In Search of Vintage White Tees

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

Heya Mike,

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

If you’re looking for a classic James Dean-like plain white tee, I think your best bet is either:

1. Mister Freedom

Mister Freedom sells two different vintage-style t-shirts.

  • Skivvy T-shirt – Inspired by vintage 1940′s-50′s cotton crew neck undershirts
  • Stanley T-shirt – vintage-style t-shirt, also circa 1940’s-50’s

Where to buy:

Vintage inspired Skivvy t-shirt
Vintage inspired Skivvy t-shirt
Mister Freedom Stanley t-shirt
Stanley – 1940’s – 50′ vintage inspired t-shirt


Asos sells a crew neck t-shirt that has rolled sleeves, and it definitely has a vintage type look.

It’s made from 100% organic cotton too, so it should be nice and soft out of the package. Also, it’s really affordable at on $11.

Where to buy: | Product code: 1784117

Asos rolled sleeve t-shirt
Asos crew neck t-shirt with rolled sleeves

Retro vs Skivvy

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 t-shirt.

As far as a quality comparison between Retro and Skivvy — I honestly couldn’t tell you because I haven’t personally tried out the Skivvy t-shirt yet.

Since the skivvy is 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 look.

Let me know what you decide on.

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 question from someone looking for plain white t-shirts:

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 (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 t-shirt 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! -Matt

– Matt
  • Asos
  • Banana Republic
  • Next Level Apparel
  • Express cotton/spandex

You may also want to look at:

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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