Creating a Capsule Wardrobe: The Foundation

Most fashion experts would say that the following (high quality) pieces are absolute musts, when starting a capsule wardrobe: 

  1. Plain white t-shirts
  2. Plain black t-shirts
  3. Black blazer
  4. Black pants
  5. Black pencil skirt
  6. Black flats
  7. Black pumps
  8. Horizontally striped top

Let's start here, with, what should be, the hard core staples of any wardrobe (even if you are not creating a capsule. And as Mary Poppins, starting at the beginning is a very good place to start. So, ladies and gents, I am faced with the mission of locating and securing several "perfect" simple, white t-shirts. 

Given this, I started reading fashion articles and asking friends and my loving Instagram followers to help me out. I received about 20 suggestions through friends and online, including Vogue's Senior Fashion Editor's favourites (any they know what they're talking about...). I will not list all, as some brands are not available in Canada, and some I've already tried and didn't get along with (I'll explain why). So here's the starting list: 

  1. Everlane for men
  2. Hanes for boys
  3. Fruit of the Loom, boys
  4. Levi's "Perfect Pocket Tee"
  5. COS relaxed (new to Canada, COS is a Swedish fashion house)
  6. Uniqlo; everyone's favourite Japanse appareal company...
  7. H&M
  8. Gap Essentials Tee

Next step, purchase t-shirts 1-8, and put them through them through the ringer (pardon the pun) -- washer, dryer, stain removal, maintainance of original shape, thickness, sleeve and crew neck cut (sorry, I don't like v-necks), then taking into consideration ease of purchase, country of manufacturing and lastly price. These will be the categories on which these t-shirts will be judged. I plan to report back to you next weekend with the results. 

NOTE 1: Hanes, Fruite of the Loom, COS, H&M and Gap Essentials were all recommended by Vogue Senior Fashion Editors. I was surprised that so many recommendations were t-shirts made for men... However, I recently saw Kim Newport-Mimran (founder of Pink Tartan) speak, and she recalled when she started her line, she wanted to create to perfect woman's cotton blouse. After visits to more factories than she cared to remember, she ended up partnering with the manufacture of men's dress shirts, as she felt none of the other manufacturers could produce a high-quality, well-fitting, "woman's" dress shirt... So perhaps my t-shirt research findings are not as surprising as I initially thought. 

NOTE 2: The other two recommended tees that I elected to not include in this test were: Rag & Bone, Madewell, J Crew and James Perse. Although, in general, I like all these brands, I have owned their t-shirts and found that neither maintained its shape, all were too thin for my liking and most were a pain to wash (requiring hang or lay flat to dry). We woman need a practical, basic, white tees, that can make it through the washer and dryer unscathed, am I right? Who has time for hand-drying t-shirts?!?!

Purchasing and testing the "big 8" this week: stay tuned for results!

Erika, President & CEO, INHERIT / Executive T-shirt Tester