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After the flood of graphic tees, celebrating summer with an unmarked cotton t-shirt feels pretty good. You can throw in a pocket if you’re feeling extravagant…but let’s not go crazy. Just find something simple, throw on a pair of jeans, and let the sun do the rest.

Here, gentlemen, are your options:

The most stripped down version is the one they’re selling at American Apparel, still the best thing they make. It’s soft, fits perfectly (give or take a little extra fabric at the bottom), and so popular that most of the printed tees you pick up at other shops started life at an AA factory. Consider this one the standard.

Jesse Thorn of Put This On swears by the tees at Alternative Apparel, which have a little extra eco-friendliness behind them, but we’re still unconvinced. If you prefer something with a little more workwear cred, try out the Velva Sheen tees in the pic at the top. They’re from a Cincinnati-based shop that started up in 1932 and was newly resurrected by a few interested parties in Japan. (A common story, we know.) They just landed in stateside shops, retro packaging and all.

And, if price is no object, you can pick up the Levi’s Vintage version circa 1940. That means no side seams, a slightly stockier silhouette, and an item that looks like it could have walked right out of a war movie. It also means paying $80 bucks for a t-shirt…but there’s a good chance it’ll look better than anything else you had picked out for summer.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom