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Fresh Clean Threads vs True Classic: Who’s the King of the Budget Tee?

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William Barton Writer & Photographer   Updated: 

Fitted Shirts for the Masses

Fresh Clean Threads

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The Dad Bod Powerhouse

True Classic

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Fresh Clean Threads is the best option for most people---they’re nearly identical to True Classic Tees, but cost around $3 less per shirt. Either way, these are the two best budget-friendly t-shirt brands I’ve found.

Shop Fresh Clean Threads

I really love True Classic Tees because their fit and fabric is excellent. But I’d personally pick Fresh Clean Tees because they’re virtually the same in all ways but are less expensive. However, True Classic is worth getting if you want to support their amazing giving-back program, or if you have more of a belly. True Classic Tees have a bit more room in the torso, so they’re better for dad bods.

Shop True Classic Tees
(Get 15% off with code TAM15)

Pros:

  • Excellent, flattering fit starting at just $22 per shirt
  • Bundle packs allow you to save more on wardrobe re-stocks
  • Wide variety of shirt styles, and even some sweaters
  • Tailored fit through the chest, shoulders, and arms looks great on every body type
  • Larger variety of shirt styles compared to Fresh Clean: henleys, pocket-tees, v-neck, polo, sweatshirts, long sleeve, and more
  • Impressive giving back program that leads to over 15,000+ shirts donated per month

Cons:

  • They run a little short in length---consider the tall version if you're above 6'2"
  • They’re $3 more expensive per shirt compared to Fresh Clean Tees

If you’re like most guys, your t-shirts get the most play in your weekly wear. 

As much as I enjoy fashion and layering this and that, there’s no replacing the simple beauty of a great fitting tee. 

I wear shirts from Fresh Clean Threads and True Classic more than anything else in my closet (except my jeans, and I wear the same pair every day). 

Because the two brands are so similar, I decided to do a detailed breakdown so I can definitively recommend to you the best pick for your money.

Why Should You Trust Me?

T Shirt Brands Ive Tried William Barton The Adult Man Mens Style
Just a few of the 25+ men’s t-shirt brands I’ve tried

Since kicking off my career as a men’s style writer in 2019, I’ve tried t-shirts from well over 25 brands.

As of 2023, I believe the two best brands in the budget category are still Fresh Clean Threads and True Classic

I’ve owned several styles from each brand since 2021 and I’ve worn and washed them over 50 times.

Overview

Fresh Clean Threads logo TM 1 2x 70abab74 f3a5 402e ab4b
Fabric StratuSoft (CottonPoly blend) 60% ringspun cotton, 40% polyester
Size Range S-XL S-2XL
Cost Per Single Shirt Starts at $22 Starts at $24.99
Warranty 100 day guarantee Free exchanges and returns
Visit Fresh Clean Threads Visit True Classic

Fresh Clean Threads

Fresh Clean Tees chocolate shirt medium
The Fresh Clean Threads Crew Neck

Fresh Clean Threads (rebranded in August 2022 from Fresh Clean Tees) is one of the first brands to make more modern, fitted shirts at an inexpensive price point. They got their start in 2015 as a t-shirt subscription service, but eventually moved to the current direct-to-consumer model they operate with now. 

You can still opt in for their subscription service, but in my detailed Fresh Clean Threads review, I found that there wasn’t a tremendous benefit to make the monthly subscription worthwhile.

You get free shipping, but I’d rather buy a bulk pack of five shirts and pay a bit of shipping up front than get one shirt per month for five months. 

Fresh Clean Tees white henley shirt fit
The Fresh Clean Threads Henley

I was super impressed with the fit and feel of Fresh Clean Threads. I’ve had my six shirts from them for about a year now and they still look good as new. I only had one shirt that frayed a bit at the hem, but I still wear it all the time. 

The major thing is that these shirts don’t pill or fade. And because they use a poly/cotton blend, they don’t need steaming or ironing before putting them on.

Pros

  • The slimmer, more modern fit is refreshing when so many budget brands drape like a potato sack. 

  • They have a huge variety of colors—mostly subdued and neutral.

  • The price is right starting at $22 for a single shirt (and the price goes lower when you buy multiple).

  • Fresh Clean Threads is partnered with Coral Reef Alliance, and a percentage of every sale goes toward a great cause—saving the world’s coral reefs.

  • Their products are all made in certified wrap factories with acceptable working condition certifications.

Cons

  • They run a little short in length.

Fresh Clean Threads
(Get 15% off sitewide with code TAM15)

Fresh Clean Threads' tees have a unique, flattering fit that emphasizes your shoulders and doesn't swallow your arms. The cotton-polyester blend holds its color well and doesn't wrinkle easily.

Shop Fresh Clean Threads Read Our Review

True Classic

model sitting wearing True Classic Tees t shirt 1
The True Classic Henley

I thought Fresh Clean Threads was my number one budget t-shirt brand, but then I tried True Classic and they give the reigning champ a run for their money. 

True Classic is a younger company, and while they were founded in 2018, they didn’t really pop-off until early 2020.

I’ve been really impressed with the fit and feel of my True Classic clothing haul and I’m happy to support the company because they have such an extensive giving back program. They partner with the Tiny House Project to provide housing for veterans, and they also donate an average of 15,000+ shirts per month to homeless shelters in the Los Angeles area. 

True Classic Tees polo shirt details 1
The True Classic Polo

True Classic are remarkably similar to Fresh Clean Threads in the fit and fabric. True Classic’s range allow a bit more room in the torso, so they’re my top recommendation for guys with dad bod. 

However, because they average about $3-4 more per shirt compared to Fresh Clean Threads, and the quality is the same, I recommend Fresh Clean Threads for those more cost-conscious.

Pros

  • Excellent fitted silhouette in the chest, shoulders, and arms, plus a little more room in the torso.

  • The cotton and polyester blend holds color well, doesn’t wrinkle, and is very comfortable. 

  • True Classic has a wide selection of hoodies and sweaters that are best in class. 

Cons

  • Compared to Fresh Clean Threads, they’re more expensive per shirt, though the quality and fit is basically the same (though True Classic does leave a little more room in the torso). 

True Classic

True Classic offers some of the best value and fit you can find in basic t-shirts. If you’re looking to stock your wardrobe with some simple tees that fit well, are flattering in the shoulders and chest, and don’t cost a ton, True Classic is a fantastic brand for you.

Shop True Classic Read Our Review

Features Face to Face

Fabric

After owning shirts from both brands and putting each through the wash at least a half-dozen times, I haven’t noticed any significant difference between the two.

Fresh Clean Tees short sleeve tee in brown
The Fresh Clean Threads Crew Neck

Fresh Clean Threads uses their own proprietary StratuSoft fabric, which is a cotton and polyester blend. They don’t disclose anything other than that, so I’m not sure on the exact makeup.

True Classic uses 60% ringspun cotton and 40% polyester, so it’s also a cotton/polyester blend.

True Classic Tees model wearing black t shirt
The True Classic Crew Neck

In my experience, they’re exactly the same. Both strike an excellent balance of being lightweight while still fairly thick. They’re both flexible and breathable. Neither wrinkle much, fade, stretch, pill, or shrink after a wash. 

Fresh Clean Tees neutral pack closeup

I like the fabric for both (and if I’m honest, I think they’re practically identical), so neither one notches a point over the other in this category. 

Fit

model wearing True Classic Tees grey henley
The True Classic Henley

The fit is the biggest difference between these two brands. But there are a lot of similarities in the fit, too. 

The fit is basically the same in the chest, shoulders, and arms. True Classic leaves a little more room in the torso, which makes it a better choice for guys rocking a dad bod. That said, neither of these brands fit loosely like Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. 

Both are quite tailored and have a modern athletic style. I think the fit for both brands is universally flattering for guys—whether you’re slim and toned or have love handles, each brand is going to look significantly better than the basic t-shirts we’re all used to getting from the bargain bin. 

Fresh Clean Tees fit in the chest
The Fresh Clean Threads Crew Neck

If I had to choose a fit I prefer, I’d go with True Classic, just because they have the tiniest bit more room in the torso. Still, the difference is marginal, and the fit between the two brands is essentially interchangeable. 

The biggest takeaway for you to know is that the fit for both Fresh Clean and True Classic is far better than most other t-shirts in the $20 range. 

Stand Out Features

Selection

Fresh Clean Tees military color option medium fit
The Fresh Clean Threads Crew Neck

If you can’t tell by now, I think a basic crew neck t-shirt from Fresh Clean Threads is about the same as a basic crew neck from True Classic

Because of that, when deciding between the two brands, the selection makes a big difference. 

Fresh Clean Threads has a far greater color selection, and their site is easy to navigate. I also like the packs Fresh Clean Threads puts together more (I picked up the Earth Tone 5-pack and have been wearing them nearly every day). 

Fresh Clean Threads Earth Tones 5-Pack
(Get 15% off sitewide with code TAM15)

If you're as crazy for olive green shirts as I am, you'll go nuts for the Earth Tones 5-Pack. Just a few clicks fills up your drawer with well-fitting shirts (they make your shoulders look good).

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But True Classic also have a few tricks up their sleeve. They offer pocket tees (Fresh Clean doesn’t), so if you love that little chest pocket as much as I do, True Classic is the only way to go. 

trying the True Classic Tees polo 1
The True Classic Polo

Each brand has sweatshirts, hoodies, v-necks, long sleeves, and henleys (again, Fresh Clean Threads has a better color selection). 

Fresh Clean Threads costs around four dollars less for a single t-shirt, and when you factor that into the bundles, the price difference can be quite significant. That said, as of writing, True Classic Tees has better prices on their hoodies and they offer other cool products like beanies and underwear.

True Classic Tees model wearing black shirt 1
The True Classic Crew Neck

If you like bolder colors, you’ll want to start your shopping with Fresh Clean Threads. Because they have so many different options, you’re more likely to find louder colors like crimson and kelly green. True Classic has reds and blues, but they’re much more muted.

Fresh Clean Threads vs True Classic Tees: Which is Best for You?

Fresh Clean Tees vs True Classic Tees Side by Side

This is a tough call: I think both brands are phenomenal, and nearly every day I wear a t-shirt from one of these two brands. 

The fabric quality and durability is the same, so that shouldn’t factor into your decision. 

The fit is nearly the same, but True Classic leaves a bit more room in the torso. True Classic is still a much slimmer fit than most regular t-shirt brands, but compared to Fresh Clean Threads, they’re a slightly better match for you if you’ve got a bit of belly. 

True Classic

True Classic offers some of the best value and fit you can find in basic t-shirts. If you’re looking to stock your wardrobe with some simple tees that fit well, are flattering in the shoulders and chest, and don’t cost a ton, True Classic is a fantastic brand for you.

Shop True Classic Read Our Review

That said, Fresh Clean Threads is a decent amount less expensive. If you’re only buying one crew neck, the four dollar difference might not mean much to you. But when you get into the bundles, the cost savings add up.

Because the quality is the same and the fit is similar, when I pick up my next batch of t-shirts, I’ll go with Fresh Clean Threads. 

Fresh Clean Threads
(Get 15% off sitewide with code TAM15)

Fresh Clean Threads' tees have a unique, flattering fit that emphasizes your shoulders and doesn't swallow your arms. The cotton-polyester blend holds its color well and doesn't wrinkle easily.

Shop Fresh Clean Threads Read Our Review

But I feel I need to add this caveat: at the time of writing, I’m just finishing a holiday season filled with overindulgence, so I’ve got a belly. And I’m wearing my True Classic Tees more than my Fresh Clean Threads tees right now. 

If you’ve got some dad bod going on, you’ll likely have a better experience with True Classic. And while you’re there, check out their other items like their hoodies and beanies. 

But if you’re a slimmer guy, I see no reason to spend extra for True Classic, and in that case, I would choose Fresh Clean Threads

FAQs

What brand is best for men’s t-shirts?

For budget friendly t-shirts, I like Fresh Clean Threads and True Classic. For more luxury, I like Cuts.

How much do Fresh Clean Threads shirts shrink?

You should anticipate 1/4″ to 1/3″ of shrinkage in the first wash or two. I recommend washing just one shirt first to test and stick to cold water and a low-heat tumble dry or air dry.

Are 100% cotton shirts good?

100% cotton shirts can be great, but they shrink a lot, wrinkle, and fade. But you can also get more interesting and high-end textures with 100% cotton. For everyday shirts, I like added polyester because they’re easier to care for and more resilient.

What is a crew neck t-shirt?

Crew neck refers to the collar, and it’s one that sits around the base of the neck without any extra room (like a v-neck).