All about sleeveless shirts

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A sleeveless shirt is a shirt manufactured without sleeves, or one whose sleeves have been cut off. Sleeveless shirts are worn by either sex, depending on the style. They are often used as undershirts, are often worn by athletes in sports such as track and field and triathlon, and are regarded as acceptable public casual dress in most warm weather locales.



A man wearing an A-shirt

Woman wearing a long shirt under a translucent blouse which also covers the top portion of a form revealing leggings

The term "A-shirt" is short for "athletic shirt" because it is often worn in sports, such as basketball and track-and-field events. In the United States and Canada, it is also known colloquially as a tank top or by its pejorative nicknames, wife-beater (sometimes just beater), or guinea tee (which come from the cultural stereotype where they are considered an underwear-only type of clothing and wearing one in public is alleged to connote low social class; guinea is an ethnic slur for an Italian). In the UK an A-shirt, especially when used as an undershirt, is known as a vest (compare the American usage of "vest"). Another term is singlet, used in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria, Singapore and New Zealand. In the Philippines, when used as an undershirt it is called a sando. Also in Bangladesh it is called as sando-genji. In India it is known as a banian, and is used extensively to absorb sweat and prevent its penetration to outer layers of clothing.

In addition to athletic usage, A-shirts have traditionally been used as undershirts, especially with suits and dress shirts. They are sometimes worn alone without a dress shirt or top shirt during very warm and or humid weather, mainly in North America where the climate is warmer and more humid in the summer. A-shirts are often worn alone under very casual settings, as lounge wear, and or while completing yard work or other chores around the home.

The build of an A-shirt is simple: the neck and armholes are often reinforced for durability. One usually has large armholes and neck holes and a neckline that can reach down as far as the bottom of the chest. They are also sometimes made long to make tucking into a pair of jeans/shorts easier. In almost all cases, they are buttonless, collarless, and pocketless. An A-shirt worn as an undershirt is designed for a tight fit and is often made of ribbed cotton.

A tank top consists of a sleeveless shirt with low neck and different shoulder straps width. It is named after tank suits, one-piece bathing costumes of the 1920s worn in tanks or swimming pools. The upper garment is worn commonly by both men and women.


A woman wearing a camisole as an outergarment

A camisole, also called just cami, is a sleeveless shirt for women, normally extending to the waist. They often have spaghetti straps. Originally worn as an undershirt, like the A-shirt they have become increasingly used as warm-weather outerwear. The camisole is usually made of satin, nylon, or cotton.

Halter top

A woman in a halter top

A halter top is a sleeveless shirt in which a strap goes around the back of the neck, leaving the upper back uncovered. Halter tops are worn mainly by girls and women.

Sleeveless T-shirt
A sleeveless T-shirt, also called a muscle shirt, is the same design as a T-shirt, but without sleeves. They are primarily worn by men since the large open sleeve holes would expose the female breast under certain circumstances. They are often worn during athletic activities or as casual wear during warmer weather. They are colloquially known as shooter shirts in the southern United States. They were quite popular in the 1980s and were stereotypically associated with surfers and bodybuilders (hence the name "muscle" shirt) who often bore the logo of their gyms on these shirts. Muscle shirts/shooter shirts without logos are now more commonly worn as casual wear.

Tube top
A tube top is a shirt with no sleeves or shoulders, and is, basically, a tube that wraps around a woman's torso. In Great Britain and Australia, it is called a "boob tube" (not to be confused with the identical American slang for television set which in Australian idiom is an "idiot box").

The Wife-Beater
A wife-beater is commonly viewed as a skinny, tank-styled, ribbed shirt. They come in all sizes and colours and are usually worn underneath another shirt but they can also be worn by themselves. The iconic shirt has been worn by men, but currently women too can wear a variation of it which may be called a “boy-beater” even a young child may now wear a “lil-wife beater.” In recent years there has been a major resurgence of the wife-beater. Even popular designers such as Gap and Dolce and Gabbana have put their own twist on the shirt by adding jewels and accessories, making it into a stylish every day look. What many young adults under the age of 25 either ignore or just don't realize is that these shirts carry a name that “is fuelled by stereotype.” (Smith) Elizabeth Hayt wrote an article in the style section of the New York Times that ties the origin of the term “wife-beater” back to 1977 from “varied sources, including gay and gang subcultures and rap music.” (Scheidlower) The sad truth is that every year males abuse at least 4 million girlfriends and wives. Many would agree that the term wife-beater creates a toxic stereotype of men and others would argue that it's just a name for a shirt.


Tye dyed sleeveless shirt

Various styles of halterneck attire

Andrea Petkovic wearing a sleeveless shirt

A man wearing an A-shirt

Woman wearing a spaghetti top

A woman wearing a yellow tank top over a white undershirt

A woman wearing a tube top

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