I have my fair share of white tees (and then some!), but when it comes to the best black t-shirts, it took me a lot longer to find a few I really loved. In my mind, black tees are the most versatile piece in any wardrobe, and it’s important to have a few different styles to achieve a variety of looks. Whether you’re pairing yours with bike shorts and kicks or leather pants and strappy heels, a black t-shirt instantly gives any outfit a cool-girl feel.
If you’re in need of some black tee inspo, look no further than Keri Fay, a NYC-based fashion influencer with a love for minimalist fashion, who knows how to get the most out of classic basics. “A black top is definitely the most-worn piece in my closet,” shares Fay. “You can dress it up or down, adding small pops of color or—my favorite way—mixing with neutrals.”
As much as I’d like to tell you there’s one black tee you can wear with literally everything, I highly recommend having a few different styles to choose from. Options like a cropped fit, a baggy style, a band tee, etc. all really change your look, and once you’ve found a few you like, styling them is a breeze. “I always tell my friends if they don’t know what to wear to throw on a black top with nice gold jewelry,” says Fay. “You can’t go wrong!”
Below, we’ve rounded up the top ten best black t-shirts everyone needs in their wardrobe, with tons of style inspo to boot. Now, give your plain white tee a break and step over to the dark side, won’t you?
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1. The Everyday Tee
Let’s start with the number one must-have, shall we? The perfect everyday tee, to be worn with everything from sweats to skirts to your fave denim, as seen styled on Keri above.
Neither too boxy nor too fitted, too long nor too short, the Leset Classic Margo Tee is the best black t-shirt for everyday wear.
2. The Cropped Tee
A cropped tee adds instant cool to any look, especially when paired with a high-waisted bottom to emphasize the silhouette. Keep your cropped tees fairly baggy for a laid-back feel, like Keri’s Harley Davidson pick.
This Nike Short Sleeve Jersey Crop Top is 100% cotton, so your cropped fit won’t look or feel flimsy, which can sometimes cheapen the style. To dress it up, pair a lacy bralette underneath so that it ever-so-slightly peeks out.
3. The Padded Tee
This year, it’s all about the tee with the most dramatic padded shoulders—just check the IG of any influencer for proof. Definitely pair this top with an updo to emphasize the strong silhouette.
Don’t feel like you need to splurge on trendy pieces! Although this black t-shirt won’t necessarily go out of style anytime soon, you can shop the look for under $20 with the MISSACTIVER Shoulder Pads T-Shirt .
4. The Fitted Tee
The best black t-shirts are all about extremes, so in addition to an oversized, baggy look (we’ll get there), you need a tight, fitted tee in your closet, too.
This Rekucci Fitted Scoop Neck T-Shirt is a great pick because the sleeves are a little shorter than they would be on your standard tee, adding to the shrunken effect that makes a fitted tee look sleek.
5. The Baggy Tee
What else are you going to pair with bike shorts beside the perfect oversized black t-shirt? Keri’s look above is proof that, with the right accessories, you can dress up a baggy tee and make it look luxe.
When looking for a baggy fit, hitting the men’s section is key. This Champion Classic Jersey T-Shirt is available in sizes up to 4XL, so you can go as oversized as you’d like.
6. The Band Tee
Everyone needs a cute graphic t-shirt in their wardrobe, be it a branded slogan tee or a vintage band tee. Bonus points if you have any actual concert merch you’ve worn down to ultra-soft perfection.
If you don’t have any real concert tees lying around, you can always snag one online (whether or not you actually listen to the brand, I won’t judge!). This Queen Official Classic Crest T-Shirt would look bomb paired with a red bag or sunnies.
7. The Long-Sleeve Tee
Sometimes, the best black t-shirts are actually long-sleeved. I’m all for wearing tees well into winter, but sometimes you need a little more coverage, which is why a great long-sleeved option is a must-have, too.
This Splendid Long Sleeve Crew Neck Tee is a perfect pick because of its finely-ribbed material and just-fitted-enough shape. Pro Tip: Buy multiple so you don’t have to wait until laundry day to re-wear.
8. The Off-The-Shoulder Tee
If you think crew necks and V-necks are the only options for a black tee, think again. This off-the-shoulder look is a little bit formal, a little bit rockstar. You choose based on how you style it!
This Sarin Mathews Off The Shoulder Top can be worn dramatically off one shoulder or slightly off both for a super wide-neck feel. Leave shoulders bare or reveal a lacy bralette strap.
9. The Layering Tee
Keri knows a good jacket or blazer can really amp up a minimalist look, and the above OOTD is proof. Make sure you’ve got a lightweight, comfy tee in your closet you can layer with ease to let your outerwear shine.
The Wild Fable Short Sleeve Fitted T-Shirt is only $8 (!) and looks great under a blazer, denim jacket or trench.
10. The Party Tee
Last but not least, the not-so-basic basic black tee, aka the party tee. Have at least one black t-shirt in your closet with more formal details, whether it’s a high-quality fabric or a fun neckline or sleeve. A staple like this makes throwing together a last-minute party look that’s chic (but still casual!) a no-brainer.
BTW, I totally won’t judge you if your party tee is actually a party bodysuit. The Free People Ava Puff Sleeve Bodysuit looks like a black t-shirt with a puff-sleeve detail and scoop neckline, so it totally fits the bill.