What is a tank top?
A tank top is a type of sleeveless shirt. But not
all sleeveless shirts are tank tops. A tank top consists of a sleeveless
shirt with low neck and different shoulder strap widths. It is named after tank
suits, one-piece bathing costumes of the 1920s worn in tanks or swimming pools.
The upper garment is worn commonly by both men and women.
Tank tops go by several different names. One of
which is a muscle shirt because the shirts expose the arms. The term works
well if the wearer actually has big muscles. If they don’t it still has
the same name, but the person looks a bit silly with their skinny little T-rex
A sleeveless shirt is a shirt manufactured without
sleeves (no kidding) or shirt that has had its sleeves cut off after the
manufacturing process was complete. Sleeveless shirts are worn by either sex,
depending on the style. They are often used as undershirts in business, casual
environments or during athletics. Short sleeve shirts are often worn
by athletes in sports such as basketball, track and field, biathlons, cycling,
In the United States and Canada, a tank top is also on
occasion referred to as an athletic shirt or “A-shirt". The term
"A-shirt" is short for "athletic shirt" because it is often worn in sports, such
as basketball and track-and-field events. In our opinion, a tank top should
simply be called a “tank top". An “athletic" shirt can have too many
different meanings. After all, isn’t a baseball shirt an athletic top.
But it has sleeves.
In addition to athletic usage, tank top shirts have
traditionally been used as undershirts, especially with suits and dress shirts.
They are sometimes worn alone without a dress shirt or top shirt during very
warm and or humid weather, mainly in North America where the climate is warmer
and more humid in the summer. Tank tops are often worn alone under very casual
settings, as lounge wear, and or while completing yard work or other chores
around the home.
The construction of a tank top is
rather simplistic. The neck and armholes are often reinforced for durability.
One usually has large armholes and neck hole. The neckline can
potentially reach down as far as the bottom of the chest (but does not need to
go that low). The shirts are also sometimes made long to make tucking into a
pair of jeans/shorts easier (shirt length is long, I do not mean they have long
sleeves. As discussed, they have no sleeves). In almost all cases, they
are buttonless, collarless, and pocketless. An tank top is worn often as an
undershirt and is designed for a tight fit and is often made of
It can also be constructed differently and with different fiber content.
Bad names for tank tops include pejorative nicknames such
as, wife-beater (sometimes just beater) and guinea tee or dago tee ("guinea" and
"dago" being ethnic slurs for people of Italian ethnicity). These terms
are for historical reference and we strongly suggest that they not be used in
A sleeveless T-shirt such as a
tank top is also called a muscle shirt.
As already stated, it is the same design as a T-shirt, but without sleeves. They
are primarily worn by men, since some sleeveless T-shirts have large open sleeve
holes that would expose the female chest under certain circumstances.
However, many women do wear them and look fantastic while doing so.
They are often worn during athletic activities or as
casual wear during warmer weather. They are colloquially known as shooter shirts
in the southern United States. They were quite popular in the 1980s and were
stereotypically associated with surfers and bodybuilders (hence the name
"muscle" shirt) who often bore the logo of their gyms on these shirts. Muscle
shirts/shooter shirts without logos are now more commonly worn as casual wear.
Tank tops come in solid colors such as white, black,
blue, red, etc., and they also come with printed designs.
about shirts and the different
types of shirts
on the market.
Learn about different
styles in our fashion terminology section.
Fashion Products S-Z
Fashion Products T
Return to the Influence
Fashion home page.
Copyright 1999-2018 Apparel Search Company. All Rights Reserved.