Cotton Basics That Are Anything But Basic

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Sometimes you just need to get back to the basics, whether in life or when you’re just trying to figure out what to wear. When you aren’t in the mood to get dressed up for a night out, sometimes a great tee-shirt or the perfect hoodie is exactly what you need.

But not all basics are created equal. Here are three clothing companies that go above and beyond when it comes to dressing down.

Kotn

The Toronto-based e-comm startup Kotn is bringing super soft 100 percent Egyptian cotton basics to the masses at a decent price, thanks to its unique business model. When government cuts in Egypt meant that many farmers in the Nile River Delta couldn’t afford to continue growing cotton, the company began subsidizing hundreds of small farms. This meant retailers could buy cotton directly from the farmers, cutting out the middleman. Kotn also uses local factories to produce the garments and sells directly to the consumer, which means you pay less for a great product.

The company recently expanded both its product line — adding tracksuits, polos, and henleys into the mix — and its color palette (indigo, dusty rose, and forest green). We love their loopback terry pullover hoodies, especially the one in dusty rose (above, $78). They’re soft and breathable with that classic hoodie look we dig: a jersey-lined hood, a kangaroo pocket, and ribbed cuffs and waistband.

Cotton Citizen

Cotton Citizen, the LA brand that uses dyeing techniques you’d more normally associate with denim than tees, is all about unique colors and washes. This and the fact that the garments are processed by hand in Los Angeles and incorporate fabrics like super soft cotton jersey helps to elevate the basic tee shirt, giving them a unique look like no one else’s. Case in point: the Presley Tee (above, $90), which comes in, among other choices, a cool light-blue color and features side slits and rich patterning provided by a technique called devoré or burnout, which produces small semi-transparent areas in the 100 percent cotton fabric.

Les Basics

This British label with a French name that’s made in Portugal launched last year after founder Kieron Hurley couldn’t find what he was looking for — basics that were more than basic. The clothes are made from premium fabrics and include nice details that help separate them (and you) from the pack. We love the garment dyed Le Sweatshirt ($109). It’s either a sweatshirt that’s sharp enough to wear with a collared shirt underneath, or a sweater that’s casual enough to wear like a sweatshirt. It features cotton mesh side panels for breathability and a reverse side body to show off the contrast in the textures. However you define (or wear) the 100 percent cotton loop-back fleece Le Sweatshirt, you’ll look great and feel comfortable.