The best tank tops for men go by many names: A-shirts, muscle tees, sleeveless tees, singlets. But we’re just calling them tank tops. Thanks to menswear’s obsession with camp collar shirts and everyone re-watching The Sopranos, the style’s exploded in popularity. They’ve even gone so far as to warrant their own renaissance with boatloads of designers twisting the tank in new and exciting ways.
That’s all great news because the tank top deserves to be in your wardrobe, if not for its many fashionable varieties, surely for its utter utility. Play to their undergarment roots and they can be a button-up-saving undershirt, the invisible hero to your outfit. You can hit the gym in a performance tank with all the moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties modern science can imbue. Or you can play the capital-F fashion card and wear a tank purely to augment your already-massive fits. The classic move is to layer a tank under an unbuttoned camp shirt (with a dope chain around your neck, of course)—but don’t be afraid to venture out into the fun, freaky side of tank tops by casting one in the lead role of your entire outfit.
All of which is to say, it’s a great big world of tanks out there, so GQ got into the weeds to find only the best tank tops for men. Whether you’re looking to flex your style chops (or those winter gains–another benefit of the tank top: they make your arms look really sexy), there’s a workhorse undershirt, muscle-baring workout partner, or a show-stopping sleeveless tee with your name on it. Even better, it’s almost definitely on this list.
The Best Tank Tops Shopping Guide
The Best Basic Tank Top
You’ve probably owned a six-pack of these at some point or another, and with good reason: Hanes’s no-frills, no-tags, all-cotton ribbed tanks are a preposterous value. They’re cut flatteringly from pure cotton, which means they’re presentable enough to wear on their own, and breathable and comfortable enough to survive the swampiest days of August. They’re best served, of course, as an undershirt—ideally peeking out from beneath a flowy button-down or polo sweater, the way the goodfellas in Goodfellas would do it.
The Best Workout Tank Top
If you’re looking to make some gains in your tank, you’ll need one that wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odor. This one from Lululemon does all three better than most activewear tops do just one. The seamless construction also means a more comfortable workout with no chafing, and they come in a vibrant range of colors, so you can flex your excellent taste alongside your muscles.
The Best Wild-Style Tank Top
Sometimes all it takes is a simple twist–a cutout here, a cinch there–to transform a basic into a righteous fashion flex. In less than a decade, Dion Lee, a tank top virtuoso of the highest order, has perfected those types of big-little revisions. From a fabric standpoint, the designer’s sleek ribbed tanks—cut from organic cotton with a touch of stretch—share plenty in common with the source material, but that’s where the similarities end. Lee’s tanks come every which way but the standard one, incorporating asymmetrical cutouts, garters, and, in this case, an adjustable shoulder strap that turns the humble layer into a choose-your-own-adventure swerve: just pull the safety slide tighter or looser depending on how you want to wear it. Because if you’re going to drop $400 on a tank top it really shouldn’t be a one-trick pony.
The Best Muscle Tee
Russell invented the crewneck sweatshirt a century ago, but its sleeveless T-shirts are just as worthy of your hard-earned dough as their fleece goods. They’re cut from a buttery-soft cotton jersey in a slim (but not too slim) fit that’s ideal worn as a base layer or all on its own. If your upper arm game is Dom Toretto-level beastly, these have just the right proportions to show off all your hard work.
The Best Tank Top No One Will Mistake for an Undershirt
Eager to take advantage of the tank top’s easy, breezy nature but need a version with a little more pizzazz? Consider Corridor’s riff, an elegant pointelle-knit that shares more in common with a very respectable sweater than it does a schlubby undershirt. It’s crafted from the same soft cotton as its more casual brethren, but the the intricate weave lends it a dash of sophistication—without compromising on the tank’s innate breathability. (If you’re wearing a tank top, the climate is probably “hot” and being “not hot” is probably high on the list of priorities.) You could wear it under a rumpled striped button-up, but to really let its star wattage shine ditch the shirt altogether and throw on a crochet bucket hat, sleazy tinted shades, flowy linen trousers, and strappy leather sandals. No matter where you are, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation—and you’ll still look Zoom-ready when a surprise touch base pops on your calendar.
Plus 19 More Tanks We Love
Gerald Ortiz, Michella Oré