How to find your perfect white t-shirt

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 72 Comments

I have a wardrobe confession to make.

My name is Nikki and I have a “thing” for white tees and tops. And by thing, I mean obsession.

I just did a little audit for you as part of this confession and I counted no less than 16 white tops. About 10 of these are all white; the rest mostly white with maybe a motif or graphic. Not all are tees but about half are.

The reason for the confession? I get a lot of questions from readers about how to find your perfect white t-shirt.

Despite the number sitting in my wardrobe, this is not something I’ve found to be an easy task.

I have, however, hit the jackpot over the last couple of years and found some white t-shirts that go the distance, wash well, hold their shape and resist the inevitable stains.

Let’s address those stains first up, shall we? Whenever I write about any piece of white clothing, I’m always reminded about how easy white is to get dirty or stained.

And it is.

Just put a white garment on me and I’m a magnet for all manner of food and drink stuff. I’ve accepted this and over the years I’ve channelled this acceptance into superior laundry management. I wrote about my technique in this department in this post.

I don’t let a little laundry action get between me and a white tee or top and I don’t think you should either.

A white t-shirt has amazing wardrobe power. It’s one of my wardrobe essentials and it should be yours.

Think about that t-shirt being an outfit building block. Teaming a white tee with a pair of jeans is as simple as style gets.

With a white tee you have a blank canvas on which to layer. Add a necklace, add a scarf, add a kimono jacket, add a blazer-style jacket, add a knit. Each addition will totally change the look of that tee and jeans.

Can you see that this immediately opens up so many possibilities? And it all starts with just one tee.

YOUR perfect white t-shirt

Now the white t-shirt that works for me, may not work for you. To help you on your quest to cover off on this wardrobe basics, I’ve got these 9 tips for you.

1. Identify which shade/s of white work best for you. I can actually get away with a cool white and a warm white or ivory and everything in between so this isn’t a consideration for me. I do find the brighter whites do lift my face a little more and I’m all for a little lifting. If your skin and hair tone is warm you might find yourself drawn towards a warmer white; if you have cool skin and hair undertones then cooler whites may be your thing. Do a mirror test and go with a shade of white that brings out that spark in your eyes.

2. Do you prefer a more fitted or relaxed style of tee? I’m a relaxed tee kind of girl … but you already knew that didn’t you? I go for a style that either skims the bits I’d like skimmed or an over-sized style that works as a great contrast to a streamlined short or pant.

3. Don’t be afraid to try down or up a size to get the fit that best works for you.  This is a change-room mirror situation too. I was buying two white tees a few months ago from Sussan and the style I was trying (pictured below) looked the wrong kind of over-sized in the change room. I ended up going down two sizes. The tees still skim but in a more flattering way for me. What flatters you could be completely different so you need to experiment with styles AND sizing.

4. Don’t be afraid of a see-through white tee. Either flaunt what’s underneath or do what I do and layer a stretch cami underneath. You’ll find these staples at Country Road (seamless tanks), Sussan and Blue Illusion. I’ve also had success with these camis from Bella Bodies.

5. Try a range of different fabrics in your quest for the perfect white t-shirt. I love the linen blend below (no.2) as much as I love a soft viscose/spandex mix (no.7) and the second link on no.6 … and for ultimate luxury a touch of silk mixed with lyocel (no.3). It’s not always a case of the more you spend, the better quality but it often is. The trick with the budget end of the white tee spectrum is to get confident with knowing how a fabric feels in your hands … this will help you make a good white tee purchase that will last.

6. Opt for nude bras if you want to minimise show-through.  I know it seems a deadly, dull and boring lingerie option but as I tell Mr SY on an almost daily basis, they are essential. I included some of my faves in this post about bra fittings.

7. Opt for lace bra in the shade of your tee or top if you want to make it a feature of the outfit. If the situation or occasion allows it and you’re up for it, there’s nothing wrong with giving a hint of what’s underneath. Beautiful lingerie can play peek-a-boo in a subtlety sexy way.

8. If you find YOUR perfect white tee, buy more than one. I’m a fan of this idea at the best of time but when it comes to this wardrobe essential, it’s almost a must. I refer to the staining and superior laundry work mentioned above for my reasoning. I like to feel secure in the knowledge that if one white t-shirt is in the wash then I’ve got another six hanging and ready to go.

9. Cull any pilling or stained white tees from your wardrobe. A white tee is the epitome of wardrobe fresh and can lift an outfit but it can massively lose its impact if it’s worn while not in the best of condition.

9 perfect white t-shirts

1. Bonds raglan scoop tee $12 (on sale today only, normally $24.95) | 2. ^Witchery linen short-sleeve tee $49.95 | 3. ^Jane Ramsay Tess luxury tee $US109 | 4. Bohemian Traders oversized deep v tee $59 | 5. Country Road slim cap-sleeve t-shirt $39.95 | 6. Mojo Beach batwing top $32.95 (also check out the ^essential batwing tee $32.95) | 7. Mela Purdie traveller tee $165 @ Zambezee Boutique | 8. ^Harlow Taking it Easy longline tee $69.95 (sizes 12-24) | 9. ^Sussan summer tee $24.95

So, over to you … would I find white tees in your wardrobe? Have you found YOUR perfect white tee? Share brands and styles please (this is a community service!).

^ I have all these tees in my wardrobe and personally recommend them.

Comments 72

  1. My stock take of white tees didn’t take long – one! The Withchery oversize linen tee which has seen better days. I now have two more which I’m thrilled with. A Jump oversize with a pleat in the back for roominess and a Meredith fitted tee for layering which has longer sleeves just short of the elbow. Neither were budget price but I’m very happy with the fit & wash ability of both.

  2. Ive found good white tees at:
    – Sussan
    – Witchery (v neck style)
    – Emerson at Big W
    – Country Road
    – Portmans have a good material tank top atm
    Vnecks suit me best as I have a large bust. Unfortunately however scoopnecks are in the shops atm. A deep scoop can look nearly as flattering as a vneck though

    1. Eg I have the Witchery linen tee in black & white stripes, a size down from what I would normally wear, and it is quite flattering (though a bit small under the arms after a few washes)

  3. oh I was thinking the other day that its so hard to find well fitting Tshirts that feel beautiful and are not too thin!! Im quite pear shaped so love to show off my small waist and loose fit Tshirts seem to be all the rage – they make me feel like a sack…so hard! Im going to keep looking!

  4. I have been happy with the quality and price of the tshirts from My Size.
    Great if you have a bit of a tummy or bigger boobs. The size range is great and really fit from size 14 +

  5. Perfect white tee edit Nikki! I agree, when you find a good staple buy multiples! The Country Road, Sussan and Bohemian Traders would be my pick! I love relaxed and skimmed fits too, like you:-)

  6. Thanks for the great selection of white tops Nikki! Love love love a good fitting white tee. Looks like I’ll have to head in to Country Road 🙂

  7. Oh I do love a crisp white tee – nothing better! It’s amazing how once you’ve tried on a few styles, you can immediately spot a tee that’s going to look fab on you. For example, looking at your collage I can tell that the Witchery linen number and the Mela Purdie top are winners for me. Long live the white tee!

  8. I’ve had absolutely no luck finding white t shirts. Black t shirts are a cinch; but white ones seem to cling in all the wrong places or just look meh on me. Maybe it’s because I like a fitted style. I’ll check out the Country Road and Sussan t shirts you’ve mentioned though, they might do the trick!

  9. I’ve had absolutely no luck finding white t shirts. Black t shirts are a cinch; but white ones seem to cling in all the wrong places or just look meh on me. Maybe it’s because I like a fitted style. I’ll check out the Country Road and Sussan t shirts you’ve mentioned though, they might do the trick!

  10. There are some lovely thinnish cotton white tees from Emmerson this year. I bought two navy, two apricot and only one white because I am a grub, so I save the white one for going out. I must check out your laundry tips Nikki. I bought a size 18 and I have a very large bust (F cup) and they fall nicely on my frame, and they were VERY economical (can’t remember exactly) from Big W

  11. Thanks! Just grabbed a mojo beach one. Note – there is a 20% off sale store wide until 30th nov. I didnt find it though until I clicked through to the home page and grabbed the code

  12. Oh the white tee/top…my fave!!! I actually got a little anxious with excitement looking through your suggestions!?! That bonds one looks fab…as does the batwing…off to google…again!!!! Xxx

  13. I have bought white t shirts from $10 to $100 and the best value I have found are from Uniqlo. The supima cotton washes extremely well, the shape is relaxed but not oversized, they don’t lose their shape in the wash, I can buy them online and at $14.95 I have more than a few!!

  14. Thanks for these great tips! I bought the perfect white tee years ago from Esprit and have never found one that was quiet the same. But Ezibuy do have nice linen blend basic tees.

  15. Thanks for these great tips! I bought the perfect white tee years ago from Esprit and have never found one that was quiet the same. But Ezibuy do have nice linen blend basic tees.

  16. Thanks for these great tips! I bought the perfect white tee years ago from Esprit and have never found one that was quiet the same. But Ezibuy do have nice linen blend basic tees.

  17. Thanks for these great tips! I bought the perfect white tee years ago from Esprit and have never found one that was quiet the same. But Ezibuy do have nice linen blend basic tees.

  18. Thanks for these great tips! I bought the perfect white tee years ago from Esprit and have never found one that was quiet the same. But Ezibuy do have nice linen blend basic tees.

  19. So nice to see there is a fellow white shirt lover out there, preaching to the converted here as every year for at least the twenty I source new white shirts! They are the most versatile piece in my wardrobe and you have absolved me of my guilt for having too many! Must go shopping……

  20. Those Sussan tees rock. I get a few in various colours every summer. They hold their shape, look just as good casually on the weekend as they do through the week under a jacket for work, and are great to travel with as well.

  21. Thank you for the tips Nikki, I must confess I only have 2 white tees in my wardrobe one is a Glassons one which has not held it’s shape and the other is Susan linen blend one which has held it’s shape and I just bought a top from Suzanne Grae that is more of a swing style the outer layer is viscose with pretty borderline pattern and is sleeveless and has an in built under layer in the front so it’s not see through,not cheap it was $60 but I thought it would be a good wardrobe staple.
    Thank you for the reaserch you have done Nikki,have a good day xx

  22. I can’t go past a white tee or top and probably they would beat out the stripes by only the shortest margin in my wardrobe. I have that Bohemian Traders top and love that soft cotton weave.
    My biggest challenge is that I like a low v neck best and I am forever on the lookout for a white low v neck in the right fabric feel. I found a tee in a silk mix that I loved, but the white was the wrong shade- so I had to buy it in two other colours. The search continues.

  23. preaching to the converted here nikki! … I always buy more if they are the business!
    an absolute staple, instantly brightens up any outfit! … I have sooo many
    already but there is room for that sussan’s t in my overstocked walk in!
    have a good one! love m:)X

  24. I love a white tee, but have trouble fiding one that suits me. Thanks for the tips Nikki. I think I’ll be trying the WItchery, Mojo Beach and Sussan ones in the very near future.

  25. Great post Nikki. I’m always on the look out for the perfect white tee. I’ve had real trouble the past couple of years as the styles haven’t worked for me, but this year I’m very happy with the Sussans option you mentioned, and also another style they have at Witchery at the moment – their basic scoop tee.

  26. Thanks for this post Nikki for some other styles for me to consider to add to my “need” – last year you pointed me to the Witchery linen ones and I can attest to their wearing value … I just picked up another 3! And my daughter gives me just a little ribbing too about having so many variations of the white top!!

  27. I read a tip once that the menswear section at discount stores can be a valuable source of quality white tees, especially if you want a relaxed fit for summer holidays. I have found this to be true and the prices are better.

  28. I recently bought a fitted white t from Blue Illusion. I’ve also been brave and added white 3/4 length pants and a white linen shirt to my wardrobe so I”ll bookmark your post with the stain removal tips!

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