The 8 best plain T-shirts

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by Scarlett James
A man with a stubble, wearing a plain white t-shirt
Inverse/ Amazon

Despite modern technological advances, sometimes the analog version is quantifiably better than the latest release. Multiple studies confirm that our brains still learn more effectively when reading from paper rather than from a screen. By that same token, the best plain T-shirts — simple, clean, minimalist — just seem to do it better than the latest over-hyped drop. Below you’ll find a roundup of classic tees worth stocking up on. What you won’t find: oversized logos, retina-searing prints, or questionable distressing. Sometimes less is more, period.

Most of the T-shirts below are made from cotton because the affordable, natural fabric is a serious workhorse. It’s soft and breathable so you won’t hate wearing it under layers or on a scorching summer day, and it’s strong enough to withstand the rigors of daily wear. However, depending on your needs, you may prefer another material on offer. One T-shirts here is made of cooling, ultra-soft bamboo, and you’ll also find a plain T-shirt made of moisture-wicking polyester that’ll keep you dry at the gym. There’s also one merino wool T-shirt that’s really worth investing in, especially if you’re hiking or exercising outdoors, thanks to its thermoregulating qualities.

Ahead, the eight best plain T-shirts for a welcome return to the basics.

1. This plain T-shirt with an optional pocket

Whether you favor chest pockets or are staunchly opposed, Goodthreads’ plain crewneck T-shirt offers both. These popular tagless tees are made from 100% cotton to be totally comfortable and hardy, with a slimmer fit that works well for layering under sweaters and hoodies. For a classic, streamlined option, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better — good thing they’re not terribly expensive, so you can grab a few.

One reviewer wrote: “These are great shirts. They're simple, classically stylish, and durable. They're a few dollars more than your typical budget tee from a chain retailer, but they hold their shape much better after repeated wears and washings.”

  • Available colors: 27
  • Available sizes: X-Small — 3X-Large (regular and tall)

2. These long-sleeved plain T-shirts with a serious cult following

With over 123,000 ratings and an impressive 4.5-star rating overall, it’s impossible not to mention the Gildan long-sleeved tees. Made with a thick cotton knit (or cotton blend depending on the hue) and finished with double-stitched seams, they’re soft, sturdy, and simple. Available in virtually any color you want, in packs of two, three, or 10, they feature dropped shoulders for a relaxed look and a tearaway tag you’ll forget existed in about five minutes.

One reviewer wrote: “I spent 8-10 hours a day in these, pushing through Devil's club, stinging nettle, fallen trees and thick shrubs. Not a single snag or tear. Soaked up a ton of sweat, washed out nicely and kept me from being eaten alive by bugs. Now that field season is over, they're great for yard work!”

  • Available options: 56
  • Available sizes: Small — 5X-Large

3. A trio of quality plain T-shirts for a laidback uniform

If plain tees are a staple, why not invest in a pack of nice T-shirts to upgrade your daily uniform? Nobody does elevated basics like Calvin Klein. Available in packs of three or five, these slim-fit T-shirts allow you to layer without adding extra bulk, but they’re loose enough to be worn by themselves. The 100% cotton is soft and durable, with a printed label that eliminates the need for tear-away tags. A subtle logo on the left hip is the only embellishment. You’ll also find a tank and a V-neck style in the same listing.

One reviewer wrote: “These Calvin Klein tees are definitely some of the most comfortable shirts I've ever worn. I wear one of these at least once a day because they literally go with anything and everything. I highly recommend trying these shirts out; whether you're going to wear them as an undershirt or just on their own, you won't be disappointed. The comfort, durability, and flexibility are unmatchable.”

  • Available options: 22
  • Available sizes: Small — XX-Large

4. Some V-neck performance T-shirts for the gym

When you’re breaking a sweat, you need T-shirts that can keep you cool for peak performance. These plain V-neck T-shirts are made of a sweat-wicking blend of 90% polyester and 10% spandex, equipped with four-way stretch, and they offer UPF 50+ sun protection for outdoor workouts. Over 16,000 shoppers have awarded these affordable performance T-shirts a perfect, five-star rating. And they come in an affordable set of five, so you’ll have a clean one for every day of the work week.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought these five shirts to use at the gym [...] I am actually surprised at how comfortable they are. High quality and very good at the moisture-wicking aspect. Completely satisfied with these shirts - and getting five for such a great price is awesome. TOTALLY recommend these.”

  • Available colors: 16
  • Available sizes: Small — 3X-Large

5. These luxury plain T-shirts made of soft bamboo

David Archy’s bamboo T-shirts are buttery soft, comfortable, and feature a high-quality construction you’ll actually notice. Bamboo rayon has an almost silky finish, and it’s naturally moisture-wicking to help regulate your temperature. These are thinner than cotton, so they’re ideal for layering or wearing on their own on warmer days. This three-pack breaks down to less than $15 a shirt, which is a pretty great bargain, considering the quality.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought these to wear as undershirts and replace some older cotton ones i had grown tired of. These are amazing and feel so nice. The quality is superb and the way it feels on my skin is lovely. I don't find myself feeling very hot in these as compared to the cotton ones I was previously wearing. I'm in love with bamboo and how it makes me feel and these serve me well. They are holding up after many washes and I'd recommend them for anyone who wants that slick, moisture wicking quality fabric. Bamboo or bust.”

  • Available colors: 7
  • Available sizes: Small — X-Large

6. An affordable, eco-friendly plain T-shirt

Bella Canvas is an L.A.-based brand known for making quality basics, and you’ll appreciate their commitment to eco-friendly manufacturing and ultra-soft tees. They use nontoxic dyes and have slashed water waste while relying on solar power to supply much of their energy. And the T-shirts? Totally blank slates in a curated selection of neutral colors, all made of cooling, 100% cotton that promises to look crisper than the competition.

One reviewer wrote: “Thin and breathable. These are perfect for guys that overheat easily.”

  • Available colors: 6
  • Available sizes: Small — X-Large

7. A merino wool T-shirt that’s worth the splurge

You might associate wool with frosty temps, but hikers and other outdoor athletes love merino wool for its temperature-regulating abilities in whatever weather you’re facing, as it’s equipped with natural moisture-wicking and odor-resistance properties, a lot like performance gear. That said, a merino wool T-shirt is also just really nice-looking. Pick this one if you want a higher-end T-shirt that works as hard as it plays (and it travels like a champ). It doesn’t itch, thanks to its ultra-fine 17.5 micron merino.

One reviewer wrote: “Bought for a backpacking trek - 5 days of +15 miles in Austria's alpine paths. I was recommended a Merino wool sweat shirt, and was told I would not need any other for all those 5 days. Turned out they were right, the shirt was soaking in sweat each day and faced hard elements (12kg backpack, rain, heavy winds), and each morning was almost completely odor-less. The fitting matched perfectly as well, which was a nice surprise. Would recommend for any outdoors, hiking, running activity and anything similar.”

  • Available colors: 26
  • Available sizes: Small — XX-Large

8. This multipack of plain white T-shirts so you always have extras

You’re set for nearly two weeks with this pack of 10 plain T-shirts. Many reviewers considered these the perfect white tee for their comfort and price — over 22,000 shoppers left them a perfect five-star rating. And you’ll always have a fresh backup even when you’re putting off laundry day. If you’re all set on white tees for a while, there are a few other colors to choose from. They’re all made of mid-weight 100% cotton, with strong, double-needle hems and ribbed collars.

One reviewer wrote: “The shirts are well made and are on the heavier side. They can definitely be used as a regular T-Shirt with out another undershirt. In colder weather, they work well as undershirts. I have order several Gildan shirts and have never had a problem with quality control as some reviews have stated. Would definitely buy again”

  • Available colors: 10
  • Available sizes: Small — 5X-Large
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