The perfect white tee – a list of best quality white t-shirts

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Written By Suzan

White t-shirt was first considered as an undergarment, something a men would wear under his work clothes. It was like that until in the 1950s. Everything changed overnight when Marlon Brando wore it in 1951 movie ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Since then it was viewed as something rebellious and cool and it became probably the most iconic and timeless piece of clothing that is now worn by people of all ages and backgrounds. That’s mostly because of it’s simplicity, versatility and comfort. 

Marlon Brando in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.

A white t-shirt can be paired with almost anything, making it a staple in many wardrobes. It can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and it can be worn in any season. White pairs well with almost any colour, making it easy to match with different bottoms, jackets and accessories. They are often affordable and widely available, making them accessible to people with various budgets. This post is about the best quality white t-shirts, so I will talk about what makes some better than others. 

First it is the material. Good white t-shirt is made of 100% cotton. But just 100% cotton is not enough of an indication that it is the best quality, it should be organic cotton. It is environmentally friendly as it’s grown without pesticides, resulting in longer and more durable fibers. This high-quality cotton undergoes time-consuming manufacturing processes and the final product will last longer than any 100% cotton shirt. Cheaper cotton often involves hidden human costs as well, such as forced labor in regions like China’s Xinjiang Province. Around 80% of China’s cotton trade originates from Xinjiang, a place notorious for abusing human rights so I would suggest avoiding Chinese cotton entirely. When considering the origins of cotton, prioritize those from Japan, USA, Egypt and Zimbabwe.

T-shirt has a simple construction but those of higher quality have even less details because the difference is in material. They are made on Loopwheel machines. Loopwheel is a fabric production method invented by Giuseppe Negra in 1926. It involves knitting cotton yarns around cylinders at a very slow pace, creating fabric without side seams. Each machine can only produce one size of garment due to its cylinder size and it takes 1 hour to produce 1 meter of fabric. However, as mass production became dominant, high-speed machines replaced Loopwheel machines, with the last ones manufactured in the 1970s and last operating are now in Japan and Germany. This is also the reason why a t-shirt made this way will cost more than the regular t-shirt. You can find great quality t-shirts that are not made on Loopwheel machines, but as this is a post about the best quality, I will mostly talk about those made on Loopwheel machines because if you only search for those you will always get the best quality.

Loopwheel machine. Source: Merz B. Schwanen

Last step when choosing a white t-shirt is the fit you prefer. We all have different body types and also different preferences in what we feel comfortable. Some people, myself included prefer more slim fitting t-shirt, that you wear tucked in your jeans to get that appeal of 50s, but then others might prefer to wear it a lot looser and longer. So when it comes to a perfect white t-shirt for yourself, consider fit being the nr.1 factor. You must understand that even if you buy a tee that is nr.1 on all “best t-shirt” lists it might not be the  best fit for you, so try to accept when something doesn’t fit you as you prefer and move on searching for the fit that you desire, there are always more great options and you should always keep this in mind for all types of clothing.

Left: Mister Freedom Skivvy tee, Middle: Buzz Rickson’s governemnt issued tee, Right: John Gluckow by Warehouse Lot JG-CS06 PLAIN T-Shirt

Below is my list of top 10 best t-shirts. First are 4 that I have tried or own them:

– Buzz Rickson’s governemnt issued tee
If you want something super soft and comfortable, it feels like second skin.

– Mister Freedom Skivvy tee
If you want a tee that feels indestructible.

John Gluckow by Warehouse Lot JG-CS06 PLAIN T-Shirt
If you want something that feels luxurious.

Merz B. Schwanen 1950s tee
The Real McCoys 2pcs pack tee
Both of these if you want something that feels like a great quality that will withstand a lot of wear.

These are 6 picks that are top picks according to the internet:

Samurai Loopwheeled T-Shirt 2-Pack
– Whitesville 2 pack tee
– The Flat Head FN-THC-001 – THC 9oz Heavyweight Tee
– UES No. 8. Slub Nep T-Shirt
Velva Sheen Short sleeve Crew neck Tee 2 pack
Asket; this is the only t-shirt from the list that is not made on Loopwheel machine, but you can choose between 3 lengths so it is a great option if you wear your t-shirt untucked and have preferred length.

This list might be updated in the future, so if you have any comments or would like to suggest a specific t-shirt that should be on the list, send me an email or leave a comment, so I can check it out!

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