When I put my things in storage in NYC a few months back, I came home to Dallas with just the essentials. They were the staples that my closet couldn’t live without and the garments that I needed. In this season of stay-at-home, we’re mostly grabbing sweats – but this is a perfect time to clean out your closet, and build back a minimal closet with all the foundational pieces.
The white tee is seen as one of the most foundational pieces in menswear and it’s a great place to kick-off the first post of this “staples” series. In each post, I’ll be making the case for why the article of clothing deserves to be a staple in your closet. I’ll be recommending my favorite style as well as offering different price points & options as well!
A quick little background on how the iconic white tee made its way from underwear to everywhere: “In 1901, P. Hanes Knitting Company launched a two-piece underwear set that looked very similar to today’s white T-Shirt. The set was worn by soldiers during World War I as underwear. The original tee was seen exclusively as underwear, which meant wearing it in public was liable to cause a scene.
In 1913, the U.S. Navy adopted the white T-Shirt as the premiere light garment for its sailors. Recruits were thrilled to replace heavy wool clothing with a crisp 100% cotton tee, and the navy found the light shirts far more suitable to their needs. They were light, airy, didn’t take much space in storage, and doubled as a towel.
The arrival of paid leave created a de facto cult of sports and leisure, with more and more people favoring thin cotton shirts to formal wear. American sports teams began to tag T-Shirts with athletes’ names and numbers to distinguish them, which quickly became commonplace among supporters of the clubs.
However, the real breakthrough of the history of the white T-Shirt started in the 1950s, when Marlon Brando wore the iconic white garment in a Streetcar named Desire and James Dean revolutionized the style of a whole generation in Rebel Without a Cause. With the endorsement from two of Hollywood’s greatest icons, the T-Shirt became a symbol of rebellion and nonconformity. As the 50s moved into the 60s, the tee became a staple with anti-establishment hippies and counterculture agitators.”*
Buck Mason – $35
I can only speak to what fits me the best, and the tees over at LA-based Buck Mason are literally now the only t-shirt that I own. I have like 6 colors. They’re extremely breathable, lightly marbled for texture, and they hold up in the wash well. The shirts are just comfortable. They’re pre-shrunk so they fit true to size (I’m a medium!) and the garments are twice-laundered to give them such a soft feel. The fit is no-fuss.. the sleeves hit me just right and loved the crew neck. They have a straight or curved hem option, and the curved hem has really grown on me!
Runner-ups under $50:
Runner-ups over $50:
Levis, James Perse, John Elliott
In this series, I’ll be deconstructing the essential staples in your closet to better acquaint you with the foundational must-haves. They are simple, but crucial for building any outfit. I’ll be covering topics like sneakers, jeans, loafers, essential accessories, and more! Let me know if there’s a topic you’d like me to cover as well! My goal is that by the end of 2021, you are set up for success with the best staples out there!
* via SANVT