In some ways, you can think of putting together your ideal menswear wardrobe like a video game of sorts, with basic levels and more difficult degrees of getting dressed–but it often all starts with the basics, like wearing a plain black T-shirt.
Or rather, it starts with finding the correct basics, and building from there. The best plain black T-shirts can be an easy look to fall back on, whether you need a layer beneath a denim shirt or a subtle T-shirt to wear with anything in your wardrobe, be it light wash denim, olive chinos or tan stretch chino shorts. The right black T-shirt sits comfortably against your skin, it’s neither too tight nor too baggy, and it’s (ideally) made of premium fabric for long-lasting durability.
No matter how far you advance in the menswear “video game,” so to speak, whether you need to level up or remind yourself of your roots, the plain black T-shirt deserves some space in your quiver of menswear essentials. Shop WERD’s favorite black tees below.
When done the right way, wearing a plain black T-shirt can convey an edgy sense of style, as with this crew neck from luxury-leaning brand James Perse. Minimal though it might seem, a well-fitting black tee can look sleek and classic with dark blue jeans & broken-in tan leather boots, or it can wear nicely underneath a black denim jacket with light wash jeans–and black Chelsea boots–for a bit of rock n’roll style on a Saturday night.
Merino is one of our favorite fabrics here at WERD, and it should be one of yours, too. It’s naturally anti-microbial and anti-odor, it’s durable, it’s made to move with you and it does a standout job when incorporated into everything from T-shirts to boxer briefs. The good folks at Huckberry have done wonders with this merino tee from in-house brand Proof, which you really can wear for 72 hours straight (they should know – that’s how they tested it). The tailored fit and sharp black color makes for an ideal base layer or a straightforward tee on its own.
There are a few subtle ways the best plain black T-shirts stand out from the pack, as simple as their color scheme might be. Buck Mason, a favorite brand here at WERD, knows how to nail those small details in expert fashion, like using a curved hem for a flattering fit on all body types. The use of slub cotton–for summer-friendly softness–plays nicely with a classic fit, another flattering detail on guys everywhere.
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it, that a brand that specializes in USA-made henleys would also deliver the perfect black T-shirt for a nice change of stylistic pace. Natural stretch organic cotton makes all the difference here, providing both durability and comfort in the summer heat. The raw hem and unfinished sleeves are also cool visual touches–roll those sleeves to show off your hard work in the gym.
If you can trust any brand to make basics that really shine, it’s British heritage outfitter Sunspel. You might recognize the brand’s tees and polos as worn by one James Bond, so it’s no wonder that they’ve had a breezy time making one of the best plain black T-shirts for men. Using 100 percent cotton and a just-right fit, it’s high time you picked up at least one essential black tee from a revered English clothier.
DUER’s aptly named take on the black T-shirt has been engineered to deliver on both style and performance quite handily, and in a rather impressive manner. Pima cotton blends with nylon and durable TENCEL for a solid amount of stretch, moisture-wicking capabilities and breathability, all at once. The fit is tailored enough to rock as a base layer, but flattering enough to wear all on its own, if you prefer. And the sub-$50 price tag isn’t half-bad for a performance tee, either.
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