Ask Tug: Undershirt Help – Tank tops – Wifebeater – Why the hell can’t I find one that FITS?

Here’s a question from a reader who’s having a hard time finding a wife beater that actually fits well and keeps its shape.

Dear undershirt guy,

I am frustrated with trying to find a decent “wife beater” style of undershirt. I assure you that I do not wear these as a fashion statement just like that…I wear them UNDER a button-up shirt. Anyway, why the hell can’t I find one that FITS? When I bend and move, the neckline of the shirt just droops until it becomes untucked and makes me have a very droopy and low neckline. I want the neck of the shirt to be high up, but I can’t seem to accomplish this. How do the guys on the box seem to do it?!

Any you can suggest, or tips, that’ll keep the neck line high, besides flipping them around?
Thanks! :)

I’ve been a little busy lately, so I had to send my reply in two parts. Here’s part one that I sent earlier this week:

Hey JS,

Thanks for your email! Since I’m not a frequent tank top “wife beater” wearer, I can’t provide advice from my personal experience with them, but I did do some research over the weekend and have some recommendations you may want to consider. I’ll get back with you in a couple of days with some thoughts.

In the meantime, let me leave you with some information. You asked about how the guys on the box seem to keep the neck of the shirt so high: let me let you in on a little secret – in many cases undershirts are pinned back for photo shoots to make them appear to fit better than they actually do. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some of those photos are touched-up to lessen the appearance of gathering.

I also noticed something recently with some pictures of undershirts where the bottom of the undershirt is pulled up by the model. I think they are doing this to distract from the fact that the undershirt is short. I’m speculating, but why else would they make them pose that way?

I’ll get back to you in a few days. Thanks for reading!

Here’s his reply:

Thanks for your reply! I figured they pinned ’em back. But in the movies too they seem to fit so well…you think they pin those back too, or are there actually ones that have a higher neckline ?

I did some research this week and responded with the following information:

Hey JS,

My pleasure. Sorry I haven’t had the time to provide more details, but I have been looking into it so I could I respond to you and write something for the site.

I suspect the wife beaters in the movies are either tailored to fit the actors or they are one of those tailored, high-end ribbed tanks that cost over $75 per shirt (crazy money!). The movies always makes things look better, don’t they? (I’m sure I could point Hollywood to some more affordable undershirts that fit just as good as those over-priced ones).

There are a few styles of tank tops. The most common are the ones with the “U” shaped neck line like the ones you can get from Hanes or Fruit-of-the-Loom. It’s fairly likely that those are the ones that don’t keep their shape very well since they are typically made of very thin fabric (btwn 3-4oz.). From my personal experience, I’ve found that those types of shirts usually recover their shape reasonably well after washing, but once you put them on, they stretch out pretty easily.

In reviewing some of the tanks tops available on, there seems to be a pretty good selection. Personally, I like the tank tops that are designed with a neckline that is more square-shaped, but I couldn’t say whether or not they hold their shape any better than the “U” shaped ones. If you ask me, it’s the fabric that will make the difference. The better the fabric, the more likely it will keep its shape. I suspect a polyester blend or a model tank will keep its shape better that a traditional ribbed tank.

The problem I’ve found with most tanks is that they are too short and come un-tucked easily. Most of the tanks are roughly 16.5” – 18” from under the armhole to the hem. I did find one square cut tank from 2xist that’s made of pima cotton and measures nearly 20” from under the armhole to hem (nearly 2” longer). That seems like a pretty respectable length. Of course, that really depends on how tall you are (or how long your torso is).

Although I don’t have any specific recommendations, if you’re looking for a better tank top that stays tucked in, I would recommend focusing on one with a higher-end fabric and keep an eye on the “under armhole to hem” measurement.

Hope the information helps!

1 thought on “Ask Tug: Undershirt Help – Tank tops – Wifebeater – Why the hell can’t I find one that FITS?”

  1. As someone who wears a sleeveless undershirt, or tank top, daily, I have found the 2xist pima cotton undershirts to be the best. The fabric is very lightweight and retains its shape. Also, the square cut neck sleeveless undershirts also wear well. The lighter, smooth fabrics seem to fit better than the heavier ribbed cotton that the cheap brands use.


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