a little more on the sheer side, light in weight but can hold up to wear and wash (you can see the contrast on the waistband of my jeans). The longer sleeve length and curved hem makes it a versatile shirt for styling purposes- I can see these sleeves rolled up! The shoulder seams are slightly wider, which makes for an incredibly comfy, relaxed t-shirt.

Store: Gap
Price: Flutter Sleeve Tee: $34.95, Modern Crew Tee- $19.95, Vintage Wash V-neck Tee- $19.95, Linen V-neck Tee: $29.95
Verdict: I actually loved the flutter sleeve t-shirt. The weight was perfect and the sleeves added a little extra, but the armholes were too large…meaning you can see your bra if you lift your arms. The linen t-shirt was too heavy to drape well, and the others didn’t have great material.

Store: Old Navy
Price: EveryWear Slub-Knit Tee: around $7-9 on sale; originally $12.94, Fitted V-neck Tee: around $7-9 on sale; originally $9.94, Boyfriend Pocket Tee: around $9 on sale; originally $12.94, Relaxed Linen-Blend Curved-Hem Tee: $16.94
Verdict: Surprise, surprise!! The EveryWear Slub-Knit Tee is fabulous! I loved the weight, the fit, length and of course price. It fit every item on my checklist so I scooped up a couple of these to take home. Best white t-shirt bargain around.

Overall, I now know what to look for when hunting for the perfect white t-shirt. “Slub knit” gives the shirt a vintage/worn-in look. I was surprised that the two t-shirts I fell for were 100% cotton- I am a die-hard fan of the old American Apparel Track Shirt (50% Polyester / 25% Cotton / 25% Rayon). I can’t attest to how my picks hold up over multiple washes, but I will keep you posted!  

Note: Some of the reviews on the Madewell site stated that after a few washes, the shirt develops holes. My plan is to wash in a lingerie bag on cold and air dry.

Splurge: Madewell Whisper Cotton Crewneck Tee– $29.50, on sale for $24.50

Steal: Old Navy EveryWear Slub-Knit Tee– $12.94, on sale for $9

Best of luck on finding your best white t-shirt! Stay tuned for ways to style your plain white T this spring.



  1. April 24, 2017 / 5:48 pm

    I saw that comment thread on Facebook and loved it! So cool that you went on the hunt and found a couple that worked. The Madewell looks like it might be worth the higher price tag:)

    • April 28, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      THANKS Heidi!! Yes, the Madewell felt right the minute I put it on, totally worth the splurge as long as you invest in a good stain remover 🙂

  2. April 25, 2017 / 2:58 am

    My vote is the v-neck from old navy!! I don't do pockets or sleeves that are too long. Great research but why does the basic white tee have to be such torture to find?? Thanks for saving me time – I now know were to go!

    • April 28, 2017 / 2:59 pm

      I KNOW!!! I didn't think it would be that impossible until I started trying them on. SO many brands don't make flattering styles for women's REAL bodies! Shop away!