When was the last time you wore a white t-shirt? Could be yesterday. One’s probably already sitting in the laundry pile. Hey, maybe you’re wearing one now. That’s right, the plain white tee’s such a staple in everyone’s wardrobes, both men and women, that you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have one. And we’re pretty sure we don’t have to go on about how it goes with everything — if you have one, you already know it does.
What we do want to talk about though, is what makes the ideal white t-shirt, and trust us, that’s a tough one. It has to look right; the perfect “white” white that’s comfortable on the eyes, something that isn’t too translucent or revealing (because we’re so over the disappointment of cheap, thin fabric). It has to fit right; seem like it’s cut for you, be snug around your shoulders but not cling to your body, make you look flattering from all angles and with just the right amount of slouch to anchor your casual style. Most importantly, and especially in our humid climate, it has to feel right; the material has to be breathable so you won’t be sweating profusely each time, you have to move in it and feel comfortable. And honestly, MUJI’s latest Summer Collection t-shirts tick off every single criteria.
True story: after trying on the t-shirts during the photoshoot, I walked right into MUJI the next day to get one for myself (the Uneven Yarn tee). It had everything I just described — the respectable cotton material meant it looked good and not see-through, while I felt especially breezy with it on; the cut was nice too, and I liked the subtle texture of the uneven yarn. Cherry on top? All of these MUJI t-shirts are made with organic cotton.
With sustainable fashion being a big talking point these days, it’s only right that we’re on the lookout for brands that give us these options too. MUJI offers top-quality organic cotton pieces at surprisingly affordable prices — seriously, it’s less than $20 for one t-shirt (I had somehow assumed it would cost more). As for the organic cotton claim, it has a lot to do with how the plant’s grown and harvested; MUJI’s are grown only in cotton fields that don’t use chemicals in the cultivation process for at least three years, while ripe cotton is thoroughly and lovingly hand-picked. The care that goes into each step of the process is, appropriately, reflected in the quality of their wear.
That said, there are three types of organic cotton t-shirts that the Japanese brand is rolling out this Summer — a basic staple tee; an uneven yarn design; and a “low count” t-shirt that’s highly suited for warm weather.
1. The Uneven Yarn T-Shirt
We’ll start with my favourite! You can forgive its technical name because the t-shirt’s good enough to stand on its own. I really like the uneven texture of the slub, or irregularly-threaded, cotton material — achieved by weaving together both normal and slub strands — which gives the tee a more casual look.
Denim jeans and a white t-shirt — it’s a classic combination that works! The natural, slightly uneven texture of the material works well for this laidback weekend look, and you can wear the t-shirt half-untucked for an even more effortless vibe. The little pocket’s a nice touch too! It may be slightly sheer compared to the other regular t-shirts, but that’s still at an appropriate level that isn’t due to low-quality fabric; in fact, it’s highly breathable fabric with a comfy fit.
1. Ladies’ Organic Cotton Uneven Yarn Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirts in White (XS), $19.90 ; 2. Ladies’ Organic Cotton Stretch Denim Boyfriend Ankle Length in Blue (23”), $49 ; 3. Ladies’ Walk-Support Leather Sneakers in White, $79.
We are talking about a wardrobe staple, so of course, the white t-shirt can be styled for a dressier look too. Pair it with wide chino pants, and it’s immediately work-appropriate! The uneven yarn material’s said to provide better separation from the skin, so it won’t stick to you on hot days, while the tee is also pre-washed tee for a comfy, worn-in feel.
1. Ladies’ Organic Cotton Uneven Yarn V Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt in White (M), $19.90 ; 2. Ladies’ Labo Cotton Chino Wide Trousers in Beige, $99.
Other than the crew neck and v neck styles, we’re glad that the t-shirt also comes with a more elegant neckline, or MUJI’s French Sleeve style. This has a wider neckline that drapes across the shoulders and shows off your collarbones, and can be easily paired up — imagine it with a midi skirt — or paired down — like we did with these French Linen pants.
1. Ladies’ Organic Cotton Uneven Yarn French Sleeve T-shirt in White (XS), $19.90 ; 2. Ladies’ French Linen Easy Wide Cropped Trousers in Khaki Beige, $69 ; 3. Ladies’ Walk-Support Leather Sneakers in White, $79.
2. The Basic, Staple T-Shirt
It looks clean and simple, but we’d like to think that it isn’t all that basic. And here’s why. The versatile organic cotton t-shirt is made with MUJI’s interpretation of the right fabric thickness, so that it feels comfortable worn on it’s own or underneath a shirt.
Something for the guys — and you can count on them repeating this easy look for days. A plain white t-shirt, in a v neck style, with shorts and sneakers. It’s fuss-free, but with a slight difference; the French Linen shorts in a light sand shade add a classy touch compared to normal berms, and feel lightweight and comfy too.
1. Men’s Organic Cotton V Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt in White (S), $15.90 ; 2. Men’s French Linen Shorts in Raw White (S), $59 ; 3. Men’s Water Repellent Organic Cotton Walk-Support Slip-on Sneakers in Navy, $43.
1. Men’s Organic Cotton Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt in white (S), $15.90
The basic tee can go with virtually everything in your wardrobe! What we do like is that the weave sees a fine, dense thread count — this means it looks less translucent, and can better retain its shape several washes after. For the same reason, a stretchy polyester thread is used for the ribbed collar, so your t-shirt won’t go out of shape as quickly.
3. The Low Count T-Shirt
The “low count” here refers to the fabric — the t-shirts here are sturdy pieces, made of dry-feeling thread that’s most suited for the warmest days of Summer. A low-nap spinning method is used for a silkier feel, and so you can feel even cooler in the heat. It’s also woven with two strands of yarn for a less see-through white. Quality!
For a more feminine way to pair the t-shirt, try a midi denim skirt — and we couldn’t stop fawning over this one from MUJI Labo when it came into the office! Made with denim, the oversized pockets and a classy fold across it make nice and subtle design elements, while the sturdy construction is a nice contrast against the more slouchy tee. Good to know: compared to previous iterations of the t-shirt, MUJI has altered the pattern to enable more free movement, and a cleaner silhouette.
1. Ladies’ Organic Cotton Short Sleeve Wide T-shirt (Low Count) in White (M-L), $24.90 ; 2. Ladies’ Labo Denim Skirt in Navy, $149 ; 3. Ladies’ Water Repellent Organic Cotton Walk-Support Slip-on Sneakers in Black, $43.
The men’s version matches the ladies’ in its look and feel — which is, it gives you a clean, coordinated look. Pick the wide silhouette version if you like your tee more roomy, and wear it with a classic pair of denim jeans for a versatile outfit.
1. Men’s Organic Cotton Big Silhouette T-shirt in White (S-M), $19.90 ; 2. Men’s Organic Cotton Stretch Denim Skinny, $59 ; 3. Men’s Water Repellent Organic Cotton Walk-Support Slip-on Sneakers in Navy, $43.
MUJI Summer Promotions, available at all MUJI stores.
DIRECTION & STYLING
Huang Ching using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II