Item of the Week The Basic White Tank

The white tank top may be the most basic wardrobe staple, but its background is rooted in cultural movements and important developments in the world of sport. The name ‘tank top’ derives from the historical word for pools, once known as tanks.

And is related to the suits worn by the first women to compete in Olympic swimming competitions way back in 1912. Also, while Although many men wore the item as underwear, it also acquired a ‘macho’ reputation due to its use in popular movies. Today, however, the item has become a unisex piece, popular for summer days and layered outfits, and is defined as a sleeveless vest, often using a ribbed knit material.

Why you’ll want it The basic white tank is currently undergoing a cultural resurgence, taking it beyond its initial place in society, which had previously seen it linked to ‘toxic machismo’, and into a rejuvenated relevance among the new generation of buyers.

Much of this appeal is due to its newly formed unisex charm, allowing it to be worn across genders and thus providing a wardrobe staple for a wide audience. Furthermore, its revival also stems from the use of undergarments as outerwear, albeit a more modest version of the continually recurring trend. Unlike bralettes, the tank top offers an option for those who prefer to cover up a little more and still participate in the outerwear movement.

The basic white tank top was a popular item for the AW22 collections, seen on the catwalks of some of the biggest international designers. Bottega Veneta, Chloé and Bevza paired the wardrobe staple with statement pants, either contrasting the simple, tailored garment with flowy oversized silhouettes or presenting a more wearable look with baggy jeans or skinny leather-look pants.

Sacai’s design iteration involved the use of a more sheer fabric for the main body of the vest and a satin hem to contrast it. For Italian house Prada, the basic tank was elevated with the addition of the brand’s basic metal monogram, which was placed in a prominent position at the front of the neckline, present in both long and cropped versions of the style.

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