To a Tee

For the last several weeks, I have been on the hunt for a white t-shirt. That’s all, just a plain, white t-shirt. Should be easy, right?

Wrong. So, wrong.

First of all, finding one in a thrift shop that is not yellowed in the armpits or the collar is nigh impossible – that’s usually why white/cream t-shirts end up at thrift shops. I did try, though, I really did. I hit every thrift shop in Abbotsford, as well as the MCC in Mission.

Then I gritted my teeth, held my nose, and resorted to regular retail. I went to:

Reitman’s, The Bay, American Eagle, Old Navy, H&M, Marshall’s, The Gap, Cleo’s, Walmart, Montrose & George, Spruce Collective, Winners, London Drugs, Superstore, Suzanne’s, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two.

All of these places had plain white t-shirts and they varied in price from $7 to $85. They were made in various places: Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, China – and even Canada (the one at Spruce Collective with a tag that said “Consciously made in Canada”. As opposed to Unconsciously? I should be happy that you were awake when you made this?) I tried on dozens of t-shirts but mostly I didn’t even get that far. Here’s why:

peek-a-boob! NO THANK YOU!

I found that nearly every t-shirt was made with really, really sheer, poor-quality fabric. Mostly, I just had to put my hand in the shirt and if I could see my hand, I knew that I would also see my navel and the outline of the waistband of my jeans, not to mention other things that no one needs to see on me. TMI, baby. Some t-shirts were so thin, that I could see right through them.

I did not find one t-shirt that was 100% cotton, they ALL had some percentage of elastine or spandex added to them. I appreciate these stretch fabrics in jeans, pants or skirts, but I find that in tops – unless you’re very slender and toned, which I am not – stretch fabrics cling in places you’d rather not be clung.

i even tried on white tops that are not t-shirts. still see-through. see what i mean about TMI?

Seriously. How hard can it be?

I finally found one today at Costco for $9. It is also a mix of cotton and stretch materials but it’s made in Canada, which I appreciate, and the fabric is thicker. It’s a titch long for my taste but I will wash it and throw it in the dryer and see what happens – it may shrink to the perfect length (but hopefully not in any other way!) I’m not too hopeful, though, since it says it’s pre-shrunk. I’m curious to see how long this t-shirt will last before it yellows or gets a hole in it or whatever. I’m not hopeful about that either.

I have a couple of theories as to why it’s so hard to find a good quality t-shirt. Part of it is because most companies are trying to maintain the retail prices that their customers have come to expect. Since most of us expect to pay $10 for a plain t –shirt (or less), they have to find a way to make that happen, amidst rising costs of resources and transportation (human resources, sadly, are often not counted in that mix.) My second theory is more cynical: if it’s true that there’s a sucker born every minute, why make something of good quality when you can make something cheap, charge whatever you want and someone will buy it? To be honest, I would have paid $40 for a t-shirt if it had met my requirements. I would not have paid $85, mostly because that’s out of my snack bracket but also because I don’t believe it costs anyone quite that much to make a t-shirt, even if they’re being paid a living, North American wage. And truly, the $85 t-shirt was NOT a good quality shirt (in my opinion).

What’s your theory as to why it’s so hard to find a good quality t-shirt? Do you have a go-to place for these kinds of wardrobe staples?



About thriftshopperforpeace

i live a thrift lifestyle
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4 Responses to To a Tee

  1. Heather M. says:

    I ONLY buy my t-shirts at Costco – for all the same reasons you mentioned. I’m sure it must be men design who women’s t-shirts – that’s why they are tight and see-through, right?! Costco t-shirts are great – the are thicker, and even though not 100% cotton, they are excellent quality. I’ve washed mine over and over with little shrinkage (sorry, you may have to resort to hemming) and they come out of the dryer looking brand new! I think you’ll love your Costco t-shirt – I think they’re well worth the price you pay.

  2. Cheryl says:

    L.L. Bean or Land’s End (catalog stores) used to be the go-to places to find a better quality t-shirt. I haven’t tried them in a while, so they may not have the same quality.

    • i’ve bought both brands at thrift shops and love them… in fact, that last cream coloured t-shirt that i just had to get rid of because of stains, was a Land’s End and i’ve worn it for years. i should check those out online. i used to buy t-shirts at Northern Reflections on sale all the time but i’ve found the quality of their fabric to have gotten really bad in the last few years. if i find older NR shirts in thrift shops i usually pick them up because the fabric is thick and not pilled. it’s a shame that quality is really going down hill. thanks for reminding me about Land’s End and LL Bean!

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