The Timeless
Man’s Uniform

Tees are the not-so-secret key to dressing well year-round

Best men's basic t-shirts in 2021 Best men's basic t-shirts in 2021

It’s hardly a stretch to call a T-shirt the quintessential menswear item. After all, every guy has at least a couple of them laying around, and anyone who is lucky enough to have found the perfect fitting style will be more than willing to let you know a great tee is worth its weight in gold. You already know this tried-and-true look has been the go-to for some of the most stylish men of the past century—think James Dean, Steve McQueen, or more recently, guys like Ryan Gosling and Steven Yeun. Unmoored from trends and even seasonal cycles, the whole appeal of a quality tee is that it can and should be worn any time, any place.

When it comes to styling them nowadays, it's really more a question of what a tee can't do. The basic shirt is a perfect neutral—it allows you to pick and choose what part of your fit does the talking. Got some new sneakers you're ready to bust out for the viewing public? Pull on a solid tee and some casual shorts to really let them shine. Headed to that informally-formal summer wedding? Tuck a crisp white tee into a lightweight suit and let the compliments pour in. The timeless style is yours to customize; really, the only rule is one of fit. Wear it oversized or form-fitting, dressed up or just ready to hang, however you like. That's the magic of a tee. No matter how you wear it, it's going to look good. Browse our selections of the best basics below.

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The Best Basic Tees
in 2021

UNIQLO Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
UNIQLO Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

Crew neck short-sleeve T-shirt,
$14.90 by UNIQLO

Comfort Colors Short-Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt

Short-sleeve pocket T-shirt,
$10.99 by Comfort Colors

Alex Mill Standard T-Shirt

Standard T-shirt,
$48 by Alex Mill

Sunspel Classic Cotton T-Shirt

Classic cotton T-shirt,
$90 by Sunspel

J.Crew Broken-In Short-Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt

Broken-in short-sleeve pocket T-shirt,
$34.50 by J.Crew

Hanes Authentic Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
Hanes Authentic Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

Authentic short-sleeve T-shirt,
$12 / $8 by Hanes

Reigning Champ Lightweight T-Shirt

Lightweight jersey T-shirt,
$55 by Reigning Champ

Canoe Club T-Shirt

Cut, sewn and knit in Los Angeles
the old fashioned way with no side seams

Canoe Club T-shirt,
$55 by Lady White Co.

Levis Vintage Clothing 1950s Sportswear T-Shirt

1950s sportswear T-shirt,
$88 by Levi's Vintage Clothing

Buck Mason Slub Classic T-Shirt

Slub classic T-shirt,
$35 by Buck Mason

John Elliot Cotton-Cashmere Crew T-Shirt
John Elliot Cotton-Cashmere Crew T-Shirt

Cotton-cashmere crew T-shirt,
$198 by John Elliot

Fear Of God Cotton Pique T-Shirt

Cotton-pique T-shirt,
$295 by Fear Of God

Everlane Air Crew T-Shirt

Air crew T-shirt,
$24 by Everlane

Jungmaven Original T-Shirt

Original T-shirt,
$50 by Jungmaven

Wellen Hemp T-Shirt

Hemp T-shirt,
$36 / $26.98 by Wellen

Entireworld Recycled Cotton Classic T-Shirt
Entireworld Recycled Cotton Classic T-Shirt

Recycled cotton classic T-shirt,
$42 by Entireworld

Taylor Stitch Heavy Bag T-Shirt

Heavy Bag T-shirt,
$45 by Taylor Stitch

Proof 72-Hour Merino T-Shirt

Wicks moisture, resists odors and regulates body temperature

72-Hour merino T-shirt,
$72 by Proof

How a men's t-shirt should fit

All in the ... shoulders?

Basic tees come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of whether you’re aiming for a trim, tucked in look or for a relaxed, effortless appearance, it’s critical that your top actually fits. For a fast and loose answer, check out where your shoulders sit. If they’re swallowed by the shape of the tee, it’s probably too big. Likewise, if your delts are practically visible, ditch the too-small-tee and size up.

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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