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16 Different Types of Tank Tops (Plus Tips On Wearing Them)

Check out the different types of tank tops that you can choose from and get our top tips on how and when to wear them. Whether you dress up your tank top as a smart wear or you dress down, tank tops will always keep you cool.

A man wearing a white tank top.

Tank tops are sleeveless shirts that were first worn in the 1920s by women competing for the swimming event in the Olympic Games. Back then, the swimming pool was known as the swimming tank and so people referred to the female swimmers’ clothing as a swimming tank or tank suits.

During the 30s and 40s, tank tops became known as “wife-beaters” because of the American movies that showed male characters wearing tank tops and portraying characters of a villain or an abusive husband.

By the 1970s, men and women wore tank tops as a regular piece of clothing especially as the Western world became more liberal.


Athletic Tank Tops

A woman doing a yoga pose.

Athletic tank tops fit tightly and usually come with a built-in bra. If you are playing tennis, running, or participating in any other type of sport, you need support, and this is what athletic tank tops do best. Their built-in bras give you the support that you need to get a great workout without jiggling around and being uncomfortable, and their tight fit keeps you comfortable the entire time that you’re exercising.

Since athletic tank tops are specifically made for exercising and workouts, they are made to stretch when they need to stretch and to be just loose enough to be comfortable the entire time you’re exercising. Along with a pair of shorts or workout capris, they are the perfect workout attire.

Backless Tank Tops

Famulily Women's Sexy Sleeveless Open Back Shirt Knotted Tank Top (Medium, Army Geen)

Backless tank tops usually have only a short strip of fabric running down the backside of the tank, which means that it shows most of your back. Many times, the entire tank top or just the strip of fabric is made of lace, giving the top a very elegant look.

In fact, depending on the type of material used to make the top, these tanks can be quite dressy, meaning that they can be worn to occasions that include parties, the corporate office, and even a wedding or other formal occasion. They can be worn with almost any type of skirt or pants, and depending on the accessories you include with them, they can be as casual or as formal as you want them to be.

Basic White Tank Tops

Front and back view of woman wearing white tank top.

Basic white tank tops are the perfect accompaniment to nearly any ensemble because they match everything, and, depending on what you wear them with, they can be either casual or formal. Most basic white tank tops are made of cotton, and they often have a ribbed design. However, the tops can have spaghetti straps or regular straps, and they can be short or have a slightly longer length.

In fact, when you research white tank tops, the first thing that you’ll notice is that the selection is quite varied, so regardless of the style, size, or design that you’re looking for, you are all but guaranteed to find it every time. Add a scarf or necklace to dress it up a little, or wear it by itself – either way, you’ll be glad that you have at least one of these tops in your closet.

Cut-Out Tank Tops

We The Free Womens Amelia Cut-Out Sleeveless Tank Top Purple M

Cut-out tank tops are tank tops that usually need another type of top underneath because they usually have a very loose cut and parts of the sides or back cut out, meaning that they are not always appropriate to wear alone. They can come in a variety of solid colors and prints, and they are often found with designs that include animals, skulls, and flowers.

Because of their basic design, they are not usually considered dressy tops, and, in fact, they are often worn over a sports bra and worn to an exercise session. The great thing about cut-out tank tops is that they come in hundreds of colors, styles, and designs, and if you want something to exercise in or something that gives you a very casual look, these tank tops are it.

Designer Tank Tops

Woman wearing a designer tank top and trousers.

Source: Nordstrom

Designer tank tops are specifically made to keep up with the latest fashions, and they can include a wide variety of special features, including zippers, sequins, rhinestones, and even fur. They are usually quite fancy, but they still look great, even when worn to more casual occasions.

Available in a variety of colors and styles, designer tank tops can be made with a halter top, in layers, in a short midriff style, and even in materials such as lace and satin. Designer tank tops are also a lot of fun to wear, and they are eye-catching and noticeable. In other words, they are a great type of tank top to wear when you want to look good and feel good about yourself.

Double Layer Tank Tops

A Double Layer Tank Top in red.

Source: Max Shop

Usually made in materials such as cotton or silk, these tank tops have several layers that give them a very elegant and fashionable look. The tops look especially good with jeans and heels, and they come in a variety of colors and designs.

If they are made with materials such as chiffon and other soft fabrics, they are extremely dressy and eye-catching. Double-layer tank tops add a little fluff to your figure, but this doesn’t mean that women who are large should avoid them. In fact, nearly everyone looks good in a double-layer tank top because they seem to flatter nearly every figure out there.

Flowing Tank Tops

A woman wearing flow tank tops.

Source: Cotton On

Flowing tank tops flare out at the very end of the tank, giving them a unique and very comfortable design. Some of them have irregular hem lengths across the bottom of the tank top, giving them an elegant look and making them the perfect complement to a great-looking pair of jeans.

They are usually made out of soft materials, including cotton and even silk, and because they are not tight in nature, they are extremely comfortable tank tops to wear. They also look great regardless of what you wear them with, and they look good with most figures, meaning that you don’t have to be a certain size to wear a flowing tank top.

Halter Tank Tops

A woman wearing halter tank tops.

Source: Urban Outfitters

This type of tank top does not go over the shoulder, but instead, it has two straps that meet around the neck. They can be high- or low-cut, for casual or after-five wear, and are available in many different designs and colors.

Halter-top tank tops are usually short and cut off just above or just below the waistline, and they are rather sexy tops that are enjoyed by millions of women all over the world. They were especially popular in the 1960s and 70s, but they have made a comeback in recent years and are now available in hundreds of styles and designs.

Muscle Tank Tops

A man working out his muscles.

Muscle tank tops look like tee-shirts but have no sleeves. They often include logos, unique designs, and even band names on the front of them. They are usually made of cotton or a cotton blend, and they are made to be both attractive and comfortable. Muscle tank tops are definitely a very casual item of clothing, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t make a fashion statement.

In fact, these tank tops come with so many sayings and store names on them that you can virtually find whatever you want to be printed on the front of the shirt. They are also usually made in a style that is fairly loose so that they are comfortable regardless of what you wish to do while wearing them.

Printed Tank Tops

A woman wearing a printed tank top.

Source: Walmart

Tank tops come in so many designs and prints these days that if you can think up a design in your head, it is very likely you can find that particular top without looking too hard. From stripes to polka dot and florals to diagonal shapes, it is very easy to find a gorgeous printed tank top for all occasions.

Tank tops in printed designs also come in various materials and designs, so whether you want a cotton tank top in stripes or a silk tank top with pictures of animals on it, you can easily find it. Whether you shop online or at a regular brick-and-mortar store, you can find a large selection of printed tank tops with very little effort on your part, regardless of what you’re looking for.

Racerback Tank Tops

Back view of woman wearing racerback tank tops.

Source: Kohls

Instead of standard straps, these tank tops have two straps that meet in the back of the shirt. The wearer’s shoulder blades are exposed because the fabric of the two straps meets at an angle, somewhere in the middle-upper portion of the wearer’s back. If you have a workout in your schedule, these types of tank tops are perfect.

They are usually made of a fairly tight material, including spandex, and there are a variety of designs and patterns available, as well. Very often, sports tops are designed in the racerback fashion, and they have usually considered a more casual style than other types of tank tops.

Sheer or Mesh Tank Tops

Woman wearing sheer or mesh tank tops.

Source: Urban Outfitters

Sheer or mesh tank tops are see-through tops that are made to show off your figure or physique. They can be worn by both men and women, and when they are made out of black fabric they look especially fashionable.

Men who are sports lovers or bodybuilders look great in sheer or mesh tank tops, but they are usually not made for just any occasion. You wouldn’t want to wear a sheer or mesh tank top to a formal event because they are made only for certain specific occasions, but when you do want to show off a little bit, a sheer or mesh tank top is always the perfect kind of top to wear.

Slouchy Tank Tops

Bella 8838 Womens Slouchy Tank - Asphalt Slub44; Small

A slouchy tank top is essentially a tank top with a loose design, and because it isn’t skin-tight like a lot of other tank tops, it is a little dressier and formal in nature. It can come in both solids and prints, and in materials such as silk, crepe, and even lace. You can easily pair a slouchy tank top with a skirt or a pair of jeans and go out to dinner or even to a cocktail party.

In fact, it may surprise some people that slouchy tank tops can fit nearly every occasion, but since many of them are very elegant-looking and fancy, you can wear them to many different occasions, making them the perfect item to include in your closet regardless of what time of year it is.

Spaghetti Strap Tank Tops

Woman wearing spaghetti strap tank tops and jeans.

Source: Nordstrom

Tank tops made with thin spaghetti straps can be made of almost any type of material, including lace, cotton, polyester, silk, and even spandex. When worn under a button-down shirt, they are particularly comfortable and attractive, and the ones made with built-in bras are very convenient.

Spaghetti-strap tank tops can be any color or shade, and if you’re trying to show off your well-toned arms and shoulders, they are the perfect top to wear. Even when they are casual in style, they can be made a little dressier when you pair them with the right blouse or shirt, which means that you can wear them in both casual and more formal atmospheres.

Thick Strap Tank Tops

Woman wearing thick strap tank tops.

Source: Cotton On

Most tank tops are made with thick straps, and these tops fully cover both the shoulder and upper chest areas. Some of these tank tops are a V-neck or scoop-neck type, making them a little more fashionable. The best part about these tank tops is the fact that they are extremely comfortable, and because they can be either tight or loose, they can fit anyone’s favorite style.

They can also be made of various materials, although most of them tend to be either cotton or a cotton blend, as well as a variety of colors that includes red, blue, yellow, green, teal, and many others. Tank tops with thick straps are made for a variety of occasions, although most wearers consider them mostly for casual occasions, such as lounging around or going to the mall.

Tight Tank Tops

Woman wearing tight tank tops.

Source: Ali Express

Very tight and often made in a short midriff style, tight tank tops complement the perfect figure and also look great when worn in layers. They are often found in bright and eccentric colors, and they look great when worn with a pair of shorts or jeans, or even a denim skirt.

Because they fit so tightly, they are usually not worn to more formal occasions, but instead, they are considered a more casual type of attire. However, because of their choices in colors and designs, wearers have a lot of great-looking tank tops to choose from because these tops are the perfect clothing item to have around, regardless of where you intend to wear them.

When Should You Wear a Tank Top?

As Lingerie or Sleepwear

Woman wearing tank tops and short shorts while resting on bed.

If you have a tank top or camisole that isn’t too tight and is made of fabrics such as satin or a soft cotton, it can even be worn to sleep in or to lounge around the house in. You can wear them with pajama shorts or pants, or even by themselves if they are made long enough. They are comfortable and even luxurious-feeling, so much so that you may want to stay in them all day if you’re not planning to leave your home.

For Daily Wear

Because most tank tops can be worn to both dressy and less formal occasions, you can slip one on regardless of where you need to go. Whether you’re headed to the mall, the office, or even a picnic, the right tank top will complement the rest of your outfit perfectly, making it one other are sure to notice.

They also feel good against your skin and go with everything from jeans to dress slacks and skirts to shorts, which is one of the main reasons everyone should have at least one tank top in their closet.

To a Fancy Dinner

Woman posing in front of a fire pit.

Choosing a tank top made of satin, silk, or even chiffon means that you can easily have a go-to item to wear even to fancier occasions, including a formal dinner. Wear the top with a nice skirt and the right jewelry, and no dinner will be too fancy for you to attend. Fancy tank tops are perfect for fancy dinners, and whether you’re eating steak and lobster or great Italian food, you’ll have just the right look for the occasion.

To a Nighttime Function

Even a cocktail party is a great occasion to wear a tank top if you choose the right one and complement it with the right accessories. From parties to pubs, you can choose tank tops made of sparkly materials such as sequins and perfectly enjoy your night on the town, and when you choose this type of tank top, you are definitely going to be noticed by others.

To the Office

Yes, tank tops can be worn to the office, especially if you choose the right blazer or jacket to go over it. Make sure that you wear jewelry and the right bottoms for the workforce because the tank top can be the perfect professional-looking addition to your wardrobe.

Comfortable tank tops with accommodating and slightly stretchy materials usually work best for the office, and they come in enough colors to match every outfit you own.

To Work Out or Exercise

Woman on a meditative pose.

Tight or cut-out tank tops are made for exercising, and because they are usually made out of cotton or spandex, they are both comfortable and attractive for use as an exercise outfit. These types of fabrics are perfect because they allow you to sweat, and they keep you comfortable regardless of how much you bend and twist. They also look good, so you can easily feel good about yourself while you’re exercising.

How to Perfectly Complement Your Tank Top

Make Sure You Wear the Right Accessories with It

From the right bottoms to the right jewelry, shoes, and outerwear, the right accessories can change the entire look from casual to formal, dark to bright, plain to fancy.

Tank tops are beautiful additions to anyone’s wardrobe, and they are also very versatile because each of them can be used for a variety of occasions simply by adding the right accessories. Make a casual tank top look dressier or an everyday tank top look perfect for the office just by adding the right accessories.

Throw a Scarf Over It

Woman wearing a long scarf, tank tops, and short shorts.

Scarves can be worn all year round, and because they come in a wide variety of colors and fabrics, you can easily choose one that will go perfectly with whatever tank top you’re wearing. Wearing a scarf over your tank top also makes your entire outfit look a little dressier, and whether that scarf is made of cotton, silk, or even crepe, it can change the entire look of your tank top instantly.

Wear It with a Beautiful Jacket

If you like to show a little cleavage, but you don’t want to be too risqué, you can wear a jacket over your tank top. Tank tops are perfect by themselves, of course, but when you put a jacket on over them, they change the entire look of the ensemble. They become a little more formal and are even perfect for wearing to the office, and if you want to spice things up a bit, this is the perfect combination to try.

Wear It with Black Leggings

Black leggings go with almost everything, and if you wear them with the right tank top, they can take things up a notch. Try leggings with neon or funky colors or even a busy pattern, and pair them with a solid-colored or plain-looking tank top. Leggings also have another purpose – they make every type of tank top look a little dressier, and if you choose solid-colored leggings, they will go with any tank top you choose to wear.

Wear It with High-Waist Shorts

Woman wearing tank tops and short shorts.

High-waisted shorts make your legs look beautiful and long, and they go with any type of tank top you might have in your wardrobe. If you wear the outfit with spiked heels or strappy sandals, it can make the entire outfit look extraordinary. This ensemble also adds some glamour to your look and makes it the perfect outfit to wear regardless of where you’re going.