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Tank Top vs Camisole

If you're not sure what a camisole and a tank top are, keep reading. This post will explain the differences between camisoles and tank tops, as well as which shirt type we prefer.

Two beautiful girls wearing tank top and camisole in one picture.

As the temperatures rise and the summer sun replaces spring showers, nothing feels better than breaking out my favorite tank top or camisole. These shoulder-baring tops offer a cool breezy feel and easy movement with their sleeveless design. 

If you’re wondering what the difference is between a camisole and a tank top–or what they are in general–you’re not alone. This article will cover everything you need to know about the difference between camisoles and tank tops, as well as which style of shirt we prefer.

What Is a Tank Top?

A tank top is a type of sleeveless shirt that usually has sleeves as thin as .5” or as thick as several inches wide. The tank top enjoys popularity in places such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. These sleeveless shirts come in a variety of styles and variations.

Although many think of tank tops as a women’s style, tank tops are also popularly worn among men. These shirts are known for their cool comfort and freedom of movement, which makes them a common choice for workout tops.

Related: 6 Different Types of Tank Tops for Men


A beautiful young woman in white tank top keeping arms crossed and smiling while standing.

As we discussed, the tank top’s most defining feature is its sleeveless design. Tank tops can also have backs. This means that the back of the top has wide holes for the arms and a thin connection between the straps in the back. Some women’s tank tops also feature a built-in bra, which makes them ideal for easy wearing for women. 


Tank tops can be constructed from a wide range of different materials. A ribbed tank top is made out of a ribbed cotton polyester blend–this style of tank top, which was popular in the 90s and early 2000s, is currently making a comeback. These sleeveless shirts can also be made out of jersey for a stretchy, comfortable feel or cotton for a breezy, cool fit.

Sweater vests, which are typically knit or crocheted, are another style of tank top.


A portrait of cheerful girl touching her chest while laughing in her polka dots tank top.

Sleeveless tank tops come in a massive variety of designs. Some tank tops are solid colors while others are patterned with stripes, polka dots, or florals. Oftentimes, bands and other franchises put their logo and branding materials on tank tops for a wearable advertisement that their fans love. 

The one thing that all tank tops have in common is their sleeveless straps and relatively loose fit.


The durability of a tank top depends largely on its type of material. A thick cashmere sweater vest is bound to last far longer than a thin, cheap cotton tank top. With proper washing, a tank top is sure to last at least a summer. Higher quality tank tops can last several summer seasons, depending on how frequently they are worn and how harshly they are washed.


A woman wearing gray sleeveless t-shirt on white brick wall background.

The main benefit to a tank top is its sleeveless design. This leaves the arms free to have a full range of motion and keeps the person wearing them comfortable even in the scorching summer heat. A tank top is also usually thick enough to wear on its own as a shirt.


Historically, tank tops would not have been socially acceptable before the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Before that time, showing shoulders in public was considered scandalous.

Over the decades, tank tops started out as a taboo top style in the 1920s. They then transitioned to a villainous, low-class style in the 1930s as “wife beaters.” Finally, they ended up as the refreshing, stylish casual shirt we know and love today from the 1980s on.

What Is a Camisole?

Close up photo of woman in yellow linen camisole shirt.

A camisole is a style of women’s undershirt with thin “spaghetti straps.” Sometimes, these shirts have a built-in bra. Usually, camisoles are shorter than a slip or chamise. These shirts can be worn on their own, but they are usually incorporated into outfits as an undergarment.


The camisole’s main feature is the spaghetti straps. These straps are extremely thin–less than .5”. This makes them perfect for hiding under a sweater, t-shirt, or blouse. Camisoles are also popular in longer styles to provide some coverage to the lower torso under a crop top or the hips under a regular-length shirt. 


Close up photo of pink chiffon fabric.

These strappy sleeveless shirts are usually made of a breathable fabric such as a polyester cotton blend or jersey material. Camisole tops designed to be worn as regular shirts are sometimes made of a fancier material such as chiffon or flannel.


Camisoles come in a variety of designs and styles. The most common style of the camisole is a simple solid-colored camisole. Since they are mostly intended for undergarment wear, camisoles frequently come in nude tones such as tan, brown, or beige. They also come in solid neutral colors such as black, white, and navy. Camisoles with patterns such as floral or stripe designs are also popular. 


A photo of happy asian woman on her white camisole in living room.

Camisoles are about as durable as any other undergarment. This means that users can expect to replace them frequently if they wear them on a daily basis or rarely if they only wear them on special occasions. Camisoles often show signs of wear when the straps break or become worn down.

Sometimes, camisoles also get stretched out over time and become shapeless. This can make them less usable because their main feature is their sleek appearance under other shirts.


Camisoles have several key benefits. The main perk of wearing a camisole is that it offers extra coverage under sheer or thin tops. Camisoles are also versatile–you can wear them under a dressy top or a casual top and still look great. Another benefit to the camisole is its thin straps.

Finally, camisoles sometimes offer a built-in bra. This means you can either opt to wear fewer layers with them or have extra support when you need it most.


A portrait of woman in a side view pose wearing a yellow linen camisole shirt.

The modern camisole is completely different from the original camisole. Throughout history, the word “camisole” has referred to early European nightgowns. Before the 1960s, the term “camisole” was not in our fashion vocabulary.

Similar to the tank top, camisole-style shirts rose in popularity in the 1920s. This was the decade when showing one’s shoulders in public became more socially acceptable. Before then, camisoles were mostly worn as nightgowns and longer than the shirts we have today. Nowadays, camisoles are the strappy top we love.

Costs of Tank Tops and Camisoles

The costs of tank tops and camisoles may vary. However, a pack of camisoles typically costs under $30 for a pack of four. 

The cost of tank tops depends largely on their intended use and material quality. A plain cotton tank top can cost less than $10. On the other hand, a tank top with special features such as buttons or fancy patterns can cost between $15-$25. Usually, tank tops and camisoles are cheaper than their thick, sleeved counterparts. A tank top will almost certainly cost less than a sweater or a jacket in any store.


For layering under sweaters, jackets, cardigans, or see-through tops, a camisole is the preferred option. The camisole’s sleek design will be almost unnoticeable under most shirts. For a fully functional shirt that can be worn on its own, we prefer a tank top for a sleeveless shirt.