In Search of Vintage White Tees

May 22, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

If you’re in search of a vintage white t-shirt, the following email exchange I had with a reader may be of some help:

I’m looking for a new shirt with that vintage look.

I found your post on the Ribbed Tee Retro Fit Crew and also talked about the Mister Freedom Skivvy shirt. I’m looking for the shorter than usually sleeves and a somewhat closer fit.

Does the Ribbed Tee retro fit have the same quality that the more expensive skivvy shirt has?

And also which one would you recommend for that James Dean classic white tee style?


Vintage White T-Shirt Recommendations

My response to Mike:

heya mike,

good to hear from you buddy. thanks for stopping by my site and sending in your question!!

if you’re lookin for a classic james dean-like plain white tee, i think your best bet is either:

1. mister freedom

  • option 1 – ASOS T-Shirt With Crew Neck And Roll Sleeve ($15.24)
  • option 2 – River Island Basic T-Shirt with Crew Neck ($15.24)
  • option 3 – ASOS T-Shirt With Crew Neck 2 Pack ($19.05
  • option 4 – New Look T-Shirt in Basic Crew ($11.41)
  • option 5 – Nudie T-Shirt Crew Neck Basic ($47.64)
  • option 6 – ASOS T-Shirt With Crew Neck ($11.43)
  • option 7 – ASOS T-Shirt With Pocket And Rolled Sleeves (Orig $19.05, NOW $14.29)

the retro from ribbedtee is a super-great item and hugely popular from what i understand, but it’s probably too thin to wear as a plain white tee (by itself). it’s really more of an undershirt than an outside shirt (tee).

as far as a quality comparison btw retro and skivvy — i honestly couldn’t tell you because i haven’t personally tried out the skivvy yet (though i’m gonna).

since the skivvy is more designed to be a tee, it might be a better choice, but in looking at the description, i’m not so sure it’ll be as comfortable as the retro. here’s why:

skivvy -> 18/1
retro -> 30/1 (finer yarn)

skivvy -> 100% cotton
retro -> 50/50 cotton / poly (poly is usually smoother)

skivvy -> carded open end yarn
retro -> combed cotton (smoother than carded)

skivvy -> tubular body (no side seams)
retro -> side seams (in this area, the skivvy may be somewhat more comfortable b/c it has no side seams)

anyway, you might find some options with asos as well, so it might be worth taking a looksie.

let me know what you decide on.

Vintage White T-Shirts Gallery

Where To Find Vintage T-Shirts (With Prints)

A plug for my buddy Jimmy at He runs one of the most respected vintage t-shirt marketplaces currently on the internet. Most of the tees on his site have prints on them, but there are a few plain vintage t-shirts too.

Other Plain White T-Shirts?

I also recently received the following (non-vintage) plain white t-shirt question:

Hi Tug,

Here’s what I’m looking for:
  • A proper white t-shirt you’d wear as your outer layer (as in NOT an undershirt)
  • Short in length, ending around the belt (American Apparel shirts are too long for me, I’m 5’9”)
  • Most important: arm openings should hug my biceps instead of being loose and flaring out like a lampshade. I don’t even really have biceps, but I want it to hug my arms in a normal way (not a tight muscle guy at the gym way)
  • Something inexpensive that I can buy a few of would be nice, as opposed to those $80 Icebreaker shirts.
My favorite tshirt has been JCP’s Stafford Essentials Classic but (1) they’re a bit long for me, and (2) JCP doesn’t make them anymore :(
Any advice is appreciated, thanks!
Here are the brands of white t-shirts I recommended to Matt
  • asos
  • banana republic
  • next level apparel
  • express cotton/spandex

And here are some other non-vintage white t-shirt ideas:

Do You Have Any Vintage White T-Shirt Recommendations? What about Plain White T-Shirts?

If so, tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Category: Ask Tug

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Tug is the world's undershirt expert. He is also one of the most knowledgeable individuals on sweat management solutions, men's shapewear, grooming, and new fabric technologies. Got a question? Visit Tug's contact page and hit him up.

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  1. Looking For A Proper White T-Shirt? | Undershirt Guy Blog | July 27, 2014

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