Where can I find an opaque white v-neck t-shirt?
October 20, 2012 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I've been trying to find a suitable white women's v-neck for about three months now with no luck.

Places I have tried:

J. Crew
Old Navy
Banana Republic
American Apparel

Everything is much too see-through. My rule of thumb is that if I can easily see the tattoo on my back through the fabric, it's a no-go. (I teach undergrads and am aiming for some semblance of professionalism.)

I'm pretty small, so petite sizes are a plus, but not essential. I'm not willing to pay more than about $25. Where is the magical t-shirt I'm looking for?
posted by baby beluga to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't recommend a specific style but Lands End t-shirts tend to be a lot more substantial. They also have their "Canvas" line now which will definitely have a more youthful cut (but might also have the accompanying more "youthful" thin fabric).
posted by telegraph at 9:08 AM on October 20, 2012

I actually own the T-shirt you're describing. It is Liz Claiborne (bought last year, I think, at Macy's), very opaque, beautifully cut, and I adore it. Who knows if they still have them, but I think the lesson is that older-lady brands do this sort of thing better than youth-oriented retailers who (1) shade toward cheaper, flimsier fabric, since this demographic goes through clothes quickly anyway, and (2) also tend toward edgier, sexier, more revealing designs.

Have you tried Ann Taylor, or the Misses section at a nicer department store, or even Land's End? They'd be my go-to's for jersey clothing in a "professional grownup" flavor.
posted by Bardolph at 9:11 AM on October 20, 2012

Wait, the supima short sleeved. Tend to be heavier.
posted by oflinkey at 9:11 AM on October 20, 2012

How about the Lands End ribbed t-shirts? I don't have one in white, but the ones I have are pretty substantial. They are very nice t-shirts.
posted by Fichereader at 9:14 AM on October 20, 2012

The brands you listed are all employing the whole "layering" look to get away with using sub-standard products at inflated prices. LL Bean and Lands End both have more opaque tshirts at reasonable prices. Boden tends to be a bit more expensive but they have good sales. Macy's also has some good options - Ralph Lauren, INC, Liz Claiborne, etc., and Macy's always has sales and coupons galore.
posted by barnone at 9:23 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Caslon, a Nordstrom brand, makes great t-shirts. They're a thick cotton blend with a little bit of stretch for fit, and man, do they feel nice. You can often find them on sale for $13-$18, and I believe a normal short sleeve tee runs about $20. Long sleeves are closer to $30.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:43 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with checking out Lands End, but stay away from the ones labeled Modal - they are really soft, but definitely see-thru.
posted by Sabby at 9:47 AM on October 20, 2012

J. Jill V neck Pima cotton t-shirts are great - not see through, elbow length sleeves and meet your price point when on sale.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:02 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love J. Jill's Ts. But Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean also carry good quality opaque V-neck Ts (short and long sleeved) as well.
posted by skye.dancer at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2012

Response by poster: Well, I probably should have clarified: my concern with brands like Lands End and J. Jill is the perceived frump factor -- I'm 27, and even the smallest sizes tend to have boxier cuts that make me look like a small child playing dress-up. I will definitely do some investigating, though!
posted by baby beluga at 10:39 AM on October 20, 2012

J. Jill has petite sizes too. My experience is only with their plus sizes, but their Pima cotton t-shirts have a little shape to them. The nice thing is if you order from their website and don't like it, you can return it to your local store.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:54 AM on October 20, 2012

As others have mentioned, the "younger" brands now tend to use much thinner fabric and push the layering idea -- likely leads to more profit for them, so unfortunately we might be stuck with this model for the foreseeable future.

I've had decent results with buying t-shirts made from heavier fabric (from Lands End, brands at Macy's, etc.) -- which do tend to be boxier, as you mentioned -- and taking in the side seams to put some shape into them. I also adjust the hem to a more flattering length if I think the original hits at a frumpy place.

(It's a really simple alteration if you or someone you know has a sewing machine. I've never taken mine to a tailor, but maybe it would be an inexpensive alteration if doing it yourself isn't an option? I don't know, sorry.)

When I first started doing this, I felt sorta silly doing alterations on a t-shirt, but I've been really happy with the results. (I'm also in a workplace where I can wear some t-shirts as long as they're somewhat professional, in the business casual sense. I usually just do this alteration stuff on the shirts I want to wear to work since I tend to wear the younger-style-but-crappy-fabric stuff outside of work.)

And since the shirts are made of stronger, heavier fabric, they last long enough that it has been well worth it for me.

If this might be an option for you, make sure the shoulders, armholes, and bust fit pretty well (not too big) or else the quick tailoring might look wonky or not feel right. (It's sometimes possible to change some of that shoulder/armhole stuff too depending on the cut, but it gets into the realm of "no longer worth it" to me -- at that point, I would just make my own t-shirts.) I think altering the frumpier brands to come in more at the underbust and waist works for me partly because I have broad shoulders and enough boobage to take up some of that width up top, but not so much that I need to get into making darts and all that. YMMV.

Good luck!
posted by stillwater at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2012

I have similar conundrums while clothes shopping. "Petite" usually looks too old, yet "Junior" looks way too young. I'm about the same age as you, and also considerably tiny.

My two favorite places to shop for clothes right now is Loft and Kohls. Loft has a younger "feel" in their petite lines than other stores of the type.

Kohls can be hit-or-miss on their sizing, though, so I usually do some trying on at the store, to see how different brands/styles fit, and then get better pricing and selection online.
posted by MuChao at 2:15 PM on October 20, 2012

Response by poster: No sewing machine, and also I'm incompetent, so any alterations would have to be done at the tailor -- I have thus far avoided having t-shirts altered, but maybe it's time to give that a shot.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!
posted by baby beluga at 2:42 PM on October 20, 2012

The answer, unless they've drastically changed the fabric of their shirts in the past year or so, is Express.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:47 PM on October 20, 2012

I've had good luck with tees at Downeast Basics -- more youthful cuts, but designed for modesty so you don't generally have the too-thin fabric or the too-low V problem. They've been great to wear in a casual office.
posted by ThatSomething at 4:08 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does it need to be a plain white shirt or can it have a bit of branding on it? I'm obsessed with Gilly Hicks stuff but they usually have their name across shirts of this kind.

Also the way you wrote your intro text made me think you were looking for a shirt that only white women would wear and I had to stare at your question for like 3 minutes as I tried to process why you would want such a thing....
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:10 PM on October 20, 2012

I can't promise that I'm right because I haven't seen the white one, but Everlane's tees look thick enough, and are cut really well.
posted by dizziest at 7:01 AM on October 25, 2012

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