The Great White Tee

Brooke Testoni in the perfect white tee // girl for granted

I’m on the hunt for a perfect white tee. I can practically hear you thinking about how easy that must be, but my friend, I’m sad to say it’s not so. There are many boxes that must be ticked before I’ll take home a white tee.

The criteria?

Must be a crisp white.

Needs to be fitted enough to give a slim line when tucked in to a skirt or jeans, but not so tight I can’t eat ice cream or a big bowl of pasta while wearing it.

It cannot be made from a slub-style material.

Absolutely cannot be transparent. No way.

Nor cropped.

The sleeves must be the right length – somewhere between a cap sleeve and elbow length.

It has to be affordable, because I’m likely to spill something on it so I’ll want to buy in bulk, or least be able to replace it with ease.

It needs to hold up well in the wash.

And ideally it’s 100% cotton.

Or linen, for the height of summer.

See? It’s not as easy as it seems, but it’s a critical piece in my wardrobe.

I live in well-made basics. On any given day you’ll find me sporting a t-shirt or button up shirt, denim, and some kind of flat shoes, often with a blazer thrown around my shoulders or hanging from the back of my chair. On weekends, it’s sneakers and slouchy jeans (see Brooke Testoni above!) Easy, classic, and provided your shirt is ironed or steamed; polished. For this reason, a white tee is a KEY piece of my wardrobe jigsaw puzzle.

For years I’d just buy a bunch of cheap white tees every couple of seasons, and that was that. I’ve tried many cheap and cheerful brands – Cotton On, H&M, Zara, Bonds, Old Navy when in the US, Sportsgirl… but nothing really made it through for the long haul and I didn’t have it in me to drop $90 odd on a Bassike tee even though that would probably solve all my sartorial woes and save me a bucket load in the long run.

I should also note that I DID once have the perfect tee, so I know it’s possible to find. True to form though, I must have spilt something on it or gotten a face full of make up on the collar and was forced to throw it away. This was years ago, and that line was discontinued and I’ve been on the hunt again ever since.

Then. Then I landed on the Hanes x Karla crew tee. Guys, I think this might be the one. At $30 a pop it’s not the cheapest white tee on the market, but it’s not that expensive either, so I won’t feel bad about buying a couple more. I would suggest sizing up though. I thought I’d be pretty safe with a medium, and by and large it’s fine and definitely not too tight, creating a streamlined silhouette that is perfect under a blazer. But I think I’ll get another couple in a large just to have extra room for those days when I just can’t stand anything touching my body – ie, Sydney or New York in the middle of summer – or those times when only a slouchy tee will do.

Am I alone in my white tee obsession? Tell me, what are your wardrobe must-haves?

PS. When I next go back to Australia I’m going to try Assembly label. I have a pink and white striped tee made of the softest cotton and linen blend from the brand, and the fit is perfect.

PPS. This is not a white tee (not even close!), but I am obsessed with this Tory Sport sweatshirt. Shopbop only has the red and black version, but the Tory Sport website has it in many other colour ways. I’m particularly taken with the blue stripes, of course.

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