Consider the White T-Shirt

So much more than meets the eye


I recently imparted the bread theory on you in relation to jeans. The theory goes as follows: bread, like jeans, is a form of nourishment universally accepted and appreciated.

And just because my father eats his bread with salami, while I am vegetarian and as a result would never deign to do such a thing, does not mean that bread has been ruined for me. I still go on eating my bread with peanut butter or almond butter and jelly or neither.

See, and that’s the other thing. Bread, like jeans, isn’t gender exclusive.

I’ve been speaking a lot with my friend Rosie (who you may know as the poplin-whisperer) about what ruins clothes. Typically, it’s not so much what as it is who. Say you’re to buy a beautiful embroidered mini dress and you can’t wait to wear it in an approximation you’ve spent hours conjuring up. You’ll pair it with open toe, lace-up linen buckle boots that reach your calf. You’ll put a green utility jacket over it. It is the best outfit you’ve ever come up with, then suddenly, there it is.

You see your perfect embroidered mini dress prostituting itself across the pages of a tabloid magazine. It is being demonized by a celebrity you’ve never heard of, whose hair is tousled in all the ways you hate and whose shoes point up toward the sky instead of out toward ambition. There is a jacket involved and it seems as though she’s tried to re-appropriate the very look you’d put together but now the dress is ruined and there is no turning back.

Don’t you wish you’d just purchased the bread equivalent of clothing?

Unfortunately and independent of the jeans, the only other bread garment — that which can’t be ruined no matter how it’s interpreted, is a plain white t-shirt. As Rosie put it, “No one can steal the way you wear a t-shirt. It is so plain and naive that it can’t be co-opted by another person.” Like in the case of your bread, you can smear whatever the hell you want over it without having to worry that someone will make a sandwich so repulsive, you will never look at bread again.

In the spirit of that, let’s make our Thursday resolution to consider the white t-shirt — an investment piece that transcends the boundaries of truly investing and big name brands — with a little more respect and scrutiny, shall we?

Oh! And as for me, I have always been partial toward this white T by Alexander Wang linen slub tee. Recently, too, I met a $9 muscle tee from Zara which is satisfying me spectacularly.

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  • ReadER451

    My fashion goal since moving to NY five years ago has been to find the perfect white T-shirt. I’ve come close, but no cigar.

    • Leandra Medine

      Full disclosure: mine is a t by Alexander wang shirt. I should put in copy

  • A good thing a white T-shirt is … the only problem being that damn nagging question “wouldn’t you (the you being nagged at being me) prefer a black one right now?” It must be the same perverse imp that makes me put on a skirt/dress, wait for my husband to get ready and take the skirt/dress off a second before we leave, because “I’d prefer trousers” … Maybe this is just to assert to myself that, yes indeed, I am free to choose whatever clothes I will, within a few seconds if necessary? 🙂

    But yes, I like wearing white tees too.

  • Maureen Krezel French

    and you can buy a three pack in the grocery store while your are picking up your bread.

  • Christina

    Wheeeere, or better said by whom is the perfect white t-shirt?! I’m constantly trying new ones, at first always thinking i’ve finally found it. Only to not be so sure anymore after a few wears.

    • Will

      I absolutely believe in the Mack Weldon crew undershirt. It is seriously the correct weight and fabric makeup. It conforms and does not lose shape while at the same time not being tight. It is very very comfortable.

  • Quinn Halman

    t by Alexander Wang is the way to go for the white t-shirt. It’s incredibly comfortable, lasts a long time, so overall worth the investment

  • Androbel

    Let’s invest in basic pieces. It’s what makes our wardrobe and builds our style. Beautiful pieces are beautiful dont get me wrong but, sometimes they are just fashion and I believe in style before fashion.

    Xo, Belen

    Androbel Insider

  • ashleymaciejewski

    Same girl as the photo above, again in her white tee. One of the best WT looks I’ve ever seen…

    • Lua Jane

      Yep, great look. Does anybody happen to know who she might be?
      Interesting style and stunning face, so I’m curious. 🙂

  • exploringwardrobes

    As long as it doesn’t rain, spring break wet t-shirt competition anyone?

  • Agoprime

    beautiful t-shirt!

  • leonorjr

    my bff buys white tees by the pack and she is probably the coolest person I know, so I definitely support this.

  • Silvia Vigatà

    One of my best party outfits was with a white t-shirt and a black long princess skirt from Blumarine, it was marvellous.

  • Donna

    One of my favorite tees is Everlane! They are so affordable, comfy and can last a good long while.


  • Hannah B.

    You’re a vegetarian???

    • Rachael King

      she’s also Jewish so bacon probably wouldn’t be on the table anyway

  • I also find that, like a good pair of jeans, the perfect white t-shirt is tough to find, but when you do, you buy a pile of them all at once!

  • I have found the perfect white (and grey) t-shirts and I can’t wait to wear them, I got them from Cos and James Perse. T by Alexander Wang is also a good option for white tees.

    Mafalda ❤

  • lavieenliz

    I love a good white t

    giveaway on my blog

  • and lo, one woman’s slice of bread, is another woman’s liver and onions. i love bread – but never wear jeans. or! white t-shirts. easy-dressing to be sure, but i never make anything easy for myself. dresses and skirts for me – always.


  • Plain white t-shirts are amazing to have. They go with so many different things and can be paired with so many pieces. I love doing a plain white t with a very bold print skirt or bottom.

  • Alternative apparel (not to be mistaken with american apparel) also makes a great white t (the diane burnout v-neck tunic).

    The bread compared to the jeans, and white-t made me think of a grocery (shopping) list. I’d add to that list a black blazer and a pair of nude pumps!

  • There is a reason I keep buying white tees over and over. This is it. I like the James Perse ones for a tighter fit, T by Wang for a looser fit, and Rag & Bone for that in between.

  • Guest

    Dear ManRepeller,
    I recently bought a tight black crop top and want to wear it without showing my bellybutton. such a repelling idea, right Can you suggest any layering ideas????

    • BethanyBeach

      You can wear it with a high-waisted pencil or skater skirt and layer it with a chambray shirt!

  • I found a surprisingly good tank at Forever 21 yesterday…as for Tees I like Allsaints.

    Pretty in Python

  • everythingisbetterwithbutter

    That’s a good theory. But what item would then be the butter? The one ingredient that makes every dish, sorry, outfit, better?

    • Leandra Medine

      The thing about butter is that like an Instagram filter, it is artificial.

  • moldub

    finding the perfect white t seems to be impossible!

  • Megan

    The IRO Clay Tee is a true killer

  • louise

    I have looked through all the pictures and decided you speak the truth. White tees are the bread of wardrobes.

  • Saint Sartorial

    Great post. I prefer finding my stuff second hand ór from brands that don’t hurt the world too much, but I have made exceptions for the perfect white tee. It is (god knows why) just so incredibly hard to find. I finally found my perfect one at Weekday.

  • Caroline

    there is no shame in being a t-shirt and jeans girl, although it took me years to realize that I’m as chic as the girl the minidress and high tolerance for thoroughly uncomfortable footwear. Current/Elliot makes a darn good t-shirt, so does Joe’s Jeans.

  • Hanne

    Alex Wang white t’s are such poor quality!!!

  • Kailey Kramer

    Uniqlo men’s! Super soft and at 5.90 a piece, they give Hanes a run for their money.

  • girlinmenswear

    For a kind of cool, droopy t-shirt look I buy mine from the menswear section, they don’t cling as much and are oversized in a good way.

  • Bria

    Everlane pocket tees have never failed me.

  • Cass

    Agreed. But also maybe the hardest thing to buy. So many things can go wrong. Def checking out the Wang.

  • Erica M

    The white tshirt is definitely a staple of mine! It’s the perfect article of clothing. I can easily wear it with sweats if I feel lazy, but then throw on a leather skirt if I want to get sexy.

  • Flávia Castro

    If you are looking for cool white t-shirts, check this brand: <3

  • White t-shirts are absolutely perfect and I’m so glad that you’ve applauded them for their brilliance. The whole bread metaphor was also fantastic. 🙂

  • john
  • collegedistrict

    beautiful t-shirts and very fashionable.