The best T-shirts for men are as much a basic necessity as water: you might not die without them, but your wardrobe sure would. (Some might say that’s why they call it survival of the fittest.) But we’re not gonna sit around and let your style flounder. Good tees are the backbone of virtually every great outfit, whether you’re rocking one solo with jeans, layering up with a flannel and a pair of chinos, dressing up a luxury tee with a suit, or pulling on a sweat-wicking take at the gym.
The situations that warrant a T-shirt are endless. And for each one, there are a thousand tees to choose from. But actually choosing the right tee is a Herculean task because, well… every brand and their parent company makes a version. Which is why we’ve assembled this encyclopedic breakdown of the absolute best men’s T-shirts, from crisp white tees to funky-colored bangers, husky winter-ready heavyweights and paper-thin summer undershirts. Whatever you’re after, whatever your budget, wherever you’re going, you’re sure to find the T-shirt of your dreams accounted for here.
You can go really far with just a plain white T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. You might be wearing one around the house as simple loungewear. Or you could be following in the footsteps of many menswear greats, aiming to cement yourself as style icon. If there’s one tee to rule them all, it’s the plain white tee. From pima cotton options to broken-in crew T-shirts to retro relaxed fit tees, these are some of our faves.
T-shirts are a commodity that shouldn’t force you into bankruptcy (though some might argue that a really, really good T-shirt is totally worth the hit to your credit score). Thankfully, there are plenty of T-shirt brands that make rock-solid affordable options.
We’ve already explained why white tees are essential. But life is all about balance, which means you also need a stack of top-notch black tees in your dresser, too. Where white T-shirts are pristine and proper, black T-shirts are sexy and badass. Who doesn’t want to feel like that?
There’s more to tees than black and white alone, of course, and the finest colorful T-shirts can serve as a kind of sartorial mood ring. Are you feeling forest green today, or more of a sunny yellow? These are the best models to buy in every color of the rainbow.
Before brazen graphic tees and high-end Supima cotton splurges existed, the T-shirt had humble beginnings as a basic undergarment. If you’re attempting to protect your nice dress shirts and sweaters from the funk of your sweat glands, or simply need a warm base layer to keep the frigid air out, undershirts are designed to play a supporting role so the rest of your outfit can truly shine. You’ll find ‘em in a range of materials like waffle-knit thermals and temperature-regulating Merino wool—in addition to plain ol’ cotton jersey. But most good undershirts will lean closer to the slim fit end of the silhouette spectrum.
You could work out in a standard cotton tee and you’d be fine—soaking wet and really smelly, but fine. What we’d rather you do is get a proper workout shirt. They’re not like regular T-shirts: they’re cool T-shirts—literally. Workout shirts are built with fabrics that have cooling and moisture-wicking properties, allowing you to exercise more efficiently and effectively. Some workout shirts also come with anti-microbial properties, so even when you’re sweating like a pig, you won’t stink like rotten bacon.
If you roam around the GQ office and ask our staff who makes the best tees in the business, you’ll get a barrage of different answers. Our team’s favored T-shirts truly span the entire spectrum, from mall brand staples to indie made-in Los Angeles labels to the kind that make people exclaim, “You paid how much for a blank tee?” They may not be best-sellers, but they’re the ones you’ll find us actually wearing the most.