Summer in New York is a lobster pot of sweat, poppers, and rogue AC unit drips. I love it. I fear it. I need to be better equipped for it, as a Californian who just moved to Brooklyn who is still learning the ropes of Heattech, rolling carts, and flirting with your bodega cat.
This city moves fast [Sinatra jazz hands], but it moves even faster in July and August. Despite the humidity, the summer always has me peeling out of the house for a drink/bike ride/park jaunt more than the holed-up winter months. The sartorial result? A series of quick-grab looks that live on my floordrobe like a whale carcass, amassing more and more socks and fanny packs and building out my summer avatar with bike shorts, button-ups, socks and sandals, and other essentials. Yet, the piece around which all others orbit—the one at the very core of that summer avatar—is the basic white tank.
I’ve made it my personal mission over the past few months to find the best white tanks; the ones that feel unisex, super thin and ideal for layering; the ones you can wear to an elegant, swankity cocktail shindig; and the ones that are thick, long, cuttable, and forgettable. I’ve tried everything from the dollar store ribbed fit to a $75 white tank top that makes me feel like a Parade underwear-hawking micro-influencer—and I’ve also fallen for a few underdogs along the way.
Here’s the breakdown of my USPIS-backed (nope) research.
The safe choice
This is where the mission began: It was May, and it just started to get hot. Knowing nothing about what I wanted in a tank, I ordered a four-pack of Hanes from Amazon because I knew the brand and trusted that it wouldn’t be trash. I love that they’re tagless and shrink a bit in the wash, because I like my ribbed tees tyte. They’re a little short for my long-bean torso (I’m 5’10’’), but if you’re a medium-to-short bean, you’ll have no issues. The collar is a little thin for my taste, but if you’re into that, rock n’ roll. You probably won’t see these tanks on the runway any time soon, but they’re classic, dependable, and won’t break the bank.
The softest one by far
The rad thing about this tank from Richer Poorer is that it comes in eight earthy colors, and the olive shade makes me feel like Laura Croft. At $38, it’s definitely on the pricier side for basic tanks, but you’re paying for quality—it won’t get distorted in the wash, it’s mad soft, and the fabric has a weight and thickness to it that makes me feel both richer and more well-read (and, as one bud told me, also supports bigger boobs, too). It hits right below my navel (so, SFW and the family function) and will definitely be taking me into fall more than any other tank on the list.
Tony Soprano is your style icon
My search almost stopped here. That’s how much I love this tagless white tee, which I buy in packs from one of my favorite dollar stores on Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick. It’s super thin, which is great if you’re going for a Zoë Kravitz nipple moment, but has a thick collar situation that my friend says “makes it look more expensive than it is.” I usually cut these babies to varying degrees of midriff tops, use the scraps to clean my windows, and wear them out on hikes, dates, or running errands when I want to feel like a hot, 65-year-old Italian dad on a mission for his sopressata.
If you like a high collar
So, OK. I bought these while riding the Giovanni high, and they’re solid. They do a lot of what the other budget white tees on this list do, but have a slightly higher collar—which I love. The pits feel a little low for me, though. IDK. At this point, I started to wonder if Giovanni ruined all other ribbed tees for me. [Stares wistfully out of subway window.]
The best deconstructed white tank
Here’s Giovanni’s biggest contender, about neck-in-neck to the Richer Poorer tank. The Line by K is a brand by blogger and vintage sleuth Karla Deras, who was one of the internet’s first proto-influencers. Deras would thrift pieces, cut them up, and find effortlessly sexy ways of arranging them with vintage and high-end pieces. The Line by K launched in 2015 with the goal of creating basics that aren’t basic, such as this white ribbed tank. The “Ximeno” is like a backwards men’s racerback that’s soft and has flattering side-tailoring, a high-neck, and a deconstructed back that makes it more swank than the rest on the list. The unique tailoring in the back means that it slides over your boob if you’re moving around a lot, but otherwise, it’s rad. Wish it was a bit more affordable, but there’s legit no other tank out there like this.
Let me know which ones tank for you? (I’m so sorry.) Blessings.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.