Men's Fashion

True Classic Tees Review: 3 Shirts Tested And Why We Don’t Recommend Them

Editors Rating

You may remember the jokey ads or caught a glimpse of what could be a True Classic tee out on the streets. And now you might be thinking, “well, just how good are they anyway?” Fret no more, my friends. We’re here to give you the comprehensive True Classic tees review. 

I’ve worn a lot of t-shirts in my time. As a model of over nine years working in Paris, London, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, LA, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, and Mexico, I’ve accumulated an understanding of the world’s most classic modern staple. And amongst that international mess of a career, I’ve plied my trade as a writer, mainly in fashion.

I’ve written countless consumer guide articles, and I even got offered to write about the best travel sewing kits (I swiftly declined that one). Point is, give me the task of a True Classic men’s tees review, and I’ll be able to confidently place all of them within the universe of t-shirts. 

For this review, I ordered one emerald green crew cut t-shirt, one heather gray polo shirt, and one white long-sleeved henley t-shirt from True Classic Tees to get a good feel for the range of t-shirts on offer. Along the ride, I wore them, swore at them, cuddled them, touched them, felt touched by them, and wore them again. But did I respectfully recycle them in the end? That begs the ultimate question: are they any good?

man standing in front a brick wall rolling up his true classic tee sleeve

First, a little about the brand. 

The founders of True Classic t-shirts, Ryan Bartlett, Nick Ventura, and Matt Winnick, set up the brand in 2019. According to PR Newswire, “True Classic has grown exponentially from $0 to $150M in sales, profitably.” 2019 was a year when t-shirts were in bountiful supply, and they had been… for decades previous. So, what did True Classic Tees have that others didn’t?

They had a mission. Bartlett’s parents and grandparents are ex-military, so he was very aware of the veterans’ homelessness crisis, and he wanted to do something about it. So he became the founder and CEO of a t-shirt company to help with the cause. 

Ryan realized t-shirts were more than a much-needed item of clothing for the homeless. They could also be a vehicle to supply profit, drive commerce, and bring in some cash for the cause in collaboration with The Tiny House charity that builds shelters for the unhoused. And, of course, they donate t-shirts to homeless vets. However, the exact information is conflicting. The website says, “we donate 40,000 t-shirts a month.” But on an email, it says, “15,425 t-shirts a month.”

Nevertheless, to sell the t-shirts, they needed a USP—a reason for people to start purchasing from yet another t-shirt brand. This t-shirt brand basically claims all other t-shirts fit terribly, and this one doesn’t. Especially, as the marketing suggests, for the dads who might have passed their peak physical body shape. So, this is a t-shirt that hugs the arms, hugs the chest, and is more forgiving on the tum-tum. Plus, it’s affordable and soft. That’s it. That’s the sell.

I’m immediately suspicious of their assertion that no other t-shirt had achieved this level of comfort previously. But the brand has arrived at a time where fashion is wising up to the need for a diverse range of body shapes. Which is a good thing. But is this particular style the one to do it?

Let’s get into this True Classic Tees review. 

man in a white true classic tee and sunglasses smiling

Product Specs / Tested 

Below are the specs of the products I tested. The biggest takeaway is that the material construction does not change from shirt to shirt, which means if you’re not a fan, like me, there isn’t another option to try.

True Classic Tee Emerald Green Crew Neck

Shirt Type: Crew Neck | Material: 60% combed ringspun cotton/40% polyester jersey | Cut: Athletic | Size Range: S-3XL | Care Instructions: Wash cold and lay flat to dry (product will shrink) | Price: [single shirt] $22.99 | Return Policy: 30 days, must return to on of 500+ ‘Return Bar’ locations (US only)

True Classic Tee Light Grey Polo

Shirt Type: Polo Shirt | Material: 60% combed ringspun cotton/ 40% polyester jersey | Cut: fitted with a three-button collar | Size Range: S-2XL | Care Instructions: Wash cold and lay flat to dry (product will shrink) | Price: [single shirt] $25.99 |Return Policy: 30 days, must return to on of 500+ ‘Return Bar’ locations (US only)

True Classic Long-Sleeved Grey Henley

Shirt Type: Long-Sleeved Henley | Material: 60% combed ringspun cotton/40% polyester jersey | Cut: Athletic | Size Range: S-2XL | Care Instructions: Wash cold and lay flat to dry (product will shrink) | Price: [single shirt] $32.99 | Return Policy: 30 days, must return to on of 500+ ‘Return Bar’ locations (US only)

Image shows loose thread on a new long-sleeved henley

Fit

This is the heart of it. The slight figure-hugging fit separates True Classic Tees from the competition. It fits tight at the arms and chest and then tapers out, giving the illusion of gym work achieved by a burrito diet. But this is, despite what their marketing will tell you, not anything new. It’s commonly known as an “athletic fit.” This style is not fashionable and not particularly cool. 

Integral to the right fit is getting the right size for you. The website has a virtual size configurator, “Find My Size,” where you can enter your age, height, and weight. Then on the next page, you can enter your skin tone (to literally no use whatsoever) and adjust your body type through toggles at the chest, waist, and hips. 

Because an idiot is attempting this True Classic Tees review, I completely missed this system before purchasing three large t-shirts. I saw they were running slightly tight from photos, which I don’t like (nor do current fashion trends, coincidentally), so I went one up from my usual medium. Post-purchase and pre-unpackaging, I came across the size guide. For my body type, it recommended a small as the best fit, and the medium would be a bit loose. The large, however, was a big baggy no-no. 

I guess I had the last laugh. The t-shirts were a perfect fit for me… just… as… I… suspected. Even in a large, the soft polyester-enhanced stretch of the t-shirt felt as if it wanted to sculpt my shoulders, pushing me vaguely into gym-bro territory. As a fashion man, I want to avoid that.

Long story short, if you like a tight fit, go for your usual size. For a relaxed fit, go one up. Very simple. Plus, athletic fit, nothing new.

Size Range

Small – 2x Extra Large

Care / Washing 

The brand recommends washing on cold. I washed the white henley long sleeve once at 30 degrees for one cycle. When all was said and dried, there was no discernable change in fabric quality from one wash. Yet, worryingly, integral threads had further loosened around the collar (see “quality” below). 

close up of a man's true classic tee

Quality

The Henley t-shirt is manufactured in China, which isn’t known for its ethical production or quality of produce. Generally, it doesn’t have the feel of a quality t-shirt. The “Fabrics” section has a more detailed breakdown of this analysis, but this statement backed up the short wear and tear of the white long-sleeved Henley t-shirt. The strands around the button-up section began to unravel after only an hour or so on my body. I think that says it all.

Though they provide a 30-day guarantee, “All items must be unworn, unwashed, unaltered, and returned in their original packaging.” That wouldn’t apply to my situation. Plus, original shipping costs aren’t refunded, and a $15 restocking fee applies. Conducting this True Classic men’s tees review left me thinking I would just buy a different t-shirt with steadfast guarantees attached to them or better quality.

Price

More affordable when bought in bulk. The 6 t-shirt staple pack pushes an individual t-shirt cost down to $14.99. I would suggest buying a single t-shirt doesn’t really make much sense because of its lower quality. For this True Classic Tees review, I had my t-shirts posted to the UK. Weirdly, the UK price jumped from $22 to £25 for one t-shirt. I’m sure there’s a valid reason for this, but they failed to let that information be known.

Fabric

True Classic Tees are a 60% ringspun cotton, 40% polyester blend. 

Ringspun cotton is spun using ring frames to cut out little strands of fiber that would normally make the cotton feel rough. This makes the t-shirt more durable and softer than conventional cotton. However, they do not give the thread count or weight of the cotton, which is blended with 40% polyester to give it its stretch. This doesn’t do much for their “premium” claim. 

In fact, the more I wore it and inspected it, the more I realized it was basically cheap. Maybe you’re entering a wet t-shirt competition. Or maybe you just need something incredibly light for hot weather. The stretchy, sheer, and lightweight fabric might be good for those options. Otherwise, this True Classic men’s tees review can testify it’s just a thin t-shirt. 

It’s also a thin tee that won’t impress environmentally conscious shoppers. Conventionally grown cotton and polyester are two materials contributing to the ecological damage that fashion puts out. Combined with its low price and poor build quality, this is the epitome of planet-unfriendly fashion.

Options (colors, other products from the brand etc.)

The expansive range of different t-shirts is fantastic for purchasing the precise style you want. There are crew necks, v-necks, raglan, long-sleeved, long-bodied, Henley, polos, and tank top t-shirts. Plus, shorts, joggers, pullovers, zippers, hats, socks, and underwear. The range of colors is broad as well, even if they do come across as slightly bland, generic, and lacking a sense of style.

man looking down standing against a brick wall wearing a green true classic tee

Marketing

Marketing gives a sense of the culture behind the brand, and it’s their opportunity to communicate. If this communication is out of step with your values, it might sway you away from the brand. Depending on who you are, you could ultimately not give a shit, either. Here’s the True Classic Tees breakdown:

The blog sticks to quite mundane SEO-geared pieces. This is a marketing exercise designed for Google, not humans. 

The website skirts a lovely balance between being nice for robot Google crawlers and having a lovely style, nice colors, and font use. 

The e-commerce can look a little like a commercial bulk order since there are no models used (definitely no bias here). 

Their social media comes across as “commercially presentable, heterosexual, American, and male.”

The “famous” adverts were well shot and hilarious in the early 90s, but now feel dated. They are not terrible by any stretch, though.

What We Like

  • The fabric is a super lightweight cotton-polyester blend which is great for hot weather.
  • When purchasing oversize, it has a nice balance of loose fit with a slightly sculpted upper.
  • The brand has a solid charitable cause at its center.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

  • The fabric is not as premium as the brand describes it.
  • The styles and colors are bland, uninventive, and unstylish.
  • The sizing guide seems to be flawed on the website.
  • Poor build quality.

What are Customers Saying About True Classic Tees? 

There are 50,000+ True Classic Tees reviews on the website. Reviewing the crew cut t-shirt, David S. says, 

“Love it. Fits just right. Truly is the shirt I have been dreaming of.” – David S. 

Speaking to New York Post, Christopher LeBlanc says,

“It’s about time there are more options for bigger guys to dress well.”  -Christopher LeBlanc 

Negative reviews reference bad sizing, not worth the price, poor garment quality, orders not arriving, bad smells, and poor fit. Barry Q. says, 

“I received my order after about 4 weeks of ordering and realized the sizing was way off.” – Barry Q.

Final Verdict

It’s always difficult coming down with a single verdict. This particular fit, combined with the soft, lightweight fabric might well be perfect for some people. Not for me. The t-shirts feel cheap, the colors look bland, and the styling is uninspiring. The way the fit is attempting to enhance “guns” and “pecks” while the taper attempts to hide large guts is too on-the-nose “masculine” for me. I can see a future where larger men can dress stylishly without needing to look ripped even when they aren’t. That seems a little backward to me.

What hit the nail in the coffin, though, were the loose threads on the Henley t-shirt. This means that while it’s a relatively affordable (still not cheap) t-shirt at $15 in the 6-pack, the fact that it’s falling apart before you’ve even washed it makes it not worth the money.

man standing against a garage door rolling up sleeves of a true classic sleeve

Alternative Options 

Listen, I get it, maybe you were really hoping to be swayed into getting your next pack of tees from one site, trying to live an uncomplicated life and all. But, life isn’t always that cut and dry, so here we have some alternative options that may suit you better.

2. Asket

Tried and true, this shirt will stand the trials and tribulations that you’re planning on putting it through. With promised minimal stretching and misshaping, it’s time to welcome this new best friend into your closet.

View The T-Shirt

3. Closed

A sweater you say? Don’t worry I haven’t completely lost it but this crew neck screams everyday basic – worth a try (they have great t-shirts as well).

View The Embroidered Crewneck

FAQ

    • From the brand website: We recommend washing on cold and laying flat to dry, or use a low temp dryer setting.” We interpret cold to be 30 degrees.

      • True Classic Tees are made of 60% ringspun cotton, 40% polyester blend.

        Ringspun cotton is spun using ring frames to cut out little strands of fiber that would normally make the cotton feel rough. This makes the t-shirt more durable and softer than conventional cotton. However, they do not give thread count or weight of the cotton, which is blended with 40% polyester to give it its stretch. This doesn’t do much for their “premium” claim. 

        • According to the website, “fabric will shrink minimally (5%) on a low heat setting in the dryer.” 

          • This True Classic Tees review says: ultimately, no. 

            You will be financially better off purchasing a more expensive t-shirt with better fabric and a higher build quality. Plus, other brands do an “athletic fit.” Find your next t-shirt with our best men’s t-shirt guide to help.