T-shirts are about as basic as basics can get. But the best T-shirts for men go beyond fashion fundamentals and can play the lead just as well as it can play the supporting role. See, a good T-shirt is the foundation of practically every great outfit whether it’s taking the spotlight with a classic pair of blue jeans and sneakers, hiding under a flannel shirt, getting dressed up with a luxuriously louche suit, or soaking up the hard-earned sweat in a swishy gym outfit.
The situations that warrant a T-shirt are endless and there are a thousand options for each one which makes actually choosing the right one a near impossible task. Near being the operative word because we’ve done the Herculean task of assembling an encyclopedic breakdown of the absolute best men’s T-shirts, from crisp white tees to funky-colored bangers, husky winter-ready heavyweights and paper-thin summer undershirts. Whatever you’re after, whatever your budget, wherever you’re going, the T-shirt of your wildly specific dreams is right here.
The Best T-Shirts for Men, At a Glance
The Best White T-Shirts | The Best Affordable T-shirts | The Best Black T-shirts |The Best T-Shirts to Buy in Every Color |The Best Undershirts | The Best Workout Shirts | The Best Oversized T-shirts | The Best Heavyweight T-Shirts | The Best T-Shirts GQ Staffers Swear By
The T-Shirt Quick-Buy Guide
If, as Tolkien might put, there was one T-shirt to rule them all, it would be the plain white tee. Your wardrobe could go plenty far with just one version and a pair of blue jeans, wearing it around the house as simple loungewear, or following in the footsteps of many a menswear great, aiming to cement yourself as a style icon. From pima cotton options to broken-in crewnecks to retro-inspired, relaxed-fit joints, these are just a smattering of our faves.
T-shirts are a commodity that shouldn’t force you into bankruptcy (though some might argue that a really, really good tee is totally worth the hit to your credit score). Thankfully, there are plenty of T-shirt brands that make rock-solid affordable options, and one of the below will never steer you wrong.
We’ve already explained why a white tee is an essential. But life is all about balance, which means you need a stack of top-notch black tees in your dresser, too. Where white T-shirts are pristine and proper, black T-shirts are sexy and badass. Who doesn’t want to feel like a sexy badass?
Did you know that T-shirts can telegraph your mood, too? Well, sorta. T-shirts come in a million different colors between the usual black and white fare, and if you’re into chromotherapy or color theory, you’ll know that each one gives off a different energy. Like, have you ever tried to decide on a new paint color for your room? The main difference is that it’s a hell of a lot easier to change your T-shirt than to re-paint a room.
Before brazen graphic tees and high-end Supima cotton splurges existed, the T-shirt had humble beginnings as a basic undergarment. If you’re attempting to protect your nice dress shirts and sweaters from the funk of your sweat glands, or simply need a warm base layer to keep the frigid air out, undershirts are designed to play a supporting role so the rest of your outfit can truly shine. You’ll find ‘em in a range of materials like waffle-knit thermals and temperature-regulating Merino wool—in addition to plain ol’ cotton jersey. But FYI: most good undershirts will lean closer to the slim-fit end of the silhouette spectrum.
You could work out in a standard cotton tee and you’d be fine—soaking wet and really smelly, but fine. What we’d rather you do is get a proper workout shirt. They’re not like regular T-shirts: they’re cool T-shirts—literally. Workout shirts are built with fabrics that have cooling and moisture-wicking properties, allowing you to exercise more efficiently and effectively. Some workout shirts also come with anti-microbial properties, so even when you’re sweating like a pig, you won’t stink like rotten bacon.
Fashion‘s pendulum will always swing from tight-fitting Marlon Brando-type tees (promise that’s the last time we mention Brando!), to more classic fits to certified Big T-shirts that billow and drape oh so elegantly in the wind or mid-kick flip. The pendulum has been in oversized tee territory for a minute now and if you’re looking for a tee with some built-in airflow, here are a few of our faves.
Who doesn’t love the airy, cloud-like softness of a feathery-light T-shirt? We’re certainly not ones to complain about the barely-there experience. But there’s something to be said about a brolic tee that let’s you know it’s there. Where lightweight tees are a high thread count top sheet, heavyweight tees are more like weighted blankets. They offer a security and heft that just can’t be matched. The best combine softness with heft and have a structured drape that pairs well with wide pants and minimalist aesthetics. But even if you’re not here for the objectively good looks, beefy tees are great value propositions since they’ll last longer than most regular tees in your drawer.
Were you to bop around the GQ office taking a survey of every staffer’s T-shirt of choice, you’d get a long list of differing answers, not to mention an earful from a handful of overly passionate writers. Because we all have our own unique tastes and unique bodies, our go-to tees span the whole gamut, from the cheap and cheerful multi-pack options to esoteric and artisanal grails to underground and up-and-coming labels. They might not be certified best-sellers, but they’re the tees you’ll see us wearing most often.