Entertainment Style The perfect T-shirt: Kirstie Clements’ long search for this simple yet elusive wardrobe staple

The perfect T-shirt: Kirstie Clements’ long search for this simple yet elusive wardrobe staple

Estelle Chemouny wears sunglasses, a golden necklace, a white t-shirt, a black studded belt from Zadig & Voltaire, white pants, on August 26, 2020 in Paris, France
From Petit Bateau to Bonds, Kirstie's search for the perfect T-shirt has spanned decades and continents. Photo: Getty
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Sometimes the simplest pieces in a functional wardrobe are the hardest things to get right.

We all have our weak spots – I have a friend who is always on the search for the perfect red lipstick, another who is obsessed with sunglasses, and one who has about 25 black tailored blazers. I can’t seem to find the perfect T-shirt.

When I first started at Vogue in the late 1980’s, the prevailing opinion of the fashion department was that it was a white cotton version from Fruit of the Loom. Which you couldn’t buy in Australia. It then became a Hanes white cotton T-shirt, often bought in a three-pack. In the US.

That was a very Vogue thing to do, to decide that your t-shirts were best bought overseas.

That then morphed into the idea that we should all be wearing the Petit Bateau T-shirt, which was only available in France, bien sur. Petit Bateau was really a childrenswear store, but we bought the T-shirts in a size 14 or 16, (well actually, we nagged any poor unfortunate person who was going to Paris to shop for us) which was all slightly ludicrous. They are good T-shirts, although a bit too fitted for my liking.

Petit Bateau t-shirts are nice, but a little too fitted for Kirstie’s liking. Photo: Petit Bateau

I was hoping one of the fashion editors would one day decide that Bonds were cool, but that didn’t happen. And I’ve been on the search ever since.

I don’t like the sleeves to be too snug on the upper arm, but I don’t really like the wide raglan look either. I don’t like the neckband to be too pronounced, but neither do I like it to be non-existent. I don’t like them when they are too thick, nor too thin.

I hate if they are curved or scalloped at the hem. I don’t like the linen ones. I’m not sure about V-necks. They have to be pure cotton, as I hate the feel of polyester. I don’t like those weird supersoft Tencel ones that cling in all the wrong places. I loathe scooped necklines. Pocket T’s make your bosoms look huge. Cap sleeves can make your upper arms look big. I loathe logos.

And now, if I happened to stumble on the perfect T-shirt, it also has to be ethical, organic, sustainable and not too cheap, nor too expensive.

I’ve tried Everlane (weird feel), Gap (drab), Kmart (meh), and although I have found some reasonably nice designer versions, I don’t really want to pay $100 plus for a T-shirt.

From Everlane to Gap, Hanes, and Kmart, Kirstie has tried them all. Photo: Everlane

I do have one amazing pink T-shirt in my possession, which mysteriously turned up in our laundry basket, and none of the men in my family claimed, so I don’t know where it came from. It is thick but soft pure cotton, with the perfect neck, slightly floppy sleeves, long line, forgiving around the waist and washes like a dream.

I pretty much wear it every day and every night. It has become a sort of security blanket, but it has no label, so I have zero idea how to replace it. It’s probably from Paris.

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