Men's Wardrobe Essentials

Plain T-Shirts

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A plain, short sleeved t-shirt is an essential because they’re super comfortable, timeless, and everyone wears them. Now whether you need a crew neck or v-neck t-shirt is dependent on a few factors that I’ll get into later on in this article.

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re probably wearing a t-shirt or polo shirt most of the time, so let’s make sure you look amazing in them. Before we get into that, though, I have a few bones to pick with men in regards to their t-shirts. They completely crap the bed in a few ways:

  1. Their shirts are full of logos.
  2. They don’t fit properly.
  3. The fabric is too thin, shiny, or worn out.
  4. A horrible combination of the above.

Types of T-Shirts For Men

A t-shirt is defined as:

A lightweight shirt without buttons, with short sleeves and no collar. Often made of cotton and frequently bears a picture or slogan.

Before we get into the finer points of t-shirts, let’s talk about the two different types, first. Before I started in the fashion industry, I didn’t know that there were only really two types of t-shirts. So let’s quickly get this out of the way.

Crew Neck

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These t-shirts have round collars that fit closely to the neck like the image above. You probably have these in your closet right now. They are great base items for layering or worn on their own. They work on most body types. See the below section about fit for more details.

V-Neck

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If your powers of deduction are strong, you’ll already know that the v-neck t-shirt is named as such because the neck is in the shape of a “v”. They also work on most body types. See the below section about fit for more details.

Long Sleeves

Long-sleeved shirts are not technially t-shirts. I put this here, because when I was first starting out, I swore that long-sleeved shirts, like Henleys, were also t-shirts. But, they’re not. Also, in my professional opinion you shouldn’t really own any long sleeve shirts. Henleys would be the only exception, but they only look good on certain body types. I’ll do an article about Henley shirts at a later time. But I don’t consider them a wardrobe essential.

If you need long sleeves, throw on a Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt, V-Neck Sweater Harrington Jacket or Blazer instead.

Logos & Designer T-Shirts

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I discussed my hatred of logos in my polo shirt article. And it definitely applies to t-shirts. Maybe more-so.

No self-respecting man should ever wear t-shirts with logos plastered all over them. We have enough billboards and advertisements in our lives, don’t turn your body into another one. Sports teams and concert/band tees are fine if worn to an event where it’s appropriate. But the worst is when I see guys wearing “designer” t-shirts. It just screams sucker, amateur and douche. Just don’t do it. If you own any of these, either throw them out right now orariGTFO

How T-Shirts Should Fit

See the T-Shirt Fit Guide for details. But I’ll quickly mention here, too, that no matter your age or body type, a t-shirt (any shirt, for that matter) should have a trim fit and lightly hug your body.

That doesn’t mean it should be skin tight, but it also doesn’t mean it should be baggy, either. A lot of my clients with larger builds tend to think that their shirts need to be baggy to hide their imperfections, but it actually works counter to that. It’ll highlight your imperfections if you attempt to hide them under larger swaths of fabric. And if you’re thinner, a larger shirt won’t add any bulk to your frame, it’ll just make you look even skinnier.

Fabric Choice

I can’t tell you how many nipples and belly buttons I see walking around town because guys are wearing undershirts or flimsy shirts with really thin or delicate fabrics as regular t-shirts.

Too Thin

I see a lot of guys wearing what looks like white undershirts because the fabric is so thin. I’ve honestly been searching for months for good white shirts that don’t show skin through. See my recommendations below.  Thin shirts/undershirts are not the same as regular t-shirts. Undershirts, true to their name, should only be worn underneath another shirt – usually an Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt or a Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt. They’re thin and soft because they’re purpose-built to go underneath something else.

Silky or Shiny appearance

The quickest way to look like a creepy uncle is to wear a shiny or silky t-shirt. You should only wear cotton and matte (not shiny) t-shirts. Nothing else.

Distressed or Worn out

Your t-shirts shouldn’t look like the garment equivalent of those terrible worn-out baseball caps. A t-shirt should look clean, comfortable and relatively new. Once they’ve got holes or they’re faded, even a little bit, they need to be replaced. Such is the nature of being a well-dressed gentleman. There’s nothing worse than old, stretched-out, or faded looking shirts, unless you’re deliberately going for that look.

You’ll get more usage out of your t-shirts if you wash in cold water and hang dry them. But once they’re stretched out or faded, it’s time to donate and replace them.

The Best T-Shirts For Men

Choosing the best t-shirts comes down to your body type, preference and the colors. I’ll reiterate again, because my older clients like to give me this excuse before they see the light: AGE DOESN’T FACTOR INTO WHAT SHIRTS YOU SHOULD GET – AT ALL.

Should I have V-Necks or Crew Necks?

Between the two, I would say it all depends on your preference. Some of my clients are adamant about their love or hate for one or the other. But if you don’t have a preference, I’d suggest getting one set of each. That way, you have the option to switch it up.

As for which ones you should get, there’s 3 points to consider:

  1. If you have a longer neck, go with crew necks. A v-neck would visually lengthen your neck and make it look longer. Unless you can find shorter v-necks with a shorter “v” like the white shirt on my model below.
  2. If you have a shorter neck, go with v-necks. It’ll make your neck appear a little longer.
  3. If your neck is average, the t-shirt world is your oyster and you can have whatever you want!

What colors should I have?

Every man should have these colors to start since they’ll go with everything else in your Essential Wardrobe.

  • White
  • Heather gray
  • Navy
  • Black

As for how many of each you should have, I suggest getting at least 2 of each, that way you can easily get through a week without needing to do laundry.

Best T-Shirts For Men

Designer Options

The fabrics of these options are really amazing and super comfortable. The James Perse ones are a personal favorite and I use them on a lot of my clients. I wish I could make all my clothes out of some of these materials. See my note in the section below, before making your decision. All of these shirts come in the colors I recommended above.

Ralph Lauren Cotton Jersey Crewneck T-Shirt 

James Perse Melange Cotton Linen V-Neck

Rag Bone Navy Classic T-Shirt

James Perse Grey Crew Neck T-Shirt

Brunello Cucinelli Cotton Crewnect White T-Shirt 

Budget-Friendly Options

I’d probably default to these options over the designer ones because I find very minute differences between them. The biggest factors would be fit and slightly better fabrics. I don’t find the added costs are worth what you get in return, especially because t-shirts will need to be replaced much quicker than other items in your wardrobe. All of these shirts come in the colors I recommended above. I especially love the RibbedTee shirts and the American Apparel Summer Shirts.

All Saints White Figure Crew T-Shirt

Alternative Apparel Black Plain T-Shirt

Armani Exchange Pima Crew 

RibbedTee White Rex Cotton Modal Tee V-Neck 1-Pack

J.Crew Broken-in V-Neck T-Shirt

3 Best Ways to Wear Your V-Neck and Crew Neck T-Shirts

Alternative Apparel Black Plain T-Shirt

Burberry Slim Fit Wool Trousers

Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Oxford 

Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses

IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

Rag & Bone Duncan Shawl Cardigan

RibbedTee White Rex Cotton Modal Tee V-Neck 1-Pack

Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans

Allen Edmonds First Avenue Dress Boots

John Varvatos Lafayette Sunglasses

IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

Brooks Brothers Camel Suede Barracuda Jacket

RibbedTee White Rex Cotton Modal Tee V-Neck 1-Pack

SIimon Miller M001 Gunnison Slim-Fit Selvedge Denim Jeans

Nike Tennis Classic Sneakers

Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses

IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

Men’s T-Shirt Outfit Ideas & Inspiration

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