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Last Updated on January 26, 2022
Okay, make believe it’s 1995, it’s hot as balls outside, and you’re sweating like a pig – what are you wearing?
A tank top, of course!
It’s not some sophisticated outfit, but you know what? It covers your bits, lets you get some sun, and it can even be really cute.
Spaghetti straps, anyone?
Was that not your secondary school life?
Because it sure was mine.
You can pretty much do anything with a tank top – wear it plain, embellish it, slap a cartoon character on it, change up the straps – it’s still a basic af garment that we’re elevating to 90s classic.
Cartoon tank top
You know what I wore all through 1994-1999? That’s right – cartoon tank tops. Daisy Duck, Sailor Moon, Barbie – all my faves. And luckily for me, those are back in fashion and we can recreate our collective Early Childhood Realness.
Cartoon tank tops are great to be worn ironically, under a cool denim jacket, leather jacket, or blazer. Hell, you could probably even get away with wearing it at work, as long as you throw a professional blazer on top of it.
Read: 23 of the Top 90s Cartoons
Embellished tank top
You know me, I love me an embellished garment, especially if it’s a tank top. An embellished tank top is not only aggressively 90s, it’s also the solution to the eternal question “What do I wear to go out?” – jeans and a nice top, duh.
The best part about this is that you can DIY the sh*t out of it at home. Now, these embellishments can range from subtle to tacky, and I want them all, the more sparkly, the better.
Sequins are in at the moment, fulfilling my disco queen fantasies, but you can also opt for beading, or some other type of embellishment that adds visual interest to your outfit. Just don’t get spikes, that’s soooo 00s and those aren’t back, yet.
Floral tank top
There aren’t many ways you can go wrong with a floral tank top, because it’s so darn cute, and bizarrely appropriate for a wide range of occasions.
You already know that ditzy floral prints are really 90s, and so are tank tops, tbh. With their powers combined, they manage to create a garment that’s comfy in the heat, without looking slutty.
My mom would probably think otherwise. Idk what it is about floral prints, but it’s impossible to not look classy and elegant in them. Ofc, if you pair a cropped floral tank with a belly button piercing and a tramp stamp, that’s not my fault.
Halter tank top
Not gonna lie, not a huge fan of the halter tank top, but only because it’s damn near IMPOSSIBLE to wear with a bra, and I take my ladies’ support seriously these days. Not making the same mistakes from my misspent youth, no sir.
Halter tank tops can be really sexy, but again – in a very subtle way. You’re not showing anything inappropriate, just highlighting beautiful parts of a woman’s body that wouldn’t normally be visible, like your shoulders and your back.
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Hip hop tank top
Where the hip hop tank top is concerned, this one’s going to be tight, that’s for sure. And it’s probably also going to be booby and shiny, because that’s how hip hop tank tops roll. This one’s definitely for evening wear, but only if you promise to wear it as God intended: with really baggy trousers and strappy heels.
Jazz tank top
I’m sure everyone remembers those jazz tank tops from the 90s, right? They were everywhere, and not particularly cute, if you ask me. I guess you could wear this, but the question is: why would you? If you’re gonna wear a tank top, there are better ones, and that includes using it as a layering piece.
If you want to wear this, I won’t judge you, but it’s ugly. THERE, I said it.
Mens tank top
Not wild about that freaking name – wifebeater, how horrendous – but I’ve got to admit, the classic, basic, white men’s tank top will always be in fashion and will always go with everything. Plus, it fits RIGHT into that whole normcore thing that’s going on right now, with ugly pool slides and dad sandals and everything. I bet you can tell exactly how I feel about that.
A men’s tank top can also help create a very androgynous, slightly menswear-inspired look, with trousers and everything. Add a hat, and you’ve got A Look, eh?
Neon / bright colours tank top
If you’re gonna wear a tank top, might as well make it bright AF.
There’s more than one way to play with this – you can wear it on its own to make a statement, particularly if it’s neon, or you can pair with matching suit separates. You know all the suits that are really trendy right now? They would go GREAT with a colourful tank top underneath.
This is even cool for work, if you don’t work in a massively conservative, business-professional environment. Like, what I’m saying is, don’t wear a neon tank top if you’re a lawyer, but maybe wear a neon tank top (underneath a jacket) if you work in IT or in like, publishing or something.
Ringer tank top
Look, ringer tank tops are not particularly complex pieces of fashion. That is to say, they’re cute and basic, and they don’t SAY much, you know? There are chattier garments on this list, I assure you.
That being said, I can’t knock this, you guys. It’s cute and simple, and it goes with pretty much anything. The fact that it’s basic means you can probably wear it forever and it will never look particularly dated, and you can wear it by itself or layered under or over other stuff. Winner!
Racerback tank top
Also known as the top that makes it impossible to wear a bra or that displays your bra straps for everyone to see, the racerback tank was a nice alternative to the spaghetti strap tops everyone was wearing in the 90s.
Technically, it originated in sportswear, but the fashion world quickly co-opted it for one reason only: it’s cute, okay? Plus, it can add a casual, I-go-to-the-gym-and-make-shakes-everyday vibe even when you’re secretly a slob.
But you can also make it a bit dressier when it’s made from a nicer fabric than just sweatshirt material, you know?
Satin tank top
Satin isn’t the most classic, timeless material in the world, but luckily for you and I and our collectively poor taste, satin and shiny stuff are BACK, and the 14 year-old in me LOVES it. Again – jeans and a nice top? This nails it.
Yes, satin can be a little uncomfortable, because it doesn’t have any stretch in it, and it’s not very breathable, but damn if it doesn’t look really good and elevate any outfit. It’s better suited for evenings and after-dark events, but if you’re tacky, like me, you can get away with wearing it during the day, as well.
Spaghetti strap tank top
Is there anything more 90s than spaghetti straps? Tops, tank tops, dresses – they were all slave to the spaghetti strap, and you know what? It was a super cute look, no matter how much teachers made us feel like we were dressed iNaPprOPriAtEly.
There’s nothing inappropriate about shoulders – in fact, they’re chic and fun, and ideal for summer. Who wants to wear sleeves in scorching heat? Plus, how are you gonna show off your body glitter? Throw on that spaghetti strap tank top, put on a pair of high-waisted jean shorts and a pair of flip flops and off you go, child.
What’s your favorite kind of tank top, and why is it the cartoon tank top?