I literally have two entire drawers devoted to today's subject; one for my EXTRA long white ribbed tanks and one for my white v-neck tees. As a fitness instructor, it's imperative that I have a number of these t-shirts and tank tops so I don't have to do laundry every week (instead it's more like every month...or two....) These tees and tanks are CHEAP, and at around $5.00 for a 3-pack I can afford to buy new ones every few weeks to make sure they stay white. They are also versatile; pair a tee or tank with some retro Nike tempo shorts and they say "RAWR, I'm in shape, I'm hardcore, watch my LAT PULL-DOWNS!" Add jeans, a Tolani, and ballet flats and they scream "I'm fashionable, check me out, but hey, I don't try too hard!" Natalie Portman and my beloved Jessica Alba do a great job of pulling off both styles.
(as defined by urbandictionary.com so you KNOW it has to be accurate...)
1) Someone who beats his wife is a "wifebeater" but this isn't the main definition of the word when used to define an article of clothing.
2) A type of sleeveless undershirt, of the kind that used to be worn by almost all men in the 50's. If you watch the HBO Drama The Sopranos, you'll see Tony (the lead character) wearning this type of undershirt.
They also have associations with being slovenly, unkempt, sloppy, etc. Someone who just woke up and hasn't combed their hair or washed up and appears at the door in a wifebeater shirt, scratching themselves, is a stereotypical picture that comes to mind.
This sleeveless undershirt with a deep round neck and deep arm openings has acquired the connotation of an article of clothing worn by someone who beats his wife -- perhaps because of the unkempt, slovenly nature of the garment when worn alone on a middle aged man with a gut, sitting in an easy chair, scratching at himself and demanding to be waited upon lest he smack around the person waiting on him.
3) The same shirt, worn as daywear or nightwear by slender young women as a kind of fashion statement. It is considered cool for a woman (who can get away with it and looks good) to wear this type of undergarment as an outergarment.
Note: It wouldn't be called a wifebeater when worn by a woman, for obvious reasons. It would just be another instance of a woman wearing typically male clothing and looking better in it than the guy does.
There goes Anthony answering the door in his wifebeater; you'd think with the gut on him that he'd realize it doesn't look good.
"Take that off right now! You look awful; like a wifebeater in that greying old sleeveless undershirt!"
"She's slender and in good shape; that slightly snug sleeveless undershirt (wifebeater) she's wearing looks great on her."
Note: for anyone who wears beaters or tees, make sure that they are truly white. Greyish-yellow stains at the neck and pits of any white shirt is NOT an attractive look.
For guys, try wearing a round-neck t-shirt instead of the v-neck. It's nice when a little sliver of white shows underneath the neck of another shirt on top. This is not gay. Plus, the shirt absorbs sweat so you can stop worrying about pitting out or having those awkward sweaty back streaks.
Also....don't try Britney's look. I realize that there are many Britney "don'ts", so I conveniently included the specific one here. Ladies, please wear a bra with your tanks. And keep them long so you cover that belly.
ps: Fruit of the Loom sucks. Trust me on this one.