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We're living through historic times for the T-shirt. The basic tee, once imbued so indelibly with ties to the counter-culture courtesy of associations with on-screen badasses like Brando and Dean, is now so innocuous it's downright mainstream. These days, you could even say the T-shirt has become the de facto building block of the everyday outfit, long since replacing stuffier counterparts like the collared shirt, let alone (*checks notes*) the suit. The best brands understand this, which means there have never been more options to choose from. And while we're ever-thankful for the variety, it can sure get a little overwhelming.
Luckily for you, we sifted through the nearly endless supply of T-shirts available now to track down the 30 brands responsible for our favorites, with the recommendation that, if you happen to find a style you dig, you stock up on it—and fast. From tees that are cut cropped and boxy, to ones that are longer and trim throughout the body, to still others that cling to your torso in exactly the way you want them to, we cover 'em all. And if you're looking for an ultra-sturdy option, or an option made out of super-soft cotton, or something you could work out in, or a T-shirt studiously crafted out of some of the most sustainable materials on the planet, we have them, too.
Scroll through below to find the best T-shirt brand for you, and then wear yours with every single piece in your closet.
For years now, Alternative's been churning out some of the softest tees in the business. (A subtle slub only adds to the appeal.) These are affordable, classic, and timeless, so whether you snag one to wear alone or a couple to rotate for layering, you're in good hands.
Buck Mason's signature curved hem tees look better roughed up, so no need to treat 'em gently. It helps that the fabric is thick, heavy, and durable, too.
For more than four decades, Comfort Colors has been making T-shirts, refining its technique, resulting in styles that live up to the brand's name. It's no wonder that the label has a large and devoted following.
Kotn's essential crew is the rare wardrobe staple actually worthy of the moniker. Cut slim (but not, y'know, skintight) and made out of a durable midweight cotton, it's a tee that you'll be able to wear day in and day out for years to come.
Pro tip: Heavier weight tees, like the one made by Everlane here, tend to wrinkle less and hold their shape better in the long run. So if you want an investment tee you aren't going to need to throw out after a handful of washes, this is the one for you.
If you deem the investment worth it, Loro Piana is the pinnacle of luxury, and the brand's tees don't skimp on the same comfort and elegance that the rest of its products have. In a smooth, lightweight silk and cotton blend, this tee is as comfy as tees can possibly get.
Fear of God Essentials
Fear of God Essentials has a boxy, heavyweight, modern tee that exudes cool streetwear vibes. For your casual weekends and dressed-down days, this is the oversized fit that goes with all your baggy pants.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie has a pack of five basic tees, perfect for layering or wearing solo. These are soft and cozy, with a worn-in feel and midweight fabric that's perfect for any season.
The ultimate basic white crewneck. Whether you're layering a sweater or button-down over this or wearing it solo, it's an infallible pick and a closet staple.
For Big and Tall sizes, Bric has tees that are made to fit better than a standard size. No more pulling down the hem or stretching out the sleeves.
When Amazon introduced a private label business, it took a slow-and-steady approach, gathering as much consumer feedback as possible to offer styles that were up to snuff. The plan worked, and the rave reviews that Amazon Essentials receives is proof.
The T-shirt brand that'd make Brando proud. And when tees come in a pack, it makes developing the basics of your wardrobe oh so easy.
Without question, Uniqlo's beloved U line, conceived in collaboration with French designer Christophe Lemaire, is one of the best places to snag any number of elevated essentials. The Japanese retailer's perfectly beefy T-shirts are a favorite in the Esquire offices and among average Joes looking to stock up on quality tees.
At this point, it goes without saying that anything Carhartt touches will probably (read: definitely) outlast whatever else is in your closet. The brand's tees very much included.
An oldie but goodie, Hanes' value packs elevate a weekend essential to the rarified realm of an everyday staple. In fact, we love these tees so much, we Endorsed them.
A soft, cotton-jersey tee perfectly encapsulates James Perse's particular brand of West Coast cool. This is the kind of quietly luxurious basic that seamlessly elevates your wardrobe.
From winter coats to suits to socks, J.Crew carries it all. This, of course, includes some of the best tees, especially this one made of organic cotton and recycled fibers that is broken-in for a maximum flex.
Reading is what? Fundamental. And so is this aptly titled shirt—the Fundamental tee—from the always-dependable Lululemon.
Los Angeles Apparel
For the cool guy, a basic tee from Los Angeles Apparel is somehow stylish, not boring. Plus, the midweight fabric of this tee is perfect for any pair of pants you have. Talk about understated.
Because no list of everyday essentials of any kind would be complete without mention of the brand that made designer basics a bona fide thing.
Forty Five, named after the famous vinyl records, offers some of the most relaxed tees around. And like the 45 rpm, its Supima crew tee is made to be played over and over again.
From the moisture-wicking tech fabric to the flattering fit of its signature tee, called Strato, it's no wonder why Vuori is considered one of the best athleisure brands out there.
Nothing is better than a soft tee. In luxe cotton jersey, Theory makes a staple piece feel like a luxury.
Mack Weldon, maker of one the mightiest sweatpants around, also has an ultra-soft, antimicrobial shirt, named the Silver, that first the bill.
As its name conveys, this tee was made to be odor-free and keep its shaped for a whole 72 hours, even in adverse conditions. And it's been tested and proven several times over.
Like its suits, Zegna's tees are made of the finest materials soaked in richest dyes, which are then cut to precision.
Nili Lotan knows how to make even the most basic of pieces feel and look richer, nicer, more elevated. When it comes to tees, the fit, colors, and fabrics make all the difference from your regular old brands.
Soft, simple, and classic—a trio of COS tees is just what your wardrobe needs to ensure laundry day never means you sacrifice style.
Lightweight Jersey T-Shirt
This tee is durable and high-quality, but super lightweight—making it the ultimate workout partner. Or, if you're in a hurry, a shirt that still looks great with a pair of jeans.
Dri-FIT Short-Sleeve Top
Don't turn your nose up at a classic—it became that way for a reason. For athletes and big chillers alike, Nike has the perfect, sweat-wicking tee to get you through summer, errands, workouts, and more.
Why You Can Trust Esquire
We’re not about writing how great things are if they aren’t actually great. Every product in Esquire’s round-ups are carefully curated by our fashion and e-commerce teams.
When it comes to T-shirts, you can rest assured that we’re hand-selecting styles that we’ve personally tested, tried, and loved, along with styles that the rest of our stylish colleagues here at Esquire endorse for their own daily wear. We've had to go through a lot of trial and error, and these T-shirts are the ones that are simply the best.
Every pick on this list (and our other lists!) comes from years of wearing different things, seeing what we love and what we don’t, and going from there. No two tastes are the same, and no two men are the same. Your proverbial mileage may vary. But if you’re looking for the right place to start, with advice from folks who and care (possibly too much!) about this sort of stuff, this is the place to be.
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