5 T-Shirts for Comfortable and Ethical Travel Wear
Not too long ago, I was the kind of traveler who attempted to stuff their entire household into a suitcase. The night before departure, you would be guaranteed to find me sitting on top of my suitcase, frantically trying to do up the zippers while clothes and shoes and whatnot popped out of the sides (perhaps you're familiar with the struggle?).
Oh, how times have changed.
Today, I crave a bit more simplicity both in life at home and on the road. Packing minimally, usually with only one carry-on, has not only become an essential part of preparing for a trip but has also significantly simplified the process of getting from point A to B.
However, when I first restricted myself to only one piece of luggage I found myself scrutinizing every single item I wanted to pack. The stark reality of the situation is that when you limit yourself to a 40L backpack, you absolutely have to get choosy. For me, this meant not dragging along 9 pairs of shoes or packing for every kind of weather imaginable regardless of the destination, both things I was guilty of in the past. I had to pair everything down to the bare-bone essentials, but still wanted to feel comfortable and true to myself. I'm not a big believer in purchasing a separate set of "travel clothes" (unless you're going for an expedition-style trip) so I stick with my go-to everyday wardrobe: jeans, a button-up or a t-shirt.
Now that I pack less than ever before, I'm more focused on purchasing timeless pieces I'll be able to use for many years to come. In short, I'm done with the fast fashion industry. I want to invest my money in clothing that is produced with the greatest regard for our planet. Ethically-made clothing created by people earning a fair salary, not by underage or exploited workers. Yes, it costs more to support companies that produce clothes in this way and I won't be buying as much as before, but in the end I think we're doing ourselves, our children, and our home a favor. Isn't that a worthwhile investment?
So in this vain I want to share with you 5 of my favorite comfortable and ethically-made t-shirts that are simply perfect for travel wear (and for when you're at home, too!).
The Catt (worn in Ruby in the photos in this post) comfortably stays put all day long without restricting your body. Made from mid-weight cotton, this Tradlands shirt feels soft and light on the skin, while the durable hemming easily makes it one of the best t-shirts I own. My absolute favorite feature is the scoop neckline, which happens to be constructed slightly looser than your normal crew neck tee, revealing a bit more skin for a more feminine cut. Ethically made in the USA (more about the company here), the Catt is also available in Chalk, Cavern, and Heather Grey.
American Giant is perhaps best known for their sweatshirts (they claim they're the best *ever* made - I haven't tried them yet, so let me know if you have in the comments below), but I am completely obsessed with their V-Neck t-shirts. Made in the USA from a super soft textured cotton slub fabric, these shirts come in an array of colors and feature a subtle back seam detail that elevates this shirt above ordinary. And for a simple yet essential closet staple like a t-shirt, I think these ones sit reasonably priced.
by American Giant
While the short-sleeved version I own and love is unfortunately for the most part sold out (you might still be able to scoop some up here and here), the long-sleeve Necessity V-Neck is still available online. Made from 57% organic cotton and Fair Trade Certified sewing, this shirt sits comfortably on your hips without riding up and the lovely slub knit makes it more interesting than a basic cotton t-shirt. Patagonia is also dedicated to promoting fair labor practices and safe working conditions within the factories they work with.
A light colored cotton shirt that isn't see through? Check. Made from ethically sourced materials? Check. Produced in small batches by workers who are paid fair wages? Check. Besides the Catt, Tradlands has also constructed a winning t-shirt in the Ada, a relaxed fit crew neck tee that works beautifully on its own or layered under a sweater. The Ada is also available in White, Slate, Indigo, Cavern, and Brunswick.
With a slightly longer scooped rear hem and breathable stretch modal jersey, the Foundation Short Sleeve Top by Prana is ideal for backpacking, sightseeing, or simply throwing it on over your bathing suit. While the price is on the higher end for a t-shirt, Prana prides itself on sourcing sustainable materials and making their products in factories that follow strict guidelines when it comes to safety. The Foundation is also available in a tank or long sleeve style.