It always pays off to have an arsenal of what you might called souped-up menswear essentials in your rotation, pieces that on the surface look simple and subtly stylish, and yet offer so much more. This is why you need a merino wool T-shirt in your fall and winter style rotation (or really, any time of year). Like a great Oxford shirt built with subtle stretch for comfort, or like some of the best loungewear that’s actually made with under-the-radar performance fabric, merino wool T-shirts pack quite a punch if you seek the right blend of performance and style.
Merino wool T-shirts have been gaining steam in terms of popularity in recent seasons, but merino wool has long been a fabric acknowledged for its many helpful, highly functional attributes. What exactly is merino wool? Allow us to offer a quick primer. Merino wool is sourced from Merino sheep (yes, it really gets its name from sheep). These sheep originated in Spain, but are now found most commonly in locales like Australia and New Zealand.
What is it about merino sheep that leads to such useful, cool and surprisingly stylish T-shirts? Merino sheep fibers are prized for their versatility when turned into merino wool (like cotton, it can be spun into everything from T-shirts to buttondown shirts). Merino wool T-shirts just so happen to be an A-plus style move in matters of rugged appeal and utility in all manner of scenarios.
Merino wool goes above and beyond what you’d get from textured slub cotton or even cotton-linen blends, which perform just fine in hotter conditions but don’t quite give you as much leeway if you want to layer through multiple seasons. Hence, merino wool and similar blends are the game-changing fabric you didn’t know you needed.
Notably, merino wool is packed with the kind of features that should grab your attention, given the fact that fine merino wool is naturally anti-microbial and anti-odor. It’s also both warming and yet temperature-regulating, meaning it’s pretty similar to a performance T-shirt or performance shirt, but with more of what you might call a “shape-shifting” quality.
What we mean to say is this: You can wear a merino shirt as a base layer, you can rock it on its own beneath a waxed trucker jacket, you can pick one up in henley form for a dash of rugged style and you can team it with everything from a blazer to a chambray shirt, especially given its moisture-regulating qualities. Merino wool is found these days in T-shirts worn more for style (as in, say, a merino henley meant to be worn casually with joggers or denim jeans), as well as in performance-minded gear (think of the shirt you might wear hiking, for instance).
Because of this versatility in matters of form and function, merino wool T-shirts are often pricier than typical cotton knitwear, which isn’t a bad thing at all (more on this in a second). In fact, a higher price tag offers up more wearability in more situations, so really, it all evens out in the end. When in doubt, merino wool never fails, folks.
We could go on and on about merino wool, which is really some of the most innovative material being used in shirts and knitwear these days. In fact, a few brands like the ones you’ll see below are really putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak, and focusing solely on transforming merino wool into everything from knitwear to sweats, base layers and, as we mentioned, buttondown shirts.
But when it comes to laidback fall and winter style, especially for cozy days in front of the fire or days out and about in the field, you can’t beat the always-classic appeal of a merino wool T-shirt. Pick one up in a long-sleeve iteration or wear a short-sleeve merino tee to hit the road, shop (online) for holiday gifts or grab a beer with your buddies. While merino T-shirts of all sorts shine through no matter the season, there’s no question that the time is now to snag one for seasonal layering.
You’ve got the lay of the land in some respects with merino wool T-shirts, but what else do you need to know? Here are a few tips to get your shopping sorted out.
What To Look for When Shopping Merino Wool T-Shirts
- Go with what you know: By that, we mean think of how often you’re going to wear your T-shirt, and how you intend to wear it. In fact, focus on precisely how you intend to wear your T-shirt, because merino wool is so durable, you can wear it quite often without missing a beat. Do you prefer throwing on a short-sleeve T-shirt on its own, or using it as a base layer with a crewneck sweatshirt? Are you the type to most commonly layer up a long-sleeve tee under a chambray shirt or a denim shirt? Or do you like to rock a long-sleeve underneath both a trucker jacket and a denim shirt? The possibilities are certainly limitless (or almost limitless) given what merino wool brings to the table in terms of comfort.
- Pick your poison: By pick your poison, we mean that, yet again, the world of merino wool T-shirts really is something else in terms of its breadth and popularity. You can select a merino T-shirt from upstart brands or apparel giants, or you can go straight to the source and pick up a merino T-shirt from a brand that solely focuses on selling merino to the masses in a variety of forms, be it T-shirts, sweatpants or even outerwear (yes, merino wool is everywhere). Well-made merino wool T-shirts are available in plenty of places if you know where to look, and because it takes great care to source and produce merino wool garments, you can rest easy knowing that brands aren’t cutting corners or selling you short.
- Don’t be afraid to stock up: Now, are we telling you to go out and buy a merino wool T-shirt for every day of the week? Certainly not, unless you intend to wear merino exclusively (now that we think about it, that’s not a bad way to go). But even just two or three merino shirts can change your wardrobe in a big way, especially given the fact that merino wool is easy to wear time and time again (we’ll cover this type of option specifically below). So, we say invest in the type of knitwear that could shift the way you think about your seasonal layering and the sort of knitwear you rock the entire year. Go on, get a couple of your new favorite merino wool T-shirts.
In an ideal world, those tips are going to set you on the path to success when it comes down to buying one of the best merino wool T-shirts for any pursuit you can dream up. But here’s the kicker: We did the hard work for you and are shining the spotlight on some of our favorite merino tees right now. Shop and stock up with ease.
The Best Merino Wool T-Shirts for Men to Buy Now
Proof 72-Hour Merino Tee
From the astonishing array of colors to the fact that the folks at Huckberry and Proof really have put this T-shirt through 72 hours worth of adventures, it’s clear to us that this is one of the best merino T-shirts on the market. We’ll be on that being the case whether you go with a long-sleeve merino tee from Proof or whether you pick up this wear-with-anything, fairly priced short-sleeve option. The navy color (or any dark colorways) works remarkably well as a travel T-shirt, as a tee to wear with a denim jacket at a concert, or as a work-from-home tee built with what Proof calls engineered fabric. The difference is plain to see once you start wearing merino from Proof and Huckberry.
Icebreaker Oasis Merino Long-Sleeve Baselayer
We said we were blown away by the usefulness of merino wool T-shirts, right? Consider impressed even further with this baselayer from Icebreaker, designed to resist odor and wick sweat, whether worn underneath a puffer jacket or a durable bomber jacket on or off the slopes. The minimal colorway and mobile design doesn’t hurt, either.
Ibex Merino Tencel Tee
Ibex pulls no punches with its use of technical fabrics and its outlook on turning innovation into stylish essentials. This tee, built with both TENCEL™ fibers and merino for comfort and what the brand calls “ultimate cooling,” is enough to turn you into a believer when it comes to the power of merino T-shirts.
Proof 72-Hour Merino Long-Sleeve Tee
We simply had to go back to the well again, so to speak, to showcase one of the best merino wool T-shirts in its long-sleeve iteration. Available for a higher price tag and using a design that’ll more readily stand up to blustery winter days beneath a burly flannel workshirt, we say it’s worth picking up both the long-sleeve and short-sleeve merino wool T-shirt options from Huckberry’s Proof line of gear.