What to Wear Under a Tank Top? - All Your Tank Top Questions Answered!

What to Wear Under a Tank Top? - All Your Tank Top Questions Answered!

Sandhya TS Sandhya TS
9 minute read

Every summer wardrobe is incomplete without at least one tank top that you wear pretty much everywhere, all through summer. I have my go-to tank top and I know you do too. Tank tops are cute, very functional, and can be styled super easily. You are never left wondering for long what to wear under a tank top. But here is the thing about tank tops - they can either be super stylish or super basic. Sometimes, when styled incorrectly, a total Gaga in a meat dress. 

This is why when you style tank tops, you simply have to do it right. To begin with, you need to understand that there are different types of tank tops. Not all of them can be styled the same. What you wear under, with, and on tank tops primarily depends on the kind of tank tops that you plan to put on. You also need to understand that different types of tank tops offer different functionality. Therefore, the styling needs to be planned out keeping in mind what you plan to do wearing the tank top. 

Before getting into the styling of tank tops and understanding what to wear under a tank top and more, let’s take a look at the different types of tank tops:

Different kinds of tank tops & what you can wear under them:

Athletic tank tops

Athletic tank tops are basic but essential for your activewear wardrobe. They often are made using moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you feeling fresh and light during intense workouts. Your gym tank top has a fit that is between regular and relaxed so it does not cling to your body even when things get sweaty. Some kinds of athletic tank tops come with attached sports bras so they make for multifunctional top wear that supports your moves. 

Under your athletic tank tops, if they don’t come with a bra attached to them, you can wear sports bras that are of cropped length. If you don’t want the bra straps to show, you should choose athletic tank tops that have high armhole coverage. They do not restrict your movement but also offer you comfortable coverage. 

What to wear under a tank top

Cut-out tank tops

Cut-out tank tops are stylish tank tops that have cuts present in different parts of the top either right below the neck or at the back Most commonly, they feature center cuts and they can be styled for evenings out or brunches. They are not very functional and such topwear does not make for good activewear. 

Under your cut-out tank tops, you could either wear a simple strapless bra with low coverage. Or you might want to consider ditching the bra entirely and using nipple covers instead depending on where your tank top features the cuts. You might consider wearing a sports bra under the tank top if it has a split back style because this does make for a stylish yet active look. 

Halter neck tank tops

Generally, halter neck tank tops or halter tank tops feature high-placed armholes and good coverage. However, they often also present a cropped length. These kinds of tank tops are super cute and can be styled either very casually or very dressily. Think denim shorts and a halter neck cotton tank top vs a sequinned halter neck tank with a pair of stylish slit flare trousers. 

Depending on the material of the tank top, and other factors, it is fairly easy to determine what you can wear under your halter-neck tank top. You can choose to wear a normal t-shirt bra with strappy sleeves, or a sports bra that does not have wide straps (well, straps wider than your tank tops). Make sure your bra strap does not slide out from under the tank top. 

halter neck tank top

Double-layer tank tops

Double-layered tank tops have a slightly confusing, if you will, nomenclature. What does a double layer mean exactly? And how are these layers depicted? Well, double-layered tank tops include different styles of displaying the layers. Double-layer tank tops look like you are wearing one tank top on top of the other - you will see the layers overlapping either at the bottom or towards the chest. They are quite stylish but tend to add a bit of volume to your body - work out well if that is something you want. 

You can wear simple bras under these kinds of tank tops. You can also wear sports bras if the material of these two-layered sports bras is moisture-wicking, breathable, and built for activity. Ideally, these kinds of tank tops offer good coverage, so you will have no trouble with any kind of bra that you wear. Ensure that the straps are not visible, especially if the two-layered tank top you are wearing has spaghetti straps. 

Backless tank tops

Backless tank tops are exactly what they sound like. The tank top features a bare back, and how low the back cut is, is variable. These types of backless tank tops are generally built for style rather than comfort or functionality. They could or could not be sleeveless. Some even might have full sleeves. 

You can choose to not wear a bra under your backless tank tops. Or else, you can also wear a bra that has an invisible hook underneath. While you are deciding what to wear inside tank top styles like this, consider bralettes. Bralettes featuring cute back designs might also be an option to consider. Or you could, like I said, ditch the bra entirely. 

backless tank top

Spaghetti strap tank tops

Tank tops with spaghetti straps are quite popular and rather pretty. They make great daywear, casualwear, and partywear. Spaghetti strap tank tops do not make for good options for activewear. They make comfortable day wear and the strap length varies, thus offering varying levels of coverage. A loose tank top with spaghetti straps can be a bit low in coverage. 

What to wear inside sleeveless tops like spaghetti strap tank tops depends on quite a few things. The armhole coverage for one determines exactly how covering your bra has to be and what you are comfortable with. If the armhole coverage is low, you can wear sports bras or so on that have thin straps but offer good side boob coverage. Also, you can wear bras that have pretty straps that go well with the spaghetti straps - either by contradicting it in colour or adding to the look. 

Styling tank tops

Now that you have a fair idea of what to wear under a tank top, let’s look at some styling tips:

Sporty looks

Tank tops, especially athletic ones when worn with leggings/cycling shorts and the like of these, add to quite a sporty look that you can wear all day. Add maybe a sports jacket on top and complete the look. You can also put on some sneakers and tie your hair up to capture the perfect active look.

Work to workouts

Wear your athletic/semi-athletic tank tops with a pair of stretchy flare pants that you can work out in - and voila! Here is a look you can keep on all day without the hassle of changing before you hit the gym. Wear a sports bra under your tank top and you are all good to go. Maybe just consider carrying your gym shoes along. 

Just work, maybe party later?

Spaghetti or any kind of stylish tank top pairs well with straight or flare pants to complete your work outfit you can carry on later in the day. You can put your hair up or down and wear some looped earrings that add a stylish and classy look to your outfit. You can just hit the parties, club, or your evening plans later. 

Keeping things super casual

Here is the question you need to ask yourself if you want a totally relaxed look: what to wear under a loose tank top? Well, you can get out those super comfy bras - or ditch them entirely if that’s what you are comfortable with. Pair your tank top with a pair of shorts or a short skirt or ripped jeans. And there you go. Maybe some sneaks and a cute hairband while you are at it. 

Things to keep in mind when buying tank tops

Here are a few things to consider when you buy tank tops of different styles:


Do you have the right bras to wear under tank tops of the style that you have in mind?

What is it that you are after - comfort, functionality, style, or a blend of these?

How often do you plan on using your tank top? Where would you most likely wear it?

What all styles of tank tops do you have already and what would you like to try next?

Lastly, is the style of tank top you have chosen likely to make you uncomfortable?

Frequently asked questions

Why are tank tops called wife beaters?

Tank tops in the vest are called wife beaters, which is a slang term that developed over time. The account of a man in Detroit who beat his wife to death whilst wearing an undershirt in 1947 is the origin of this term. However, the world is slowly moving on from this offensive term and it is not as common a reference as it once was. 

How did tank tops get their name?

In England, swimming pools are generally referred to as tanks. Tank tops were popularized in the west as swimwear for men and women, featuring a sleeveless design that suits the nature of the activity. Tank tops derive their name from this design that is as old as the early twentieth century. 

Are tank tops helpful during workouts?

Tank tops are definitely helpful during workouts owing to their short sleeves that minimize restriction during movements. The tank tops meant for movement feature fabrics that absorb or wick away sweat and also have a relaxed fit with round necks for good overall coverage. 

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