When it comes to clothing, a lot of men tend to focus on the basics: white tees, jeans, sweaters. But they forget about the tank top, and that’s a mistake. The tank top is the perfect garment for spring and summer. It does everything an undershirt does, but without sleeves. Wear it on its own, and it will soak up sweat while you navigate the muggy underbelly of New York’s transit system — while also letting your armpits breathe. Or pair it with a short-sleeve button-down, and you can unbutton your shirt during a barbecue (while your tank top stays tucked in) for a clean look that lets a little more of the breeze in as the sun sets. (Do that without a shirt underneath and you might not be invited back.)
The tank top ain’t nothing fancy, but in the right hands it’s an undefeatable piece of summer clothing. It looks good on many body types, having been worn (and worn well) by the likes of Tony Soprano and Brad Pitt. The tank top is truly a democratization of style, but that doesn’t mean you can buy just any option. A good tank top should have the right material, the right shape, and the right style. To help you find the right one for you, we talked to seven stylish guys about their favorite tank tops. Here are their picks.
Best overall men’s tank top
“When it comes to tank tops, there’s no better than Sunspel,” says Chris Echevarria, creative director and founder of the shoe brand Blackstock and Weber. He says Sunspel has been around since the ’40s “and is still family owned and operated in the UK. One thing I love about this tank is it’s versatility. It goes from the bedroom to the beach almost effortlessly.” Kevin Kafesu, a marketing manager for Norse Projects, says the tank top comes in handy when you need a layer — even in the summer. He says Sunspel Tanks are cut from a long staple cotton jersey, offering softness and airiness that almost makes you feel like you aren’t wearing anything. “Sunspel has hit the nail on the head for anyone looking for a daily tank-top that transcends across seasons,” he says. Although $45 for a tank top might seem kind of pricey, Echevarria says “the craftsmanship and attention to detail put into this piece ensures you’ll get your money’s worth.”
Best less expensive men’s tank tops
“I usually wear tanks to compress all of my fat,” Grammy-winning musician Leon Bridges told us. “I wish I was kidding. That said, I typically wear them under everything, onstage and just on the street.” He buys 12-packs of Hanes tank tops because of their thin material, which he says can fit easily under other garments. “There’s this Bode piece that I love to wear, and the fabric is see-through, so it’s good to rock a tank underneath that. I’m not trying to go bare-chested anytime soon. They also look good just rocked alone tucked into some high-waisted pants. It’s pretty simple, but it’s a really dope look.”
“This one has a nice, high neck that looks so good underneath things, thanks to its classic rib texture,” says Timothy Grindle, co-founder of the menswear boutique Canoe Club. He says he uses the Muji tank in photo shoots all the time and he often has customers ask about them. “This is just a classic look that everyone wants to pull off but it has a higher neckline than what you might find on a brand like Hanes.”
Best men’s running tank tops
The Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Singlet comes recommended by Briand Davis, owner of the vintage store Wooden Sleepers. He says he used to work out and runs in old baggies and hardcore T-shirts, but at some point, he realized he needed a serious upgrade. “It has a great cut in functional lightweight mesh and an understated design that seems to draw more from the past than the future,” he says. “It’s obviously great for running, but just as good for kitchen kettlebell workouts.” The sash running across the front is a callback to Cornell’s track and field teams from the 1800s, and the 2:09 mesh is made of a lightweight and antimicrobial material so you don’t have to worry about your shirt carrying the scent of your past 50 runs.
“Even though I don’t normally wear tank tops, I have one exception, and it’s when I’m running,” says Daniel Brøndt, co-founder of the Denmark based brand Another Aspect. “Especially on my daily run in warmer temperatures like now. My go-to is the Peach-Tech Singlet from District Vision.” He says the mesh material is incredibly soft and so light the fabric seems to float away from his skin.
Best men’s lightweight tank tops
If you’re looking for a lightweight tank that almost feels invisible, Virgil Nicholas, the founder of the shoe brand Vinny’s, recommends the Organic Basics Tencel Lite Tank. He says the brand is well known for their sustainability efforts in underwear production. “These tank tops are like invisible body armor, [and they’re] so soft you’d think it’s silk,” he says. The tank is made out of Tencel which is an eco-friendly fiber made out of wood pulp that feels lighter and softer than cotton. “The best basic there is, so get three at least!”