Ah, muscle shirts – the fad that’s emblematic of 80s menswear. This iconic fashion trend has seen its ups and downs throughout the years, from being worn onstage at bodybuilding competitions to becoming the unofficial uniform of 2000s boy bands.
Though you may think of ultra-muscular men when you think of muscle shirts, they aren’t exclusively worn by gym rats and bodybuilders. Instead, they’re commonly worn as casual wear by men of all body types both in and out of the gym. And, lucky for us, they’re gaining traction once again.
In this blog, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about muscle shirts and list out some must-try products that will sell you on sleeveless shirts.
What Are Muscle Shirts?
Put plainly, muscle shirts are shirts without sleeves. However, though the neckline is standard, they cling more closely to the torso than your run-of-the-mill t-shirt.
As the name suggests, muscle shirts are meant to show off and flatter the arms and upper body. They first became popular in the 1960s, reaching their peak in the 1980s when people began hitting the gym like never before. They were (and still are) popular amongst gym-goers, as they allow for a wide range of motion and comfort while pumping iron.
While they certainly gained traction in the gym, they’ve become a popular choice for men of all shapes, sizes and athletic capabilities. When styled as an undershirt or with a pair of sweats, they make a trusty everyday choice.
Muscle Shirt VS Tank Top
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “if a muscle shirt is just a shirt without sleeves, isn’t it just a tank top?” While it could be argued that a muscle shirt is just a glorified tank top, I would say that the two are not the same. Here are some key differences to note:
- The neckline. While many tank tops have a V-neck or loose-fitting neckline, muscle shirts feature a high neckline that offers more coverage.
- The sleeves (or lack thereof). Most tank tops have sleeves that are about two to four fingers across, while muscle shirts generally have thicker sleeves that reach the outer part of the shoulder. Furthermore, muscle shirts fit more tightly around the arms than tank tops.
- The fit of the torso. Tank tops generally drape over the torso and fit loosely, and muscle shirts hug the torso.
- Material. Tank tops come in a wide range of materials, and you never quite know what you’ll get. On the other hand, muscle shirts are a bit more predictable. Like t-shirts, muscle shirts are most often made of cotton, polyester or a blend of the two.
- Their uses. Tank tops are casual shirts that are often worn alone, while muscle shirts are commonly worn in the gym or as an undershirt.
Why Wear Muscle Shirts?
Now you know what muscle shirts are – so why wear them? Here are a few reasons why I think you should invest in one:
Like t-shirts, muscle shirts are undeniably comfortable. They cover the torso well without the annoyance of sleeves, and you don’t have to worry about noticeable sweat marks or yellow stains (which is one of my favorite things about muscle shirts).
Many muscle shirts have high necks, but there are plenty of options with a V-neck or a more loose-fitted neckline. So, if you hate the feel of a tight neckline like I do, don’t fret – there’s a muscle shirt out there for you!
The muscle shirt is an extremely versatile garment. If you’re not ready to rock one by itself, it’s a great option to wear as an undershirt during warmer months.
Like crew-neck t-shirts, a crew-neck muscle shirt will be visible when you’re wearing a shirt with an open collar – but, of course, this boils down to preference. If you like the neckline of your undershirt to be visible, get a crew-neck muscle shirt; if you don’t, get one with a V-neck or a loose-fitting neckline.
That being said, they’re also a great standalone shirt. You can easily wear a muscle shirt to the gym, the beach or a night out with your buddies.
They’re Flattering on Every Body Type
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – muscle shirts are not exclusive for the ultra-muscular. Wearing one can be a real confidence booster for men of any body type, and your arms don’t have to be perfectly chiseled to look great in it.
If you’re unsure about how you’d feel in a muscle shirt, I beg you to try one. You might surprise yourself!
The Best Muscle Shirts Out There
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the best muscle shirts for men. Here are a few of my favorite products:
C9 Champion Men’s Sleeveless Tech Tee
The C9 Champion Men’s Sleeveless Tech Tee is the perfect muscle shirt for hitting the gym. While it’s a great gym shirt, it’s comfortable enough to wear casually or to lounge around in. Because it’s made primarily of polyester, it’s ultra-breathable and moisture-wicking. I love this product particularly because it’s undeniably comfortable.
- Colors: Available in white, black, grey, blue, heather, navy and red
- Composition: 94% polyester, 6% spandex
- Price: $15.99
MOTEEPI Men’s Sleeveless Muscle Shirt
The MOTEEPI Men’s Sleeveless Muscle Shirt is another great gym shirt. My favorite part about this shirt is that the neckline is stretchy, and it doesn’t make you feel restricted while wearing it. Because this product has a logo, it’s less ideal for wearing casually – though that may just be my preference.
- Colors: Available in white, black, grey and red
- Composition: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
- Price: $15.98
DRIEQUIP Men’s Sleeveless Moisture Wicking Muscle T-Shirt
Calling all of my fellow sweaty friends – the DRIEQUIP Men’s Sleeveless Moisture Wicking Muscle T-Shirt may just become your new favorite wardrobe piece! Though this is the most expensive option on the list, I can guarantee that it’s a worthwhile investment. Because it’s 100% polyester, it’s breathable, lightweight and moisture-wicking.
- Colors: Available in white, black, grey, green, navy, red and royal blue
- Composition: 100% polyester
- Price: $21.99
COOFANDY Men’s Workout Tank Top
This list would be incomplete without a good V-neck muscle shirt. The COOFANDY Men’s Workout Tank Top is another great option for both gym and everyday wear, and it can be worn discreetly underneath a button-down or polo. I love this shirt because both the neckline and the arm holes provide more wiggle room than most other muscle shirts on the market.
- Colors: Available in white, black, grey, navy, red, royal blue, army green, light blue and yellow
- Composition: 97% polyester, 3% spandex
- Price: 3-pack for $27.99
More Style Resources
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