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What is a Tube Top?

By Devon Pryor
Updated May 16, 2024
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A tube top is a woman's clothing item that is a type of top, or shirt, without sleeves or straps. Thus, when a woman wears one, her shoulders are left completely bare. It takes the form of an elongated ring or band of material. Imagine a close-fitting tank top with the straps cut off, and you’ve got a crude tube top. The material wraps around the chest and, depending on the length of the top, may either leave the midriff exposed or covers the belly.

Since tube tops have no sleeves or straps, they are usually made out of stretchy material, such as a spandex blend, jersey, or another knit material. This allows it to cling to the body, and prevents it from slipping down. Some also have a band of elastic, or a hidden strip of rubbery plastic that runs along the inside and sticks to the skin. These features also help prevent the top from slipping out of place.

The first go-round of the tube top trend reached its peak in the United States in the late 1970s. Perhaps due to its skin-revealing style, it has continued to remain popular among young American women since that time. The tube top is, of course, also worn elsewhere. The British call it a boob tube, referring in slang terms to the part of the body the top conceals.

Tube tops can also be called strapless tops; however not all strapless tops are tube tops. A true tube top is a simple band of stretchy material with little or no structure, which fits tight around the torso. In contrast, a different kind of strapless top might be made out material that does not stretch, and may have buttons, ties, or other fasteners, or perhaps be structured to support the breasts. In clothing, structure refers to the way a clothing item is constructed to give it shape both on and off the body.

A similar garment to the tube top is the halter top. A halter top has one strap that is worn around the back of the neck, leaving the shoulders bare.A tube dress is, essentially, an elongated tube top that extends down from the armpits to cover, at least partially, the lower half of the body. Yet another variation is the tube top jumper, which extends down into pant legs.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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