When we think of the modern-day muscle shirt, we don’t quite think of the neon colors and possible ripped-off sleeves that we saw in the 90s.
Even though the muscle shirt has come a long way, it still isn’t considered mainstream by any means. And that may be because something about the muscle shirt tends to imply you need to be in more than the average physical shape to wear it.
In this article, we take a deeper look at why guys wear muscle shirts and answer other common questions you may have.
What Is a Muscle Shirt?
Okay, let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a muscle shirt? A muscle shirt is a type of sleeveless t-shirt that first started gaining popularity in the 1960s.
The goal of the muscle shirt is to show off the male physique, as it is both sleeveless and clings close to the body without being skin tight.
Let’s talk about the look of the muscle shirt. While some muscle shirts do not have the extra-large arm openings that we’re used to in traditional muscle shirts, many of them still do.
This offers better ventilation, as well as better ease of movement. Men might particularly find this helpful when they’re working out or playing sports, although not all muscle shirts are created with equally moisture wicking material to keep you dry at the same time.
Tank Top vs Muscle Shirt
So, what is the difference between a muscle shirt and a tank top? The line between these two types of shirts can be quite thin, with many considering tank tops and muscle shirts to be the same thing.
The main difference between these two types of shirts is that tank tops are not meant to showcase the body like muscle shirts are and are not built to accentuate or show off the muscles.
The tank top and the muscle shirt have more similarities in how they both afford comfort and ease of movement due to their open arm structures.
However, the tank top allows for much more freedom in the neck than the typical crewneck-style muscle shirt.
Another big difference? The tank top is cut in a way that it can be worn as an undershirt, while the muscle shirt cannot.
While this is also largely due to the crewneck style, the muscle shirt is not typically designed to absorb sweat and protect against stains in the same way as a tank top or an undershirt.
How to Make a Muscle Shirt
Making your own classic 90s style muscle shirt is actually quite simple and can just as easily show off those biceps and triceps with a homemade one versus one you’d get at the store.
Let’s take a look at how to make a muscle shirt at home. Try using a graphic tee for a definite retro look, or just grab any old baggy tee from your closet.
What you need:
1. Pen or chalk
2. Sharp scissors
3. Baggy t-shirt
While you can technically just cut off the sleeves and call it a day, there’s a little more to it if you want that authentic muscle tee vibe.
Taking your pen or chalk, mark out 3 points – one inch from the shoulder seam, one inch from the collar seam, and one to two inches below the armpit seam.
Of course, this last part is entirely up to your preference, depending on how low you want your armholes to hang.
To cut your shirt, grab your super sharp pair of scissors, and cut the armpit mark to the mark that is one inch away from the shoulder seam. Follow with the other sleeve.
Next, cut out the collar by cutting from the mark that’s an inch away from the collar to the mark on the other side.
Finally, you’ll want to cut off the bottom by cutting right above the top seam.
For the finishing touch, gently stretch the arms, collar, and bottom by pulling them.
You want to see the fabric curl up slightly. Not only does this help with the vintage muscle shirt look, but it helps hide any imperfections caused by cutting.
Where to Buy Muscle Shirts
We’re not going to lie; there’s not a ton of places left where you can buy actual muscle shirts (which is why making your own is such a great idea).
However, we’ve found a few places where you can still snag them. Keep in mind, men’s muscle shirts are mostly known as “sleeveless tees” now.
Although some focus on showing off the male physique more than others (especially when it comes to the pecs!), they’re basically the same thing.
Let’s take Amazon, for example. While there are plenty of great muscle tee options on there, they’ll mostly be known as sleeveless tees, like in the case of the C9 Champion Men’s Sleeveless Tech Tee.
This is a great example of a muscle tee, with the crew neck style and the semi-fitted body-skimming fit.
You’ll find plenty of other classic muscle tee options on Amazon that are actually labeled as “muscle tee” too, including the Champion Men’s Classic Jersey Muscle Tee and the Muscle Killer Critical Drop Arm Muscle Tee (these come in a pack of 3 and are a great price).
Plus, if you’re looking for some great vintage muscle tee finds or want to buy someone else’s homemade muscle tee, you can check out Etsy for a huge variety of options.
Should You Wear a Muscle Shirt?
Now that we know why guys wear muscle shirts, the question needs to be asked – should you wear one?
As with any style choice, that’s completely up to you! There’s certainly nothing wrong with muscle shirts, although you cannot layer a tank top or another kind of undershirt underneath them if you want to keep with the traditional muscle shirt look.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be in fantastic shape to wear a muscle shirt, even though it might make you feel the need to go to the gym more often to truly show it off.
Speaking of not being in shape, check out this article (How to Hide Puffy Nipples) if this is something you have an issue with.