Tank tops are great for wearing during summer or when exercising as they have breathing space, thus preventing lots of sweat due to heat. However, they also expose your arms and neck to sun rays, so you’d better lather your body with sunscreen.
Many people confuse between a tank top and a muscle top; while they are both sleeveless, the difference lies in their design. For instance, tank tops are slim with a low neck and have different shoulder straps width. This article explores various types of tank tops and muscle shirts, their differences, and why people wear them.
What’s Your Understanding of a Tank Top?
A tank top is typically a shirt that has no sleeves on. This piece of cloth is considered gender neutral and thus can be worn by both men and women. This cloth is a must-have in everybody’s wardrobe as it gives a complete ensemble to any type of clothing you have in the closet
The tank top’s name was derived from the tank suits, and swimwear women wore in the early 1920s. They gained popularity in the 1970s as well-built men wore them to show off their muscles in public. They are also worn undercover, especially by corporate working men. This is, however, a big no-no in the current day and age.
Types of Tank Tops
Below are several types of tank tops that you can choose from to create a perfect outfit.
1. Backless Tank Tops
If you are looking for a stylish tank top, you’ll hit the jackpot with the backless tops. This type of top is not only everyday wear but can be worn when going on errands, vacations, weddings, and even to the office.
Most backless tank tops have a lace strip on the back, which adds to their chic look. If you are creative, you can also change a casual tank top by simply using a string or shoelace and some scissors.
2. Cut-out Tank Tops
Cut-out tank tops are comfortable to wear and offer ease of movement. These tops are loose-cut on the sides and the back and therefore need an undercover, most of them being worn with sports bras.
Because of the low and loose cuts, cut-out tops are considered excellent for gym wear. They come in different colors and designs for fashionistas and gym enthusiasts and can be mix-matched with tight and stretched pants, sweat pants, or shorts. Try pairing them with cool sports shoes to upscale your look.
3. Athletic Tank Tops
These tank tops are specific to athletes, people working out in the gym or at home, and sportspeople playing tennis and badminton. They are tight, offering only a little looseness for comfortability.
Women-specific athletic tank tops also offer excellent bra support for women while running or working out. This tank top type is made of polyester fabric, which keeps the body cool during vigorous activities. They are also relatively easy to style, matching almost anything you put on. It may include sweatpants, gym shorts, or tights.
It is not easy to shrink polyester-made athletic tank tops in the washing machine, an added advantage to owning this type of tank top.
4. Double-Layered Tank Tops
These are made out of several layers of fabric. Double-layered tank tops are a must-have for any slim girl. Thick women can wear them, but only if appropriately dressed and accessorized. Most double-layer tank tops are made out of cotton, silk, chiffon, or any other soft material. This allows them to remain light while giving that chic, classy look.
Pulling a look with double-layer tank tops isn’t that hard. If you are in a dilemma about how to dress them, start with a pair of jeans and heels or with a pair of denim shorts, a large bag, and strappy shoes. You will not be disappointed.
5. Custom Tank Tops
Anyone can make a tank top to their preference.
Choose a plain tank top and print out whatever you want on it. It can be logos, pictures, slogans, or simply a unique design.
Alternatively, you can take the top and your particular design to a graphic designing company to have a graphic tank top professionally done.
6. Designer Tank Tops
These tank tops are fancy as they incorporate rhinestones, zippers, sequins, and other special features. Some are even made of materials such as satin and lace.
For instance, men’s designer tank tops, such as the guy Harvey tank tops, are a great way to upgrade any man’s wardrobe. So don’t be shy to invest in one.
7. White Tank Tops
These tank tops are a must-have for every man and woman for the summer season. They are effortless to style as they can be worn casually or formally and offer comfort in the heat. These tops are made mainly of cotton and come in different styles, from regularly strapped, spaghetti strapped, thin strapped, or thin strapped. They also come in different designs as well as sizes.
White tank tops, however, do have a bad rap and have been nick-named wife beater shirts. This, like the name, is associated with domestic violence. One of the incidents related to the name was committed in 1947, involving a man, James Hartford Junior, who reportedly beat his wife to death and was caught wearing a white tank top. Another association with the wife beater shirt was the Gothic drama, A Streetcar Named Desire, whose character, Stanley Kowalski, beats his wife while wearing the said shirt.
The white tank top has also sailed through names such as dago tee and guinea tees, coined in the mid-nineties offensively associating them with Italian immigrant guys who wear tank tops. They also gained prominence in the early 2000s, worn by celebrity guys who wear tank tops, such as 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem.
8. Racerback Tank Tops
These tank tops have a beautiful back design, where the double straps meet at the back of the shirt. Most racerback tank tops are made of spandex material, which is tight, thus making them ideal for workouts as they provide necessary bust and general body support.
9. Halter Tank Top
This tank top is popular among women and is always in fashion. It has a unique design, with two straps connecting the neck strap to the bodice. This fancy top can be worn casually or to a party. You can pair it with jean trousers, shorts or skirts. And during the cold season, you can layer it with a leather jacket.
Where Should You Wear a Tank Top?
Tank tops can be worn anywhere from sports to casual days to the office. Due to their comfort, many people wear them for sleep, pairing them with pajama pants or shorts or by themselves. They can also be worn to fancy dates if appropriately dressed and accessorized.
Muscle shirts can be best described as shirts with no arms. These shirts are an essential gym must-have and are not considered fashionable. They can, however, be customized to suit the owner’s taste through printing, or you can opt to allow your muscles to be the accessory. The shirts are made from a unique fabric that readily absorbs moisture and dries out. These shirts are lightweight and delicate as well, thanks to these materials.
Differences Between Tank Tops and Muscle Shirts
When buying a tank top or a muscle shirt, you must consider their differences and how they best serve your needs.
Tank tops are made using cotton, which is organic; as such, it does not cause skin allergies and agitation in many people. It is also sturdy and warm, therefore suitable for the winter times.
It is made of breathable material that absorbs and traps sweat; thus, it will take time to dry if you use it for gym wear. Hence, many people do not wear tank tops during exercise sessions. However, you can counter these disadvantages by blending cotton with polyester material, allowing for faster sweat drying.
On the other hand, Muscle shirts are made of a similar material as those t-shirts. This is typically suede cotton, which is the ideal material if you want a muscle shirt as an undershirt. The material is heavy, soft, and comfortable and is classified as one of the best-quality materials for shirts.
Workout muscle shirts are lightweight, breathable, durable, and able to absorb and dissipate moisture quickly. Therefore, when buying a muscle shirt, you are specific about its use to allow you to pick the best fit.
There are more designs of tank tops than muscle shirts, going up to at least thirteen. They include backless tank tops, cut-out tank tops, athletic tank tops, and many more. Each tank top is typically made of materials that best suit its use.
As for muscle shirts, few designs are available. This is attributed to being an only gym outfit, which, to be fair, does not need the glitz and glam. It is a well-toned physique that accessorizes them.
They can also be worn as an undershirt, for which you will need to look for a long muscle shirt. When choosing a correctly sized muscle shirt, check the armhole area, which should be a thin-cut arm relief rather than a wide-cut.
Although muscle shirts are not gender-specific, they are less preferred by women as they offer little support to the bust area and do not have adjustable straps. They, however, are form-fitting, accentuating different body types.
Unlike tank tops, muscle shirts provide more coverage to the arm and chest, thus ideal for men who don’t like to show off their chest muscles and want to hide their chest hairs.
Tank tops are more expensive than muscle shirts based on material and design. A typical tank top will retail for an average of $150, while a muscle shirt will go for at least $7. This price difference makes muscle shirts more common than tank tops, prompting manufacturers to produce more and fewer tank tops to satisfy the economies of scale.
The durability aspect is directly attributed to the type of material used for either tank tops or muscle shirts. As such, if either clothing is made of the same material, they will be equally durable. The difference may come in different designs, as tank tops with reinforced arm and neck holes will likely be more durable than a typical muscle shirt. Tank tops are, however, made to be sturdy and can therefore be assumed to be more long-lasting than muscle shirts.
Advantages of Tank Tops over Muscle Tops
- They offer better heat management as they are breathable, allowing you to stay cooler for longer, especially when working out.
- They offer good sweat management when made of moisture-wicking material, allowing the sweat from your body to dry as fast as possible.
Advantages of Muscle Shirts over Tank Tops
- They are cheaper compared to tank tops. A typical muscle shirt goes for $7, while tank tops go for $150
- They are more lightweight and thus suitable for working out.
Both the tank top and muscle shirt are sleeveless pieces of clothing. They have proven time and time again that both are equally deserving in our wardrobes for different activities. Always check the material, design, durability, and cost when making a purchase.
So which would you prefer, tank tops or muscle shirts?
Annabel studies Fashion Journalism at the Academy of Art University. She is always well-informed about the fashion industry’s trends. And she also studies and researches beauty, decor, and minimalism.
Because she knows so many things about fashion and lifestyle, she writes high-quality content that can easily help people get a makeover on their own. And if you want to understand how fashion works in our daily lives and represents us, try reading some of her articles.
Her core strengths:
- Not a single trend related to fashion and styling can dodge her eyes.
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