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As the rules of polite society loosen up, knowing which fashions are appropriate for what functions is more complicated. Relaxed workplaces and casual Fridays can be a minefield if company guidelines list their dos and don’ts with no explanations. In an uptight environment, knowing the difference between a camisole and a tank top just might make the difference between a pink slip and a raise.
Camisoles and tank tops are both sleeveless. Both can have straps as wide as an inch or so, but only camisoles have the super-thin ones called spaghetti straps. Camisoles are form-fitting, but a tank top can be either tight or loose. A loose-fitting camisole is called a chemise. The bottom hem of a camisole or tank top be anywhere from cropped above your belly button to hip-length.
Camisoles are generally made of thin, light material with some stretch to it. They are often embellished with delicate embroidery, silk or satin ribbons and luscious lace. Some come with built-in bras. Tank tops are generally a cotton or cotton blend, often ribbed. a
Camisoles and tank tops can both be worn as sleepwear, but the lighter fabrics of camisoles make them more akin to lingerie than outerwear. Both can be used as layering pieces, but most tank tops are more appropriate as daywear than most camisoles. Camisoles meant for layering often come with built-in bras, though they tend to be shelf bras rather than having any separate cups or underwires.
A camisole is as cute with flannel PJs or crisp cotton boxers as it is under a blazer or peeking out of the top of a business-only blouse. Simple, sumptuously-colored tanks are great toppers for everything from long, floaty summer skirts to your favorite jeans. Few summer looks are more classic than a structured black tank top with white jeans.