Desperately seeking nice, thin t-shirts/undershirts for women
January 11, 2008 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Where can a woman buy nice t-shirts to wear under sweaters and other tops?

I have some sweaters and knit tops that would benefit from my wearing a t-shirt underneath them. But all my t-shirts are cotton and not fitted enough or too bulky to wear underneath anything else. I take a nice, fitted v-neck sweater that would look more appealing and be more comfortable if I wore a shirt underneath, and it no longer fits if I wear it on top of anything I own. (Except tank tops -- I have an infinite supply of tank tops.) And I'm not talking about the big boxy men's t-shirts; I wear the babydoll style, pretty fitted t-shirts. But they're still not tight enough and the fabric is usually too thick.

So, where can I find nice, thin, fitted t-shirts/undershirts for women? Ideally this would be something I could also wear by itself in warm weather, but it's OK if I can't. (These might need to be skin-tight.) Ideally they would be available in multiple colors, but white is most important, followed by black, followed by a photo finish between gray and brown. I'm looking for short sleeves most of all; long sleeves would also be nice, as would sleeveless (like cap-sleeved without the cap).

I'm thinking silk? Or a good merino wool? Nothing lacy; it needs to fit feminine (and be nice enough to wear with nice clothing) but I don't wear hearts and flowers. Nothing sporty; this is for wearing with regular clothes, not for the gym. Recommendations for a store (preferably online)?
posted by iguanapolitico to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried American Apparel? They have a nicer weave than regular Hanes-type t-shirts, so they're lighter and thinner.
posted by lhall at 1:14 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: James Perse. Quite expensive for a t-shirt, but most form-fitting and very lightweight. Bloomingdale's and Marshall Fields on State carry them.

I also find Calvin Klein pajama tees (always on sale at the Rack on State Street) fit this bill.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2008

This is exactly what I use silk long underwear tops for. They come in short and long sleeve, and are very thin. Try
posted by mmf at 1:17 PM on January 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

L.L. Bean
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:18 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: These JCrew tees would work well for you. Also, this tank. In fact, stretch tank tops with a built in bra probably would work great for you (does for me).
posted by spec80 at 1:20 PM on January 11, 2008

ugh sorry, I missed the part about how you have a lot of tanks already.
posted by spec80 at 1:22 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: Banana Republic. Seconding J. Crew.
I also used to get just the kind of t-shirts you are describing from Ann Taylor, but they don't seem to be available online.
posted by needled at 1:24 PM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've found that cotton/poly blend t-shirts work the best in this regard (100% cotton just stretches out too easily when you need a tight fit). I like the 50/50 Cotton Poly shirt from American Apparel.
posted by zippity at 1:24 PM on January 11, 2008

H&M has tons of different types of form-fitting tshirts, undershirts, etc, and at a very good price.

Pros: Lots of variety, super affordable, and I'm almost certain they'd have what you're looking for.

Cons: I'm not sure if they have a store in your area, what you can buy on their site is very limited, and they have wacky sizes, some American, some European, and they seem very inconsistent ("Huh. I'm a 10! I'm a 44! I'm a 2! I'm a 6! I'm a 4! I'm a 38? WTF.")
posted by pazazygeek at 1:33 PM on January 11, 2008

Response by poster: Fantastic. Thanks for the quick replies so far. I'm shopping this weekend!
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:36 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: Down East Basics has a variety of shirts to wear under sweaters. Nothing in silk, but a good selection of styles and colors at decent prices.
posted by artifarce at 1:46 PM on January 11, 2008

2nd for American Apparel, if not the 50/50 they have plenty of other options. I go out of my way to buy T-shirts from there.
posted by mgrimm at 1:57 PM on January 11, 2008

Jersey is probably what you want. Very thin, very soft woven cotton.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:00 PM on January 11, 2008

For wearing under sweaters, I got my thin, all cotton t-shirts from both Target and Express. Watch for sales at each place.
posted by Lynsey at 2:17 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: Thirding J. Crew. I bought a bunch of the shirts that spec80 linked just for this purpose. (Though I would say that the neckline is very high, which can sometimes look odd with my lower-cut v-neck sweaters.)
posted by occhiblu at 2:18 PM on January 11, 2008

Alternative Apparel's better than most of the stuff there in that price range (quite inexpensive)
posted by matteo at 3:04 PM on January 11, 2008

nth-ing target. Even without a sale, the ones I bought were darn cheap!
posted by bluesky43 at 3:16 PM on January 11, 2008

Nthnthing Target. I'm wearing a Target t-shirt under my turtleneck sweater right now.
posted by desuetude at 3:23 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: Nthing Jcrew for the short sleeve t-shirts.

For long sleeve, I go for the American Apparel "sheer jersey long sleeve tee" which I get here for about $10 cheaper than retail. Supersoft, lightweight, great for layering and for wearing alone or as a sleep shirt. I have lots of colors and wear them ALL THE TIME.
(FYI, the sleeves are long and don't have a traditional hem, which you may or may not like.)
posted by QueSeraSera at 3:55 PM on January 11, 2008

About the store I linked to: Found via AskMeFi, though I can't find the post that references it. The site looks a little shady but I've ordered from them twice now. (Great AA tank tops there too. Only $8! T-shirts are meh.)
posted by QueSeraSera at 4:03 PM on January 11, 2008

I have a tee-shirt from REI which is like this. It's some kind of thin, stretchy synthetic fiber*, and it has princess seams (front and back) which help keep the bulk down. I think they're mostly carrying winter gear right now, but you never know. It looks a little like this, although it's hard to tell how fitted that one is--I wish they'd show it on a model.

*The actual shirt is MIA at the moment, if I find it I'll let you know what it says.
posted by anaelith at 4:26 PM on January 11, 2008

I struggle with this a bit...make sure that whatever shirt you buy fits you well under the arms. Sometimes shirts are cut larger there to accommodate a range of bust sizes, but I find that the extra bulk there can really mess with layering. Those are also the shirts that ride up when your raise your arms. Grrr.
posted by cabingirl at 4:28 PM on January 11, 2008

posted by nax at 5:40 PM on January 11, 2008

Ok, label says it's made by Columbia Sportswear, 57% lyocell, 38% cotton, 5% elastane. The number on mine is al2305, which is apparently no longer made. I think the closest thing still made is this, but the princess seams (which I consider vital) may be absent.
posted by anaelith at 5:43 PM on January 11, 2008

embarassingly...forever 21 has really great t-shirts for 4-5. each--really stretchy and soft and available online. sizing is small so you might need a bigger size than you think.
they come in plenty of colors and v-neck and crew-neck.
posted by beckish at 6:17 PM on January 11, 2008

Response by poster: cabingirl touched on a point that I may not have made as explicitly as I could have: in addition to the shirt having to fit under the arms well, it has to fit under the boobs well. I've gotten t-shirts from Target before that just weren't form-fitting. I wear nice bras that accentuate my boobs (as much as they can be accentuated, that is) and I don't want the t-shirt to turn steep ascents into easy climbs.

Just wanted to make sure y'all know what I mean by "form fitting." :)

Not saying that I've checked out any of these leads to be disappointed with what I've found. (And I haven't checked out all of Target's t-shirts.) Just throwing this in here before everyone goes away.
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:23 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: At a JCrew outlet store, I just bought a couple long-sleeve tissue tees that have proven so great for wearing under sweaters, I want to buy enough to wear one every day. They were $10 at the outlet. For me, they are fine to wear to work under nice sweaters. You could probably wear one by itself, depending on how skin-tight the fit is on you. For me, the V-neck shape is good because most of my sweaters are also v-neck.
posted by salvia at 9:11 PM on January 11, 2008

Ah, whoops, on non-preview, the ones I just recommended are form fitting in that way. The "tissue" wording is true, they are the thickness of a very thick tissue, but very stretchy.
posted by salvia at 9:13 PM on January 11, 2008

Nthing American Apparel. Their tees are form fitting, thin & comfy. They have some great styles for layering and lots of colors to choose from :)
posted by starscream at 9:52 PM on January 11, 2008

Target's got two basic types of Mossimo t-shirts, a less-fitted styl, and a thinner, stretchier style with minimized, very flat seams. The latter definitely fits under the boobs better.
posted by desuetude at 11:04 PM on January 11, 2008

Best answer: Yes, the Target Mossimo tees and especially tanks are surprisingly very good, comfy, don't shrink, not expensive. I also like the J Crew tissue tees. Three Dots are nice too but pricier. American Apparel, they tend to shrink.. it depends on how tall you are, thought, I can't really wear mine tucked in and that's annoying.
posted by citron at 1:02 AM on January 14, 2008

Land's End.
posted by herbaliser at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2008

Response by poster: A very belated thanks to all. A lot of good answers; I marked my favorites. (Teetering on American Apparel, too.) :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:18 PM on September 5, 2008

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