The History of Tank Tops

Sleeveless Summer Tank Tops

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What is a tank top?

Sleeveless shirts are most commonly referred to as tank tops in the United State of America and in Canada. They are manufactured without sleeves deliberately and are suitable for both genders, depending on the occasion. Men typically use this kind of wear as an undershirt and they are also quite common among athletes in a variety of sports. However, most women are wearing them as a fashion choice and they come in a variety of different types, sizes and designs. They are accepted as a public casual dress in locations where the weather is warm enough. The History of Tank Tops has a fascinating history.

The history of sleeveless shirts

There is an abundance of evidence which proves that back in the antiquity period Romans were wearing such clothing mainly under their garments. When you come to think about it this is a practical solution because it consisted of only one piece of clothing and it was really easy to clean. However, during the middle ages tank tops were worn by knights under their suits of armor. In fact, it was a sign that the warrior has been that the warrior was involved in a losing battle if he returned without his armor and only with his undergarment.

The evolution of tank tops in modern history

Back in the 19th century a reformation took place and as a result the union suit was invented. This used to be a piece of clothing which included a tank top as one of its main components. The main idea of this was to make you feel warmer, which is practically the general intention of this type of clothing. However, during the 1800’s sleeveless shirts became extremely popular in a variety of different sports and as a result a lot of male athletes began to wear them. The main reason for this was that the fact that shirt comes with no sleeves allows all the freedom the athlete could use. This made them more versatile, flexible and agile and it quickly become the main type of clothing for athletes. In fact, this trend has survived through time and even nowadays the tank top is worn by a variety of athletes such as basketball players, wrestlers and in almost every Olympic sport.

The 20th century

At the brink of the 20th century the military took great advantage of the qualities of this type of clothing. It became an inseparable part of the uniforms of the Navy of the United States. This is due to the fact that it is incredibly convenient. It’s almost impossible to be felt and thus it doesn’t irritate your body but it keeps you warm and comfortable at the same time. However, these types of shirts became really popular and men got used to wearing them so after the Second World War ended, they started wearing them casually.

The tank top now

Nowadays almost every man has a piece of clothing of this kind in his closet. They are incredibly convenient and could be used on a variety of different occasions. On the other hand, designers have made it possible for the tank top to become a fashionable trend amongst women and it is actually something that most of them prefer to wear during the summer. Not only this, it has become the accepted social convention for a woman to wear a sleeveless shirt during warmer days.

Different kinds of shirts without sleeves

There is a variety of different types of sleeveless shirts nowadays and they are intended for a lot of different occasions for both men and women.

  • Camisole

The camisole, or cami, as it is commonly referred to, is a shirt intended specifically for women. Its regular cut extends to the waist and they generally have ornamental pieces called spaghetti straps. They used to be worn as an undershirt but in the modern days they have become a casual and even official piece of outerwear.

  • Halter top

This is another piece of clothing which is designated to be worn by women and girls in particular. There is a strap that goes around the backside of your neck and it leaves the uppers side of your back uncovered.

  • A-shirt

This is the most commonly used type of sleeveless shirts and it is mainly worn by man in particular. The name itself “A-shirt” is actually short for athletic shirt and it used to be worn mainly in different types of sports such as basketball and Olympic sports. However, it has already become a trend and men are known for wearing them casually with jeans during warmer days of the year.

Interesting facts

There are a lot of interesting facts surrounding the history of this particular piece of clothing. In fact, it gets its name from the one-piece bathing suits that were used by women back in the 1920’s. During this period women were obligated to wear this type of clothing when they went the swimming pool, which was then called swimming tank. This is why the upper piece of their suit – the shirt, received this particular name. The obligation was a result of the politic that was held at the time and it prohibited women to exhibit a lot of revealed parts of the body at public places.

Even though the majority of shirts without sleeves are tailored as one whole piece, there are some designers that would sew them to be buttoned. Interestingly enough, women and man button their shirts on opposite sides. This is something that we are used to from back in the Middle ages. Back then, women wouldn’t actually button themselves alone – they had maids to do this for them. This is why the tailors actually sewed the buttons in a way that would be convenient for the person buttoning the shirt and not the one that is actually using it. Even though we are way past dressing up with the help of maids, this tradition carried on through the years and there are still a lot of designers that would actually follow it.


The History of Tank Tops tap dancer


Tank Tops