In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of the three most widely available t-shirt styles, spanning three distinct price points.

The timeless, universally popular short-sleeved t-shirt is the backbone of any custom printing operation, and it also happens to be our most frequently produced item each year. We’ve found out a lot about what people enjoy and don’t like, as well as the most popular t-shirt designs, through delivering all those shirts and hearing from our customers.

In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of the three most common types of t-shirts available at varying price points and advise you on which to choose in certain situations. What we’ll be looking at is: In the budget range, you can’t go wrong with a Gildan Ultra Cotton Tee.

The Jersey T-Shirt by Bella+Canvas in the middle price tier.

The Triblend Jersey T-Shirt, also by Bella+Canvas, in the premium price tier.

Only these three choices, in my opinion, will satisfy the vast majority of clients and meet a broad range of needs and tastes. I’ll compare them based on how they look and feel, how much they cost, what colors they come in, and what kinds of prints you can get, and I’ll highlight the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Fabric and feel

The Ultra Cotton Tee is constructed from one hundred percent cotton carded open-end yarn. This is discussed at length in our comprehensive guide to t-shirt materials, but the key takeaway is that it is inexpensive, albeit not as comfortable as the other two choices.

It’s a sturdy fabric that’ll have the relaxed feel of those free t-shirts they fire out of cannons at basketball games but with a bit more structure. The quality of the Ultra Cotton Tee is secondary to its low price.

The Jersey T-Shirt is likewise 100% cotton, but it’s softer and smoother since it’s constructed from combed and ring-spun cotton. It’s a lightweight, retail-quality fabric that will drape and fall more freely than cheaper alternatives.

This material’s minimal weight comes with a trade-off, however: it is somewhat transparent in lighter hues like white, ash, and natural. On the plus side, this material is soft and stretchy, making it a pleasure to wear.

The Triblend Jersey T-Shirt is the softest of the three since it is created from a 50/25/25 blend of polyester, cotton, and rayon. Its one-of-a-kind fabric is what makes it so luxuriously comfortable and affordable.

It’s also a little bit lighter than before, which, on the one hand, makes it easy to wear and move about in. The opposite is true for really light hues; they will seem somewhat transparent. This is noticeable with a small number of hues but not the vast majority.

Thinner, lighter t-shirts and other retail grade clothing are becoming more popular. This is due to the increased emphasis on layering, comfort, and form in today’s fashions, as well as the tighter weave used to make fabrics feel softer and print more smoothly.

Fit and construction

The Ultra Cotton Tee comes in a typical, roomy fit that works for a broad range of body shapes. The term “tubular construction” refers to the fact that the shirt’s main body is constructed from a single “tube” of fabric.

This also implies that the cut is less restrictive and more boxy. The sizing information on the product website is accurate; therefore, I suggest getting the size you normally wear.

With higher shoulder seams, shorter, more fitting sleeves, and a slightly contoured torso, the Jersey T-Shirt has a more contemporary fit. Instead, it uses a side-seam construction, in which the front and back pieces are tailored to a slimmer fit before being sewn together.

Although this style is preferred by the majority and is generally the best unisex choice, it may not be as flexible as others. If you’re concerned about the sizing running small, purchase one size larger than what you normally wear.

In this respect, the triblend jersey t-shirt is indistinguishable from the jersey t-shirt. This provides no new information.


The Ultra Cotton Tee is one of the most reasonably priced items in our clothing selection. The t-shirt’s distribution and low cost make it the preferred economical choice.

The Jersey T-Shirt is an intermediate choice between the other two. While it’s more expensive than our Ultra Cotton Tee, it’s still reasonably priced and a staple choice for many of our clients. This is the t-shirt I recommend to customers who ask for my opinion on a high-quality, retail-style option that is still within their price range.

Of the three T-shirts, the Triblend Jersey T-Shirt is the most expensive. The fabric used in making this top is a significant improvement over that of a standard jersey t-shirt. The materials and labor required to produce triblend garments are among the most expensive, so you may expect to pay a premium for them. The price may seem steep at first, but the soft, comfortable feel is well worth it, at least in my opinion.

Color Options

The Ultra Cotton Tee has a huge variety of colors that almost certainly has something for everyone. However, so do the other two.

The Jersey T-Shirt too has a large selection of colors, but also a greater variety of heathered options as well. Heathered colors have a subtle speckled look that many prefer over solid colors.

The Triblend Jersey T-Shirt has plenty of available colors as well, however almost all of these will have a heathered look as a result of the 3 blended materials that make up the fabric.

The Ultra Cotton Tee has a significant number of colors available for both screen printing and digital printing. Digital printing is our “no minimum” printing option while screen printing requires at least 12. You may want to compare the two printing methods before making a decision.

The Jersey T-Shirt doesn’t have quite as many colors available digital printing, but still enough to mostly cover the full range of colors. 100% cotton options like these first two will typically have the greatest availability for both print methods.

The Triblend Jersey T-Shirt has limited color availability for digital printing because many triblend colors just aren’t compatible with the process. Screen printing always allows for a much greater variety of fabrics and colors.

Pros and cons for each t-shirt option

To sum up the comparison of these 3 options across all of these factors, here’s a simplified list of pros and cons for each and I’ll briefly recommend some similar alternatives in case any of these points are a deal-breaker for you.

The Ultra Cotton Tee

This is the go-to cheap custom t-shirt for large events, 5k runs, giveaways, and lots of others.


  • Very cost-effective, get the most out of a small budget.
  • Heavy-weight material that’s not see-through.
  • A standard, generous fit to accommodate most people.
  • Many available colors, even for digital printing.


  • Not-so-soft fabric and feel.
  • Boxy-er fit

If you want another super cheap option that’s a bit softer and more fitted, check out the Softstyle T-Shirt. There are also a few companion styles in the Ultra Cotton Ladies Tee and the Youth Ultra Cotton Tee.

The Jersey T-Shirt

This is the perfect all-around for those that want retail-quality at a reasonable price.


  • Made of soft 100% cotton material.
  • Light-weight material that moves more freely.
  • A fitted cut that might fit men and women more effectively.
  • Lots of available colors, even for digital printing.


  • Material is slightly sheer in white and other really light colors.
  • Fitted cut might not be as accommodating.

If you want an option that’s about as soft but heavy-weight and not as fitted, go with the Beefy-T. The Jersey T-Shirt companion styles are the women’s Favorite Tee and the Youth Jersey T-Shirt.

The Triblend Jersey T-Shirt

This is the premium option that’s chosen by those that want a high quality, super-soft feel.


  • Made of super-soft triblend fabric.
  • Light-weight material that’s ultra-comfortable and flexible.
  • A modern fitted cut.
  • Unique heathered colors.


  • Fabric is slightly sheer in white and other really light colors.
  • Near the top end of the price range for a standard t-shirt.
  • Less color availability for digital printing.

You can get a very similar, super-soft feel with a slightly less fitted cut with the Premium CVC T-Shirt. Companion styles are the Ladies Triblend T-Shirt and the Youth Triblend Jersey T-Shirt.