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Find the Perfect White T-Shirt to Layer in Style

Three women wearing different white t-shirts

Like the little black dress, a basic white T-shirt is a fashion staple because you can pair it with so many different things. Finding the perfect tee, though, can get a bit tricky.

Versatile and simple, a white tee is something everyone needs in their wardrobe. You can dress it up with layering and jewelry, or simply pair it with your favorite jeans. When you’re on the hunt for the perfect T-shirt, though, you’ll want to consider the following aspects:

  • Hem length: Where does it fall on your body? If you’re looking for a more casual shirt or like the look of a half-tuck, go with a longer length. Otherwise, look for a shirt that hits right around your waist or hip. Petites might want a shorter cut, especially if you’re short-waisted or short-torsoed.
  • Sleeve length: Short sleeves actually come in a variety of lengths. Some fall fairly close to the shoulders, while others hang halfway to the elbow or even further. Longer sleeves tend to look more casual or appear to cut your arms off at an odd place. Some sleeves might also be cuffed.
  • General fit: From slim and fitted cuts to the deliberately oversized and slouchy, T-shirts come in lots of shapes and sizes. Slim-cut tees tend to work best for layering and also require a thicker fabric to look their best. Looser designs are perfect for a French tuck, or pairing with stylish bottoms and/or accessories.
  • Fabric thickness: Avoid the dreaded transparent white T-shirt. Choose a sturdy, opaque fabric.
  • Neckline: Are you a V- or crewneck fan? Choose your neckline depending on how you plan to wear the shirt. If you like to accessorize with necklaces or scarves, a V-neck will often (but not always) highlight them better.

Madewell Perfect Vintage Tee

Front and back view of a Black woman wearing a white t-shirt, jeans, and a thin necklace

For a loose, vintage feel, the Madewell’s Perfect Vintage Tee is a slouchy dream. It’s made from soft, comfy material with a loose-fitting sleeve and neckline, and a longer, looser fit down to the hem, perfect for a stylish French tuck.

You can layer it with other items, but it’s stylish enough to wear on its own with just jeans and your favorite jewelry.

Old Navy EveryWear Slub-Knit Tee

A white blonde woman in a white tee and pale jeans; a Black woman in a white tee and jeans
Old Navy

Comfort is key with the Old Navy EveryWear Slub-Knit Tee. This tag-free shirt is made from soft material that’s not see-through or too heavy.

It has a simple, no-fuss fit that isn’t too tight, along with a true “short” sleeve length and crew neck. If you’re looking for something very basic and great for layering, this is the tee for you.

LOFT Everyday V-Neck Tee

Two images of a Black woman wearing a white V-neck t-shirt

Short-torsoed ladies, this one’s for you! The LOFT Everyday V-Neck Tee was designed specifically to be worn with high-waisted bottoms. It’s perfect for short-waisted or short-torsoed ladies as well as petites.

It’s not quite a crop length, but it’s definitely shorter than many other tees, with a comfortable, light fabric and flattering V neck.

Target Universal Thread Short Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt

A brunette white woman wearing a white t-shirt and wide-legged blue pinstripe pants

It doesn’t get more basic than this Target V-Neck. Made of 100% cotton, it has loose sleeves and a relaxed fit. It does tend to run large, though, so either be prepared for a looser fit or size down.

This is the perfect casual top for a summer day, whether you pair it with jeans, cropped pants, or your favorite skirt and accessories. It’s also ridiculously affordable!

Gap Modern V-Neck T-Shirt

A woman with short dark hair wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans

The Gap’s Modern V-Neck is a fitted, classic tee, with short, slim-fitting sleeves. It’s a closer fit than some of the others on our list, but the material is soft and sturdy so it’s not transparent.

This is a fantastic buy if you prefer a slimmer, tighter fit. The slimmer cut also makes it a great layering piece!

J.Crew Vintage Cotton V-Neck T-Shirt

A white woman in a white tee, tan pants, and a sweater at the waist; a Black woman in a white tee and sunglasses

There’s a good reason J.Crew is a favorite among fashion-savvy shoppers: It’s a great source of well-made basics that hold up for years. This J.Crew Vintage V-Neck is a fashion staple made of vintage-style cotton.

It’s soft and durable, with a relaxed fit, even through the sleeves. You can style this casual, classic cut any way you choose.

Everlane Organic Cotton V-Neck

Close-up and full body shot of a woman in a white t-shirt and jeans with a sweater tied at the waist

The Everlane Organic Cotton tee is tailor-made to show off your fave necklace, thanks to its mid-to-low, gently curved V-neck.

It also sits at a comfortable, versatile medium length, which falls around the hips on most. This means you can tuck it in or not, as it won’t look odd or out of proportion either way.

Industry Standard The Maxime Tee

A white woman sitting on a porch, wearing a white tee, jeans, and a small scarf
Industry Standard

For the environmentally conscious, the Maxime from Industry Standard is a classic white tee with a modern, sustainable story.

This classic, moderately high crew neck is made of 100% organic cotton. It has a slim fit, but isn’t transparent. Made by a small U.S. company, these tees are manufactured using organic materials and processes.

Halogen Short Sleeve Crewneck Tee

Front and back view of a woman wearing a white t-shirt

For a soft, light, loose tee, try the Halogen Short Sleeve Crew Neck. It’s fitted without being transparent.

Made of soft, jersey-knit fabric, it has a rounded neck, and light, well-sized sleeves. It also features a slightly lower neckline than a lot of crewnecks. Plus, it comes in both regular and petite sizes.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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