a lovely living

I have always been a fan of the basics. By basics, I am referring to those articles of clothing that you reach for as a starting point and good foundation to your outfits. This includes, but isn’t limited to, your denim, t-shirts, basic sweaters, bras, underwear, everyday shoes etc. The majority of my outfits revolve around these pieces and if I don’t have ‘the right jeans’ or ‘the right layering shirt’ to work into an outfit I’m envisioning, we have a problem. We laugh about it, but when I was visiting an Anthro with some girlfriends a while back (visiting that store is a major treat now that I don’t have one anywhere near me!), they walked out with a few beautiful pieces and I ended up purchasing…wait for it…a white cotton tank! I didn’t hear the end of that one for a while, haha, but I’m telling you, when you find the right basics, it’s a dream come true :)

To start out, today I am discussing the basic white t-shirt (tanks and long sleeves included). One thing important to note as I discuss basics in general is that I’m not pegging ‘basic’ as ‘classic’. If you’re personality is preppy or boho, then by all means, your basics should reflect that as well. When it comes to white t-shirts, I like to mix it up a little bit. I like to keep a range of shirts everywhere from fitted to swing top, long, high/low, v-neck, crew neck etc. because different styles work into different outfits.

My point is not to make this feel overwhelming to you. I’m guessing you may have an idea of what shapes/styles/brands work best on your body. And if you don’t, let me recommend ordering a bunch of shirts from Nordstrom or ShopBop or somewhere that offers free shipping/returns and have at it. See what works in what sizes and brands the best for you. I’ve had some practice with this over the years and if you scroll through many of my posts I guarantee you’ll start to see some of my basics pop out at you. To give you a starting point, here are my most favorite brands that I have come to trust when it comes to basic tee’s (no, this isn’t a sponsored post):


These brands don’t exactly fall on the cheap side, but for me, this isn’t an area that I want to cheat. I’m much more willing to splurge on my basics than I am on the ‘fluff’ pieces that I only wear once in a while…unless it’s a fancy Kate Spade gift…but gifts are meant to be special ;). The main reason being that the higher quality makes a huge difference to me. A great benefit to knowing the brands that work well for me is that when I am able to hunt them down in a sale or find them randomly at TJMaxx, I can grab them without hesitation whether that’s what I was shopping for or not. Basics are a very personal choice, however, and the brand, price point, fit, style will all need to fit into your lifestyle. But if you find your $10 perfect tee, I’ll be envious for life!

Here are a handful of shirts from my favorite brands that i’d highly recommend. A few of these are on my wish-list as well and I’d love to get them in my closet (2, 7 and 9 to be exact)!


1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12

I’m likely going to be continuing this conversation in the weeks to come because all of a sudden I seem to be reading about ‘basics’ rather often and I’m realizing I’m not alone in my love for them! I think it was a quote by Michael Kors that I recently read stating that 70% of your wardrobe should be made up of basic pieces while the other 30% should be the ‘fluff’, or something to that extent. I agree with that ratio whole-heartedly. Trendy, fun, frilly pieces (ie this top) are great fun and can really let your personality show through, but without the basics, many of those looks can prove difficult to achieve.

My apologies on the novel today! Hopefully some of you found this helpful. Apparently I have quite the passion for basics, so be prepared!


  • Yes!! I am desperately in need of some instruction on where to find good basics – and what even are those basics I should have on hand! I have a few pretty sad looking white tees that are not nearly as white as they used to be from being worn so much. Definitely time to invest in a few more, and this is such a great place to start!! Looking forward to reading your insight on all this. (And pinning so I can refer back!)

  • Heidi says:

    Great info, thank you! Question: so, some bloggers advocate for buying “cheap” white T’s every season because they fade and get yellow’ish no matter the quality. Do you have a trick to keeping yours white, or do you replace yours every season too? I love a white T in the summer with a fun little necklace, cute scarf, etc. Come on, sum-ma!

    • marisa says:

      Hi Heidi! I’m no laundry guru, but I am diligent about washing my whites separately and using the ‘whites’ cycle (hot water) which seems to make a big difference. I’ve read that bleaching whites can sometimes work against you, so I don’t use that. I also think there’s something to say for washing/wearing my whites consistently (as opposed to letting them sit in drawers/closets). I find that the whites I wear less often tend to discolor faster than those I am wearing/washing regularly. And I do tend to wear all of my white shirts year-round. Whether the quality of the shirt stands up to dis-coloring better or not I can’t say, but the quality certainly helps with the amount of wear that I give them!

  • Jen says:

    I just love and admire your style and postings
    Two thumbs up on the basic white !

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