growing a minimalist wardrobe: t-shirts (again).

July 7, 2016

t-shirt update | reading my tea leaves

What’s a t-shirt? A bit of cotton sewn into the shape of a T; holes for head, arms and torso. A t-shirt is a t-shirt is a t-shirt you might say and you’d be half right. But anyone who wears this particular item of clothing on a regular basis knows that indeed the opposite can also be true. It’s a challenge to find a favorite tee. No doubt some of you have gone through the heartache experienced when a beloved t-shirt inevitably wears through. No doubt some of you have tried and failed to track down a replacement. (And if we’re being honest, no doubt the success rate of such an endeavor has been mixed.) No two tees alike, it seems, even when all obvious signs point to your having found a twin.

The t-shirts on this list won’t last forever and this isn’t a list of must-have tees. No, you mustn’t have these tees. But you might have these them and be quite pleased indeed. In case a new t-shirt is something that you’re looking for, here are a few new-to-me suggestions to update the list I wrote last year. The t-shirts on this list were made with a bit of thoughtfulness and shaped with a bit of care. 

For myself, I’m on something of a crew-neck kick and have mostly transitioned my remaining v-necks into the for-sleeping-in pile and am sticking to classic crews for daily wear. I’ve found myself partial to slightly off-whites, which seem more forgiving in summer heat. I’ve liked the look of a slightly more fitted tee lately, though I still have a loosey goosey one or two for days when anything that sticks won’t do.

Herewith, an addendum to the original list of tees that I wrote about almost exactly a year ago. Please feel free to add any favorites that I’ve missed to the comments below.t-shirt update | reading my tea leaves

American Giant: I love a nice cotton slub and the Supima cotton Premium Crew T from American Giant looks like a queen among them. I love the center seam down the back and the neutral, muted color selections. (Made in the USA.)

Amour Vert: A relatively new-to-me place to shop for thoughtful clothes, Amour Vert stocks a long list of t-shirts of various stripes (literal and figurative). I’m partial to the Mikki for a tee-shirt that offers a romantic change from a more classic crew. And for linen tee enthusiasts, the Ryan looks like it would do the trick. (Made in the USA.)

Brook There: RMTL sponsor Brook There recently added a few simple cotton tees and tanks to their lineup of thoughtfully made undergarments. I love the deep hem detail of their linen slouch tee; made from linen jersey milled in the US. (Made in the USA.)

Jungmaven: Move over cotton. Jungmaven’s on a mission to get everyone in a hemp tee by the year 2020 to mitigate climate change. Very ambitious hopes aside, I like the idea of folks thinking outside the box. The t-shirt doesn’t start out as soft as Pima cotton, but it’s got that lovely worn-in look that some days really call for. It would make a solid replacement for your favorite vintage tee that finally gave out. In my experience, they run a tad on the large size. I got mine from the ever-lovely RMTL sponsor, Wilson and Willy’s. (Made in the USA.)

Victor Athletics: When James and I both bought and adored the Victor Athletics hoodie this spring, I also tried one of their pocket tees on for size. Their new tees are a slightly different design than the one I have, but no doubt the quality and care that’s gone into their making has been the same. Every shirt is made from single origin Organic cotton grown and milled in the US.  The designs and color choices are classic and simple. (Made in the USA.)

The original t-shirt roundup right this way. All those other minimalist wardrobe posts, right here.

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  • Reply Alix July 7, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Unfortunately, as usual, the women’s sizing stops at 12-14. Back to the (shudder) Gap for bigger girls, I guess.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 7, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Hey Alix: I’m really sorry that the options that I’ve listed don’t come in sizes that work for you. I’m sure that must be really disappointing. It’s been a struggle for me to find ethical resources that also come in a wide range of sizes, but I do continue to look, every single time. I’ve considered ending this series because I hate to think that the series is offending or disappointing any of my readers. I hope you know I don’t take comments like yours lightly. While we wait for the industry to catch up to customer needs, I do think that a direct note from customers expressing concern goes a really long way. I’d definitely encourage you to reach out personally, and know that I do the same.

      • Reply Alix July 8, 2016 at 8:43 am

        Hi Erin! I’m absolutely not offended, it’s just a bit disheartening at the moment to know that sustainable clothing sizes for women are still so limited. Please don’t stop the series, though! Even if I can’t shop these retailers right now, many other people can. And yes, I do write directly to them, as do you. I’ve had some promising replies… fingers crossed!

        • Reply Erin Boyle July 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

          Mine, too! Thanks so much for this note!

    • Reply Jessica July 7, 2016 at 10:01 am

      For what it’s worth, and of course you may not be after their look, but the jungmaven t-shirts do run larger and some styles are quite similar across their gender divide (it takes detective work to tell the difference between mine and my partner’s black and white tees after a wash). So you may be able to find a larger size range on their website, and know that the quality is good and the shirts wear well!

    • Reply Erin C July 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      I can relate as well. The only company I’ve found is Eileen Fisher. Pricey, but if you are willing to search ebay, you can find items for 50% or more.

  • Reply Liz July 7, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Hi Erin,
    Have you experienced issues with holes in your t-shirts in the belly button area? It happens to me so often- I think it’s from the button on my jeans- but it’s very frustrating!

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 7, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Totally been there. I think it’s probably a combo of belt buckles, buttons, seatbelts, rubbing across the countertops, etc.!

  • Reply thedailyweeklyblog July 7, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Hey Erin, I love that.. you mentioned these options which is made in USA. Being a Sustainable Analyst by profession I love when it is avaiable and people just need some sort of boost to buy local product.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Reply Rebecca N July 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

    I love all these USA made options! I have a few tees from Everlane that are ethically made, but I really like finding clothing made in my own country as another option. Thanks for the links…..pinning this post for future purchases!

  • Reply Roxanne July 7, 2016 at 11:08 am

    So glad you wrote this post because I’ve been meaning to ask you what size you got in your Victor Athletics hoodie. I can’t decide whether to go for the S or the XS, and I’d love your opinion on the size you got. xx

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 7, 2016 at 11:13 am

      I got the xs; it’s perfect, but definitely not roomy. I’d say true-to-size, but size up if you want extra room!

  • Reply Cheryl Askeland July 7, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I love t-shirts! This has been my first year adopting a minimalist wardrobe and I love it! Thank you for all the t-shirt recommendations. I really want to upgrade from my Target tees. It’s hard to find a comfortable, good quality tee. When I do find one I usually buy several of the same one because it’s almost impossible that it’ll be available several years out. I’m jealous of my husband’s wardrobe. Half his closet is really well made tees that he might replace every five years or so. He can always find the exact same tees in the exact same colors and cuts. I bought two woman’s tees at the same company and they’re already shrinking weird and the company already doesn’t have anymore of the same style after only six months!

  • Reply Katherine July 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    the t shirts in the photo, where are they from they look so soft and comfortable. and i love the neckline

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 7, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      The one on top is the Jungamven, the one underneath is the cotton Zady tee from my first roundup!

  • Reply Erin July 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing these updates, Erin! I’m loving the Brook There and Jungmaven versions in the cream/off-white tones.

  • Reply Kari.M July 7, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Thank you, so much, for this list! It is so hard to find the right silhouette in t-shirts. I think the Jungmaven is the perfect one. Now I just have to wait for them to ship to Canada. It’s frustrating that so many of these places don’t do international shipping.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

      I understand. I think the issue here is that so many of these designers are really small and the overhead costs of shipping internationally—and not just what gets passed along to consumers—is more than they can take on at the onset. Hopefully as they continue to grow, their capacity to ship internationally will too!

  • Reply Lissa July 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I, too, am jealous of the options available to men. I struggle that a lovely tee costs $50+. Even though I could “technically” afford a luxury tee now and then–and I totally agree with the whole concept of a minimalistic wardrobe as being very cost-effective in the long run,–I struggle with spending that much. I work with the poor and those who are hungry and the reality is that $50=50 loaves of bread.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 8, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Agreed that some of the prices can be tough to swallow. It’s my sincere hope that some of the pricing means that the people who make the clothes and the environment along the supply chain are being treated equitably and justly.

  • Reply Alexis July 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    All of American Giant’s new tee styles are SO GOOD!! I’m tall and busty (5’8, 36DDD) and I have a really hard time finding tees that aren’t too short in the torso. Their Premium and slub cotton lines are amazing, I’ve been wearing them all summer. Good prices, too.

  • Reply Alexis July 8, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I love Skargorn tees (also made in the US). The #61 tee is big and oversized, but the #45 tee is more slim/fitted. They also have long sleeved and dress options. And they’re nice and thick and can take a beating!

  • Reply Angela July 8, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Yay! I was hoping for a follow up 🙂 For bigger ladies, I’ll say Bella + Canvas from Erin’s first t-shirt post does exceptionally soft shirts in a variety of sizes. They go up to 20 in their v neck cuts for women, though I haven’t checked the unisex or mens options.

  • Reply Abby Cameron July 9, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Just the other day I said, “I wish someone would do a post about t-shirts.” Voila! I guess I should put my intentions out there more often.

  • Reply Gitana Deneff July 10, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    I just recently bought three blank pocket Ts (black, pink, and white are my basic colors for blank Ts) at Banana Republic! They were on sale too! I’m so in love. I’ve been searching for blank Ts for so long. Thanks for your post!

  • Reply Rachel July 15, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I also love Everlane, and feel good about the research they do on labor practices. Their summer linen tees are wonderful, and sized for many types.

  • Reply Amanda August 28, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Your original list has a company called “Be Good” on it – I bought a few shirts from them and LOVE the shirts. Nice, basic cotton T-Shirts plus other great options. And the price was very affordable ($15 at the time of your post, bumped up to $20 later on).

    Just noticed that their website now brings you to the “Amore Vert” page and they no longer sell the cotton shirts I fell in love with. Their options still look nice but basic t-shirts all seem to have spandex in them, aren’t cotton and the price is more than triple.

    I’m excited to try American Giant’s t-shirts. Looks like they have a good selection of basic shirts. Thanks for the list of new clothing companies to check out!

  • Reply robert jungmann September 15, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    for larger sizes at Jungmaven the men’s tees in the 100% hemp, 60/40 original tees and 30/70 basic tees are all soft and drape nicely too 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle September 16, 2016 at 7:11 am

      Thanks for chiming in, Rob!

  • Reply P October 1, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I’m a curvy girl (US size 18). I have several of the tee variations from and love them all. The fabric is hemp/cotton and has been washing/wearing beautifully. hth 🙂

  • Reply Kellianne March 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Hi Erin,

    I know your post today JUST mentioned how many questions you get, but I’m hoping for a little extra insight on this t-shirt topic, what with the warmer weather coming in. My sister and I can’t seem to find t shirts that don’t get those tiny holes in them (even when laundering nicely and hanging to dry), with a record low of 6 weeks before starting to fall apart (thanks for everything, Gap). At this point we’d both rather pay more and get something with real longevity.
    So, in your experience, who makes the most durable t shirt? And are there any fabrics that in general seem to do better (cotton vs. hemp vs. wool, etc.)?

    I know you’re so busy with your little one, so even if all you’ve got time for is a one or two word answer, we’ll take it! Thanks and good luck with those babies!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE March 29, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Ha! No worries! I’ll say that the very nature of t-shirts is that they don’t last forever and sadly, often the softest tees are the ones that hole up first. That said, I’m not sure I could pick out a single one of these that I’ve tried that has withstood better or worse than the others…Ergh. Sorry for a slightly unsatisfying answer!

  • Reply Kellianne March 29, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Nope, that’s okay! Saves us the work and money of having to buy a tee from all of ’em to find that out for ourselves. Thanks for the reply!

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