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:
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.
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?