How To Choose The Perfect T-Shirt

You might think every T-shirt is the same. Think again.

PUBLISHED: |

BY PATRICK HUGUENIN



How To Choose The Perfect T-Shirt
istock

We love dressing up as much as the next guy - and there are plenty of times you’ll hear us talk about the virtues of a perfectly-made suit. But, let’s face it, a man’s base outfit is a T-shirt and jeans. This is what you wear at home, on the weekends, at the ballpark, and with the kids. You probably spend more of your life in a T-shirt than you do in any other item of clothing. (Especially if you sleep in one.)
 

Maybe because it’s such an everyday thing, the T-shirt doesn’t get much attention. You might have a drawer full of all the T-shirts you acquired over the years at events, races, bachelor parties and the like. Most of us think a T-shirt is just a T-shirt. But let’s think again.
 

Some T-shirts are better than others. (Admit it, that’s why everyone has their favourite.) There are infinite options out there, but only some of them hug the body the right way - and retain their fit wash after wash. Here’s why the best T-shirts work so well, and how to find them in the first place.
 

FIRST, NAIL THE FIT

We’ve heard it said that only buff guys look good in T-shirts. We humbly disagree, but we get where that idea came from. In a plain T-shirt, the only thing that makes you “look good” is fit. And, sure, muscular guys have a head start.
 

But anyone can get fit right. Just be honest with yourself about what you need. First up: sleeves. These should end at mid-bicep. If they’re below the thickest part of the muscle, they’re too long. Also, they should gently hug your arm - so choose a shirt that’s appropriate. Don’t do hammer curls to try and grow into it.
 

If you’re slim, choose a shirt with a tailored torso so you don’t get swallowed up. If you’re not slim, give yourself more room. 
 

Remember that when a T-shirt hugs your chest, it will make your chest look bigger. But if you don’t want your chest to look bigger, or you don’t feel great about your level of pec firmness, don’t let it hug too tight.
 

Finally, your shirt should end just a few inches below your belt. No one should be able to see your stomach, but the shirt shouldn’t totally hide your butt. Most often, if the sleeve length is right on you, overall length will be too.
 

WHY FABRIC MATTERS

T-shirts come in all kinds of blends, but the 100% cotton tee is still the gold standard. Why? Because it's soft, strong, and most breathable.
 

However, there's something to be said for blends. A 50/50 polyester-cotton blend will be less apt to shrink in the wash, and wrinkles will shake out easily. Downside: it may pill more easily and make you sweat more.
 

In the end, our vote goes to cotton. If you’re worried about how it will wash, look for a pre-shrunk option.
 

A RM120 TEE? IT COULD BE WORTH IT

We know, we know - anything more than RM120 is steep for a T-shirt. But here’s one reason to pay more: sewing quality.
 

See, it’s easy to make a T-shirt. This is why factories can churn them out for RM20. But with better seams and hems, your T-shirt will fit better and last longer. We could sit here and talk about tape seams and single versus triple needle stitching, but let's be realistic. Price is often a proxy for quality of construction.
 

A brand focused on quality basics will give you seams that lie flat and move freely.
 

DRESS UP PLAIN WITH A POCKET

With a T-shirt, plain is good. But all-the-way, blank-canvas, just-a-white-crewneck plain can make you look like you’re in your undershirt. Or like you’re about to go for a run.
 

Easy solution, add a pocket. It has the barest hint of dressiness - but we’d never call it “dressy.” And, really, we’re choosing on utility. At the beach, it’s a great place to put a folded RM20 note.
 

TO V OR NOT TO V?

V-neck versus crew neck - people have deeply entrenched opinions about this. But, once again, your body is your guide.
 

A crew neck will make your frame look more square, so if you have a slight build, it’s the best option. Plus, if you’re tall and willowy, you don’t want a V-neck to elongate your already long neck. Flip the script: a V-neck is less boxy. And makes your neck look longer. So if you’re on the stockier side, this is a great way to break up your frame and add interest.
 

Just don’t go too deep on the V. The point of the V should fall below the dip in your collarbone, but above an imaginary line connecting the top of your armpits. A T-shirt that fits your guns, is built to survive many washes, and isn’t baring your man cleavage? Sounds like a new favourite shirt.

LATEST Style STORIES


​Here's How You Should Fix Your Bad Eyebrows

BY patrick huguenin

July 28, 2017

​And why having your barber cut them might not be a good idea


​Here’s How To Get Rid Of Your Acne Scars

BY PATRICK HUGUENIN

July 27, 2017

Time to tackle the pockmarks you’ve had since puberty


The Simple Guide To Finding The Right Training Shoe

BY Team Men's Health Malaysia

July 25, 2017

Here are things you didn't know about training footwear



Clean The Grime Off Your Watch Before It Gets Ruined

BY PATRICK HUGUENIN

July 25, 2017

And here's how to do it for leather bands, rings, or even your fitness tracker


3 Ways To Make Your Suit Look On-Trend This Season

BY patrick loh

July 5, 2017

Here's how to look your best in a jacket and tie


5 Rules To Stop You From Ruining Your Facial Hair

BY PATRICK HUGUENIN

June 23, 2017

This is when obsessive beard and moustache trimming goes too far



5 Tips For Buying The Perfect Suit

BY PATRICK LOH

June 22, 2017

Stay cool while looking impeccable


How To Make Sure Your Laces Never Come Untied Again

BY KORIN MILLER

June 13, 2017

The physics behind the phenomenon have finally been revealed


How To Get A Manly Jawline

BY PATRICK HUGUENIN

June 11, 2017

Weren’t born with a rugged jaw? You still have options.


IN THE MAGAZINE

Men's Health Malaysia

Men's Health on Instagram