Bargain Friday’s TPS Report: Modern scoopneck tee

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Banana Republic Modern scoopneck teeThis morning we were reminded of one of the reasons we started the blog: a conversation with a colleague about what the best plain t-shirt to wear beneath a suit jacket was.  And the funny thing is, we still don’t know the answer!  We like this scoopneck from BR (was $29.50, now $20.65 on sale – Banana Republic Modern scoopneck tee), but also favor tops from Three Dots and Splendid.  Readers, what’s YOUR favorite simple t-shirt to layer beneath a suit jacket?



  1. LegallyBlonde :

    I just bought 4 of these Lands End Knit Scoop Neck Tees in purple, black, green, and pink. I love them. I am always looking for clothes that can do double duty, and these work well beneath suits and with jeans/casual skirts/etc. on the weekend.

    I would wear something nicer to court or for a client meeting, but for everyday these are comfortable and work well.

    • LegallyBlonde :

      Oh–and they are great for tucking. I normally do not tuck, because it emphasizes my more than sufficient stomach area, but for some reason these look really nice tucked in, even on me. I think it’s because the fabric isn’t clingy so it helps hide the problem area instead of emphasizing it.

      • I ordered these shirts and returned them. I think they were too much of a t-shirt materials to be worn beneath suits.

    • CorporateCounselle :

      I favor the J. Crew v-neck short-sleeved t-shirt,, which tucks quite easily and has a work-appropriate neckline (at least in California).

  2. So this seemed like a great basic, until I noticed this from the BR website: “This style is sheer. We recommend layering over a cami.” Ack.

    • Agree — there are only so many layers that belong going on under a suit jacket!

      • Wearing a BR basic shirt now — definitely see thru (I layered). It’s less obvious with black, but the white is damn near obscene.

    • $30 (original price) for a sheer t-shirt. Awesome.

    • I bought this t-shirt a while ago because I had a coupon so it only cost about $12. Wasn’t worth it, at least for my body time. I’m petite and busty/hourglass, with a little chub. The neckline was lower that I would have liked, the chest was fitted, and then it went straight down through the hips so I had no waist. The t-shirt effectively gave me rolls. I didn’t have a see-through problem, but I also ordered it in navy. (I’m a small in BR t-shirts usually, and this, in a small, wasn’t too big, but was a terrible fit.)

  3. I just have to say that it makes me happy when the stylists let or ask the models to look happy.

  4. Used to wear the Theory Juin scoopneck ( until I discovered the tees at H&M, now they’re my go to

  5. I never wear tee shirts under suits, I think it looks rather unprofessional and reminds me of make-up counter employees. I tend to wear silk blouses or button down shirts under mine. I have a silk, floral pussy bow blouse from Brooks Brothers that I wear under my favourite suit and I think it looks lovely.

    To be fair, as far as looking fashionable goes, I would probably negatively judge an interview candidate or an employee who wore a tee under her suit. A quality shirt or blouse makes a lady look infinitely more put together.

    • I agree. I don’t like button downs either (but not because they’re unprofessional, they just remind me of being an intern) so I wear blouses under my suits. But I think your point about the interviewee is a good one, and is similar to other comments about what to wear to court or to meet with a client. If you like the t-shirt under suit look, fine, but limit it to days when you will be sitting at your desk and not interacting with anyone too important.

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        What exactly is a blouse that isn’t a button front or tee style?

        • For example, today I am wearing a purple satin top that is a bit flowy, and which has a square neckline, cap-like sleeves (a little different then on a t-shirt), and has some interesting gathering/stitching at the top. I think there are a whole universe of non-button down, non-t-shirt tops that can be used as underpinnings for suits, but perhaps most people would refer to them as tops and not blouses. For example, I have some ruffle front tops.

          For me it is largely about the material and the neckline. Most t-shirts just seem too casual to me under a suit. But I wouldn’t think anything of it if someone else was wearing it, although I don’t think I have ever seen anyone wear a t-shirt type top in an interview.

        • Oh my! I was just hesitating to ask the question.. you asked it right before me!
          I am wondering what is the difference between a blouse and a button down shirt, is it that shirts are stiffer? Then if a shirt is made of flowy silk it becomes a blouse?
          I just need a little hint to know how to make a difference

          • Button-front (technically that is the right term – a button-down refers to the type of collar) is a collared shirt with buttons down the front – une chemise boutonnée.

            A blouse is a loose term for women’s tops that many people use differently. Generally, it’s understood to mean not a button-front shirt, not a t-shirt, and not a tank top or camisole. It is probably made out of a knit or silky fabric, and looks a bit feminine. It probably does not have long sleeves, but it may have short sleeves or be sleeveless. The closest translation is un chemisier, I think.

          • mamiejane :

            Wow, I completely disagree. The blouse with bow thing reminds me of the early 70s when women lawyers tried to mimic men’s clothing. If the blouse has a slightly (not cleavage showing) scoop neck it can work but anything with a high neck or a button down shirt looks dated to me.

        • Blonde Lawyer, I think a silk shell would count as one such example.

          • Grump (with Frump's help) :

            To me, a button down is a smart dress shirt made from a stiffer material, with a collar – the women’s equivalent of a man’s dress shirt. The Brooks’ Brothers tailored shirts are an obvious example of…a button down shirt!!

            A blouse is a top made from a more flowy or looser material with or without buttons down the front. Shells are a subset of blouses, as are cap-sleeved, round-neck drapier shirts – even if these don’t have buttons.

            Here’s a blouse with a bow – it doesn’t look too eighties to us!

            Here’s an example of a blouse of the cap-sleeve round-necked variety (without buttons).

            And finally, this one’s a blouse because, despite having buttons, it’s made from a looser georgette material rather than a stiff cotton.

            These are the kinds of shirts/blouses we wear under suits.

            Frump & Grump
            (Best Friends Addicted to Shopping for Lady-like Clothing)

          • @Grump – I’m convinced that this is a great schtick.

      • Where I grew up, a blouse is any non-sportswear top intended to be worn by women. A button-front crisp cotton with darts is as much a “blouse” to me as a silk bow-neck. Similar to the word “panties” referring to women’s underwear, whether cotton full-brief grannies or lace string bikinis.

        • I have the same understanding of the term, “blouse.” I have no understanding of the word, “panties,” as we always called them underpants and panties would have been too risque:).

        • Grump and Frump’s first image definitely looks eighties to me. And I already did the eighties, TYVM.

    • Wow, grump, you sure are a grump! How old are you? I’m in my mid-forties and hardly see blouses any more. Nice tees are the more youthful, fresh way of dressing. I like the Michael Stars tees myself — they can go underneath cardigans, blazers, suit jackets. They are certainly polished enough. Wear some statement jewelry at the neck if you like. Last time I wore a floppy bowtie it was the mid-eighties and I was wearing it with a standard issue navy suit and navy pumps. Thank goodness those days are long gone.

      • I’m younger but have to agree — cannot remember the last time I saw someone with a bow (outside of a costume party!) —

        The t-shirt under a suit is a sleek look – great for the larger chested amongst us (having pulled buttons on a blouse is not a great looks!), and lets you dress it up with a necklace, or leave it demure and plain.

        • I like silk blouses too, personally, when I dress professionally — bows, ruffles, or just a nice cream or jewel colored one with a pointy collar. I do a tee-shirt or cami only if the jacket I’m wearing has a lot going on (bow, tie-belt, etc).

        • Ouch… Well… European fashion in women’s blouses has been dominated by bows the last year or two… And it’s still going strong: silky tops with bows, dresses and sweaters with long strands, made to tie into a pretty bow. I love the look myself, though it took some getting used to.

          Stores are still stelling a lot of those flowy silky tops with bows in my part of the world (Belgium). I love them under my suits, or just under a cardigan, and I absoluteley love them on silk shirt dresses, like the ones Talking French had last season. I got two of those ;-)

          And around here (right near the language barrier between French ad Flemish) a Chemisier is the ladies variety of the men’s button down shirt, in silk or cotton, with collar and buttons, but then in French… A blouse is any other sort of ladies top, though T-shirts tend not to be refered to as blouses, or bloes (flemish).

      • Tee Hee! I’m 45, been practicing law for over 20 years and remember well the 80’s/90’s “professional” get ups. Now I live in silk knit tops (basically silk T shirts) and I’d never go back to a stiff cotton blouse. I think when your’re young you have to look like you know what you’re doing, and 20 years later if you haven’t learned to convey strength regardless of what you look like, a nice blouse isn’t going to make a difference. What I’m saying is that there’s one benefit to aging: the newbies have to look like they know the rules & the oldies get to make them up.

      • Totally agree Sharon, I was thinking the same thing!!

    • I agree that a tee or anything in a knit fabric is not appropriate for an interview or other business formal occasion (with the exception being a knit silk shell). But a tee under a less formal suit is perfectly nice for a normal work day.

    • Enjoying this thread…and I agree with grump. I’m 30, for what that is worth, and almost never wear a t-shirt with my suits. It just doesn’t seem formal enough! I have ONE calypso tee that passes the test, in part because it has some interesting texture and stitching. But I would never wear it to court or a client meeting or if I wanted to take my jacket off. I always wear button downs or blouses (including shells). And yes, I own a silky black blouse with a bow (from white house black market and I love it).

      • I think a lot of this depends on your work dress code. For those of us who have to wear a suit every day, the nice t-shirt is an essential part of the suit wardrobe. If you only wear a suit on certain important occasions, I can see where you wouldn’t feel this way, however.

        I wouldn’t rock the look for an interview, a court apeparance, a major client meeting, etc. but I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with it around the office (and judging by what everyone I work with waers, I’m definitely in the majority at least in my office.)

  6. My basic go to layer under suits is Jones New York Platinum Silk Knit Shell. $35, comes in a variety of colors. Nice thin layer that hits just right at the neck.,default,pd.html?cgid=&itemNum=1&variantSizeClass=&variantColor=JJ130XX

    • There are also some super nice silk (or maybe silk-like) blouses at Uniqlo, they are a steal at $19. Although, I guess the only Uniqlo in the US is in Manhattan….

  7. I want that necklace!!!

    • Agreed!

      • My bf got me that necklace! I haven’t worn it yet…but now that it’s sunny in NYC I should finally whip it out.

        I disagree with everyone’s suggestions re: tshirts above. They are all Way Too Plain. If it can be worn with sweatpants, it can not and should not be worn with a suit. I recently bought this tshirt at AT, and I think the extra flower and bead detailing (one such tshirt that I would not wear with sweatpants) makes it more appropriate for suiting — it ups the sophistication factor:

        • Really? I don’t want to be unkind, but I cannot imagine a situation in which any item of clothing with rhinestones on it would be office-appropriate, particularly a situation in which you’re required to be wearing a suit. Not to mention that the off-center rosette would look funny peeking halfway out under a jacket.

          • This particular shirt was just meant to be an example – the rhinestones are so sparse that it’s not exactly inappropriate bling. I have yet to wear it and would probably do so with a cardi.

            My point is that, in order for it to be work-appropriate, it has to be something more than a tshirt that can be worn with sweatpants — another example would be the BR tshirt I commented on below. And if you are in a situation where you are required to wear a suit, I think I would bypass tshirts altogether and opt for a silk shell (as others have commented).

          • @3L – I see what you mean, and if the rhinestones are subtle, it’s probably an individual call whether to wear it to work or not (I still wouldn’t, because I find that looking sparkly and pretty contributes to being treated like a girl and not a professional, but that’s my experience not yours, and anyway I digress). But I disagree that just because you’re wearing a suit, a t-shirt isn’t appropriate – if you have a job where you wear a suit every day, you’re going to want to differentiate between your dressed-down, everyday suit look and your important meeting, big trial suit look. A nice, fitted, soft tee is perfect for the everyday look, especially because, unlike many shells, it covers your upper arms so you can feel comfortable taking your jacket off in a meeting.

        • I disagree, but just my opinion. That shirt does not seem sophisticated to me, and I personally would never wear it to work.

          • @NY, can you please share some tshirts that you do think are sophisticated? Even if the AT shirt I suggested above is not seen as sophisticated, I really find it hard to believe that the super plain tshirts others have suggested would be considered as such.

          • Well I never said I would consider the super plain tshirts the others have suggested. When I wear “Ts” they are more like knits, I am busty and tend to stay away from thin fabrics. The shirt you posted is too girly and frilly for me, and since I have a round face I think it would make me look very young (and unsophisticated). I don’t think its an inappropriate shirt! Just something I would never wear to work, but would wear on the weekends.

        • 3L, I completely agree with you. The shirt you posted is utterly lovely and perfectly sophistocated, and it would be the only way I would ever consider wearing a “tee” of sorts to work- in fact, given the delicate fabric and feminine flower/subtle jewel detail, I would probably not even call it a tee, but rather, a knit top. I’d wear the baby blue or pink one with a light gray wool pencil skirt, white cashmere cardigan, and small string of pearls. In fact I may even watch it and buy it when it goes on sale/when AT has a coupon out.

          And I agree with you when you say, if a lovely little knit shirt like that isn’t appropriate, then how in the world is a $7 Target tee?

          • Thanks Frump! I actually bought a light gray AT skirt suit and was planning on pairing this shirt with it. I was starting to get nervous since these women were replying it’s inappropriate! I don’t think the off center rose will look weird, and certainly not inappropriate. It’s ok to have some fun with workwear, there is no need to be uber conservative and risk-averse with the slightest of things. Rather, I think the feminine detailing is better than a terribly simple solid tshirt under my gray suit. Just the thought of that evokes images of frump in my mind.

          • I’d never wear that shirt. Too girly for me. I worked with 98% men. I wanted always to project strength, even when I felt weak. But you know, if we women don’t give each other a little room in sartorial choices, who will?

          • I’m a legal intern at a hedge fund where the only other woman is the receptionist, and I have no problems wearing feminine clothes such as this shirt.

            Femininity does not signal a lack of strength. I can go on about how the female judge I interned for and very prominent female professors have all spoken at Women in Law panels about how they’ve overcome the days of yore when there was a false impression that you had to “dress like a man” and be one of the boys at work, but I think we’re beating a dead horse here. It’s a matter of personal preference and not strength conveyance.

          • To me, LPC, being feminine or girly has nothing to do with not being able to convey strength. I definitely take issue with the implication that I must look like a man or act specifically like a man in order to convey a strong, serious, and formal presence. A flower on my shirt, worn with my demure and appropriate outfit, does not say anything about my strength to men. What conveys my strength to men is my unbreakable positive attitude, how I carry myself, my hard work, my intelligence, and my willingness to show them up in any task with just as much passion and dedication as they may have.

          • The horse may be dead but a bunch of us were pretty beaten up in the process, over the decades. So be kind. Don’t dance your celebratory dance on our bodies, if I can extend a metaphor beyond the reasonable.

          • …in reply to LPC:
            In my opinion, a woman should not feel so threatened by a man so as to feel the need to dress in a particular way. A woman’s attire should reflect her tastes and her personality rather than act as a response to a male-dominated environment. If one dislikes said top because it is not in line with personal taste, that is perfectly acceptable. However, it is shameful to simply choose against on account of the flawed belief that acting or dressing in a feminine manner constitutes the ‘weaker’ option. This, if anything, is a sign of personal weakness. So long as one’s attire is modest and befits the formality of the occasion (I’m not advocating turning up in shorts or a corset because that reflects your personality), I think one should dress as one pleases. In fact, I think that is the ‘stronger option’ (if one deems personal strength to be reflected through an individual’s attire – I’d like to think my education, dedication to my work and my character serve as better indicators.)

          • Aside from unreasonable, I think that comment was unfair, especially from someone who claims to be a wasp writing about her life of privilege (it’s hard to be dancing any celebratory dance when you came here as a refugee seeking asylum from a communist regime, but I guess we all have our war stories). Rather than dancing my celebratory dance, I am heeding the advice of those older and wiser who have struggled hard to get to where we are today (with miles left to go, no doubt).

          • @3L – femininity doesn’t signal a lack of strength, no, but you want to be careful of wearing anything that’s reminiscent of what, say, your boss’s 18-year-old daughter might wear unless you want to be associated, fairly or unfairly, with a giggly teenage girl rather than a competent professional woman. Rhinestones and anything sparkly pretty much scream girly. A bright pink top under your suit, a silk scarf, brightly-colored pumps, pearls – now those convey both femininity and professionalism.

          • i am totally loving frump’s and grump’s comments today – you two are hilarious.

          • 3L “These women” weren’t saying it was inappropriate, one person did, and the other people said it wasn’t their personal taste. And no one was saying you can’t be feminine, some people, older and wiser than a 3L perhaps, have outgrown rhinestones. No one was attacking you, until you insinuated that we all must be oh so dull! To not want to wear a shirt with flower petals and rhinestones and beads! So terribly simple and frumpy we are!

          • @NY: How do you know how “old” a 3L is?? Not everyone goes to law school as fresh-faced recent grads!

          • NY: I am not a rhinestone enthusiast or a naive 3L who shops in forever 21 for work looks. My statement that I think it’s ok to take some fashion risks with work wear is a far cry from any insinuation that the particular women on this thread are dull, though I did opine that many shirts that some people linked too were pretty plain for work (again, far from remarks against people being dull). Even if I misconstrued someone’s statements, please do not in turn misconstrue mine. I was firm in concluding that this is all a matter of personal preference.

            Happy Friday, ladies!

          • mamiejane :

            I like the shirt and think it would be fine with a suit for almost anything short of a jury trial. I also have to say that some splashes of femininity project strength and self confidence. Dressing to masculine projects discomfort with power.

          • @ Eponine; I think another aspect here is that usually, most things, including rhinestones or sparkles, done in moderation are fine. Neither is bad for what it is, but rather, it’s the context these things appear in that make them appropriate or not.

            I don’t know if you saw the shirt in question, but in my opinion, the rhinestones are very subtle embellishments and certainly no more flashy than the silk scarves or brightly colored pumps that you suggest are in fact appropriate. They are certainly not in any way equal to a glittery, disco-ball blinding, rhinestone heavy top the boss’ 18 year-old daughter might wear to a club.

            Besides, if a little bit of sparkle was considered too “girly” to be professional, we could never wear diamond studs, engagement ring solitaires or our wedding rings with gemstones on them, a brightly polished buckle, or cashmere cardigans with little jeweled buttons. Would you really suggest these little bits of “sparkle” cause a truly negative impression?

            Again, at least to me, it’s about moderation and context. Taste is one thing and may dictate whether or not one chooses to wear X piece of appropriate clothing. But to say anything with a bit of sparkle or all rhinestones/embellishments in general are never appropriate seems to neglect the context so necessary for judging whether or not an item is appropriate to begin with.

          • Hey, hey! Back off. I was attempting to remind you in a moderately funny way that some of us who may be cautious about feminine work clothes got our asses kicked in the workforce to make it a better place for you all and might bear some bruises. And I was trying to ask, in a moderately funny way, that you be kind when you hear our opinions. Ff you look at my original comment, I also stressed that we should all be flexible with each other, that it was my personal taste, and that I HAD ( which is the past tense) always been concerned about looking girly. So.

          • I wonder if some of us are talking at cross purposes here? When I say tee, I don’t mean t-shirt as in the kind of thing from Hanes that you’d wear to the gym or to sleep in. I’m thinking of a generally somewhat fitted tee that has a nicer finish and doesn’t have the thick neck of a Hanes t-shirt.

        • Wow, this debate got a little crazy! Honestly, I think its all in how you wear clothes, and your particular mix of clothing/personality/etc. I’ve known some super-feminine female partners who would wear a pink suit to court and slay them all (in the South, but still … ). I’ve also worked with people, especially younger women, whose clothing and overall image projected “I am a teenage girly-girl,” and I think it did hurt their advancement in the firm.

  8. Best $10 top ever: target merona double layer t-shirt. I tried to paste a link but it was 20 lines long – search merona double layer on and it pops up.

    It’s nicely finished, thick enough that a bra doesn’t show through, and figure-flattering.

    (Random comment issue: someone else going by “anon” had posted a comment, and it showed up as “your comment is awaiting moderation” when I loaded the page.)

    • I agree. Purchased three of these a couple of weeks ago. I love the tiny bit of pleating at the neckline, and I also really like the depth of the scoop. I often feel a trifle strangled in a crew-neck, but most scoop necks are too scoopy for me.

    • I also like these, but have found they aren’t long enough for tucking, if you prefer that look under a suit.

      • Interesting. I’ve tucked mine, but I also have a shorter waist.

        • Shorter in general, I mean, not shorter than your waist. I have no idea how long or short your waist is. ;-)

    • I am wearing this in light blue today – completely agree it’s a great $10 top :-)

    • I have one of these and my problem is that it’s a little to thick in front with the double layer to be that great with tucking. I just end up with this big lump around my thigh area. That said, I don’t tuck anything in with pants because I have a long waist and think that the shirt is probably great untucked.

    • Agreed! I love the $10 target merona double layer t-shirt. I have it in white (the sleeveless variety) and love it! I would never wear it to court or to an interview, but for just working in the office, it is absolutely perfect. It’s also a great piece to layer under a cardigan for more casual days.

    • I have the same shirt (also in the sleeveless variety) in lavendar and would definitely wear it to court (under a suit jacket, obviously).

    • when the url address is too long, go to and paste that sucker in and out pops a, well, a tinier address. FYI

    • I bought one of those last weekend in brown, and wore it under a tan suit last week, love it! It has a shirred neckline, and is a nice, substantial knit, not a tissue thin t-shirt. I hate the tissue thin t-shirt trend, not flattering for those of us who don’t have perfect bodies, plus too sheer for work. The Merona shirt is definitely nice enough for every day work wear, but I haven’t washed it yet, hope it holds up. In the summer, I love t-shirts under suits, they are just cooler and you can wash them. But yes I dress up a little more for court and interviews.

      • I like those Target Ts also!
        I make it a point to look them over every season.

        The T in the picture on this post is too low.

  9. I can never find tshirts that are fitted enough. In fact, I can’t even find a nice blouse or collared shirt that is fitted! I’ve tried everywhere- Banana Republic, Anne Taylor Loft, JCrew, Nordstrom. I love to wear collared shirts/blouses because they look so sleek and professional but can also be worn with jeans, and yet, I can’t find any that are fitted enough for my lack of bust and slender frame. I always end up swimming in them (even in the small sizes). Any suggestions?

    • Cee – I have the same problem! I rely on H&M for t-shirts for this reason. At a 32B, I fit into their size 6 or M for most tops, so even if you’re a 32A or smaller, their 0, 2, or 4 may work well for you. Ralph Lauren’s slim-fit button-downs also work pretty well for me, but with many button-downs, I end up getting them tailored. Definitely try H&M for tees, though.

      • Thanks, I haven’t checked those stores yet!

        • I am petite too, and I found that H&M t-shirts are very fitted and run small. I get my button-downs at Ann Taylor LOFT (or are they just called “LOFT” now?) and get them tailored. I found some really slim cut button-downs at LOFT. IMO, the tailoring is worth it b/c it lets me tuck in a button down shirt without having a lot of bunching fabric around my middle.

          I have some luck with BN petites, but not always. Their petite 00 size is very small, IMO!

          I actually get all my t-shirts to wear under suits from Uniqlo. If you are in New York, they have a flagship stores in Soho. They are sort of like the Japanese version of the GAP.

          Good luck!

    • buy the smallest size that you can that is fitted *somewhere* and get it tailored. alternative, if you’re in the 0 or 00 sizes, buy kid’s sizes instead.

    • Have you tried the petite Brooks Brothers fitted shirts? They have 3 styles: one very bulky, one classic (I think that’s what it’s called), and one is very tailored. I am not sure what they’re each called, but you can sort through the site & it becomes clear.
      For tees, if you want s fitted try theory — they’re a bit more, but they’re made of a more fitted material.

      • Try also Uniqlo! They are the only shirts that look good on me and are super cheap. (looking back, I want to clarify that I do not work or receive any money from Uniqlo)

      • I second the reccomendation for BB fitted shirts (or blouses by my vernacular, see my comment in that thread above ;)) The most-fitted style has pink writing on the tag. I can actually buy the size that fits my shoulders and they still fit well both my DDD chest and my much-less-ample waist. They often go on sale for 25% off.

    • Have you tried the petite fit? If you have a shorter torso, even if your legs/arms are longer, the petite cut may be better since it’s more fitted all around (not just in length).

      • Also – juniors’ sizes might be a better fit (although you have to be careful to find shirts without ridiculous embellishments…)

    • Have you ever seen the blog The blogger is extremely petite (sometimes 00Ps are too big on her) and she’s always reviewing and posting photos of professional attire in different brands.

      • Remove the question mark from the URL when you click through – sorry, I formatted my post badly!

    • Cee – I’m with you on the collared shirt, but there are plenty of tiny fitting tee shirts out there. I’m probably as small busted as one gets (30ish A) and I find H&M size XS or size 2 tees to be quite slender. I also wear ones from all of the stores you mentioned in Petite XXS or even womens XS. If they are cotton, a good wash and shrink will make them even tinier.

      As for button-ups … sadly, I haven’t found anything of good quality with a small enough cut. As a few commenters have mentioned, H&M makes a very tiny button up in size 2 in various colors and patterns for about $19.99 to $24.99. That is the smallest I have found, but I hope to find something of better quality than H&M. Good luck in your search!

      Eponine – thank you for sharing my blog!

  10. Petit Bateau. Heavier cotton than fashionable at the retail chains these days. Oh, and I am a smaller person and they fit me well. I understand they are not so great for the large of bosom…

    • Do you know a similar brand that is? I’ve been considering Petit Bateau for awhile because you seem to love them … but I definitely am “the large of bosom” :)

      • Good question. I haven’t researched that, since the only time I fit the large of bosom category was when I was nursing my first baby. The guy at the next checkout in the grocery store could not stop staring. Think footballs. I digress. The Nordstrom Caslon brand is pretty good IMO, thickish cotton, and might work for other sizes than mine.

        • “The guy at the next checkout in the grocery store could not stop staring. Think footballs.”

          … Welcome to my life.

      • I’m full chested and love my Petite Bateau’s. BUT I do think they are more for casual wear – their texture is more of a rough cotton. They do make a few variations, but the basic T’s would look to casual under a suit (IMO). If you are ever in France I truly believe they are one of the best bargains to be found there (9 euro/shirt vs $40-something here!)

        • Thanks for the tip – I went into the Petit Bateau store in Boston recently, fell in love with a gorgeous coral-colored shirt, and then promptly died when I saw it was over $100! I am happy to pay more for quality but that’s just ridiculous.

  11. I love Micheal Stars’ tee in shine and supima – very well fitted, and just the right size scoop.

    Re: H&M – A NYT expose found that they slash unsellable clothing before putting it in dumpsters behind their stores so that it can’t be reused or resold. Why don’t they just donate it? That kind of waste makes me sick – I’m no longer shopping at H&M.

    • not to mention the fact that the quality is a bit mediocre…

      • Yes, grump. However, regardless of whether you care for H&M or not (I don’t), wouldn’t you agree it’s still a waste to slash unsellable clothing versus donate it to a women’s shelter or other place where it could go to some use?

        • Of course it’s a waste. However, I wanted to point out that I personally wouldn’t shop at H&M because they produce goods of a shoddy quality – not because they destroy clothes. Sadly, this practice is common to many retailers, including those at the higher end of the spectrum. One has to shop somewhere.

      • Yeah, the quality of things like dresses, suits, sweaters, etc. runs from lacking to laughable, but the quality of the tees is quite good (mine have lasted 5+ years and their shape and color is unchanged) and it’s infinitely better to have something that fits, as opposed to a higher-end brand garment that looks ridiculously huge on the wearer.

        Re: the expose, I hadn’t heard that, but I’ve worked in other retail (Ann Taylor) and they didn’t donate their clothes, even from the outlets. Agreed — stores really should consider doing this.

        • Now I’m curious why stores don’t — I think being known for putting unsold clothes to good use would be good publicity – thoughtful and green? If the clothes are already at the “unsaleable anywhere” point, surely stores wouldn’t be alienating people who bought the same things at retail? Or are there tax reasons, etc for stores to destroy rather than donate?

          • Because they believe, rightly or wrongly, it would dilute their brand if homeless people were seen wearing their products.

        • I am not defending their actions at all, but I’m pretty sure slashing and throwing away helps their revenue calculations and tax obligations. If you have bad inventory and can take a loss on the fair market value, that is infinitely more desirable to a large organisation than going through the trouble for a charitable deduction (limits, establishing fmv, record keeping, etc.). This may be why they do it. Again, not saying it the desirable action, but I think there is a real business reason to do this.

          • Definitely are business rasons…

            For example in my younger days I worked in a bookstore (national chain), and when books didn’t sell within x days we would tear off the covers to send back to the publisher and throw out the books.

            Painful doesn’t begin to cover it.

            The publisher didn’t want to pay the shipping costs on the unsold merchandise, so gave the company credit for the books due to the covers. Incidentally, don’t buy books w/out covers – the publisher has not been paid and they are stolen property.

          • The loss would be at cost not FMV, it is carried on the books at cost and that is what they could deduct

    • I wonder if they are still doing this – as I recall the NYT piece ended with a quote from their spokeswoman saying that they were looking into and discontinuing the practice (I think the official statement was that it was an isolated store doing this…)

    • Better stop shopping at Gap, Banana Republic, etc. I have worked at many stores that had this policy. Even destroying posters and signage before throwing out so that no one could take them from the dumpster and enjoy

    • H&M is definitely not the only retailer that does this. I worked at a high-end home goods/furniture store for a short period, and we would have to “damage out” things that had been deemed unsellable before they got thrown away. e.g., $400 sheets with a small rip (which still would have been totally usable) would be ripped to shreds; a lamp with a small nick in the glass which still worked fine would be smashed to pieces, etc. I don’t know if they are still doing that after this H&M expose, but this is/was a common practice. The reasoning my manager gave was that they didn’t want people dumpster diving and getting things for free that they might otherwise pay for…. But my thinking was that people who are dumpster diving are probably not going to be paying $400 for a set of sheets anyway.

    • Didn’t Grapes of Wrath have a scene where starving people watched big agricultural producers pouring gasoline on fruit they couldn’t sell? I’m not an economist and am not qualified for or interested in a debate about the economics, but it certainly seems like there is something wrong with a society where its deemed better to destroy usable product than to give it to people in need.

      • Well, toward the end of the Depression the government basically paid producers of agricultural goods (and other items too I think) to destroy their products, in order to decrease supply and drive up prices to boost the economy. That was obviously controversial, but it’s a far cry from companies destroying unsold merchandise basically because they don’t want to dilute their brand by letting poor people wear it.

        I work with a community organization that provides for the needs of homeless people, and the few stores that do donate clothes to us remove the labels first.

  12. I have liked the Gap’s stretch tee in previous seasons — even the white had no issues with being too sheer when worn with a skin-colored bra (haven’t needed to buy a new one in two years, so hopefully they are just as opaque now) — The neckline doesn’t have the tell-tale “ribbing” that many tees do.

    In darker shades, I also like jcrew’s perfect-fit tee — it has a slightly wider crewneck, but doesn’t have the risk of the “reaching for something peep show” that I find scoop necks to have. They’re on sale, too:

  13. This is my favorite:

    Really soft, and cut in a flattering, not-too-form-fitting style. It’s long enough to tuck. The shirred neck makes it a bit more interesting and less casual than a crewneck tee IMO.


    I am off to look at everyone’s suggestions.

    • Agree. I’ve been looking for a good source of plain, quality t-shirts. My go-to brands both changed styles and/or fabrics.

  15. I have to throw in american apparel in here. They’re super soft, basic, the colors don’t ever fade, and i have had them for years and years. they’re also made in the USA — so yay for that!
    They are very thin though — so that’s not for everyone.

    • I have never, ever had luck with that store. I’m pretty thin and everything from that store just clings to my body in the wrong way.

  16. I know this will bring on comments against JCPenny, but I have to share. I was in there a few months ago with my mum and found these simple silky yet stretchy t-shirt style shells. They felt good and for only 10 dollars, I though “why not?”
    Seriously, they have held up remarkably well and look great under a suit. I need something simple and basic and thin enough, but not too thin as to require a camisole. try them!
    My only comment is they run a bit large. I quite busty (size 12 on top) and wear a medium. the large could work, but it is too roomy around my middle. I haven’t found any shrinking if I throw in the washing machine and then air dry on a hanger.

    • Thanks for posting – looks great!

    • I’m a closet JCPenney fan. Although they carry a lot of (IMO) cheaply-made, cheesy items, on the other hand some of their clothing is fashionable, useful and well-made. They have some nice dresses at great prices.

      I recently bought a few of these to wear under suits, and love them:|53651|69246&Fltr=&Srt=&QL=F&IND=23&cmVirtualCat=&CmCatId=50434|53651|53654

  17. Kohl’s Croft & Barrow solid pima tee. $6.99. Super soft, fitted, nice high neckline (I cannot wear scoop tops with suits–I feel like it looks like I’m not wearing a top at all), and easy to buy in every color.

    • I have the same issue! So many shells and tees these days have such low necklines that you can’t see them under a buttoned blazer.

  18. I’ve been a fan of Target tees for years. They come in different colors every year, crew neck or vneck, and they fit well. The price is good (around $6), and I enjoy changing up shades every year or two.

    • I’ve got drawers full of Target tees – either Merona tees, or the Mossimo fitted elbow-length sleeves. The Mossimo ones are perfect for suits because they lay flat, are crew neck, and really let you show off a nice necklace.

  19. I like to wear mine untucked so they need to be a bit on the longer side. Those seem hard to find. I am 5 7 and wear a large tshirt usually. Any suggestions on t’s that tend to run longer. I live in Houston and a t under a jacket is a must.

    • Look at the Land’s End Fit 1 tees–they are deliberately cut to be longer in length.

      • Seconded. I also like Ann Taylor’s 100% cotton tank tops, but they wouldn’t work if you want to be able to take off your jacket.

    • the Gap favorite fit (there’s a link in one of the earlier comments) are also longer.

    • BR — though sometimes sheer — sometimes has longer tees, length wise.

      • BR has lovely cotton pima tees that hold shape and are great for curvy gals. Would look fab under suits too.

  20. Target Mossimo V-neck pocket tees, for $8 a pop in a huge range of sizes and colors. The small pocket doesn’t show under a suit jacket but adds something interesting, and there are no itchy tags.

  21. I actually have this tee in black and in the “urban gray”. They are great for layering, long enough to leave out and just the right height on the scoop neck. The ones I have are a nice heavy jersey, not sheer at all, not sure if there are different versions of this tee that others were referring to above.

    One thing – the scoop neck is the same on the back as it is on the front, so I always wear them with a cardigan or jacket while at work (but it is nice to be able to take those off and have a less stuffy-looking tee when doing something with friends after work).

    • Ok, disregard above. I went back to the link and I think this is a new version of the tees I got a couple of months ago there. They look very similar in cut, but I think the neckline is a little different, and the material does look thinner. Oh well. Maybe they will bring back the thicker jersey weight late summer/fall.

  22. I never though I would buy t’s at Nordstrom, but I like the Caslon Ballet Neck Tee — $15 and they come in petite sizes

    They have a nice scoop neck – not too deep, but not a crew neck either.

  23. i like these banana tee’s, they are the “luxe” ones..they are on sale too. im tempted to get more..

    the hint of sheen makes them great to wear to work (i’m in a very lenient business casual place…) and u can also wear with jeans, and i think would look great under a suit. i have a couple from last season and they are not at all sheer. only thing is, i wear a full C cup and am an XS (makes no sense) so sizes may be an issue. i notice this with GAP recently too.

    • Yes! I bought this in blue and it’s great. The tiny silk design at the top sets it apart from the very plain tees others keep suggesting, thus making it more polished and sophisticated for work.

    • I have one of these, too! At Kat’s recommendation a while back, I think. They are great.

  24. Hey ladies,

    So after asking a bunch of people on here about this dress from Banana, I went ahead and bought it. It’s the 3/4 sleeve faux wrap dress.

    Here are my thoughts: I like it but don’t love it. On the plus side, I didn’t have any problems with the sizing that some of you complained about. I generally wear a XS in dresses and I ended up buying this dress in both XS and S. While the XS fit me, it was slightly too tight in the hip area and the S looked a lot better. Also, there was no large hole in the dress that many of you wrote about. Maybe they fixed this defect?

    On the downside — the material isn’t the best and the navy blue color looked a bit faded. I also found that there was a little extra fabric in the neck area. I definitely think that Banana’s quality has gone WAY down. I have a lovely silk dress from them a few seasons back, and this dress struck me as much poorer quality. Also, this is my first time buying a dress with a tye sash and I really don’t know what to do with it. I tied it but it looks a little strange just falling to the side like that. Anyone else have this problem?

    So overall, it was just ok. :) Hope this helps others who were considering this dress.

    • I also bought this dress, and totally agree with everything you said. I’ve gotten several compliments on it, but overall I would agree that it is just ok.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      I bought this dress during friends&family and returned it. I think the “hole” happens when one is bustier, so the fabric pulls open more, though this was not a problem for my pear shape with small bust. I normally wear a S, and the S “fit” but the material felt/looked cheap – way too cheap for that price. It was very unflattering on me. It was one of those one-minute try ons – put it on, one glance in the mirror and it goes straight back!

      To satisfy my dress urge instead, I picked up a dress at Talbots in a much better fabric ( and had it taken in for $16. There’s been a lot of talk on the blog about how Talbots fits boxy and it’s true, but I also think if you pick things up on sale/clearance, you end up ahead on quality and value even after alterations.

  25. Believe it or not, Land’s End. They are a more substantial weight and have nice-looking hemming at the neck that doesn’t scream I’m A T Shirt!

  26. I wear V-neck t-shirts from Massimo Dutti, I don’t know if it exists in the US though… they retail for 25-50 $ and are very understated

  27. One thing I have learned reading this blog is that I totally do not fit in. I am an attorney. I do not wear heels (they kill me). I do not wear skirts (do not have the legs). I often wear t-shirts under suits but not to court. To court I wear a “button down shirt” although the collar does not button down. I have never used the term “blouse” in my life, although I have several silk shirts. Today I am wearing jeans because it is jeans day. I would wear them every day if I could. Professional is somewhat in the eye of your audience and your boss. My boss once fussed at me for being too casual so I bought several Brooks Brothers suits. Those are saved mostly for court and clients. She gave up on me when she realized I am who I am and I work harder than most. Every woman in this office dresses in thier own professional style. The only thing I look askance at is too much leg or boob.

    • I think this is pretty normal and you fit in fine. Obviously the demographic on this blog tends to like fashion. Apart from one or two others. I don’t think the rest of the women in my office really care so long as their outfit meets the dress code – and they’d violate the dress code if they could. There are one or two that I personally think look sloppy every day, one or two women who always look amazing (I’m not one of them), and the rest are somewhere in between. So long as you know what to wear for court and for clients, I’m sure you fit in fine.

  28. Oh, and I am going to Target tonight to check out the t shirts! I find that my tshirts look kind of sad by the end of the summer no matter where I buy them so I might as well try to save a buck.

    • I agree, I’m tired of paying $30 for a knit shirt that doesn’t last more than one summer, may as well pay $10.

      • So I went to Target last night and got some t-shirts. They had a really nice t-shirt with some pleating or ruching (I dont know what to call it) at the neck. I suspect they are going to look really nice under a jacket. I have not tried them on yet. They were only $10. I got black and white. But they come in a ton of colors. They also come in sleeveless but I got the ones with the sleeves. They also had a couple with this very nice flower print. You would have to see them. Not girly. They would defintely look great under a jacket but they did not have my size. The nice thing about shopping at Target as opposed to say Brooks Brothers is that my 6 year old will be patient because he knows there are Legos at the end of the trip. He is a terrorist in Brooks Brothers.

    • PS. I love this site. Even though I have only purchased one thing that was recommended (shoes that I love) and most things do not suit my body style or my style, I love to hear what professional women accross the spectrum say. What is clear, is that we are not all the same. I don’t think that could be said when I got out of law school 20 years ago and we all wore our Jos A Banks Blue suit with a pleated skirt and shirt with a bow tie (barf).

      • North Shore :

        Oh, it’s too funny to think of the suits I wore when I was starting in the 1980s. I think I had that Jos A Banks suit, and I also vividly remember a long-sleeved white cotton shirt that buttoned up the back and had like vertical tuxedo pleats down the front. The neck was so high it choked me, and it needed serious ironing before wear. I wore it tucked into that pleated skirt suit, probably with L’Eggs tan hose. Eeeew!

  29. Though some may disagree, I think these shirts look great under suits. I think the satiny material along the neckline makes it just a little bit more special than a regular t-shirt.

    My only complaint is that they are a bit on the sheer side – with the lighter colored shirts, you would definitely want to consider a cami underneath.
    Oh, and they’re on sale for $12 right now!

  30. Does anyone wear woven (as opposed to knit) shells anymore? I have some silk shells in my closet from a past career. They are made of heavy silk, so not transparent at all. Some of them have decorative trim at the neck. What I like about them is that they don’t cling and so they are both modest and breathable. Because of a large bust, I feel very self-conscious in knit tops. I don’t see anyone else wearing woven silk shells, and am wondering if I wore my old ones if I’d be horribly out of fashion. Not that the rest of my ensemble is so fashionable, but still …

    • My favorite under-suit top is a black and white print woven cotton shell that I bought only a couple of years ago. I love it for the same reason you describe: no need to worry about button gaps, neckline gap when I’m plugging in my laptop, or tight “look at denise’s breasts!” knits if I take off the jacket.

      I guess without seeing them I can’t give an opinion on your specific shells (not that I’m a fashion expert anyway), but they don’t sound out-of-style to me.

    • My mom still wears these – the same ones she bought in 1985.

      Honestly, yes, they’re out of style. I only see them on women over 50, and many of them look as though they too bought them in 1985.

      • Reading Denise’s comment – I should say that I am referring to a specific kind of woven silk shell, of which I cannot find a picture on Google, but it was very popular in the 80s. No added stretch, possibly a button at the back of the neck, and possibly shoulder pads.

        • I wore those all the time in the ’80s, loved them under suits. Sadly, I do believe they are out of style, don’t see them much anymore.

    • NSV, what you describe is my favorite type of shirt to wear to work, namely feminine blouses that is. I wear blouses of the sort you describe under suits as well as with pencil skirts and cardigans. My favorite sorts are blouses with round necks and cap sleeves in light or pastel colors. Sometimes I enjoy a soft floral print as well.

    • Do you mean something like this shell from Ann Taylor?

      It seems classic, and is currently in stores. I don’t see why this would be out of style.

  31. Has anyone considered that perhaps plain t-shirts are not appropriate to wear with suits?

    • I think if you read through all the above comments, you’ll see that there are several people who would say it’s inappropriate.
      Personally, do I think wearing the same kind of t-shirt I would wear to the gym, to sleep in, or putz around the house on a Saturday afternoon (such as the one I’m currently wearing) are inappropriate under a suit? Absolutely.
      But do I think a nice cotton or cotton blend shirt that happens to have the same shape as a tshirt and is fitted (rather than baggy and oversized) is inappropriate under a suit? Generally, no (though I will admit there situations where a blouse or button-front may be more appropriate).
      If tshirts aren’t appropriate under a suit, then a whole lot of intelligent, smartly-dressed female attorneys I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with are getting it very wrong.

  32. l'eremita :

    I really, really dislike button front shirts on me, so when I wear a suit, I always wear silk blouses underneath. Would you consider a sheer silk blouse with a camisole underneath, all underneath a suit, inappropriate for a summer student at a law firm with a formal dress code?

    • Delta Sierra :

      Even with a cami, I don’t think sheer fabrics are appropriate in a formal-dress-code setting.

  33. I personally don’t think it’s particulary inappropriate. What I would do, however, is get a cami with a good in-built bra so you don’t show an actual bra through your blouse – just the camisole strap (or wear a strapless bra under the camisole). I think showing bra straps is a bit inappropriate but the inbuilt bra cami/strapless bra solves the issue.

    • l'eremita :

      That’s a good idea, Grump. I normally just try to match the bra with the camisole and wear a bra with straps of similar width, but I think it would be much more comfortable, and less sloppy, if I paired it with a built-in bra camisole.

      Come to think of it, I believe I wore a sheer blouse/cami to one of my interviews, and I still got the job, but I kept my suit jacket on at all times during the process. I hope that means these types of blouses are not considered totally inappropriate there. I feel like they are much more beautiful and easy to wear than plain button fronts.

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