July 1, 2019
We could talk all day about why I’m starting with this particular garment, but I finally determined that I had to start somewhere, so this makes as much sense as any other!
If you’re interested in buying a tee shirt like this, consider getting one in your dark neutral, as well as your accent color(s) at the same time. Lots of retailers have discounts on multiple purchases, or will have some sort of site-wide discount in the next few weeks. Get on the mailing list of your favorite tee shirt source, and strike while the price-cut iron is hot!
I want to make this really clear, right from the start: I’m NOT telling everybody to rush out and buy this particular tee shirt! I’m suggesting, rather, that you figure out what the lightest-colored top might be that you would want to have in your wardrobe. Particularly, think about what you want to layer under sweaters or jackets in cooler weather…
The Weekly Timeless wardrobe is a guideline, NOT rules…
When you have your top in hand, you have lots of options for how to wear it:
Even if you don’t think that you wear light colors very often, it might be worth considering just so you can have something fresh and bright near your face from time to time…
Of course, this kind of top is perfect for casual hiking and outdoor activities. For really serious stuff you might want really serious gear, but for more relaxed activities it’s worthwhile to have a few tee shirts in hand…
Of course, you could wear these shirts every day for work!
You can ever temper the dressiness of an outfit if you’re not sure how posh your event might be….
In the next 3 weeks, the Weekly Timeless Wardrobe will include a dark neutral long-sleeved tee shirt, and then 2 accent-colored long-sleeved tee shirts. If you have those in hand, getting dressed for the week will be a lot easier!
p.s. 3 years ago I was in the 7th month of building six Hermes-based wardrobes…
p.p.s. Our current batch of Hermes wardrobes will be updated here on Wednesday!
What a great way to start! A quality T shirt is a great investment. Since I always wear 3/4 or long sleeve t’s this project is right up my alley! One thing I know for sure, I can never have enough white t shirts! Thanks for this.
I’m going to play along with this shopping from my closet first, of course. It will be nice to have a base wardrobe pulled together by the time fall starts. For me, I need 2 light neutral tees, I like to use a short sleeve tee for layering usually (I can’t stand too much on my arms) and a long sleeve either alone or under a vest.
Shopping from your closet is DEFINITELY the thing to do first; if you already own something that functions like this there’s NO reason to buy another!
Mama Squirrel says
How long can you keep white/light tops functioning, though? I thrifted a long-sleeved off-white jersey top, very similar, but I’ve had it now for almost three years. I guess it depends on how polished you have to be? It works for me (casual, at-home), but maybe if I were wearing it for work I’d want a new one.
I can’t get more than 2 years out of a white shirt, blouse or tee shirt. They stain, they yellow, they start to look mungy and icky… They make EXCELLENT rags for cleaning windows and mirrors! You have to give them a really critical once-over every year before you trot them out to be worn, because they will deteriorate during the off season…
Small mistake: the boots with the grey top are from Timberland, not patagonia. I have these specific boots (in this color) myself.
Thanks! I fixed it…
I’m with Linda (above)— I will shop my closet!! Right now my light basic is a pale grey thin merino tee — usable for many months of the year and a cotton 3/4 sleeve in white for warm days. Looking forward to this project
I buy the LE layering tees (mine are v-necks) but often they’re not offered them in anything other than the neutral colours. When they do offer colours, those veer into aggressive brights, what I call “golf course colours”. So I’m always hunting for basic l/s tees in unusual, nuanced colours like that terra cotta that has pink in it, like the inside of a brick, or a lavendered grey. J. Crew do better, and I noticed the pink you show is theirs. I bought a couple of ss linen v-neck tees from there for this summer.
Please take a few minutes and check out encircled.ca, a Canadian company which designs and manufactures their clothing in and around Toronto using sustainable fabrics and dyes. The styles are comfortable and versatile. All my options wash and wear well. Are the items expensive? Yes. Are they with it? Definitely.
lacrimae rerum says
Does anybody know of any t-shirt makers whose quality hasn’t really hit the skid in recent years?
That’s an excellent workhorse t-shirt style, but the link to Land’s End just made me cry. Years ago they were my go-to for the *perfect* long-sleeved, fine-ribbed cotton crew: weight, drape, fit all excellent. (You could even get lucky with non-“golf course” non-neutrals some seasons!) The ones I bought almost ten years ago only recently became too worn and faded to look nice, but it’s been all downhill since then. I have a similar J.Crew t-shirt that I bought in the ’90s, for cryin’ out loud, that’s in better shape after decades than more recently purchased shirts are after one season.
Unfortunately that seems to be the case everywhere, as reviews attest: “I’ve bought these shirts for years! What happened to the quality? I could get the same at Walmart for a lot less! I’m returning this junk!” goes the lament, on site after site.
Does *anybody* make good quality t-shirts any more? (I don’t mean flimsy “layering” shirts. No use for those.) I’m willing to pay for it, but really resent shelling out for what for more and more turns out to be cheap fabric and non-existent tailoring and quality control.
(I realize that finding a good quality ready-to-wear t-shirt these days may be a lost cause, but thanks for the opportunity to unload!)
Linda M says
I can recommend a UK company, Kettlewell Colours, for quality tops, t’s, and I believe they now have an American website. I wear their silky roll necks right through the cold seasons as a base layer, and have chosen four (I’ve been collecting them for years!) for my first four tops. These are moss green, marine navy, teal and red earth. They do a lot of the more subtle colours, which suit me better than brights, but also plenty of brights if that’s what suits you. Linda M
lacrimae rerum says
Thank you, Linda. I will check those out.
Joan Cecile says
Check out Coolibar tees. Sunscreen built in to fabric. Silky and long lasting. I have been wearing some of my Coolibar pieces for more than ten years. I try to wait for sales, as they are pricey.
Chris in Indy says
Try looking at Duluth Trading for tees. I especially like their “no-yank” tees that have a little spandex in them.
Recently I’ve stepped away from wearing tee shirts by themselves as tops due to weight gain, but am considering options! Looking for easy woven tops that don’t cling…tee shirts are now strictly under layers for cold weather.
Eddie Bauer Favorite Tee. 100 percent cotton. Sensible vee neck. Long enough to tuck. Skims doesn’t cling. And my pet peeve, it isn’t cut and sewn crooked. Oh, and $16. I bought 5.
Totally agree with the Eddie Bauer Favorite Fit. Not aggressively shaped, but also not so rectangular I look like a brick. Just a slight shaping to show off my shape, without cradling the muffin top.
I have them in short sleeve, long sleeve, three-quarter length, every neck option. I wear one most days, they go from my business casual office to the weekend so easily. And the white isn’t see-through!
I’m not affiliated with EB at all, but if they’d like to pay me in free Favorite Fit Tees I would quickly accept!
I always shop my closet first but you started this series with something I need to do some actual shopping for.
I have long sleeved tees that fit and look decent in several colors and in black (used to be a major neutral but I’m trying to switch away from it), but none in navy, gray, or even a flattering shade of white. I have a 3/4 sleeve in navy that could fill in at the beginning of fall but the only gray 3/4 sleeve tee has a lot of texture and I’ll need the long sleeve versions before it starts to feel like fall since I get cold easily.
Since we’re starting early on our fall wardrobes I should be able to spend 4 to 6 weeks scouring the racks at the thrift stores and consignment shops (where I do most of my shopping) and still be able to find something decent at a retail store if I don’t have any luck.
This series might be just what I need. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight and there are other life changes that require me to start fresh with a new wardrobe. I’m going to pull from my closet as much as possible but I look forward to adding timeless neutrals that I never really invested in before. Thanks for this new approach to wardrobes and for all of the other ideas you have on the Vivienne Files.
Kristen Stoner says
I’ve been reading for a few years, but this is my first comment. I am so excited to do this wardrobe! I shopped my closet first and realized I didn’t have a light colored shirts. I bought a light gray tee shirt and also a black tee shirt from Lands End. Great deals right now!
I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a long time now and this might be my favorite project so far. One thing though, I don’t find LLBean or Land’s End to carry very stylish fits so I’m always disappointed when your choice of pants come from them. Having said that though, I don’t really have a better idea to please the majority?. I just wanted you to know how pleased I am whenever the link is for a different vendor. Thank you!
You know, a really big reason that I use so much of their clothing is the photographs of them – they’re clear, crisp, and don’t have a model anywhere in sight! I want to show clothing, not some preternaturally tall thin young woman wearing something…
BArb L says
Hi Janice, I have a mature figure with some lumps and bumps. I find that white/light shirts are often very thin and often quite sheer. I like the ideas of this light neutral base but can you suggest some brands that are a bit thicker or substantial weights. I like olsen clothing very much and am going to check them out later this week
They’re hard to find! The last time I bought Lands’ End, they were still okay, and I have an absolutely ancient tee shirt from Marks & Spencer that is a nice weight. A friend of mine swears by the tee shirts from Target! Frankly, I think we all just have to look and look and look…. (and share what you find here – especially if you find something really good quality at a decent price!)
Linda M says
Speaking from the UK, you’d be lucky to get a quality T from M&S nowadays. They do have some nice jeans, though sizing and fit are hit and miss, and also cashmere is good value. They have a new range of merino basics which are nice, though last year’s were rather thin. Linda M
I also like Olsen quality in basics when you can find the right colour!
It’s absolutely boiling where I am right now, but that gray shirt with the jeans and scarf! <3
The thing with tees is that it depends where you live. I find Lands End ribbed tees to still be heavier weight and substantial, but sometimes in the hot and humid southeast I love a thinner tee. The trick with the “flimsier” tees is to wash them inside-out in the delicate cycle and hang on a clothing rack to dry. Since I’ve been doing this with all my shirts and sweaters, they last a lot longer. The dryer is not your clothings’ friend (that’s where all that dryer lint comes from!).
lacrimae rerum says
That’s the cleaning protocol I’ve always followed for tees, so the durability isn’t the problem. I just don’t like the fit and look of the “layering” tees that corner-cutting manufacturers have been churning out in recent years, passing off as fashion what’s really just a decline in quality of materials and quality control in production. The fact is that the weight and quality of all styles (not just the stuff intended for warm-weather/hot climate wear) has been on a steady decline for years. Dissatisfied customers have even systematically compared the year-by-year weights and measurements for the “same” shirts from specific vendors, making the relentless decline in quality obvious.
(I lived many years in tropical and subtropical climates, and it’s miserably hot and humid in the summer where I live now, so I’m comparing like to like, not summer clothes to arctic wear!)
I’m a little larger sized, and I don’t know if that qualifies for you, but I love my Universal Standard tees. The thinner ones are in the Foundation sets, but they have some lovely thicker ones in the Tee Rex and V Rex.
Nice start to this series Janice, and I do have a nice JJill white long sleeve tee in my closet. So far it’s held up well. I also have a stash of long sleeve tees from Eileen Fisher that I’ve had for years, some silk and others with viscose that I like for colder weather.
I agree with Kelly that the dryer is not my friend when it comes to care for my clothes. I hang many items to dry, and sometimes then toss them in the dryer with wet clothes for wrinkle removal. Where’s are turned yellow by rage dryer, and over time the dryer does a umber on anything with elastane in it. Look forward to the next items!
Thank you for more awesome posts to look forward to….would I be greedy in asking if there could be 52 weeks of accessories in the works? Looking forward to shopping my closet for these items.
Thank you, thank you for all your efforts. Truly appreciate the research involved.
52 weeks of Accessories, and maybe even 52 weeks of Wardrobe Accent Garments?
I love both of these ideas.
It’s the sunblock that I must wear that destroys my white tops. Is it just me, or does anyone else prefer to layer sleeveless tops, even in winter? I wear long-sleeve tops only with a sleeveless vest.
Joan Jackson says
I’m late to this conversation, but I would like to recommend Coolibar long sleeve tees. The company makes UPF 50 fabrics that are top quality, silky and lovely. I watch for sales and have had some items for more than ten years.
Linda L. says
Regarding nice quality tee shirts, I have bought 4 over the last year from Drapers and Damon’s.(online) They are their Essential T shirts, mine were short sleeved but they have tanks, long sleeve and several styles of 3/4 sleeves. They are not see through, not clingy, a nice slightly heavier weight, and have washed up nicely. Unfortunately no cream or ivory, which is what I’m looking for.
Hello, I‘m from Germany and my english is not so good, sorry. To buy a white T-Shirt if you are older than 40/50 years, is very difficult, I mean. I bought now one at Marc Cain, a german company with nice clothes in a first class quality.
And I want to say thank you to Janice for all the work with her blog, specially this serie. I hope, everybody can understand, what I will say. Best regards, Irene