The heat is on as we’ve officially entered summer. For some of you, deep heat is well under way. For others, it might feel like Spring is just now arriving. In any case, there will be days ahead where sweltering heat and humidity leads to sweating pits. A day will come when it’s just too damn hot for a shirt with any sort of sleeve, and you’ll need to resort to a tank top. But, outside of sandals (future post alert), tank tops are the hardest item to style without looking like, well, without looking kinda like a tool. For the purposes of this post, we’re talking about styling a tank top outside of the gym, beach, or pool. So how do you pull off a tank without looking like a fool? Here are three rules to follow when going sleeveless.
All rules are merely suggestions if you are Paul Newman. If you are not Paul Newman, read on.
Rule #1: No Nipples
In my opinion, this rule should extend to every scenario. Look, fellas, we get it. You want to show people how big and strong you are. We’re all very impressed. But, we will not be impressed with your nipples. Nobody needs, or wants to see them. Keep those stringer tees, the ones that have been cut to within an inch of their life, firmly in the 1970’s where they belong.
Rule #2: Don’t go too deep
Necklines naturally run deeper on tank tops than sleeved shirts, but avoid going too deep. Skip the punk-rocker look and look for something with a moderate neckline. A good benchmark is a neckline that dips to where a henley would drop to if the bottom button were undone.
Rule #3: Don’t go too long
When wearing a tank top, you should also be wearing shorts, and a shirt with a low drop combined with shorts will stunt your physique. If you wear pants with a tank top… it’s not hot enough to wear a tank top.
With these rules in place, here are a few ways to put together a tank top outfit for when the temperature goes nuclear.
Outfit #1: Smooth Sailing
If it’s blistering heat you’re dealing with, find your way onto the water for a nice breeze. Then channel nautical themes for this look. Pairing a striped tank with a cool color in a brighter shade and boat shoes keeps the look more refined than other tank top outfits.
Tank: Amazon Essentials Slim Stripe Tank in White/Navy -$10. The theme is nautical, and no pattern is more seaworthy than a classic white/navy stripe top.
Shorts: J.Crew 7” Stretch Short in Khaki – $65. Normally $65, but often found for around $45 with ever-present J.Crew codes. 7” length is just right for most, and the stretch allows for added comfort when you’re darting from port to starboard.
Shoes: Sebago Dockside Portland in Navy – $100. You knew it had to be boat shoes, right? I prefer Sebago over Sperry, as they have produced a number of hits over the years with Horween leather. However, these are hard to come by, and the standard Sebago boat shoes are exceptional quality for the price. The durability is excellent, and the style is classic.
Sunglasses: Costa Del Mar Canaveral – $127. A splurge, but I’ve yet to come across a superior lens than those produced by Costa Del Mar. A brand built for the water, their polarized lenses eliminate glare and help fishermen see on the water. An all-around aviator style here does the trick for expeditions on chartered boats or BBQs all the same. BIG thanks to Davis T. for sending in a tip on how Jomashop has Costa Del Mars for much, much less than retail!
The Watch: Timex MK1 Green Canvas Strap Watch – $69. Casual. Rugged canvas strap. Inexpensive. Not very water resistant (3om, the minimum) but if you got arse over teakettle over the side, you’ve got much bigger problems than a flooded wristwatch. Pro Tip: Stay on the boat, or stay on the land. And this look will look great on land!
Outfit #2 Athlete Inspired
Athleisure isn’t super popular ‘round these parts (someone sits on a throne of lies), but given that tank tops are most often found in a fitness setting – the track, the gym, boxing gyms, yoga studios- adopting an athletic style will be a natural look that makes sense and keeps you as cool as possible.
Tank: Hanes 1901 Garment Dyed Tank in Sky Blue – $8. Solid blue is a great color for a tank in any shade, but this brighter blue really pops against the grey shorts and works well with the blue accents on the shoes.
Shorts: J.Crew 7″ Tech Short in Coal Grey – $69.50. J.Crew again, but for all their woes they make great shorts. These tech shorts keep your thunder-thighs and caboose cool. They have UPF+50 protection from the sun, and are made of 65% recycled nylon.
Shoes: Adidas Stan Smith in White/Blue- $80. A forever classic. Great bang for your buck with better-than-expected leather upper and enough cushioning in the midsole for whatever the day may throw at you that isn’t some sort of athletic pursuit. Despite being named for a tennis player, don’t play tennis in these.
Sunglasses: Huckberry Weekenders – $35. Built to be lightweight, good looking, and highly functional… but also cheap! Polarized lenses. Just thirty five bucks.
The Watch: Todd Snyder Gray Military Watch Set – $79.97 ($148). A neutral but still interesting watch from the Timex x Todd Snyder watch collection. Extra camo NATO strap included. On sale via Nordy Rack.
Outfit #3 The Outdoorsman
Chances are, you’ll go outside this summer when it gets hot. Take advantage of the weather, and find some local hiking trails to get fresh air (even though it might be humid), some shade in the trees, and some natural exercise. Just be sure to use sun screen and bug spray, and stay out of the tall grasses if you’re in shorts. You don’t want to be pulling any ticks, let alone multiple, off of you after a quick trip through the tall stuff.
Tank: Prana Organic Cotton Tank in Grey – $25. What better way to embrace the outdoors than in an organically grown garment?
Hat: The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer Hat in Grey – $35. Is it the most dappered hat? No. BUT, it IS hugely functional for keeping sun off your dome with UPF50 fabric and stays cool with mesh perforations for airflow. No, in the right situation – such as hiking – this is not dorky. I swear.
Shorts: Patagonia Baggies “7 in Port Blue – $55. Included in our swimwear picks, these are truly a do-it all short that works well on the trail and give you the freedom to jump in a stream to cool off. Going with 7” here instead of the 5” version from the swimwear picks to allow for a bit more coverage.
Shoes: Danner Caprine High – $150. These are more sneaker than true hiking boot, but from a company like Danner, it’s okay to expect the best of both worlds. Mighty comfortable and will provide a lot of grip on the trail with their Vibram outsle. Another option, if you’re not doing any moderate to difficult hikes and going for a refreshing trail stroll, is to wear a regular ‘ole pair of sneakers.
Sunglasses: Smith Lowdown 2 Carbonic Polarized Sunglasses in Tortoise – $99: Made by a brand that blends function and form, these Smiths give you excellent clarity, while the nose pads keep the things on your face. Which is important. Because sunglasses don’t do you much good on the ground. Especially if you step on them and smash them to smithereens in one fell swoop.
Watch: Casio Diver – $60. The legend! Cheap, super effective. 200m water resistance so you won’t have to worry about it if you dive into a lake. Looks good on an aftermarket NATO strap too.
About the Author: Jason P. is a Dappered devotee, having curated the majority of his wardrobe through the site. He is an enthusiast of wool sweaters, chino pants, and affordable automatic watches. In his free time, you can find him at his boxing gym or antiquing with his wife.