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A spaghetti-strapped tank top

A sleeveless shirt, tank top, singlet or vest is a shirt manufactured without sleeves, or one where the sleeves have been cut off. Sleeveless shirts can be worn by either gender, depending on the style. These sleeveless undershirts do not prevent sweat stains from showing through. Tank tops are often worn by athletes in sports such as track and field and bicycling. Tank tops have been popular warm-weather casual wear in the United States since the 1980s, and are regarded as acceptable public casual dress in most warm weather locales. They are mostly preferred in hot climates, since the arm holes provide ventilation and the thin fabric provides comfort. In American English, a tank top is a sleeveless T-shirt-like garment that can be worn by either gender. It is often worn under the shirt as underwear, although more colorful and well-designed tank tops are usually worn as an outer shirt. The term is also used in Australian English, although the term singlet is usually used to refer to the garment, which likewise is a less common term used in the United States, usually reserved for athletic shirts. In British English, the term vest is used, while tank top refers to a sleeveless pullover. The name tank top, recorded in English since 1968, is derived from its resemblance to a tank suit, a style of one-piece women's swimsuit with shoulder straps. Its name derives from the 1920s term swimming tank, which is an obsolete term for what is now called a swimming pool. The tankini (a portmanteau of the words tank top and bikini) is a female swimming version of the tank top.

Contents

Types of sleeveless shirts

A woman wearing a yellow tank top over a white undershirt instead of a bra.
A woman in a halter top
A woman in a tube top

Halter top

A halter top is a sleeveless shirt in which a strap goes around the back of the neck, leaving the upper back uncovered. Halter tops are worn mainly by girls and women.

Tube top

A tube top is a shirt with no sleeves or shoulders, and is, basically, a tube that wraps around a woman's torso. In Great Britain and Australia, it is called a "boob tube" (not to be confused with the identical American slang for television set).

Spaghetti-strapped shirt

A spaghetti-strapped shirt is a tank top with strings or thin material on the shoulders to hold up the shirt. It is thought to have originated in 1920s England, and made fashionable by rich upper class men, but is now worn mainly by girls and young women. Also referred to as a vest top in British English.

Cutoff shirt

A cutoff shirt is a shirt with the sleeves cut off. The original shirt is usually a t-shirt, but it can be any kind. They are most commonly worn by men and may be simply referred to as a cutoff.

"Sun's out, Guns out" is a saying made popular by the Elliot in the Morning radio show, referring to sleeveless shirts worn outside during warmer weather.

T-back shirt

A T-back shirt is a tank top that is much narrower in the back than the front. It is similar to a male variant of the halter top.

A-shirt

A man wearing an A-shirt

Short for "athletic shirt" because it is often worn in sports, such as basketball and track-and-field events. In America, it is also known as a wife beater, Guinea tee or Dago tee (from guinea and dago, ethnic slurs against Italians). In British English, the A-shirt is known as a tank-top or vest.[1] (cf.) American usage of vest) In Scots it is referred to as a semmit,[2] and as a singlet in Australia. A-shirts are commonly referred to as sando in India and the Philippines. They're also called 'bandi', pronounced bun-dee, or Banyan in India. They are also called "running-goo" in a slang term in Korea, as the term originates from the people wearing them while running or doing exercises.

In addition to athletic usage, A-shirts have traditionally been used as undershirts, especially with suits and dress shirts.

The build of an A-shirt is simple: the neck and armholes are often reinforced for durability. One usually has large armholes and a neckline that can reach down as far as mid-chest. They are also sometimes made long to make tucking easier. In almost all cases, they are buttonless, collarless, and pocketless. An A-shirt is designed tight fit and made of ribbed cotton or other fiber.

The string vest has fallen from favor in the United Kingdom,[3][4] but a string semmit as an underclass fashion item was made famous by Rab C. Nesbitt, leading character in the TV sitcom of the same name.[5]

I-shirt

The build of an I-shirt is the same as a T-shirt, except the sleeves are missing. They usually are in white, have a crew or V neck, and the armholes are reinforced. They are very similar to a muscle shirt except they are almost exclusively worn as undershirts.

Muscle shirt

A muscle shirt is the same design as a T-shirt, but without sleeves and is usually ribbed like an "A"-shirt. They are often worn for athletic activities as well. They were quite popular in the 1980s and were stereotypically associated with surfers and body-builders (hence the name "muscle" shirt) who often bore the logo of their gyms on these shirts. Also called "Tenement T-shirt".

Shooter shirt

Also known as a wife beater, a shooter shirt is the same design as a T-shirt, but without sleeves and the sleeve holes are not ribbed, but rather hemmed. The term tends to be a southern United States of America colloquialism. They are primarily worn by men since the large open sleeve holes would expose the female breast under certain circumstances.

Bibliography

  • A Sleeveless, Ribbed White Cotton Undershirt by Booth Moore, Press & Sun-Bulletin, January 13, 2003.

References








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