Basics Instincts: A Guide to the Best T-Shirts and Undershirts

The best T-shirts are the most basic and determining piece of a wardrobe. It’s the artist’s palette, upon which the day’s outfit is mixed and layered upon. Bold colors, neutrals, or the classic black or white — choose one and let the rest of your garb grow about it.

Important considerations for a T-shirt include cut, fabric, and style. Let’s take a moment to define each category:

Cut: How does the shirt fit? From slim-fit to athletic to a regular cut, each body type requires an appropriate cut to look good.
Fabric: Cotton, polyester, wool, cashmere, and silk. Just kidding about the silk — please don’t.
Style: Think undershirts, pocket tees, classic crews, v-necks, and long- and short-sleeve.

Now that we know what we’re talking about, let’s get into it. One of our favorite styles at The Manual is the classic crew pocket tee. It’s a relaxed look that works just as well by itself on a pair of jeans as it does under a button-up shirt or flannel. We like the pocket because it adds a spacial component to what might otherwise be too much of one color without depth. To learn more about T-shirts, we reached out to Tim Morse, the co-founder and president of Richer Poorer, to tell us a little bit about his company how to look good in a tee.

Richer Poorer — that’s a name that sparks intrigue. What does a name like that say about your brand?

The juxtaposition of the words Richer Poorer is at the heart of of everything we do from a product perspective — what we stand for as a brand and as humans. Our belief was that products don’t have to be expensive to feel expensive. On a human level, I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, and a reoccurring theme I saw throughout my travels was that some of the wealthiest people I came across had the most angst and seemed generally unhappy. Conversely, I’d meet people with almost nothing or a kid with a soccer ball and no shoes who had smiles for miles. Hence the traditional constructs of “rich” and “poor” I really began to question.

One of our favorite parts about your company’s pocket tee is the cut. It wears comfortably and casually without being too “regular” or too “slim.” Can you tell us what your approach to fit is?

Thanks for the great feedback. I believe it all starts with fit, so when developing our tee, we decided to take a couture approach to the design process. We spent over a year working on the details. Sampling and re-sampling, sourcing the rights materials, sketching, and pulling in pattern makers until were able to deliver what we felt was the best product in the market for fit, feel, quality, and price. Tees are one of the few pieces of clothing people have a strong emotional connection with. Our goal was to invoke that connection from the first time you meet a [Richer Poorer] tee.

How can I best wear a tee to look good? Any tips on style here?

What I love about our tees is that they are multi-dimensional, providing both style and function. From a style perspective, I’m a big fan of throwing our tee on with a jean jacket or a cardigan sweater to head to the office or out to dinner. Our long-sleeve tee is great with a pair of [Richer Poorer] sweat pants, hoodie … for a winter morning coffee run and surf check. I also wear my tee to the gym all the time for a super basic look. They say you’re not supposed to work out in cotton, which is total BS. Prior to developing our pocket tee, I had very little experience in wearing one. Now that it’s part of my daily uniform, I’ve become heavily reliant on the functionality of the pocket. Who knew!

Our Favorite Picks

In speaking with Morse, it quickly became clear that a T-shirt is not just a shirt. It contributes to a physical and mental comfort when quality, responsibly sourced materials are used. It’s the base of your outfit; at it’s core, a tee is part of your defined style. For your consideration, we’ve pulled together a variety of T-shirts we think are worth looking at when deciding how to build up your base. No silk options (sorry).

Undershirts

Pocket Tees

  • Richer Poorer Pocket Tee: Again, one of our favorite shirts. Comfortable and fashionable fit, organic cotton, a variety of color options are just a few of the things that we love.
  • Western Rise Merino Pocket Tee: This is a shirt you can wear mountain biking, to brunch, and everything in between. With a slightly lean cut and a dropped tail, this tee is ready for all of your active pursuits.

Crewnecks

  • Mott & Bow Crewneck: Not too slim, not too loose. This is a 100-percent cotton crewneck that works great as an undershirt or alone with a pair of jeans.
  • Marine Layer Signature Crewneck: This is a simple and clean relaxed-fit crewneck. Marine Layer uses a custom fabric that blends 50-percent supima cotton and 50-percent Micromodal to offer a mix of soft sustainable material.
  • Uniqlo Crewneck: Made with 100% super-soft supima cotton, this option is perfect if you’re looking for softness above all else. Check out the basic color options.

V-Necks

  • Saxx V-Neck: Saxx offers a shallow v-neck crafted with ultra-soft pima cotton, which has longer fibers that results in a softer and more durable product. A well cut v-neck can add a touch of style to the already versatile T-shirt.

Other

  • Jungmaven Baja Tee: Made with a hemp and cotton blend, this shirt sports a rougher worn look and comes in tons of great color options. Good to know: This shirt is thicker than normal tees because of the material. Great for winter, but not necessarily something you want to wear in the summer.
  • Waterproof Cashmere: We’re not saying do it  … but, hey, maybe it’s the right shirt for a certain situation.

Article originally published by Christopher Blomquist on October 22, 2015. Last updated January 8, 2018 by Hendrik Broekelschen. Feature image courtesy of Richer Poorer/Facebook.