What are the Different Types of Tank Tops?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2019
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Tank tops are light, comfortable shirts that have no sleeves. They are available in different sizes and designs for women, men, teens and children. Many tops are made from lightweight fabric similar to that used in t-shirts. Easy to care for cotton or cotton blends are usually preferred, although some are made from knits, terrycloth or nylon. The fabric may be smooth, ribbed or waffle knit, and these tops feature different styles of necklines and arm enclosures.

The most common tank tops are constructed in much the same way as t-shirts, although instead of sleeves, they have "straps" about 1 or 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) wide that go over the shoulders. This design is a very affordable choice and comes in many fabrics and colors. It is also available in many different sizes and can be worn by anyone, young or old, male or female.

In those designed specifically for men, the area underneath the arms may be close to the armpit like a typical sleeveless shirt or it may be very low and open, exposing the entire armpit as well as part of the torso. In the front, these tops may look like the standard design, but the back may have an "X" design, with the arm enclosures open almost to the middle. Mesh tank tops are also favored by some men.


Tank tops for women and girls often have very thin straps or "spaghetti straps." Those intended for teens or adults may include a built-in bra or "shelf bra." A shelf bra is a simple lining inside the top half of the tank top with an elastic band around the bottom edge to help support the chest, so a regular bra is not necessary. This is an excellent feature, especially in those with thin straps, so that bra straps will not show.

Children's tank tops are often styled similarly to adult designs, just smaller. They may include trademark characters or other fun images that kids enjoy. Children's tops often come in sets with matching shorts, making comfortable, affordable summer outfits for children.

Tank tops are great for keeping cool in hot weather, or to wear while working outdoors or working out at the gym, but they aren't just for summer. They can also be worn under other shirts as an extra layer for comfort or style.


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