The humble tank top is often underestimated. For being such a minimalist and lightweight garment, the right tank top can often make or break an outfit. When you’re choosing the right tank top for different occasions –– a night at the club, a day at the beach, or a trip to the gym, for example –– there are a couple of things you may want to consider.
To help you find the best quality tank top for any occasion, we are going to review some of the main factors that make up a tank top.
From necklines to prints, here’s what you want to keep in mind:
What Is the Purpose of Tank Tops?
Before you choose a tank top retailer to go with, you want to consider the role that it plays in your outfit. This means you have to think about where you will be wearing it and what you will be pairing it with.
Here are some examples of how the best tank tops can serve you while serving looks:
A Layering Tool
One of the many benefits of this garment is that it serves as an excellent undershirt. Throw a sweatshirt, sleeveless hoodie, or even a relaxed tee on top of a cotton tank, and you’re good to go.
A Statement Piece
Who needs a second layer? A scoop-neck tank top can just as easily look great on its own. Like a high-quality white t-shirt, a tank can be layered with sweaters, blazers, or blouses — or just worn by itself.
A simple, comfy white tank top can make a statement by showing some skin and accentuating your natural body type. Consider a graphic print or a dynamic neckline if you want it to be the focal point.
If you’re choosing a tank top primarily to serve as its own layer, make sure to check the weather for the day and plan accordingly (sunscreen, possible wind chill). Additionally, consider what bottoms will create your desired silhouette and be weather appropriate.
A Practical Choice
Choosing the right top isn’t all about aesthetics. They can serve a practical purpose: mainly keeping you cool and allowing freedom of movement. They’re more than just comfy loungewear; the relaxed fit and breathable material can help you avoid overheating while working out.
If you plan on hitting the gym or being in a hot climate, find tank tops that are moisture-wicking and quick-drying, like polyester or modal fabric, or a breathable option like a cotton tank top. Spandex adds extra stretch.
Consider the Best Neckline
A shirt's neckline can significantly affect an outfit's final look. The type of neckline a tank top has can help you decide if it’s the right one to wear on any given day.
It’s not just about how much skin you show –– the shape of a neckline can change the appearance of your whole silhouette. A turtleneck is sleek and sophisticated, for example, while a deep V is fun and flirty.
Here is a quick rundown of different necklines you may find in tank tops:
A jewel neckline, also known as a crew neckline, is the typical high-neck cut you are likely to see in T-shirts and crop tops. This neckline is round and sits close to the neck. In tank tops, you can find this type of neckline in muscle tanks. It gives off an androgynous, sporty vibe; this look is on the modest side, de-emphasizing the chest while still putting focus on your biceps.
The jewel neckline is ideal for layering with business casual pieces like a cardigan or blazer. Try wearing a jewel-neck cotton rib tank with your favorite sweater as a work outfit.
A V-neck is exactly what it sounds like –– a neckline that is cut out in the shape of a V. Some V-necks are relatively high, while a deep V can descend down to the center of the torso. V-neck tank tops aren’t the most common, but they can create a flattering, elongated neck look while also bringing some focus to the chest.
This is one of the most common types of necklines in tank tops. A scoop neck, or U-neck, is a circular neckline that is somewhat lower than the crew neck. It’s what you’d find on a classic ribbed tank top.
Scoop neck knit tank tops are universally flattering, offering a glimpse of skin while creating a soft, balanced appearance. They can be higher or lower, slim fit, or more relaxed (depending on what you’re going for). If you’re planning on just lounging around, a scoop-neck jersey tank top is for you.
Some tank tops feature a halter neckline. This neckline is strappy and comes together behind the neck, whether the straps are connected by a tie or by a strip of fabric going down the back. Halter necklines are wonderful for emphasizing the shoulders and creating a curvy, dramatic silhouette. They also give off a sultry, summery vibe and are commonly paired with a racerback tank design.
Square necklines, or straight-across necklines, feature a nearly straight horizontal line across the upper chest. The neckline and the straps form a right angle. This is another common neckline found in the classic rib-knit tank style.
A lot of spaghetti strap tank tops feature this kind of neckline. Square necklines create an even, strong shoulder silhouette. They can give the shoulders and chest a wider appearance.
Choose the Right Length for Your Bottoms
When it comes to lengths in tank tops, there isn’t as much ground to cover as when we talk about necklines. When you’re putting together an outfit, the length of your top is definitely something to consider. As with any top, you want to remember what bottoms you’re pairing it with.
The standard length of a tank top that you’d find at your local mall should hit right at the hips. This works best when your bottoms have a low or medium waistline.
Depending on the type of bottoms you’re wearing, those that are high-waisted can look bulky under a fitted tank top; however, you can always do a quick French tuck to combat this.
Just like with any other shirt, there are oversized tank tops. These extra-long varieties can go a couple of inches below the hips. Extra long fitted tank tops are rare; sometimes, they look more like body-con dresses than tanks. Slipping one over tights or leggings is sure to make a statement.
Relaxed or loose oversized tank tops pair well with bike shorts or, for an extra baggy look, cargo shorts.
Cropped shirts are all the rage these days, especially as high-waisted pants and leggings continue to be a favorite choice of bottoms. Cropped tank tops can end just below the navel or all the way up at the middle of the chest.
While you can pair this light tank however you want, a good rule of thumb is that a relaxed cropped tank goes well with form-fitting, high-waisted pants (or ones that cinch at the waist), while a tight cropped tank is well suited to baggier bottoms.
Which Print and Color Are Best for You?
Much like the ever-popular T-shirt, tank tops come in all kinds of prints, patterns, colors, and designs. A neutral color tank can give off a polished look, while graphic designs can help you stand out.
While it’s impossible to list every kind of tank top design you can find, let’s go over some style goals and how to accommodate them.
Shades That Go With Everything
This category is all about versatility. Black, white, gray, and neutral, muted colors are a pretty safe bet when you want a top that can apply to lots of different outfits.
A black muscle tee, a white fitted tank top, or a neutral, solid color tank (navy, olive, mahogany, brown) are wardrobe staples that everyone should have. These are best for layering and avoiding clashing colors.
There are plenty of different graphic tank tops to flaunt your personality with. While graphic tees began in the 1950s, with presidential campaigns and Disney merch, it was the counterculture of the 1970s that made graphic tees and tanks a mainstay in society –– and a fashion turning point.
From fans of rock bands like the Rolling Stones to Vietnam War protesters, people used graphic tees to share their beliefs on their chests. You can sport political causes, funny memes, band names, your favorite TV show, and more with this kind of tank.
A Pop of Color
A solid color tank top can be anything but boring. Bright, bold colors can go a long way in adding contrast to any outfit. One great way to spice up a white button-down shirt, for example, is to wear a vividly colored tank top underneath –– neon green, for example. If bright colors aren’t your thing, pastels or beautiful rich tones can have the same contrasting effect.
Gradients and Tie-Dyes
While you can also wear them as underlayers or gym shirts, let’s face it –– the main time to wear a tank top is in the summer.
And what says beach weather more than a tie-dyed or gradient tank top? These are always ideal for a chilled, laid-back vibe. Tie-dye can also be an innovative way to fly the rainbow flag.
Patterns That Never Go Out of Style
You don’t have to be a fashion expert to rock a print. There are some patterns that serve to provide interest as well as balance to a look. Vertical and horizontal stripes, polka dots, checkers, and even the occasional touch of zig-zag are pattern staples that are worth having in your closet.
Fun and Funky Prints
The last category to cover? Unique prints.
Whether it’s a beautiful array of tropical flowers, a contemporary artistic design, or a horde of tiny dinosaurs, tank top patterns are a fantastic way to let your personality shine. Sure, plain colors are a tried-and-true bestie, but sometimes we want to stand out with a print that shines.
The Tank Top: Make It You
There are many factors to keep in mind when you’re choosing the right tank top to go with your outfit. From fit to colors, it all comes together to create the perfect outfit. While you want to take into account comfort and convenience, remember that personal style is all part of the fun.