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The Quest For The Perfect, Affordable “Basic” Tee Is Over… Because We Did The Legwork


This post originally went up two Saturdays ago, the day after we heard the incredibly heartbreaking news that RBG had passed. We thought that donating the affiliate money made from this post to a wonderful organization called She Should Run, was a small way to still give you content while also acknowledging the deep loss the country had just experienced. But then after we woke up we felt that reading about t-shirts was not what anyone needed nor wanted (us included). I mean who cares about t-shirts when we just lost a hero?

We will still of course be donating because helping women become elected official is critical and what Justice Ginsburg was fighting for. But she fought for us long enough. Now we must pick up where she left off. Happy t-shirt hunting and VOTE!

I know this post I don’t know why but finding the perfect “basic” of anything can feel like the search for the holy grail (the Monty Python version, obviously). Shopping should have some laughs, right? But seriously, I think the clothing category, “basics” needs a rebrand because the term “basics” associates it with the term “easy”. SO maybe a simple shift to saying “ultimates” would make us feel less irritated when the search is long and hard. At least for us, there isn’t a killer bunny along the way:)

So I say all of this to talk about my quest in finding my “ultimate” t-shirt. But don’t worry it’s not just me. Mallory also is coming on this journey with me because she also was on the hunt and with two very different body types we can hopefully help twice the amount of people! O and Em jumped in at the end too:)

But first, let’s take a step back and talk about the reason for this post. This shirt below has been my favorite for over a year. I randomly found her at H&M on a whim and bought six in four different colors. But then, OF COURSE, it’s been permanently out of stock ever since. Devastating. My $13 dream t-shirt, gone. Look, I still have the shirts but after A LOT of wear, half of them have holes (and not in a cool, expensive-looking way).

This is why she was perfect and what I am looking for…

Jess’ T-Shirt Requirements:

  • Worn-in feeling fabric
  • Medium length
  • Medium sleeve length (no cap sleeve but not too long)
  • Crew neckline
  • Flattering up top but room around the hips
  • NO pockets (my boobs don’t require any further attention)
  • Looks good with a “french tuck” (the little tuck behind the pant button that Tan France made famous and I love)
  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Not one million dollars

It’s a lot, I know, but if I’m searching for my “ultimate tee” then the standards have to be high, right? I ended up trying on seven different styles that are all under $30 each. And just so you can have a reference point for sizing here are my sizes:

Shirts: I go between a medium and large but more so large
Dress: 10/12
Pants: 30 in high-waisted Madewell jeans (not sure if the high-waisted part makes a difference)
Bra: 36C/34D
Height: 5’3 3/4″

So before we get to the good stuff, I just want to say that these reviews are 100% based on personal preference and what feels good on my (and later, Mallory’s body). We are not saying these “requirements” are what everyone should want/look for. Everyone should wear what makes them feel awesome!

FUN FACT: None of these have neck tags!

ANOTHER FUN FACT: I haven’t had my hair done since March 10th.

The EveryWear Slub-Knit Tee – Old Navy: $8

Size: M
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
Fit: I would say it’s pretty flattering. The sleeves and neck are good and it looks like it was made to work on a woman with some curves. I personally don’t love the length and the round hemline, though. However, if you are someone who likes that then I think this is a slam dunk option…especially for $8!
Fabric: Soft, medium thickness but a slight worn-in feel and 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: Sort of…

Short Sleeve Casual T-Shirt – Target: $5

Size: L
Overall Rating: 5 out of 10
Fit: I liked it better in person than when it’s photographed. A bit too slim of a cut for someone with boobs and hips, but not terrible. I would prefer the sleeve length a smidge shorter. The overall length is too long and tight for my shortish torso. Also, the neck is a little too small for my liking. Sizing up would have only made the top half less flattering.
Fabric: Soft but not as breathable. 50% cotton/ 50% Modal
French Tuck Approved?: No

Short Sleeve T-Shirt – Target: $8

Size: L
Overall Rating: 4 out of 10
Fit: This pic is kinda deceiving. Way too slim of a cut for someone with boobs and hips but not “terrible”. I like the sleeve length and the neck is cute but also too long for me.
Fabric: That classic stiff cotton but would probably be great after a lot of washes. 100% cotton.
French Tuck Approved?: No (too tight)

Vintage Wash Crewneck T-Shirt – Gap: $20

Size: M
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Fit: A little too slim of a cut for my hips. I really like the sleeve length and the neck is perfect but just too long for me.
Fabric: Slightly stiff but lightweight and 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: No

The Organic Cotton Crew – Everlane: $18

Size: L
Overall Rating: 6 out of 10
Fit: Overall it is kinda tight but I like how the top half fit. I don’t think sizing up would have helped because then the sleeves would be too long. Honestly not bad but I just don’t love it on me.
Fabric: Soft, pretty lightweight, and 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: No

Shrunken Short Sleeve T-Shirt – Gap: $25

Size: L
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10 (there’s always room for growth:))
Fit: This one is my favorite which is SHOCKING to me and again much better in person. When I ordered it I was sure that the “shrunken” aspect would highlight the things I want to avoid highlighting. However, between the neck being the right shape, the sleeves hitting at the right place, and the not “too long” length, everything just works. The more boxy shape is a winner in my eyes. I have already ordered 3 more:)
Fabric: Worn in cotton but also 100% cotton…
French Tuck Approved?: YES (mainly because of the shorter overall length)


Size: M
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
Fit: I do like the smaller size because it does show my shape a little more;) and the sleeve length is cute. BUT there is no room for it to shrink so since it’s 100% cotton, I’m sticking with the large.
French Tuck Approved?: Still yes

Vintage Cotton Crewneck T-Shirt – J.Crew: $30

Size: M
Overall Rating: 1 out of 10
Fit: I was pretty excited about J.Crew because so many of you recommended it to me. Unfortunately, this shirt in particular is a no-go. The neck is too big, the sleeves and body are too long and I just don’t love how it sits on my body.
Fabric: Very soft, light (which I really liked), and 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: Not really

Now let’s move onto Mallory!

Mallory’s T-Shirt Requirements:

  • Soft fabric (IT MUST BE SOFT)
  • Tuckable length
  • Short sleeve length (can be cap sleeve…I’m not picky)
  • Crew neckline but doesn’t look like a little boy’s shirt (meaning not ~too~ high on the neck)
  • Breathable, boxy fit. It BETTER NOT be skin tight
  • Comes in multiple colors (same as Jess)
  • Not one million dollars (I, of course, also agreed with Jess)

I have similar requirements to Jess because after all, don’t we all want t-shirts that are soft, look great, and aren’t crazy expensive? Like it’s a t-shirt, not a ballgown…she better be affordable. Let’s get into my sizing:

Shirts: Usually a small but could be a medium (especially in this category bc I love a looser fitting t-shirt)
Dress: 4
Pants: 26/27
Bra: Itty-bitty-titty-committee!! (32A)
Height: 5’7

Vintage Fit T-Shirt – Madewell: $17

So I bought this shirt in a mustard-orangey-yellow a while back (see below) and I REALLY like wearing it for the color, but then I thought –– wait I think the fit is good too…the reason I didn’t know for sure was because I had bought it in an XS since it was the only one left. So I thought, why not try it in my actual size and see what happens. That’s exactly what I did and here’s the deal…

Size: S
Overall Rating: 10 out of 10
Fit: Overall it’s the perfect shirt. Boxy, not too long on the sleeves, a solid crew, plus it’s VERY comfortable. Plus it has a cute rounded hemline so that’s a plus.
Fabric: Soft, lightweight, very comfy, and 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: YES

I thought I’d show you what the XS looks like just in case you were curious…

Cute and I’ll still wear it, but I definitely am team get your normal size since it doesn’t run big or small.

Slim Fit Short Sleeve T-Shirt – Target : $8

Size: M
Overall Rating: 5 out of 10
Fit: If I was unexpectedly sleeping over at a friend’s house and they let me borrow their clothes for the next day and handed me this shirt, I’d say “great this’ll work.” But honestly, she’s not much more than that. The sleeves are a little too long and the neckline seemed too wide. Not to mention the shirt was overall WAY too long, and I have a decently sized torso.
Fabric: The softest, comfiest shirt out of all the ones I tried fabric-wise, so if you want comfort, have a long torso, and don’t mind a longer cap sleeve…this one is for you. 49% Modal, 48% Cotton, 3% Spandex
French Tuck Approved?: It’s the only way to wear it

Basics T-Shirt – H&M: $5

Size: S
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Fit: I bought this shirt YEARS ago because I stumbled upon it and definitely needed a white t-shirt. It would be blasphemy if I didn’t include it in the post, after all the things we’ve been through together. It’s $5, so if you’re in desperate need of a shirt, this one will do the job and do it very okay. It’s got a pretty big swoop neck overall, but it’s stretchy fabric and tight-but-not-too-tight-fit will impress you.
Fabric: Stretchy, comfy, and 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: Yes!

Short Sleeve Slim Fit T-Shirt – Target: $8

Size: M
Overall Rating: 10 out of 10
Fit: This one is a real favorite. As you can see from the above photos, the shirt is a solid length –– not too long, not too short. It’s perfect if you want to french tuck it OR wear it untucked (which sounds foreign to me but I would do it with this shirt because the length is that good).
Fabric: A little thicker material, but still VERY comfy. 100% cotton
French Tuck Approved?: YES

Now we couldn’t end this post without a quick mention of Emily’s favorite tees in case you missed her talking about them in the past:)

Rounded V-Neck T-Shirt – Caslon: $25

photo by veronica crawford | from: a fashion review: new clothing on my body and how i like them (or not)

Emily loves the scoop neck and the relaxed fit.

We The Free Sun Valley Tee – Free People: $38

Emily loves this shirt! Her only tip is to size way down.

The Boxy Crew – The Great: $95

image source

The Great is a female-founded company and is one of Emily’s favorites. This tee is for sure a splurge according to Emily will definitely make you feel cool.

Well there you have it, t-shirts on our real bodies to hopefully help you in a real way in finding your perfect and ULTIMATE match. We hope that you have as good of a day as you can, make sure you have a voting plan and we will see you tomorrow.

Love you, and very much mean it. We need each other now more than ever.

Fin Mark


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

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Big fan of reproductive rights and individual freedoms.

For people at all stages of life – whether unborn or out of the womb.

I think this depends on when you think an individual life starts.

The thing that makes this mass of cells (fetus) different from any other mass of cells is that it has its own unique DNA, its heart beats at 6 weeks, and for later term abortions, it actually tries to get away from the calipers who are grasping and removing its limbs.

Love you, Emily, and thanks for listening to the other side!


Poor manners, Liz.


How is this anti-choice comment at all relevant here? Please delete.


With a single comment you’ve reduced a woman’s legacy of standing up for the rights of people with mental disabilities, communities fighting illegal polluters, and yes, women’s rights (eg a school shouldn’t strip search a 13 yo girl for drugs). Good job.


Big fan (lol) of reproductive rights? Except for those of pregnant people I guess. Oof. I’m sad for you that this was your reaction to Justice Ginsburg’s death. Thanks Emily and team for working hard to be thoughtful in all you do.


Women become pregnant and also mothers. . . not people.


So since you want to keep people alive, you’ll be voting for the candidate who is going to do what it takes to prevent up to 200,000 more Americans from needlessly dying from the coronavirus, prevent people from being denied health insurance due to preexisting conditions, keep refugee babies out of cages at the Southern border, and require insurance to cover birth control which will prevent many abortions from being needed? So you’re voting for Biden! Excellent.


Exactly Marisa! And while we’re at it, Democratic policies around healthcare and sex education are–by the numbers–the best way to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies and thus the best road to the fewest abortions. Anyone who is really passionate about fetal life is a natural Democrat. (But of course, people who are really passionate about forced birth and have very little regard for “life” should continue to support the death cult that is the Republican party)


Great points, Marisa!


this makes me uncomfortable, and alienated here – if this is a real person, she needs to think about where to share that (aka, on a post about this topic). Please delete.


I don’t understand why you feel the need to delete a comment just because the commenter has a different opinion than you. I have read countless comments on this blog (and others) from people whose thoughts and feelings stand in direct opposition to what I believe. The beauty of our country is that we have the freedom to peaceably speak about our beliefs. Why do you want to strip this freedom from others? Allow people to have a voice! Also, name calling and pointing fingers at people (I am not speaking about you directly) because they hold to a different set of beliefs is not the best way to win people to your side or a kind way to have a true conversation. Some people think differently than you, and that is ok!


First they are coming for a woman’s right to abortion. Next they are coming for a woman’s rights to birth control. Finally, they are coming for a woman’s right to education, employment, property ownership, etc. You haven’t thought things through if you support step one.


First off, we share a name.
Second, our measurements are IDENTICAL. Down to the 5′ 3/4″ and two bra sizes (yes I know technically they are the same size…but still…I have bras in both sizes, various brands, depending upon what’s better).
Anyway, it makes me lol.
If you ever need a body double, track me down. 😂


Literally same!! I just came on here to say please have Jess model all clothes in future so I can actually see what they look like on “my” body!! so amazing


Won’t be buying anything from your links cause you had to make it political.


Oh, please, Donna! Really. Give me a break. Just honor RBG by voting this year. Also, supporting women and minority businesses by subscribing to their blogs and purchasing from their links you will make RBG proud.


She Should Run is a nonpartisan nonprofit doing amazing work supporting ANY woman who wants to run for office for the first time. I couldn’t imagine a MORE fair, LESS political way to honor one of the most influential,
trailblazing women in government regardless of how you felt about her politics.


*Everything is political.

Political: relating to the public affairs of a country
Public: relating to, or affecting all the people of a nation
Affairs: commercial, professional, public, or personal business


Life must be really hard for you right now.


These shirts really have an arm up over the competition…

Thanks for putting in the elbow grease to find find them!

Some of these comments are so over-the-top ehh?


Ooh, thanks for sending me down the rabbit hole at Gap. I haven’t looked at their site in ages, and hey have he cutest quilted jackets and amazing sweatshirts right now!


Love the look of the Free People tee! Definitely size down though? The reviews on the site say it runs small…
Also, thanks for honoring RBG and supporting a great org!

Amy KS

Every single t-shirt I buy gets tiny holes in the front in the belly button area. Target, J Crew, Ann Taylor Loft, Gap, Old Navy… what gives? Some of them get holes after the first time I was them, others after a couple of washes. Anyone know why this happens and what I can do to prevent it from happening. I live in t-shirts so its so aggravating. Thank you


Could it be from a belt rubbing against the shirt?

Amy KS

I don’t wear belts and it also happens with my workout shirts which I wear with running tights!!!


THIS!! Happens to me and my husband constantly, with cheap shirts and some (his) really expensive ones. It has cost us so much money and I cannot figure out WTH is going on! Anybody have a clue?


It happens to me. I decided that it must be because I wear zippered jackets that fit fairly snug, and I catch the fabric in the zipper.


amy – I totally have the same problem, and I am not even wearing belts. And often, (summer etc.), am in skirts, shorts or leggings, that don’t have a zipper or buttons there either .. always in teh same spot .. and I could never get to the source of this ..


I think it could come from the washing machine – depending on how strong your spin cycle is. I could be wrong…but my mom mentioned something about that, so just throwing it out there as a possibility.


No way it’s from the washing machine (imho). If it was the washer wouldn’t they get holes in various places? For me too it is right at the waistband. I was told it was from the fabric getting rubbed by the seatbelt into my jeans button, but for YEARS I have made sure my shirts are on top of my seatbelt and it still happens. So annoying as it can happen after just a few wears. I think it’s the way t-shirts are being made these days. But why only in that one spot every single time???


I had this problem before! Finally figured it out. It was due to me rubbing the shirt against the countertop while doing dishes. I had to tuck in / wear an apron to keep my shirts from developing holes.


Jess, after emhendo, you are the reason I read this blog. You have an interesting and fine eye for the good stuff! Thank you.

I also want too add there’s a bias/ish cut T-shirt em posted on a runner fashion post two years ago. It was indigo with white paths and nude tkees. I get it every year. So so good.

Sarah D

I am always on the hunt for the best t shirt – this company delivers!!

Karen Murray

Great information!! I really like the Target 8$ on Mallory. I’ve been shopping at Target for t-shirts and they have many brands. If you would, please, tell me the brand name on this one. Thanks!!!


Hi Emily, For me as well as a flattering fit, the perfect tee also includes bringing social and environmental justice issues into the mix, so glad you included organic tees, because the cheap ones always include non-living wages for workers, excessive hours, child labor, pesticides and herbicides that are getting into the water table. 82% of Indian rural wells I sure as hell wouldn’t want to drink out of. We have healthy children because they didn’t grow up downwind of pesticides for cotton, but others have children born with deformities for exactly this reason. The Environmental Justice Foundation brings it home in their reports. The Environmental Justice Foundation:


Yes, thank you.


Thank you for doing all the research, I love finding a holy grail tee! It’s illuminating to see all of those options and how different they really do fit. And Jess- I also haven’t had my highlights done since March but sadly don’t think I am rocking it nearly as much as you are!


I ordered three Madewell vintage fit t-shirts last July. T-shirts are a mainstay in my summer wardrobe. I erred in not reading the details about the t-shirt before ordering but, really…everyday wear cotton t-shirts that require handwashing? I tried to machine wash one of them in cold water on the gentle cycle and line dry, big mistake, that tee ended up in my carwash rag box.


Hi there- what is the necklace you are all sporting? It’s the same, right?


Yes, I would love to know too! And the lovely bracelet Jess is wearing too.


Wow! Surprised at the attacks towards someone who shared an opinion that differs from some, or explains why she feels a certain way. What happened to women supporting women and helping women…”Only if you agree with me.” Some have anger issues, and maybe you need to broaden your horizons. Try having a friendship with some who completely disagrees with you politically or morally. It is truly enlightening and maybe *your hate speech for someone who simply disagrees (that you know NOTHING about) will actually become “tolerant.” So sorry to the women who are attacked for stating (very maturely and unemotionally) their belief. Come on, Ladies…up the Niceness/Kindness factor. Live what you preach.

cool..ty for sharing it


For an organic option that is super soft, doesn’t shrink, is TTS and a great length/width, i love the Coyuchi solstice T. I ordered one this summer to see, loved it so, and then was super bummed when it was out of stock! Just found it back in stock last night and ordered 2 more! Need to share the wealth!

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