the best t-shirt materials

How to Pick The Best T-Shirt Materials for You 

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In the world of fashion, where new trends come and go, some styles are true constants, such as our favorite clothing staples that will remain in our closets and outfits for decades to come. Among those favorite clothing staples, the humble t-shirt is definitely a top contender for the most versatile staple out there, but it would be wrong to generalize; not all tees are made equal! Much like the French have very much mastered the art of looking effortlessly chic, I’m here to help you crack the code on picking out the best material and the perfect tee for you. Together, we’ll go over the best t-shirt materials to keep in mind when shopping for different occasions and purposes, making sure you find your perfect fit.

What To Keep an Eye Out for Shopping for the Best T-Shirt Materials

For those who aren’t particularly familiar with different fabrics and their properties, it’s helpful to list a few of the things that are important to consider when it comes to materials.

Fabrics can be a hard lesson to memorize, but hopefully this quick guide can help you understand the basics – it can be so helpful to know exactly what you’re looking at when buying a piece of clothing!


Breathability is the cornerstone of comfort, especially in warm weather (or during sweat-inducing physical activity!). A breathable fabric is halfway to the right fabric, as it allows air to circulate close to your skin and keeps you cool and comfortable throughout the day.

When it comes to t-shirts, having great breathability is absolutely essential, as much for your comfort as it is for the health of your skin in the long run.


Like all of the best closet staples, the best t-shirts move seamlessly between different settings and dress codes. While a workout tee might be ideal for moisture management, its technical look could clash with a more refined outfit, for example.

In order to strike the perfect balance, choose materials that can gracefully transition from casual to smart-casual while keeping you comfortable, ensuring your new go-to tee can keep up with your dynamic lifestyle. 


We know just how much comfort matters when it comes to every piece of clothing, but especially basics like tees and jeans since those are the pieces we come back to over and over again over the week (and the years!).

That being said, a comfortable t-shirt is a start, but the perfect fabric holds appearance in equal measure. The material’s texture, sheen, and drape contribute significantly to its overall aesthetic, and ideally complements your personal style and the occasion.

This can be confusing, I know! But no worries; today, we’re diving deep into the various characteristics of tee fabrics, focusing on how specific traits can easily elevate even the simplest of designs.


T-shirts aside. When it comes to any great wardrobe staple, longevity is key. A t-shirt that maintains its shape, color, and texture after numerous washes can easily be worth the investment.

Durable fabrics ensure your go-to tee remains steady in your closet rotation. Not only is this a sustainable way of looking at basics, it’s also selfishly strategic – who wants to ever replace their beloved, go-to tee? 


Within the same realm of versatility, this category is about keeping your occasions in mind. Focusing on this aspect will guide you toward fabrics that align with the majority of outfits you are looking to style.

Whether you are dressing up for a causal brunch or layering for a fun night out, choosing a material that complements a huge variety of looks ensures your chosen tee is always the right choice. 

Understanding these aspects can be a simple and quick way of dramatically refining your shopping experience, guaranteeing that every t-shirt you choose is more than just any closet basic, but a statement of your individuality and careful consideration of quality.

best t-shirt materials

Cotton: A Classic Choice

If there was such a thing as the bread and butter of the t-shirt world, it would definitely be a good cotton tee. Adored by many, these natural fibers brings tons of amazing qualities to a basic tee that can easily win us over with its comfort and charm.

Breathable and super soft, a good cotton t-shirt will be as dependable and versatile as your favorite pair of jeans – and I know that’s saying a lot!

Standard cotton is the most common fabric for t-shirts, offering generally a good balance of comfort and quality. 

Of course, there are tons of variations within this single category as well. The quality of the cotton, for example, can have a significant impact in the resulting t-shirt. When it comes to standard cotton, this durable and reliable material can be considered the go-to option for everyday wear, as its breathability and moisture-absorption properties bring comfort to the top of the priority list.

It’s important to mention that standard cotton can vary in quality, making the feel and the durability of different types of cotton t-shirts diverge in the end. For this reason, it’s always important to check things like fabric percentage in product descriptions, as well as any additional information that can help you make the best and most informed decision for you.

H&M Cotton Tee

An affordable basic! Made from 100% cotton, this t-shirt will have your back (no pun intended) on all of your casual days; it’s easy to see why this material is among the most popular fabrics for tees.

Available in eight neutral colors and patterns, this piece is a great choice as it can be easily brought into your wardrobe and paired to complement your personal preference when it comes to style.

Madewell Softfade Cotton Perfect Vintage Tee

For another cotton tee option that is just as comfortable and versatile, this vintage design can also infuse your basic looks with an extra touch of personal style.

Made from drapey, soft cotton, this shirt features a shrunken design that is the perfect length to tuck into your pants! A ribbed neck trim and flared sleeves give this shirt its final touch. 

Organic Cotton 

If you want to find out a way to eliminate the lower quality cottons from the line-up and focus on a choice that feel good in every way, organic cotton might be the way to go.

With its eco-friendly credentials, organic cotton offers all of the benefits of its non-organic version, while also prioritizing sustainability and eliminating the use of toxic chemicals, artificial fertilizer, and synthetic pesticides.

Beyond being necessary standards for the production of organic cotton, these guidelines also make this option perfect for those who have sensitive skin, as the resulting tees tend to be softer and more gentle on the skin than its conventional counterpart. 

Additionally, these strict rules and regulations make this type of cotton far more consistent in terms of quality and standards, ensuring that you’re truly getting a better quality fabric by paying a premium price.

Quince 100% Organic Cotton Slub Crewneck Tee

For guaranteed comfort and quality, this 100% organic cotton tee is ready to become your new favorite go-to. Soft and lightweight, this piece features a center back stitching detail for some charm, as well as a straight fit with set-in sleeves.

This chic silhouette makes for a truly versatile piece that can accompany you from your simplest looks to your layering outfits.

Pima Cotton

Separate in a category of its own, Pima cotton is a level above organic cotton as the premium version of this popular material. Known as the silk of the cotton world, pima cotton is known for having ultra-long fibers that result in a super soft feel and subtle sheen. For a staple t-shirt that is truly luxurious for elevating a simple look, this cotton is the way to go.

Supima cotton is a trademarked name for American-grown Pima cotton, and promises a resulting fabric that is resistant to pilling, fading, and stretching, keeping your smooth t-shirt looking new for a longer period of time. 

Banana Republic Supima® Crew-Neck T-shirt

Featuring a straight hem and a balanced fit that’s not too tight and not too loose, this t-shirt is a customer favorite. Durability and an undeniably soft feel are some of the most beloved characteristics of this premium cotton – what’s not to love?!

Including all of its different variations and categories, it’s fair to say that cotton is a very popular choice when it comes to all kinds of clothing pieces and tees especially, making it the best t-shirt material for many people around the world. 


Woven from the fibers of the flax plant, linen brings a well-known breezy elegance to the t-shirt game. Its natural luster and lightweight texture make it a favorite for sultry summer days when all you want is a cool comfortable feel.

The different texture of this material when compared to others, such as cotton, is a huge part of what sets this fabric apart. Even in a casual silhouette like that of a tee, this material effortlessly elevates every piece with its distinct look.

While it’s not as commonly used for silhouettes like t-shirt as much as cotton material, for example, linen is one of the most popular materials for the warmer months, when high temperatures call for airy, breathable textiles that keep us cool while also prioritizing style. 

Linen is also able to wick away moisture for those sweaty, beautiful sunny days, and, perhaps even more impressively, improve with time! Much like a brass hardware finish that gets a patina over time, linen wears out beautifully, telling a story through its evolving features. 

Related: The Best Linen Clothing Brands To Try for Spring and Summer

Eileen Fisher V-Neck Organic Linen T-Shirt

Made from 100% organic linen, this v-neck design makes for an ideal t-shirt for spring and summer. This luxurious, super breathable, lightweight fabric can easily become your everyday style, featuring short sleeves and a delicate front stitching detail for an added touch.

The elegant silhouette of this t-shirt also makes it an easy style to pair with pieces that wide-leg trousers, skirts, and even skinny jeans, elevating every piece to make for a classic look. 

Merino Wool 

For the colder months of the year or chilly summer nights by the water, a merino wool t-shirt can easily be the perfect choice.

Merino wool can be said to challenge the stereotype of wool when it comes to warmth, making for a t-shirt material that’s surprisingly well-fitted for all seasons.

Alongside its moisture-wicking properties and great resistance to odors, its natural temperature-regulating properties really make this a perfect choice for those who are looking for both comfort and functionality in equal measure! 

Icebreaker 260 Tech Long Sleeve Wool Crewneck T-Shirt

In this shirt, lightweight merino wool does exactly that – keeping you comfortable in whatever temperature you find yourself in. Featuring a more fitted silhouette, this piece is perfect to use as a base layer for a number of looks.

Need any more convincing? Antimicrobial underarm gussets keep you even more breezy and comfortable, and smooth flatlock seaming was especially included to eliminate irritation and uncomfortable rubbing- there’s nothing better than smart design and great materials. 


This newer material has gotten more and more popular over the years, championed for its sustainable properties. 

Bamboo fabric is a revelation in the t-shirt world, loved for its incredible softness, eco-friendliness properties, and moisture-wicking abilities. This material is often said to feel like a second skin, gentle and breathable, with a natural sheen that adds a touch of luxury to a casual silhouette of a t-shirt.

ONNO Women’s Viscose Bamboo T-Shirt

If you’re all about comfort, then this silky and vibrant bamboo t-shirt might just strike the perfect balance. Made from a majority viscose from organic bamboo and organic cotton blend, this style also features a super lightweight feel and tailored fit (that’s not too tight!). 


Also known as Tencel®, this fabric is yet another option that is making waves with its sustainable credentials and closed-look production process. Its smooth fiber surface lends a soft, fluid drape to t-shirts, making them feel lux and flattering on the body. 

Featuring excellent moisture-absorption, lyocell tees are perfect for those with sensitive skin and generally, hot, humid days.


Modal, often spun with a blend of cotton and other fibers, offers a silky, smooth texture that drapes beautifully. This material is known for its breathability, durability, and resistance to shrinkage and fading, making it a fantastic choice for a tee that maintains its look and feel over time.

Tommy Bahama Kauai V-Neck T-Shirt

This lyocell and modal-bend tee features incredibly soft, stretchy fabric and a more oversized, flowier fit. Perfect for taking on hot summer days or sunny spring afternoon, this top is perfect to pair with a variety of different relaxed looks. 

Draping beautifully, this piece also includes cuffed sleeves and a v-neck silhouette. 


Though polyester is a synthetic material, of course, the best option is always going to be the one that best fits your needs (and budget). Different types of t-shirt material are used for different purposes, which is why familiarizing yourself with types of fabric can be extremely helpful in understanding the feel and composition of a piece (especially when you’re online shopping!). 

When it comes to finding the perfect t-shirt material, it’s only natural that people gravitate towards natural fibers for their great properties and benefits like breathability, comfort, and sustainability. At the same time, it’s important to note that synthetic fiber materials may be useful for you too.

While not a natural fabric, polyester does deserve a mention for its role in athletic wear, as it is probably among the most popular t-shirt materials for those who want to get a good workout in – can you imagine going into a high-intensity training session wearing a cotton tee? This durable fabric is an excellent choice and the right material for those who are looking to get their reps in. 

Its quick-drying and durability properties are like no other, and make up the essentials components of blend-fabrics made for activewear, or just those seeking a bit more structure and resilience in their casual wear at all.

Vuori Energy T-Shirt

With you throughout all of your workouts – and rest days! Keeping you cool and dry throughout your exercises, this polyester tee features 4-way stretch and great moisture-wicking abilities, and that’s only the beginning. 

For many, polyester tees are a sure choice when it comes to picking the right workout apparel, and with this tee it’s easy to get why. With odor control and sun protection, this design covers all of the bases to keep you comfortable throughout your time at the gym. 

Related: The Best Women’s Classic White T-shirts That Aren’t See-Through (I Tried Them so You Don’t Have to)

Finding Your T-Shirt Match

Picking the ideal tee may seem simple enough, but knowing what to look for is essential in making sure you’re choosing the right piece for you and your wardrobe. Being intentional with every part of your outfit is not only a great way to stay mindful of what you wear, but also helps us to be comfortable and express our style in exactly the way we want to. 

Whether you are looking for a basic yet high quality tee for pairing with your classic, chic outfits, something to work out in, or an everyday tee that can keep you cool, there are many factors to consider when picking out the right t-shirt for you. Ranging from different cuts and silhouettes to different fabrics, knowing what to look for will make a real difference when it’s time for you to make your choice. And now, you have what you need to find the right t-shirt material for you!

While it’s amazing to be able to integrate t-shirts into every type of look – from super casual to classic and fancy – the ability to put together an outfit with the right tee can take a little know-how. Ready to style your favorite t-shirt? Up Next: New Ways to Style Your Basics | 15 White T-Shirt Outfit Ideas


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.