Petit Bateau iconic crew tee | $35
I love a good white t-shirt. And I have many of them…
They’re great for wearing alone, layering under sweaters & cardigans, jackets, and work with jeans as well as trousers (and skirts, of course). I personally need one or two short sleeve white tees that are crewneck, at least one that is a v or scoop neck and one that has an open neck and a little slouchy.
I’ve written a lot over the years on my favorite white tees, and ultimately, it comes down to James Perse: the casual tee is my favorite all-time tee, the slub crew neck is a great crew neck with texture (although it definitely shows it’s age pretty quickly in white), and the short sleeve v-neck tee is an excellent v-neck. I now wear size 1 in all of these. They’re all made in the US. I’ve yet to narrow down a good white slouchy t-shirt recommendation. I have an organic cotton one by Alternative Apparel that I really love, but it got a hole in the shoulder after only a handful or so of wears. To be fair, it’s the older version and was very very thin – I think they’ve re-designed the same style with a sturdier cotton.
All of those are relatively sheer though, which doesn’t bother me, but I understand that’s a point of contention 😉
For less sheer white t-shirts that are also very good, and a new favorite of mine, I love Petit Bateau and Splendid to a lesser extent.
I’ve had many Splendid tees over the years, but they don’t last like James Perse. Best of all are their 1×1 cotton tees, which are ribbed, and heavier knit, providing coverage. They tend to stretch a little though, and pill slightly after many years. I still have and wear my 1×1 tees, but as layers, and at home. Splendid’s light jersey tees are nice, and have good drape, but mine developed a hole rather quickly all things considered.
Petit Bateau (they have quite a few styles available on Amazon also!) is new to me, and I bought my short sleeve and long sleeve from SLOWRE as they came through for consignment. The size on it says 18a, which maybe is the same as 18Y on the site now? I have no idea. The knit is similar to Splendid’s 1×1, but more sturdy and they don’t seem to show their age as quickly. The fit is beautiful, and the neckline on the crew is heavy, and just where I like it (high, but not too high), and I reach for it when I want a slightly longer tee. I bought mine secondhand, and I have no idea how old it is right now, but it’s still in beautiful condition. The black long sleeve tee is smaller, and cropped, which I like for certain things, but mostly I wanted it to wear with higher-rise pants/skirts.
I also love that nearly everything Petit Bateau is still made in France (as it was 120 years ago). They specialize in children’s/babies items, but I’m absolutely a convert to their basic crew tee; I love the weight and simplicity of it. I’m not sure I’ll have to replace it anytime soon, but if I need to, I’ll buy Petit Bateau again.
What’s your favorite white tee? Why?
*as for more eco-friendly/ethical/sustainable white tees, I have tried many, but haven’t loved any, and here is a link to my reviews of some of them. Ultimately, I liked the Zady organic cotton v-neck (I have it in grey though) better than their crew neck – it was just too fussy, and not good for layering because of the raglan sleeves. I also LOVE linen tees, but they just stretch out and lose their shape so much with time/wear, especially the one I wanted so badly to love by Amour Vert, it’s back to the drawing board this summer for those…
Rebecca N. says
Thank you for this post. I have struggled for years to find good long lasting t-shirts, white in particular. Between the grungy color that white gets without bleach, which I try to avoid, and my issues with the armpits, and that I wear white t-shirts underneath almost everything I struggle to find shirts that will hold up. I definitely want to try the Petit Bateau.
I found that my go to for white shirts are Grana’s Pima cotton ones. They feel more substantial than Everlane’s and hold up better too. I’d probably buy them even if they weren’t trying to be one of those ‘transparency companies’ but I do like that they try 🙂
I have a couple of long-sleeved Petit Bateau tees from when I studied abroad in France 10 years ago. They’re in great shape. I believe their sizes are in “years” (“ans” in French), so their website is just translating for you.
Grechen Reiter says
ah, but of course 🙂 thank you!
Happy New Year Gretchen! Great post as always. I am definitely in search of the perfect white t-shirt. Just placed an order for Petit Bateau. Very excited to try it!
As a French raised in Petit Bateau, I confirm they make the best tees in my view – and confirm the comment above for sizing (main issue being that they don’t do large sizing – The largest is 20 ans, which is pretty much a 6, the explanation being their origin as a children clothing brand “stolen” by Moms!)
Their “classic” panties in the same style are the best as well for undies. They are very cheap basics in France, but have a higher-end pricing strategy in the US, which make them expensive here. Over the years, I’ve been tracking them on eBay for more reasonable prices. They litterally last for ever, at least those in their classic, heavier knit. I don’t like their newer, “fine” cotton as much. If you sign up on their website, you get access to “private sales” two or three times a year. They are not always made in France. Some of mine are made in Portugal or Morocco. Petit Bateau is one of the oldest French clothing brands, not necessarily the most “sustainable” (for example, they are not yet transparent about the provenance of the cotton they use), but very traditional in a good way – opposite from fast fashion. I am happy that you came across this favorite brand of mine 🙂
Just checked the US Petit-Bateau website: their classic cotton is called “iconic” and the fine one is “light” knit.
So glad you wrote about tees today as I just asked you about good ones- My favorite shape is the box top or a shape that skims the body. I like Splendid but stopped buying them because they don’t last.I asked you about John Patrick, if you ever tried any of his tees, (his potato sweater looked awesome with the JP skirt, btw)
I would rather buy a better quality tee and have 2 or 3. MAybe Elisabeth Suzanne for dressy ( but her stuff sells out so quickly) and 2-3 casual cotton. I also don’t like too sheer.
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly looking forward to your answer
Grechen Reiter says
hi gena! i’m going to do a quick review post tomorrow on all the organic by john patrick pieces i have – including the one i think you’d love…
I love the sailor shirt from petit bateau – best one out there and what I stock up on when I go back home. Although most of their stuff is not made in France sadly unlike Saint James for instance. The quality is still great.
I just got this t-shirt from grana yesterday and I love it!!!!
Amy in Queens says
It took me years to find a classic crewneck white tee that was a good shape, wore well, washed easily, was thick enough to be opaque but not too thick, and made in the USA. I’ve tried James Perse, American Apparel, Everlane, Splendid, etc. I’ve found my fave with the Three Dots essential ribbed tee. I have more than I care to admit in white and other colors, both short- and long-sleeved.
Seconding this. I’ve been quite happy with how all of Grana’s stuff has held up so far (I have a few silk tanks, t-shirts, their high-waist black skinny jeans, and one cashmere cardigan.)