How to Wear a White Tank Top Without Looking Like a Tool

Revisiting the rules surrounding summer's most versatile layer

a photo of Chris Pine wearing a white tank top
The white tank top is a killer move — if you know how to pull it off
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We did it, guys. We reclaimed the white tank top. No longer is the t-shirt’s sleeveless cousin just an underestimated undershirt hidden away underneath button-downs or a ribbed top smeared with connotations of douchebaggery and a certain not-so-PC moniker. Through years of blood, sweat and a lot of TikTok ‘fit vids, menswear heads everywhere have convinced the general public that tanks can, in fact, be a viable, versatile and, dare we say, total hottie move for the summer months ahead.

But with great power comes great responsibility. The tank is a useful tool, but in the wrong hands, it can be used for great evil (read: looking like a total clown). There’s a new set of rules when it comes to how to wear a white tank top beyond working on the delts, least you be seen for what you really are: a total asshole.

Not to fear. We’ve navigated the fraught waters of tank toppage and emerged with five sure-fire ways to pull of the tank without telegraphing Entourage. From tasteful polo combinations to suited-and-booted wedding attire, we’ve highlighted five anti-douche ways to tame the tank. Below, how to wear a white tank top this summer.

The Tank and Button-Down

If your usual selection of campy button-ups are already starting to feel overdone, one of the quickest and easiest ways to make them feel fresh again is by throwing on a white tank underneath. A look favored by the likes of Harry Styles and Tony Soprano, there’s an inherent coolness in leaving your shirt entirely unbuttoned to reveal a white tank underneath.

In terms of function, the combination proves ideal for sweltering days, as the openness of the shirt allows for more airflow, delivering a much needed breeze to your underarms and torso without requiring you to shed the top layer. For those at all inclined to channel your inner greaser, try pairing the tank with a vintage-inspired shirt, easy trousers and classic loafers for a look that’s retro but not costume-y.

The Tank and Crochet Polo

The next time you find yourself dining out with friends or even just grabbing drinks, refrain from reaching for the standard button-down and upgrade to the newest menswear obsession — the crochet polo — instead. It’s a look that lands somewhere between slutty showoff and classy gent, just the vibe you should be pursuing this summer.

Because of the open nature of this look, we recommend a tank of more substantial quality and weight than those three-packs you’ll find at the drugstore. Opt for something like Mack Weldon’s 18-Hour Jersey Rib Tank, crafted from a knit that will retain its shape, make you looked jacked as hell and keep any unruly chest hair at bay.

The Tank and Statement Pants

Okay, so you’re ready to bare it all and show off those guns, but you’re not quite sure how to do so without feeling severely underdressed. In order to elevate the white tank beyond mere undershirt territory, the key is to pair it with tailored, structured pants that are capable of balancing out the casualness on top.

Take Todd Snyder’s Gurkha Trousers as prime example — made from a breezy linen blend, the slight structure (not to be confused with stiffness) of the pants contrasts the relaxed nature of the white tank, all while the belted-waist detailing helps create a more defined silhouette. Accessories like a sexy, subtle silver chain and on-trend clogs help to make the outfit more interesting while still remaining simple and easy to wear.

The Tank and Denim Shorts

A real summer power move? Mixing the OG tank with fashion’s latest renaissance, the XL jort. While an itsy-bitsy ribbed tank and freshly rechristened denim cutoffs is admittedly a bold look, we like to think of the combination as a twist on classic Americana, especially when some knee-length Acne Studio joints are involved. Accessorize with the proper accoutrement — Sambas, naturally, and a chunk shade — and you’ve got yourself an outfit any influencer would be jealous of. Still can’t see it? Maybe some Dominic Fike ‘fitspo can help you visualize.

The Tank and Suit

With wedding season in full swing, add some diversity to your suiting rotation and take advantage of the more casual dress codes by wearing a white tank with your beachy suit. It might seem like a fashion faux-pas, but as long as your suit jacket remains on for moments like the ceremony, you’ll still look appropriately dressed, yet in a way that’s updated and feels more current than the expected collared shirt.

Naturally, a nicer tank is recommended for the occasion, so consider Nudie Jean’s high-cut version — which is basically a taunt tee sans sleeves, offering a heftier cotton and slim cut that conforms to the body. As you make your way to the dance floor, you’ll be grateful to find yourself unhindered by sleeves.

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