Possibly you haven’t thought about tank tops much since Donny Osmond was singing Puppy Love.
Perhaps you associate them with your old geography teacher (male) and James Herriot’s character in All Creatures Great And Small.
That’s normal, but there is a whole other side to tank tops — a chic, flattering, eminently wearable side — and if you’re not aware of their fashion potential, you probably should be, especially now, when they’re hitting the spot as we edge into autumn.
If it helps you give them another chance, you can always call it a knitted vest, a tank vest or a sleeveless sweater.
British style expert Shane Watson, shared her advice for embracing this season’s tank top trend. Pictured: Jennifer Garner
I’m already a big fan of the tank top. I love that a substantial one will make your arms look smaller. I love that they can instantly add a dash of Katharine Hepburn chic to an ordinary, crisp cotton shirt and trousers. I love that they can work like a waistcoat, defining your torso without actually restricting you. And I love that they are just a little bit of a good thing, not too much.
I’d never wear a multi-coloured stripey sweater, but I’d definitely try the tank top version. So far, the most tempting is Mango’s chunky striped style (£29.99, mango.com).
It’s the absence of arms that makes a tank top so useful.
‘Transitional knits’ is what the fashion brands call them (perfect for now), but the truth is your tank top is a year-round friend. You can stay warm and show off the sleeves of an elegant shirt at the same time, or you can wear a tailored jacket that wouldn’t fit over an actual sweater.
On top of a pretty, girly blouse, a woollen tank top (and it must be wool, and not too fine a knit so it doesn’t look skimpy) adds a boyish, ready-for-work twist.
Top of the list at the moment is Me+Em’s camel merino cashmere vest with detachable polo neck (£115, meandem.com). It’s the perfect shape: boxy, cropped and it’s ribbed. A plain knit can look a bit flat.
TANK TOPS: THE RULES
- Choose a tank that’s wool and medium weight.
- Go for cropped, boxy styles.
- Try camel for day, sequin details for night.
- Wide-ribbed hems and armhole cuffs flatter.
Mango also does a cream cable knit, available with a crew or V-neck (£29.99 and £35.99, mango.com). Either neckline works, although a V-neck is better if you’re not small-chested. Underneath wear your collar popped up and your shirttails tucked into high-waisted trousers.
The cool girls will be wearing theirs with nothing underneath but a light coating of moisturiser — and the style that has the fashion girls drooling is &Daughter’s Bonnie tank in black or beige (£295, and-daughter.com).
Aside from being the perfect boxy cut, this also has a deep, ribbed V-neck and waistband (the details that separate your tank top from your Dad’s sleeveless sweater), side vents (also flattering) and square sleeve cuffs. (If you’re planning on wearing yours with nothing underneath, these act like cap sleeves and make that much more do-able.)
Safe to say that most of us are not going to be going bare-armed in our tank tops. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be a bit daring.
While a beige or black or otherwise plainish tank top — Cos does a good black cashmere vest (£99, cosstores.com) — is going to be as useful as your joggers (and look good with them), your tank can also add a bit of jazz and sparkle.
If we are seeing our friends over the weeks to come (who knows what the future holds), meeting outside is going to be the best bet — as long as the weather is nice. In which case, an eye-catching wool tank under a jacket could be just what the occasion calls for.
Wyse has a grey knit tank with a zigzag sequined rainbow across the chest (£195, wyselondon.co.uk), which has ‘party outside’ written all over it. Less splashy, but smart with black trousers, is Brora’s textured black, sand and white tank (£149 in the sale, brora.co.uk).
They’ve got Zoom appeal, warmth appeal, weekend and work appeal. They might even remind you of the 1970s, in a good way. You’re going to fall in love with them.