Every man needs at least one great white t-shirt. Ideally, he should have a drawerful. Because, whether you pair it with selvedge jeans and a “screw you, officer” quiff, or a loose-fitting suit à la half the men at fashion week, the white t-shirt works with anything. And, unlike that Prada Hawaiian shirt you spent your mortgage payment on but have only ever shown the mirror, you can wear one every day without looking like an extra from Magnum PI. Just see the example set by Messrs Dean, Brando and West.
Choosing the best white t-shirt
The key, though, is wearing the right white tee, not just whatever was on offer at your supermarket. One that flatters your physique but isn’t indecent. One that doesn’t go grey after two wears. And, most importantly, one whose neckline doesn’t veer towards your navel. These are they. Stock up, and enjoy knowing you always having something great to wear.
Bethnals was founded by Melissa Clement, a former Topshop denim buyer who grew weary of the vagaries of fast fashion. Instead, she offers well-crafted basics that won’t end up in the back of the drawer when trends change. The Esme tee is a case in point – not figure-hugging in the vein of last season, nor billowing like the next. Instead, you get something cut in luxurious linen-look jersey, which works as well under a blazer with chinos as it does worn with a pair of the brand’s equally ace jeans. But you’d best buy two; Bethnal’s unisex ethos means your other half might take a shine to it, too.
BUY IT NOW: Bethnals Esme white tee, £25, bethnals.com
Masters of the impeccably understated, Acne brings the same aesthetic to its t-shirts as it does the sharp-edged leather jackets; quality materials, figure-flattering cuts and no embellishment. Here that means skin-pleasing cotton and a silhouette nipped in at the waist to emphasise that V-shape you’ve been honing. Or to lend a helping hand if your lunchtimes are more about Pret than the power rack.
BUY IT NOW: Acne Studios nash T-shirt, £100, mrporter.com
You’re probably not going to wear a £100 t-shirt while tinkering with the gearshift on your hog. But you can feel free to channel James Dean in one that gives you change from a tenner. And since Uniqlo’s form-fitting white tees are as pleasing sartorially as financially, they’ll see you right in the office as well. You should stow a few in your gym bag, too, as they’re equipped with the brand’s Dry Technology, to ensure any perspiration immediately evaporates. Handy whether you’re benching, or struggling to unscrew a gearbox.
BUY IT NOW: Uniqlo Dry white crew neck tee, £5.90, uniqlo.com
The plunging hems on rappers like A$AP Rocky come courtesy of avant-garde designer Rick Owens. His longline tees have rewritten the rules of layering; no longer does each addition need to cover what lies beneath, but rather what’s next to your skin should peek out beneath your bomber jacket, peacoat, or even your suit. And when it warms up, the slim silhouette and buttery soft bamboo fabric will look impressive enough draped over a pair of slim, black jeans and leather high-tops.
BUY IT NOW: Rick Owens double short-sleeved white tee, £295, ln-cc.com
For those who’d rather dip a toe in the oversized trend, Topman’s take offers a more affordable option. It delivers the Miracle Grow to hemline and sleeves, but fits normally on the shoulders and body. That means you look as though you’ve deliberately pulled on something fashion-forward, not like you’re wearing the same tees you had before drastic weight loss surgery.
BUY IT NOW: Topman white oversized fit sheer t-shirt, £10, topman.com
Tee. White tee
Daniel Craig sported 150-year-old British brand Sunspel’s tees in Skyfall – a testament to their versatility, even if you’re not wearing them to pursue terrorists through building sites. As befits a heritage brand, their white tee is about simplicity executed with panache – Egyptian cotton cut straight to allow breathability and ease of movement. If you’ve been hitting the gym, take Tom Ford’s advice and have the sleeves tailored to hit higher up your tricep; the ideal look for strolls through Istanbul, or motorcycle chases across its roofs.
BUY IT NOW: Sunspel white T-shirt £65, Sunspel.com