Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shopping for Basic Tees - Share Your Secrets?

Because I have been shopping less and wearing what's in my closet more, I find I actually need to replace a few things because they . . . are wearing out!

Besides shopping less, I am trying to shop better, i.e., choose items that I really love and look forward to wearing. I am carrying that philosophy right down to basics like camis and black and white tee shirts.

After years of hit-or-miss, I know that my favorite camisoles are the Old Navy's with a built-in shelf bra. I can then choose to wear a "real" bra underneath, or go bra-free, with just enough support. They sell for about $10 and come in a zillion colors. I only buy black, white and navy because those suit my wardrobe best and make dressing simple. If I put them in the dryer for only 10 minutes and air-dry the rest of the way, they look fresh for an amazingly long time.

These are my go-to cami's. Cheap and amazingly durable.

The basic tee shirt search has been more complicated. I like a very soft hand, a slouchy fit, and a vee or scoop-neck (no manly crew-necks).  I also like for them to not pill or fade quickly. Surprisingly, price point hasn't always been the determining factor. I've had a few Target Merona tees outlast the occasional Vince and Splendid brand.

I find I prefer a blend to 100% cotton most of the time. Lands End and L.L. Bean tees are usually too cotton-y for my taste. I've read great reviews of American Apparel tees, but I just can't give my $$$ to their CEO, with whom I have major issues (your mileage may vary).

So, here are some of my current contenders, and I would love to hear about yours in the comments:

Pure Body V-Neck Tee by Gap. I've had several of these
and they feel great, wear well.

Ditto the long sleeve version

The JCrew Vintage Tee is all cotton, but it's super-soft . . .

. . . as is their Tissue Tee.

Over to you: where do you get your basic tees?


  1. almost all of my basics, tee's and cami's are from h&m or from promod and most of them are black, grey or brown and of pure cotton. the quality obviously is good because i wear them for more than 3 - 4 years. my tees also should have vee or scoop-neck. i like especially the color of your 1. tee, a good choise.

  2. I really need to come back to this post for answers. I have a lot of sleeveless things, but winter is coming. I don't really do cardigans, but haven't found the right stretchy comfy layering tee. The best one I ever found was a thrifted banana republic, but I wore it to pieces.

    Most of my basic tees purchased retail have been Old Navy, but I don't really care for them. Too cheap imo.

  3. i like the gap tees, the jcrew for me didn't hold up as well as i thought for the money
    the perfect white t is way harder to find than you would think, in fact my favorite v-neck white t is from the mens gap!

  4. It is so hard to get the right fit, I re-make men's T-shirts into Ts and tanks.   -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  5. Patti...I have had hit and miss luck with Target's Merona..I have some that are great, others not so much.  I do really like the Gap tee's best.  I don't dry them..and I wash them on the hand wash cycle.  I know its extra work to hang them, but like you I am trying to be more diligent in my shopping; shopping and choosing better, trying to make things last, embracing a Parisian attitude toward clothing quality and longevity.  To me, hanging my clothes is part of that.  I do get a little zing of enjoyment seeing all of my lovelies hanging and knowing I've been a bit wiser in developing my wardrobe.

    Dangerous Curves

  6. I have no magic formula.  I usually find them at Marshalls...and it is simply...try it on..does it fit..does it feel good...is the price right.  These selections look like good ones...you now have me wanting to try out the GAP long sleeved shirt!

  7. I'm a big fan of tshirts from the gap. I love the basic short sleeve ones. They're long on the body, short on the sleeve, tight and made of rather. Thick fabric. By washing in cold water and hanging to dry I can keep them going for a long time.

    My all time favorite tshirts are from three dot. They're wildly expensive, but once in a while I'll find one at Ross.

  8. I am always on the search for a FEMININE feeling v-neck tee-shirt.  Target Merona's do not fit well on me.   The Gap photos you have posted look great but when I go try them on at the store they make me look and feel like a boy even though they are in the ladies department.  Express come the closest to fitting me. They seem to feel a bit more feminine and I have some that have lasted for years. 

    You are so right about not being able to just order a spendy one and know it is going to be a good choice.  I have tried on James Pearse and J. Crew and have not fallen in love.  I see tee shirts worn by others at the Mall and they look like exactly what I want but I hate to run up to them and ask where they found it. 

  9. i really like gap's and h&m's tees. very comfy=)

  10. Melanie@bag and a beretAugust 15, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    Thanks for listing your favourite Ts. When I've shopped for them retail, I have liked the ones at the Gap, especially if I can find boat necks.

  11. Oh, basic tees are SO hard! And so important. I also like very soft fabrics, but not too thin, and not too long, with a slightly fitted shape that is still generous enough in the torso so as not to cling. The elusive holy grail! 

    I recently bought 2 from Charter Club because they met these requirements, even though they a) had horrible "shoulder nipples," b) wrinkle like mad, and c) (I am not making this up) had uneven hemlines. I'm going to see if the tailor can fix them. Good tees are THAT hard to find, and yes, I'm that desperate. (You may see a post about this some day.....) Good luck with your quest.

  12. I have a hard time finding decent thrifted ones--but I do like CJBANKS, & St. Johns Bay
    Retail I go for Kohl's Croft & Barrow or Sonoma brands or good old Kmarts Basic Editions

  13. Hi Patti!
    If i have to buy new Tees i go to H&M or Forever21 - and for special tees i prefer still the thrift shops, i have a few i found lately that are pretty fabulous!

    Ariane xxx

  14. Still looking for a striped blazer?
    J. McLaughlin "Cromwell" Knit Blazer Style # 18009U101
    price was/now $198.00/$69.90

  15. I would head over to Everlane. This is a brilliant mail order that A Cup of Joe talked about. I have placed my order...

  16. Banana Republic Striped one-button cardigan #679290price was/now $79.50 $59.99http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?searchCID=25789&vid=3&pid=679290&scid=679290012

  17. I love Ann Taylor (have to get there late spring/early summer) for basic cotton tees.  They have the perfect weight and shape and hold well with multiple washings.  This summer I fell in love with Old Navy's Vintage V-neck tees, and over the season I ended up buying 4 different ones.  Though they are thin, you can't see a tee shirt bra through them (even white), they wash nicely and have that slouchy look without being schlumpy or unfeminine.

  18. I've actually had good luck with the Target Merona shirts, although I find you have to like them fairly fitted.  I have some long sleeve layering tees from Coldwater Creek that I found on sale and really like, but I don't think they're doing them anymore. And Newport News used to do ribbed ones that I like and have held up...I always have lots of "well, I used to get" options.

  19. I get mine from COS or Uniqlo but not sure if you've got those in the US. They are both online though.

  20. I used to be very happy with Jones New york tees that I found at Marshalls, Ross, etc. In one of those rare lucky accidents, their size M fit me perfectly, the scoop neck was just the right width and height, the sleeve was a slightly longer cap style, if that makes sense, and they were 100% cotton but didn't stretch out of shape. Of course this was 5 - 10 years ago before I quit shopping, so who knows if they still make these or what the quality is. But I still have those tees, still wear them, and they still look great. Now I wish I had bought 50 of them!

  21. I just bought two tanks and a tee from Dorothy Perkins.  I really like them.  It was the first time I have bought anything from DP.  I chose these items for their longer lengths through the torso which are hard to find.  I will be wearing them layered under other things.

  22. Interesting: never really thought about t-shirts, but now that you've brought it up ... they should be not too thin and not too thick, likely a blend as you say and I find I'm starting to prefer a longer tee.  Like you, I like those camis with built in bras but I buy the ones from costco - you get two in a pack and you can make the neckline drapey or tight depending how you tuck it in.

  23. Used to be American Apparel and Michael Stars but now it's Splendid. I just like the fit!

  24. Whattaya mean, you quit shopping??  Just teasing ... in all seriousness, I can see myself getting over it.  I was joking with my husband, I reached the end of the internet, it was a plain white screen, I didn't go into the light ...

  25. I buy my basic tees at outlet mall for about 3,5 bucks each. Friends have commented that they don't do that, they won't last long, but I've learned that if you take care of your clothes, even the less expensive ones goes on forever!

    Visit me:LeeAnne, Style N Seasonhttp://stylenseason.blogspot.com

  26. Just wanted to congratulate you on being listed in The Huffington Post, as one of its 11 favorite "fashion over 50 bloggers!"  You're in great company.  I just found out through the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.  Very cool Patti.

  27. JC Penney's house brand, "St. Johns Bay" works great for me for tees. Tons of colors, sturdy 100% long wearing cotton, variety of necklines and sleeve lengths. And their regular prices can't be beat.

    My requirements are that the colors can't fade too quickly, they must be able to stand up to washing and drying in commercial laundromats (I don't have my own laundry machines), they must not be see-through, and they have to be long enough for no gapping above my lower-waisted pants.

    Solid-color tees are a staple of my style, so having a good source is important to me. I really hope JCP doesn't change their supplier or their style any time soon!

  28. I love Tahari tees usually scored at Marshalls and TJ Maxx. I've had great luck with tees scored from Loft and Loft Outlet, and found myself in the J. Crew Factory Store for the first time ever yesterday. Oh. My. Everything was utterly delicious :P

  29. Have several of the Ts - I also like their belts.

  30. One more striped - cardi this time rather than blazer -
    Striped Linen V-neck Cardi
    price was/now $79.50 / $19.49


  31. Tee shirts ...
    Prices are good right now all over the internet!
    Talbots also has some good pima cotton tee shirts with short, 3/4 and elbow length sleeves.  I bought some v neck elbow sleeve and I love them.  Soft and light but not see through or thin.  They do wash well too.

  32. I'm with you on how hard it is to find good basics, especially tops. I've found a couple of good Ts from Dorothy Perkins (a UK brand). They're a flattering cut with a longer back than front, scooped neck and cuffed sleeves for a touch of interest. I expect lighter colours would be too transparent but the navy and hot pink I have are fine.


  33. I too have had great luck with O/N camisole, mostly Cotten but with enuf spandex or something that they provide smoothness. Ditto with gap Ts although fit varies. J crew are nice but too thin, get holes in belt, jean button area right away. Hate that!

  34. I have a J.Crew vintage cotton tee (long-sleeved) and I hate how the sleeves stretch out permanently until the next wash/dry as soon as I push them up. So I can't push them up and then pull them back down for warmth later, because it's all stretched out. I like their perfect tees for long-sleeve layering--the tissue tees are too thin for my taste.

    Recently bought a Gap Body tee on clearance, and it has a great hand-feel--we'll see how well it holds up. I'm looking to replace my black and white camis and shelf-bra is a requirement (otherwise I've heard great things about the BP juniors' camis at Nordstrom) so I'll check out Old Navy!

  35. Margaret GoodhouseAugust 19, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    I love a tee called "favorite tee or favorite T" made by Gap. It is also all cotton, which makes it a bit heavy, but it comes in both short and long sleeves, and a variety of necklines. And bonus points because it runs long, for those of us who are tall

  36. Most tees are too long, so I love that Old Navy and the Gap has petite sizes in tee shirts!  very unusual.  And I am 5'6", not exactly a petite, and tees still come to past my hips...what is up with that?

  37. Lands end canvas sold my favorite tee, boyfriend fit deep u neckline. Comfortable, stylish and discontinued. Thank god I bought 5, I also weat Gap ribbed tanks as they come in tall and I am 5'10""

  38. I have been liking Everlane. Not sold in stores but you can buy online.

  39. Just found your blog via some other fashion blogs, and asking about tee's....I notice some seem to pay more than necessary....why not check out the Hanes site?  They have wonderful basic tees in several sizes, colors, lengths and sleeve lengths.  Some are stretchy, some are cotton, some are blends, but I've never been disappointed with any and I've purchased ALOT from them.  Occasionally, they change the "blends", so there is always something new, plus they have lounge and workout stuff and of course, intimates, socks, hosiery, dresses, sweaters..  Excellent prices, and if you sign up for email notices, you'll always get sale notices (which are beyond incredible).  Hanes isn't Gap by any stretch but for the basics, you can't beat the variety and prices.

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