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A sleeveless shirt is a shirt manufactured without sleeves, or whose sleeves have been cut off. Sleeveless shirts are worn by people of either gender, depending on the style. They can be used as undershirts, worn by athletes in sports such as track and field and triathlon, or as casual wear attire during humid weather.
In the United States and Canada, it is commonly known as a tank top, tank shirt, muscle shirt, and also wifebeater, guinea tee, or dago tee ("guinea" and "dago" being American ethnic slurs for people of Italian ethnicity). The term wifebeater reportedly became synonymous for an undershirt after a criminal case in 1947. A Detroit native named James Hartford Jr. was arrested for beating his wife to death. News outlets printed a photo of Hartford in a stained undershirt and referred to him as "the wife beater."
In the UK, especially when used as an undershirt, it is known as a vest (compare the American usage of "vest"). Another term is singlet, used in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, parts of Hawaii, and French-speaking Belgium. In France, it is commonly called a marcel after Marcel Eisenberg, who first started large-scale production of the shirts for Parisian porters during the mid-19th century, or more formally a débardeur, meaning "docker", "porter" or "stevedore".
In the Philippines, a sleeveless shirt is called a sando. In addition to being worn as an undershirt, it is also often worn at home due to its effectiveness in providing relief from the country's humid climate.
In Bengal, it is called a sando-genji or just genji. In much of India, it is known as a banian and is used extensively as an undershirt to absorb sweat and prevent its penetration to outer layers of clothing.
In addition to athletic usage, tank tops 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. Tank tops 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 a tank top 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. (Women's tank tops have smaller holes, to conceal their breasts). 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. A tank top 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 suits of the 1920s worn in tanks or swimming pools. The upper garment is worn commonly by both men and women.
A camisole, also called just cami, is a sleeveless undergarment 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.
A dudou (Chinese: 肚兜; lit.: 'belly cover'), known as a yếm in Vietnamese contexts, is an item of East Asian and Southeast Asian clothing resembling a silk apron or bib but traditionally used as an undershirt or bodice to flatten the figure and, medicinally, to preserve stomach qi. Beginning around the year 2000, Western and Chinese fashion has also begun incorporating them as a sleeveless and backless shirt for women.
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.
A sleeveless T-shirt, also called a muscle shirt, is the same design as a T-shirt, but without sleeves. Some sleeveless T-shirts, which possess smaller, narrower arm holes, can be worn by both women and men, but those with larger, wider arm holes are primarily worn by men, since the larger arm holes would expose the 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 commonly associated with surfers and bodybuilders (hence the name "muscle" shirt) and often bore the names and logos of gyms. Such shirts without logos are now more commonly worn as casual wear.
A tube top is a shirt with no sleeves or shoulders, essentially a tube that wraps around a woman's torso. Some versions cover most of the torso while others leave a large midriff. In British and Australian English, they are informally known as boob tubes.
- "The 'Wife Beater' Is More Than Just a Tank Top". MEL Magazine. May 22, 2018.
- "Why Do We Call It A "Wife Beater" Shirt?". Dictionary.com. January 16, 2018.
- Velasquez-Manoff, Moises (May 25, 2018). "Opinion | Are We Really Still Calling This Shirt a 'Wife Beater'?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
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