tiny neck, tiny seam, thick fabric, mostly cotton, longish sleeves
March 17, 2017 8:01 AM   Subscribe

AskMe shopping challenge #3,692: Looking for necklace t-shirts. Need to have a small neck opening, thin seam at the neck, bracelet or 3/4 length sleeves, thick mostly cotton fabric that's machine washable/dryable, and good colors or small patterns that would complement small necklaces.

Here is an example neck opening. I like Eshakti, but even if they had a plain t-shirt, their knit fabric tends to be more thin and elastic than what I'm looking for.

Here is a neck seam like the one I want, but the neck opening is too large even though it's called "Jewel Neck".

This one has a too-wide neck seam that looks too casual (and the neck may still be too wide).

Notice that the EShakti link and the first Land's End link both call themselves "jewel neck". My attempts to search using that term have not been helpful.

Fabric weight is very important to me. I really want something that will last and not be see-through.

I've thought about maybe trying to use a lightweight cotton knit sweater. Would that work?

I've looked around on several retailers' sites, but not found what I want.

Has anyone found shirts like this recently?
posted by amtho to Shopping (36 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you open to a boat-neck shirt, where the neckline sits high up in the center-front but is wide at the shoulders? Boat neck shirts often have the 3/4 length sleeves too.
posted by aabbbiee at 8:13 AM on March 17, 2017

I love these shirts from Uniqlo, though the neck opening might still be a little too wide for you. The fabric is on the lighter side, but the sturdiest and opaquest t-shirt fabric I've seen in recent years.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:24 AM on March 17, 2017

Sorry, no boat necks. I know that would set off a necklace well, but I don't want to have to worry about straps showing -- which always happens for me, because I have small shoulders and large bags. I love the look of boat necks, but they are definitely not for me.

I guess I should mention that I generally wear petite sizes, but I figured I was being picky enough, plus I don't really want my arm movement restricted by wearing something too fitted.

I really got interested in this a couple of days ago when I realized that almost all men's t-shirts have smaller neck openings than almost all women's t-shirts. I'd just buy those, but they won't have the sleeve length or hem smallness I want.

Edit for Metroid Baby: yes, that neck opening is too wide (but thanks for the info about their fabric weight). I want to be able to wear a fairly short necklace and not have it be camouflaged by the neckline. Plus, look at the necks on most of these men's t-shirts! Does that even make sense?
posted by amtho at 8:25 AM on March 17, 2017

That is a very unique set of requirements. I can't find anything that seems to really fit. Here are a few things that are close.
1 2 3 4
posted by sulaine at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2017

Uniqlo has some higher necks, but mostly they have wider collars and are ribbed knit.
posted by sulaine at 8:37 AM on March 17, 2017

Naturally I bring my most challenging problems to you. The easy ones are beneath your expertise, O all of Metafilter.

Thanks sulaine; only the Nordstrom swing top has a small enough neck, but it's missing another requirement I didn't mention: must be long enough to keep my middle section warm by being tucked into pants/skirt.

They are specific requirements, but they match my mental idea of archetypical t-shirt.

The sleeve length is somewhat negotiable. Long-sleeved or even short-sleeved versions would be OK; I can always put on a cardigan.
posted by amtho at 8:47 AM on March 17, 2017

I love ribbed knit and other subtle textures.
posted by amtho at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2017

Here's the uniqlo rib knit, but it has the wide collar.

You might consider asking Ureshii if they'd modify one of their patterns to your specs. Option 1 2
posted by sulaine at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is this close? You may have some luck with "modesty" as a search term -- lots of webstores in the US for communities where modesty is an important feature in women's clothing will have tees with closer necks, longer sleeves, and thicker material.
posted by AmandaA at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

You want a "crew neck." You might also have some luck with "modest" or "frum" or "tsnius" as keywords - LDS and Orthodox Jewish shops often have a lot of options. Here are two sites that seem to have options - I've never ordered from them so I can't vouch for the quality.
posted by Mchelly at 9:02 AM on March 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

How's the fabric weight for Ureshii? If it's decent, I'm willing to do some legwork, but a lot of the other product photos make it look like they use a lot of stretch (I'm looking for nice weight that would be slightly drapey).

AmandaA, I made a couple of passes at searching for "modest" clothes, but didn't hit anything.

I think my quest might be similar to people looking for simple, clean, solid wood cabinets: the simplicity of the design features the materials, and those materials have been commoditized so much that most of them are not that great anymore.
posted by amtho at 9:06 AM on March 17, 2017

Another search idea: Blouses like this that have non-stretchy fabric often have a keyhole closure in the back, since you've got to get it over your head somehow. "Blouse with keyhole closure" will get you a lot of tops with little keyhole fronts (not what you want) but also some with keyhole back closures: 1, 2.
posted by purple_bird at 9:13 AM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Something as high up as you're looking for I would normally call a crew neck, I've occasionally seen round neck too. Your material preferences sound pretty much exactly like American Apparel's rib knit. This isn't a helpful long-term solution since they're finally really going out of business but there are still some things on the site that might come close, and might give you some search terms.

My other thought is that you don't often see very narrow neckbands on t-shirts, I think it's a manufacturing thing, it's easier and more durable to attach a band of ribbing than do a narrow folded hem on a curved stretchy opening that's going to take a lot of wear. The exception might be athletic clothes where lumpy seams are a chafing issue. There are some base layers and tees on REI that match your desired neckline and can pass as regular shirts, but they won't be cotton.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:13 AM on March 17, 2017

Ureshii's knits are pretty substantial. The french terry is the most substantial but the bamboo is nice and thick. Most of the modal tops are double layer, I believe, because it's the least substantial. They're very easy to work with and I've been perfectly happy with the quality of everything I have from them.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:18 AM on March 17, 2017

Honestly you might also try brands that seem geared toward an older demographic?: Appleseeds, Blair examples 1 2 3, Ann Taylor tee.
posted by purple_bird at 9:25 AM on March 17, 2017

I'm the total opposite of your size, but surprisingly, these long sleeve tees from Kohl's have a high neck and are made from a relatively thick fabric. I have a huge stack of white ones that I wear at night - and they have held up really well to repeated washings, over years, actually. I actually wish the necklines were a little lower for my own preferences.
posted by sarajane at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely you want to look for a crew neck, not a jewel neck. I second the earlier commenter to take a closer look at modesty-conforming clothes, especially for orthodox Jewish women (tznius) who are required to cover the collarbone. Otherwise, most mainstream brands will cut a women's crew neck top to be below the collarbone because it's more flattering. Maybe look for a forum or online community of orthodox Jewish women who will know which retailers/clothing sources are best for this sort of thing.
posted by serelliya at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2017

Try this lightweight sweater with a mock turtleneck.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:47 AM on March 17, 2017

A quick search brought up this top which seems to fit all of your requirements. The website passes my personal "sketchy Chinese clothing site" filter, since it has a human-written-sounding item description and an option for in-store pickup (appears to be 3 NYC store locations, including one in Ditmas which is a heavily Orthodox neighborhood--all good signs of a decent store serving a niche market). The top appears to run several sizes small by modest community standards, but you may be more comfortable wearing a form-fitting tee and you also mentioned that you're petite.

A possibly useful search term might be "modest shell tznius" as many sites call these types of layering tees a "shell."
posted by serelliya at 9:48 AM on March 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

In case it helps, since "tznius" (modest) is transliterated, it can also be spelled "tzniut," "sniut," and "snius." What those sites calls "shells" are always opaque, but are generally thin as they're usually worn as a layering piece under a top or dress with a lower neckline. You also need to be careful to check fabric content on them, because they often have a lot of stretch and that sometimes means non-natural fibers.
posted by Mchelly at 10:00 AM on March 17, 2017

I agree with purple_bird, the type of shape you describe is very common for women's blouses, generally made of viscose/rayon/silk or other similar thin but drapey material. Check out Boden, they seem to have this style often. Here is one of their cotton t-shirts that is short-sleeved but has the small neck opening and seam you are looking for. Maybe this one with long sleeves?
posted by Jemstar at 10:19 AM on March 17, 2017

Decent Exposures will make tops to order.
posted by brujita at 10:21 AM on March 17, 2017

I know I'm practically thread-sitting, but I'm really looking for cotton knit - easy to care for, and a little thicker, more opaque, and more forgiving than the thin fabric usually used for "blouses".

Also, I want a neck hole as small as a man's t-shirt -- smaller than most women's "crew neck" shirts (but hopefully not all of them) -- so that I can wear short necklaces and they won't fall right on or around the collar band.

So, I am looking for something cut like some blouses and shells, but in a robust cotton or blend knit.

(Sorry, that Boden print t-shirt has a neck cut much bigger than I want...)
posted by amtho at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2017

Here's another site with modest clothing - looks like some may match your specifications.
posted by bologna on wry at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2017

Btw, that site uses the term "closed" for the neckline you're looking for, if it helps in your searching.
posted by bologna on wry at 10:38 AM on March 17, 2017

Two options from two very different places:

Everlane offers a short sleeve and long sleeve crew tees that come up above the collarbone. I think you have to sign up for an account to see the full view The short sleeve one is 100% cotton, the long sleeve has some spandex in it. I haven't tried either of these in particular, but I've been happy with the cotton v-necks I have from them.

L.L. Bean also has a short sleeve and long sleeve crewneck tees. Again, they look to come up above the collar bone so higher than most women's shirts, but maybe not as high as men's or what you're looking for.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 11:11 AM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you can find them, Robert P Miller made striped shirts that I think are what you're after, and they are very very durable. Edith A Miller is the more stylish and expensive line they make, but it's easier to find. Made in Pennsylvania, too.
posted by sepviva at 11:59 AM on March 17, 2017

Bella may have something for you, although the sleeves are too long (would you object to getting them shortened?). I haven't bought from them in years, but the quality was good. The necks look smaller in some views than others. (The baby rib is probably what you want since it will be the thickest of the selection.)

(I've only have short-sleeved versions of their Ts, but I do remember the neck being pretty close but not uncomfortably so.)
posted by darksong at 12:10 PM on March 17, 2017

Oh, it looks like Bella is wholesale only now, but you may be able to find a place that sells them. They used to sell to the public!
posted by darksong at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2017

Three Dots has excellent quality, flattering cuts, and a lot of crew necks that would display a necklace nicely.

The quality isn't as good (and this is for the most part reflected in the price) but I like J Crew's plainest of the plain ("perfect tee"?) as it doesn't shrink, and it's not tissue-thin but also not "men's beefy tee"-thick.
posted by kmennie at 1:10 PM on March 17, 2017

This one from Winter Silk looks like a match. 60% silk, 40% cotton jersey.
posted by libraryhead at 2:01 PM on March 17, 2017

Are you open to layering with women's dickies?
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 2:46 PM on March 17, 2017

I think the reason it will be difficult to find what you're looking for is that a shirt with a small tight neck opening but a thin seam will have the neck hole completely stretched out after you have pulled it over your head a few times. That said, I got some great cotton t-shirts with a very narrow crewneck opening from Old Navy - I actually wear them running and they surprisingly have held up to that level of use, and heavy washing, without pilling or getting thin or wearing out in any way. Really some of the best shirts I ever bought. I think they may be specifically pima cotton. It wasn't the thinnest seam, but the seam was pretty unnoticeable anyway.

Also have you checked out juniors/large children's sizes? If you are petite they should fit through the body, and children clothes seem to always have smaller neck openings than adult clothes, even for similar lengths/body widths as adult sizes (I have noticed, as a petite woman with a big head who sometimes tries on children's sized clothing).
posted by aiglet at 4:34 PM on March 17, 2017

For the record, "petite" means under 5'3" tall. It does not have anything to do with body thickness.
posted by amtho at 5:04 PM on March 17, 2017

You may just need to consider a necklace extender.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:18 PM on March 17, 2017

This may not be an option if you are busty (I wasn't sure what you meant by "large bags"), but have you considered wearing a shirt backwards?
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:53 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

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