Tiny undershirt tops, sleeveless silhouettes, knitted sweater undershirts: whatever the iteration, menswear’s most controversial pieces may have us competing against each other in heated debates, but two seasons on, they’re still proliferating on the catwalks of fashion shows this season in the fashion capitals of the world. Prada, Paul Smith, Erdem – they’re out there in a myriad of forms.
We can’t help but wonder, is it time to give in to the temptation of sleeveless tops? Should we finally let our triceps run free? Is it time to (finally) get rid of that peasant tan?
We know it’s going to take some convincing. But fortunately, there are plenty of people who have recently incarnated in sleeveless tops in the public eye. If you’re feeling cautious, they should provide some encouragement and inspiration.
Take Gossip Girl star Evan Mock, fashion’s current “It” boy, who can do no wrong when it comes to style bets. Since his debut last year, he’s been wearing cropped bare-arm numbers. Last month, he appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival Art Gala in New York wearing a jacquard knit tank top by Channel. It was a master class in doing it right: a slim-fitting top with baggy ’90s leather pants underneath added a decidedly punk feel to the ensemble, but also balanced the proportions.
Then there was Shawn Mendes, arguably the main poster boy for this trend. On the artist’s Wonder tour, you can guarantee that the 23-year-old stuck to his trademark, pectoral-tight white tank top. Sometimes layered under a leather jacket or shirt, but mainly worn alone. It gives us easy confidence. It’s also a little sexy, dare we say it – the undershirt is cut to show off the chest, but not in a vulgar way.
At the Dior men’s show in Paris last week, Heartstopper star Joe Locke wore a simple eggshell silk undershirt tucked into high-waisted tuxedo pants that was quietly powerful but painfully chic. It’s a look so well done, it’s under a million likes and going viral on Insta.
It was also proudly featured at last weekend’s London edition of the Pride fundraising brunch, hosted by Henry Hollander and Aimee Phillips. Musician and creative director Andrew Mararazzo slipped his ribbed undershirt under a Fiorruci skinny top, and the black nylon tights came off later in the day.
Elsewhere, British singer, songwriter and record producer MNEK added a psychedelic twist to his pastel suit with a swirling print knit sweater undershirt, while poet and activist Kai Isiah Jamal opted for a pink sleeveless undershirt from British label Staud, paired with low-waisted ’90s-style jeans. At JW Anderson’s Soho store, Sam Smith wore the brand’s pieces tucked into mid-wash jeans and accessories with …… uh, we’ll let you figure that one out.
It shows that sleeveless menswear pieces are probably one of the most interesting menswear pieces in existence, and if you style it right, it can take dressing up to new heights. Free up your arms, we say! Still believe it?