Since the pandemic started, I haven’t been buying clothes nearly as much as I normally do; after all, most of my days are spent working from home or chasing after toddlers. For most of the past year, nights downtown with friends and glamorous fashion events have been off the table, at least for me, making most potential wardrobe acquisitions superfluous.
There is one budget-friendly buy that I’ve been ordering for myself in multiples: the muscle tee. A fresh take on the summer wardrobe old faithful (the classic cotton white tee), this updated T-shirt shape is sleeveless and lightly boxy in fit. Possibly originally inspired by a look from the Off-White spring/summer 2020 show, it features a generous crewneck and wide shoulder seams (the Frankie Shop’s seemingly ubiquitous version features padded shoulders (!) and extended seams that veer into cap-sleeve territory).
Angular, structured and slightly '80s, it’s a T-shirt that looks polished enough for video calls but is comfortable enough to wear all day. And, because of the simplicity of its design and construction, many versions of this fashionable top can be found for less than $40.
Even celebs, who are mostly running errands instead of hitting red carpets, are embracing this relaxed trend. Selena Gomez wears hers in bed, and it doubles as a bikini cover-up for Emily Ratajkowski. Sleeveless tees have also proven popular with myriad fashion influencers, too; this versatile top looks as good tucked into matching trousers as it does paired with wide-leg jeans or cute shorts.
As for me, I’ve been wearing my three similar-but-not-identical black sleeveless tees on repeat — for quick errands in the neighbourhood, on Zoom calls, and even to get my vaccine recently. A cute, affordable top that I can wear anywhere and everywhere this summer? I’m wondering if I should get it in more colours.
Here are seven affordable muscle tees to add to your rotation asap.
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