Discovering the perfect white T-shirt is a bit like searching for the holy grail. You'd think that being "basics" would mean they're fuss-free and straight-forward to find, right? Sadly this is not the case. In some ways, the simplicity of the white tee means that cheap fabrics, bad cuts and dodgy manufacturing are thrown in sharp relief (there are no bells and whistles to hide behind here). That's why when you find the brand that works for you, you cling to it for dear life.
So what are we looking for? In our opinion, the perfect white tee has to have thick fabric (although there are some exceptions to this rule—see Hannah Almassi's choice below), a relatively high crewneck collar and a silhouette that is fitted up top before skimming over the hips. Is that really too much to ask? Apparently so. To help you on your way to white T-shirt satisfaction, we've rounded up the five best brands that, in our experience, tick all the boxes. You'll be glad to hear that almost all our top picks are high street—yes really. Scroll down to shop the edit.
I've loved Arket since it first opened last year, and I've particularly fallen for its basics, whether it be tailored trousers, crewneck knits or white shirts. However, it wasn't until recently that I discovered its T-shirt offering. I was amazed by the quality and fit and, most of all, blown away by the price—a mere £19! They also come in grey and black.
It might not be the first place you'd think of, but M&S is one of those places that our editors go back to again and again for its basics. Who What Wear's Isobel Mundigo-Moore swears by its simple white tees: "I have been searching for a pure cotton white tee for ages. One that is thick enough but not starchy or constrictive. I like the feel of vintage tees for this reason, but it's hard to find one that's bright white. I didn't think I would find it while grocery shopping and for £5—I was ready to pay much more. Needless to say, it's perfect. And I love the thick bit on the neckline."
Another win for the high street. Uniqlo knows how to deliver clean-lined looks that slip into our capsule wardrobes with ease and, unsurprisingly, it also came up trumps in our white tee short list. With just the right amount of slouch and satisfyingly androgynous fit, these £10 beauties get it right every time.
Representing the higher end of the spectrum, ATM is the clothing and lifestyle brand that has become renowned for its line of luxury T-shirts. Who What Wear's Hannah Almassi is a fan: "I love that the fit is quite slinky, as the slub-finish tees are lightweight and hang nicely rather than cling. They're almost a little see-through too, so this is more your sassy white tee rather than your basic one where you'd want more coverage. Perfect for a night out."
Top tip: Sometimes the best white tee styles are to be found in the menswear department. There's something about their simplicity and practicality that make them much chicer than some of the womenswear offerings. Who What Wear's Emma Spedding is a fan: "Lisa Aiken told me for a piece I wrote on white T-shirts that she buys hers in multipacks from Topman. I like that their T-shirts have a boxy shape, with a round neck and longer sleeves. Plus, they sell them in packs so you get five for the price of one."