Three Must-Have T-Shirts Every Man Should Have In His Wardrobe

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With so many brands and product options, it can be challenging to figure out what are the must-haves for your closet. And because there are so many options, you may find yourself defaulting to wearing the same things all the time — it’s easy, familiar and comfortable. 

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Not only do you become bored with those tops that are in constant rotation, but you want to know what else is out there and what would look great on your body type.

I work with clients to create a modern capsule wardrobe for their busy lifestyle and I’m going to share with you the three styles of shirts that are a must-have for any man’s closet.

These tops look great on all body types, you can wear them year-round and most importantly, they are suitable for a business casual office, traveling to a new city or date night.

How to Style Your T-Shirt

1. First, think of the context you will be in. ​Casual or more business casual? For casual you can wear any of the three tops for business casual, stick to either a Henley or a Polo.

2. Second, what is the season? For winter any of these tops look great with a pair of dark denim jeans or trousers, a sweater, and boots. For summer, pair these tops with shorts and white sneakers, or maybe go for a light blue pair of jeans and a white short sleeve tee.

3. Third, have fun! The beauty of having these three tops in your wardrobe means that you can create outfits for a casual brunch on the weekend to a business casual outfit. No matter where you are going — you’ll be showing up in style.

The Classic: Basic T-Shirt

Basic T-Shirt from James Perse

A great fitting T-Shirt standard is essential for any man’s wardrobe — think crew-neck — no matter your body type, where you live or profession.

There are many options out in the market for T-Shirts, some of my favorite brands that fit most body types include James Perse and Alternative Apparel

The fit of a t-shirt can vary from skin-tight, body-conscious shirts that would look at home on the Jersey Shore to baggy ones following the oversized trend.

In general, most guys will want to find a t-shirt where the shoulder seams hit the outer most point of your shoulder, the sleeves reach halfway the upper arm between your shoulder and elbow and the body of the shirt fits smoothly over your torso ending 3-4 inches below your natural waist.

If you have a larger chest (or gut) you might find you need to size up to avoid stretching.

Shop Our Top T-Shirt Picks

James Perse Mens Shadow Striped Pocket T-Shirt, 3, Grey
Alternative Men's Eco True Heather Crew
Tani USA Men's SwissTouch Crew Neck Undershirt, Amazingly Soft and Comfortable
James Perse Mens Shadow Striped Pocket T-Shirt, 3, Grey
Alternative Men's Eco True Heather Crew
Tani USA Men's SwissTouch Crew Neck Undershirt, Amazingly Soft and Comfortable
James Perse Mens Shadow Striped Pocket T-Shirt, 3, Grey
James Perse Mens Shadow Striped Pocket T-Shirt, 3, Grey
Alternative Men's Eco True Heather Crew
Alternative Men's Eco True Heather Crew
Tani USA Men's SwissTouch Crew Neck Undershirt, Amazingly Soft and Comfortable
Tani USA Men's SwissTouch Crew Neck Undershirt, Amazingly Soft and Comfortable

Stylish Simplicity: The Henley Shirt

A Henley shirt will have a row of 2-3 buttons in the front and has no collar. Consider this type of top the big brother of a basic T-Shirt. The buttons give it a twist from a basic t-shirt and combine fashion and function.

Henley’s are the perfect top pick for guys who have more of an athletic build since it should be a bit more figure-fitting and will show off your time at the gym. Henley’s are meant to be cozy, layered and slightly snug.

If you want a looser fit, try a rugby shirt instead. If you’re going for a more casual or sexy look, skip the white t-shirt underneath — less is sometimes more.

Shop Our Top Henley Picks

Alternative Men's Raglan 3/4 Sleeve Henley Shirt
ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Men's Long Sleeve Rib Henley
John Varvatos Star USA Men's Short Sleeve Henley Shirt
Alternative Men's Raglan 3/4 Sleeve Henley Shirt
ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Men's Long Sleeve Rib Henley
John Varvatos Star USA Men's Short Sleeve Henley Shirt
Alternative Men's Raglan 3/4 Sleeve Henley Shirt
Alternative Men's Raglan 3/4 Sleeve Henley Shirt
ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Men's Long Sleeve Rib Henley
ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Men's Long Sleeve Rib Henley
John Varvatos Star USA Men's Short Sleeve Henley Shirt
John Varvatos Star USA Men's Short Sleeve Henley Shirt

The Step-up from Casual: Polo Shirt

I love the look of great fitting polo shirts on men. The collar gives it a more formal feel so you can wear this to events that are a step up from casual but less formal than a dress shirt.

You can also wear a Polo with a suit (instead of a long sleeve button up) and it gives it a modern, but approachable spin to a formal look. Some brands that I like for polos include Theory and Sandro.

The fit of a polo shirt should mirror that of a classic t-shirt, you want it to glide over the body, not be too loose or tight. The neck can be worn open for a more sporty look or closed. Polos are commonly tucked in to create a more professional appearance.

Shop Our Top Polo Picks

ORIGINAL PENGUIN Men's The Earl Polo
Billy Reid Men's Long Sleeve Cashmere Polo with Pocket
Theory Men's Standard Polo Current Pique
ORIGINAL PENGUIN Men's The Earl Polo
Billy Reid Men's Long Sleeve Cashmere Polo with Pocket
Theory Men's Standard Polo Current Pique
ORIGINAL PENGUIN Men's The Earl Polo
ORIGINAL PENGUIN Men's The Earl Polo
Billy Reid Men's Long Sleeve Cashmere Polo with Pocket
Billy Reid Men's Long Sleeve Cashmere Polo with Pocket
Theory Men's Standard Polo Current Pique
Theory Men's Standard Polo Current Pique

Celebrity T-Shirt Outfit Inspiration

Ryan Gosling in a t-shirt under a button down.jpg
Jude Law with a black t-shirt and a suit
Orlando Bloom in a V-neck t-shirt
Josh Duhamel in a polo shirt

Depending on the season, you can have more lightweight fabrics (like cotton) for warmer months and heavier fabrics (like wool blends and acrylic) for colder months.

By having these three types of casual shirts in your wardrobe, you’ll be sure to look your best, appropriately dressed for most situations and on your way to creating a modern capsule wardrobe.

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