The best t-shirt

What's the best t-shirt? I'll tell you

The best t-shirt

I've spent an enormous amount of time buying, trying, returning and giving away black t-shirts that just weren't up to snuff. I've tried all of the major brands, a good amount of the boutique hype brands and a solid chunk of the 'Instagram basics' brands. The winner in my book is from Japanese stalwart Uniqlo.

Specifically, it's the Uniqlo U Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt. This shirt offers excellent build quality that strikes a fantastic balance between wearability and structure. All too often I find that people's beloved t-shirt options fit me like a wet rag. I'm thicker in the torso than your average t-shirt model and wearing a clingy shirt makes me enormously uncomfortable. The additional structure provided by the thicker interlock-knit yarn is really welcome.

It’s not surprising that this shirt actually came out of a specific effort at Uniqlo’s Paris design studio to create a prototypically ‘classic t-shirt’.

It also has the correct fit. It's not too boxy and oversized but fits just larger than true-to-size. I can't imagine you'd want to wear this one tight, so just buy your usual size. But if you do want to layer it tucked in under a sport coat buy one size down.

u crew collar
A comfortable collar with some spring and a great shape

Uniqlo isn't exactly an underground brand at this point but even within its catalog you have a dozen or more choices of shirt. I've tried them all and I'm telling you this is the one.

I've also tried many heavy-weight shirts from brands like Reigning Champ (the parent company CYC also used to supply Supreme's F/W heavy weight shirts which are really good quality). These heavier weight shirts offer the structure I love but die in the breathability department. Uniqlo has that nailed down. The U Crew shirt features a broader, but not scooped, binder neck collar and much better ventilation all over. They also stand up very well to washing, fading extremely gently and gracefully over time and increasing in softness. I recommend washing a couple of times before your first wear, especially if you're used to a pre-worn finish in your tees.

I've tried all of the colors that Uniqlo currently offers and the black is a personal favorite, though the 68 blue is a pretty incredible sleeper. It pairs really well with a camel cardigan and denim.

a fit pic with the u crew shirt
Cardigan Kith, pants Visvim, shoes Nike x Union LA x Bephies Jordan 1, shirt Uniqlo U Crew

As far as picking a mass-produced tee over a boutique shirt – I prefer to pin my basics to a company with a proven track record of consistency in both quality and stock. I want to be able to buy this shirt for years. Boutique brands often retire even basics or make changes to material and cut without notice. It's also incredibly affordable at $20.

I prefer a no pocket tee because I am generally constantly layering fits and I find the pocket more often than not messes with the lines of a sweater, vest or jacket. Plain front tees are the way to go for layering.

There is also a woman's cut of the U Crew. If you like a super light-weight shirt and don't mind a closer drape then a close second is Uniqlo's Supima cotton shirt options. They're also very good and undoubtedly softer than the U Crew out of the gate.