Not too long ago, if someone strolled by in a tank top, they would likely be met with curious gazes. However, times have changed, and those days of condescension are long gone. Men's tank tops have made a triumphant return to the fashion scene. It's no surprise to witness their revival in an era where the fashion trends of the tank top's 1990s heyday are being celebrated once again, often accompanied by the nostalgic tunes of Britpop.
But really, what’s so objectionable about a tank top anyway? Is there something inherently shocking about baring one’s arms? We don’t think so. While it is true that many of those worn in the past were a little gauche, a well-chosen tank top can fit in quite nicely indeed, especially as part of a summer outfit. Anyway, who wants to suffer in the sweltering heat by covering their arms?
So, let's give this unfairly maligned fashion item a closer peek, accompanied by some helpful style tips along the way.
What to look for in a men’s summer tank-top / vest
- High quality, natural fabric
- Lightweight ‘GSM’ (a measure of fabric thickness)
- Sustainability - backed by certifications
- Timeless style.
When considering a men's summer tank top or vest, don't settle for any old option. Opt for a high-quality choice that puts comfort first. This means selecting a tank top made from natural, breathable fabric. While you have various fabric options available, we recommend lightweight premium cotton with a GSM rating below 160. By choosing such a fabric, you'll enjoy less sweat and more comfort. Also, be sure to prioritise quality, as a premium lightweight cotton fabric is less likely to result in unwelcome transparency. Not such a becoming look for a man in a vest.
Another important aspect is sustainability - not so big back in the 90s but massive now. Still, how to select a sustainable tank top? Well, one of the main ways is to look for reliable certifications. At POMP, we proudly use GOTS-certified organic cotton but there are other sustainable options, too. Just be sure to verify the certification is a reliable one. Also check for other eco-friendly extras, like the use of recycled fabrics - or the ease of sending your item back for recycling.
Lastly, and a little more subjectively, we recommend embracing a minimalist style. This choice increases the likelihood of wearing your tank top again and again. And it also means you can style it in different ways and pop it into a variety of outfits. If your tank top features a flashy design, it may only be worn a few times before ending up in landfill. It's not fair for your tank top to fall out of fashion again after spending so many years in obscurity.
By considering these factors—comfortable fabric, quality construction, sustainability, and a timeless style—you can find the perfect men's summer tank top or vest.
Vests vs. t-shirts
Great. We’ve equipped you with pointers on what to look for when choosing your men’s summer tank top. So next you might ask, “Well, what’s the difference between this and a regular t-shirt?
Both might be seen as laidback alternatives to the shirt, but they do differ in terms of design and overall style. Here’s a table to help break down those key distinctions.
Men’s Summer Tank Top
Sleeveless. It comes with thin or wide straps that expose the shoulders and upper arms to give a breezier and more open feel.
A regular t-shirt has a short sleeve covering the shoulder of your upper arm.
Tank tops tend to have either a crew neck, scoop neck, square neck, or the less common v-neck design.
T-shirt necklines vary much more, in terms of shape as well as depth.
Can be loosely or tightly fitted.
T-shirts come in a range of fits (slim, regular, etc.). Overall, they offer a more comfortable and relaxed fit compared to tank tops.
Because of its more revealing aesthetic, tank tops are associated with casual settings and warm summer weather.
But take note, gentlemen. This preconceived notion is now being challenged by the more daring and fashion-forward.
Generally considered more versatile and appropriate for all sorts of occasions, depending on the material and outfit styling.
A renaissance moment for the men’s tank top
Still doubting the acceptance of the vest?
The stereotypical uniform of the occasionally-obnoxious gym bro, couch potato, and Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, has gotten an unfairly bad rap. But more recent appearances on celebrities and fashion runways suggest the revival and rebirth of the tank top. From cinema features (remember Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike) to fashion runways (Prada and Loewe, to name a few), the vest has certainly cemented itself in the wardrobe of men. It’s just a matter of styling.
How to style a men’s tank top / vest for summer 2024
Finally, men’s wardrobes are getting more versatile and with the tank top stigma trashed away, you can up your fashion game.
One kind of men’s tank top is the one with wider shoulder straps, which can sometimes be even wider to hang a bit off the shoulder.
- With this kind of vest, the first suggestion is that you can keep it minimalist yet not too casual by pairing it with slim fit/skinny jeans. Keep it all black, or match your vest with a hat and/or shoes.
- This kind of summer vest is also perfect for a street style look. Think bucket hats, caps, chains, baggy pants. And remember to incorporate those matching colours if you want to pull off an even more stylish look - for example, match your shoe colours with your hat, sunglasses, bag, or any accessory.
- Now, if you want an extra casual look, this breed of summer vest is also perfect for that. We love the cotton-on-cotton look, so we recommend pairing the vest with a pair of cotton shorts but denim shorts will also look top!
- Not shown, but another extra casual look that’s perfect for a beach vibe is pairing a light-coloured vest with a pair of linen shorts or pants and a bucket hat.
Next, there’s also the tank top with thinner shoulder straps and a scoop or square neck.
5. For a casual, more athletic look, this style looks spot on with those cotton shorts and a bucket hat or a cap.
Source: Oswald Elsaboath from Unsplash
- Don’t get confused - the thin-strap tank isn’t just for an athletic look. You can conceivably wear one in a vanguard formal way. It’s all about the styling.
- And of course, the casual but stylish look that’s perfect for lunch dates, coffee catch-ups, or just strolling around with friends: pair this tank top with an overshirt. Both long-sleeved and short-sleeved work. Oversized long-sleeved shirts can also be buttoned loosely at the bottom. Can be worn with pants or shorts. Remember to match, match, match!
The men’s tank top - or summer vest, if you prefer - has certainly endured, despite some time in the doldrums. Outside of fashion, it has been embraced by athletes and other subcultural groups, and is often used in cinema to portray a niche appeal. Nowadays, it’s firmly back in fashion - ready to be embraced by the sun-worshipping masses, fashion pioneers, nostalgic 90s fans, and others - and we, for one, are glad to see its return.
To pull it off only requires knowing how to choose the best piece and how to wear it. The vest is great for summer and tropical climates but don’t let its simplicity fool you. That’s part of its charm.
If you’re still in search of the right style, be sure to check out our cotton vest for men. Available in several colours, it’s also made from GOTS-certified organic cotton. You can even send it back for recycling once it’s done. Ideal sustainable basics for every closet, that’s our philosophy.
We also have a tank top with thinner shoulder straps, designed for women but it really doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, or non-binary and you want to buy either one.