Just like their bicep-exposing counterparts, long-sleeve T-shirts have long been a staple in the wardrobes of many people. “Short sleeve tees may get all the love,” explains stylist and fashion designer Jordan Page, the curator of the fashion-history Instagram account @veryadvanced. “But the long-sleeve tee is often the more appropriate choice, for both style and function.” When it comes to style, Page explains that long-sleeve tees “can look classier than regular ones because they’re less loose and more complete.” Function is found in the added coverage provided by their longer sleeves, which Page says make the shirts “more comfortable for layering because you don’t get that direct, sometimes itchy, on-skin contact from outer layers made of more textured fabrics like wool.”
But as our previous reporting on the best men’s T-shirts has taught us, not all clothes — even simple staples — are created equal. To find the best men’s long-sleeve T-shirts, we asked 14 cool guys to tell us about the ones they reach for the most. While a clear favorite emerged, we also heard about a variety of worthy tees at a variety of price points. So our list leads with the long-sleeve tee we heard the most about before breaking down the other recommendations by retail price in order to help shoppers of every budget.
“In 2021, no one should be spending that much on wardrobe basics,” says actor-slash-model Kyle Andrew. “They should be buying stocks that 18-year-olds recommend on Reddit.” All joking aside, Andrew says that for anyone who wants to “improve their look without breaking the bank,” you can’t do better than Gildan. He says its Ultra Cotton Long Sleeve T-shirt is a “great option, especially for layering,” not least because it comes in no less than 70 colors. Andrew is among a growing cadre of cool guys who’ve recommended Gildan’s long-sleeve tees to us. Another of those guys is Chris Black, who has called them a “wardrobe staple.” A third is is pop-music critic Jon Caramanica, a former Critical Shopper columnist for the New York Times, who told us Gildan’s long-sleeve tees are not only “durable” with an “unflappable crew neck,” but that their “personality begins to emerge” after a couple washes.
While our best-overall long-sleeve T-shirt is pretty affordable, those who want to spend even less can do so on this long-sleeve Hanes tee (with a handy front pocket) that comes recommended by Mark Miguez, a co-owner of the Friend of A Barber barbershop. He describes the fit as “boxy-but-sits-on-the-body” and, like the Gildan tee above, says this one also “gets better with every wash.” It’s available in 13 colors; Miguez owns it in black and gray and says he wears both “all the time: At work with jeans and sneakers, on the beach with shorts, and dressed up with a leather jacket.”
Creative producer Yale Breslin described Everlane’s long-sleeve tee in a way that really resonates with us: It’s the “one long-sleeve I always hope is clean, ready to wear, and not in the laundry pile,” he says. It too “has that perfect pocket that nobody uses whatsoever, but looks damn cute,” he notes. Breslin calls its look “classic and no fuss,” adding that the tee is “completely durable.” It’s available in four more neutral colors, including charcoal and black, in addition to the navy shown.
L.L. Bean is right up there with Everlane in terms of brands we tend to write about over and over again. Andrew Favorito, who works in marketing for Tatcha, gave us our latest reason to write about it: This long-sleeve pocket tee, which he says deserves as much attention as the brand’s tote bags, slippers, and fleeces. “It’s exactly what you’d expect from L.L.Bean in regards to quality, cost and styling,” he says. “No frills, no fluff, no ridiculous markup — just a good shirt.” It comes in 11 colors, from the bright orangey-red Cayenne shown to a (surely) red-wine-inspired Port to plenty of neutrals. And sticklers should note the price is technically $24.95 — we’ve just rounded up.
This isn’t the only long-sleeve waffle shirt we heard about, but it is the most affordable one. Tim Melidio, who runs the men’s fashion website Stay Classic (which focuses on affordable style), told us he owns a couple and that the tee is “super soft, fits well, and washes well.” With its signature button-neck, he adds that a Henley is a great style to go for when you want something that’s “not as plain as a solid long sleeve tee.” Shown in olive heather, it’s available in five more neutral tones.
Next to his favorite Gildan long-sleeve tee, Andrew stresses that this one from Eddie Bauer is “the best” because it’s “almost always on sale and available in up to 3XL and also in a tall cut.” These inclusive options, he says, mean that “not many guys are excluded from enjoying this shirt.” Available in nine different colors, he adds that the shirt has a “long shelf life” that justifies its slightly higher price.
For guys who are more at home at the country club instead of on the mountainside, Favorito recommends this Polo Ralph Lauren long-sleeve shirt. He says it’s “super soft, with a fit that’s forgiving but still tailored” enough to “layer under an unforgivingly itchy sweater without being bulky.” Plus, according to him, a Ralph Lauren long-sleeve tee like this “truly never goes out of style,” which is why he owns “several, in a smattering of classic neutrals, that are in constant rotation both for daytime and evening (read: sleeping) ensembles.” Speaking of neutrals, it comes in white, charcoal, and black in addition to the navy shown.
We’ve been familiar with streetwear brand Only NY since our colleagues at New York Magazine collaborated on a merch line with the company, so it wasn’t too surprising to hear its long-sleeve tees recommended for their style and thoughtful design. “Made in the U.S.A., the tee is garment-dyed, meaning it gets pre-shrunk during the dyeing process and won’t shrink when you wash it,” explains Page, who calls the shirt a “wardrobe staple.” He adds that the pocket tee’s “side-seam stitching gives it an understated vintage look.” The shirt, we should note, is currently only available in small and medium and thus appears to be on final sale. But the brand is known to release new versions of the same style, so if you can’t get it now, it’s worth checking back.
Tees of any sleeve length can of course come emblazoned with countless logos. While many logo tees are a matter of style preference, some are so ubiquitous that they’ve become staples in their own right. That’s how Favorito describes the Black Dog long-sleeve tee. “Black Dog is a Cape Cod staple and has been in my closet in some form since I was old enough to wear one of their baby bucket hats,” he says. Favorito adds that he still tries to get a new one every summer, but that his older ones remain his go-tos, because the tees “only got better with age.”
As with any garment, the more you spend typically (but not always) means that whatever you buy is a step up in craftsmanship, whether that means more intricate graphics or more quality construction. The latter is why model Miles Garber, the co-owner of candle company Hands and a new dad, recommends these long-sleeve tees from General Admission (which are also available in yellow and black). “I’ve had two for more than three years and they have stood the test of time, even since regularly being spit on by my four-month-old daughter,” he says, adding that the tees seemingly “never lose their shape, don’t shrink, and get softer with every wash.” Summing it up, Garber says he is “absolutely destroying them with my lifestyle — and yet not even a hole has formed.”
Available in white, dark green, navy, and black, this long sleeve T-shirt from Alex Mill is the favorite of Christopher Echevarria, the founder of loafer brand Blackstock and Weber. “I bought it in L.A. in 2017 and have been rocking it ever since,” he says. Looks-wise, the tee stands out for its slub-cotton material, which Echevarria says “gives it the added elements of texture and softness.”
Ben Starmer, the co-founder of CBD-brand Dad Grass, is one of those guys who sees long-sleeve tees as a way to sport “top-notch graphics.” His favorite styles come from Free & Easy. “They’re made in L.A. and washed down to perfection, giving the tees a perfectly vintage, soft-but-not-synthetic feeling.” Because the tees are 100-percent cotton, he adds that “they keep their structure and hang really well.” The brand’s long-sleeve tees have all sorts of colorful graphics that combine text and images, but Stamer particularly this one that he owns and says gets “bonus points because the sleeves have graphics, too.”
If you’re looking for a tee made with materials designed for performance (that you can also wear casually), Kweku Larbi, the designer behind sustainable rainwear company Baxter Wood, recommends his “all-time favorite” one from Lululemon. Like most everything else from the brand, it’s made from a “super comfortable” stretch fabric that he says “never loses its elasticity,” even in the collar. One wash, he adds, makes it “feel like new,” which explains why the three he owns (in black, gray, and white) are still in great condition after “about two years” — and why he fully expects them to last for the five years their name suggests they will.
Like Lululemon, Outdoor Voices is another brand that straddles a line you could call active loungewear. Many Strategist staffers swear by its sweats and MichaelAnn Cohlmia, a co-founder of CBD brand Weed Sport, feels the same way about its long-sleeve tee. “I always grab it no matter what I am doing: traveling, hiking, or playing tennis on a winter day in L.A.” Cohlmia says he’s “washed it many times and it always comes out perfect — no shrinking or warping and it’s forever soft.” While he notes that the lightweight fabric is a touch clingy, Cohlmia says the tee’s looser cut ensures it’s still flattering. The best feature, he adds, are “the thumb holes that are like hammocks for your thumbs” and keep the sleeves from rolling up or flapping around.
Perhaps you’re looking for a long-sleeve tee for working out and lounging about that comes from a brand less ubiquitous than Outdoor Voices or Lululemon. If so, Keith Novack, the founder of athletic brand Ten Thousand, recommends this one from Reigning Champ. He says it’s “part of my daily uniform and literally the only thing I wear that isn’t my own brand.” Reigning Champ, he adds, is known for doing “classics with a tech angle” — in this case, that angle is using a ringspun Pima cotton to make the tee softer and more hard-wearing for the days you might want to work out in it.
Max Vallot, the co-founder of men’s running brand-meets-wellness collective District Vision, likes the long-sleeve tees from Story MFG for the same reason that Starmer likes Free & Easy’s: the graphics. Vallott says he’s “obsessed with the brand’s earth-loving graphics” like those on this shirt he directed us to, which features work by the artist Will Gaynor on both its front and down its sleeves. (It’s one of four psychedelic–ish long-sleeve tees the brand is selling right now.) He adds that in addition to cool graphics, you’re also paying for quality manufacturing, because the brand “makes its dyes and cotton organically in India, where the shirts are also knit and sewn together.”
If you’re willing to invest, Breslin says that Yellow Label’s waffle tees are what he’s been wearing to keep warm while socializing and dining outside amid the pandemic. “With the heat lamps outside, it’s been a solid stand-alone piece,” he says of the tee’s ability to keep him warm. Available in eight colors, Breslin owns white and black — and says the bright orange is “calling my name next.” Those unfamiliar with Yellow Label Co. should know it offers an $100 annual membership that comes with 30 percent discounts on its stuff, so members can get this tee for $75, while non-members will have to pay $105.
The slub cotton this tee is made with gives it an elevated look that allows Donnell Baldwin, a former style director for Mr Porter, to “dress it up or down or for whatever needs I have in the moment.” While pricey, he promises that it “can be worn year round.” The “worn-in” fabric also makes it supremely soft from first wear, but Baldwin adds that “it gets better with every wash.”
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