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Tube Tops Throughout History

“Come on down!” And that’s exactly what an audience member and her tube top did when game show host Bob Barker selected a contestant for a Price is Right episode in 1979.  The selected woman ran down the aisle to the stage, wearing her tube top and screaming with joy. She was jumping up and down with excitement as she ran. Anyone who has ever run in a tube top can guess what happened next (See Here).

“She came on down, and they came on out,” Barker told the audience, referring to the woman’s breasts. This famous wardrobe malfunction happened in the late 70’s when tube tops were at the height of their popularity, so women in the audience understood the risk, but it didn’t stop them from taking the risk!

The tendency for tops to roll when a person is engaged in physical exertion still doesn’t stop women from wearing tube tops, nor should it! Invented by mistake, tube tops were created by a man, who possibly didn’t understand the physics of fabric and women’s breasts. But he did understand fashion. Murray Kleid, an American World War II veteran, owned the largest women’s accessories company in New York City’s garment district at the time. Like most products that go on to be wildly popular, Kleid’s tube top was a fashion “mistake,” but women loved it, so Kleid kept making them. 

It’s not known how much Barker’s famous quips, including, “I’ve never had a welcome like this!” and “I know you truly love me, but you don’t love me this much,” contributed to the popularity of the tube top, but they certainly contributed to Barker’s popularity as a funny television host!
Even so, tube tops were popular throughout the mid 1990s. They disappeared off of the fashion scene for a few years as most fashions do. But unlike most fashions they returned in force after only a few years. Their popularity started peaking again in 2000 and has been growing in popularity ever since. The invention of fabrics like Spandex, and more durable elastic fabrics, body tapes and push up bras only helped fuel the growth as tube tops are less likely to come falling down now than they once were.

From the simple tube-top, a shoulder-less, sleeveless tube that stretches tightly around a woman’s upper torso, the tube-top has evolved. We now have tube-top dresses; tube-top smocks, tube-top jumpers and a variety of evening and casual wear. The one common factor they share is that they rely on the sleeveless comfort of the original tube top structure to hold up the garment.  Tube tops are usually secured with an elastic band at the top and bottom of the tube, but many manufacturers use elastic fabric as well, helping the top stay in place.

Because the stretchiness of the fabric along with a need to cling smoothly and comfortably to the body, fabric is an important element in a successful top, tube tops needed to evolve to be successful. And evolve they did. Manufacturers now make tube tops out of Spandex, Cotton, Jersey, Knits, Satin, Lace and even blends of various fabric to ensure the tops cling to the body and retain their shape. Some use elastic bands sewn inside the fabric. Some rely on a sticky plastic band inside the top to stick to the skin in order to avoid the sort of wardrobe malfunctions of the Price is Right contestant.

Why People Wear Tube Tops

People wear tube tops because they’re fun, easy, colorful and cool. You can layer them, wearing them under a blouse, jacket, shrug or top for a less casual look, or even with business attire for a sexy, yet professional look. People wear tube tops to show off their tops, their tans, their tattoos, and their triceps — or their fit physiques and bodies in general! Tube tops allow you to cool down since your chest and armpits aren’t exposed — allowing you to stay cooler and look cooler at the same time.

Because they’re fairly inexpensive to buy and easy to make, a summer wardrobe of tube tops is insanely affordable too! They go well with long pants, short pants, bathing suits, skirts and almost any kind of bottom.

Where People Wear Tube Tops
People wear tube tops just about anywhere, but the most popular places are beaches, poolside, and when hanging out with friends inside or out. Tube tops are cool, comfortable and casual, but they can be dressed up or paired up to look more formal as well. Where you wear them is up to you.

Pay attention to dress codes. For teens, some schools don’t allow tube tops alone, but you may be able to pair a long tube top with a blouse or sweater and still be acceptable. In America fast food restaurants, hot dog stands, the mall, grocery stores — anywhere you can wear a t-shirt — usually allow tube tops.

Other countries may frown on, or even forbid tube tops and in some places you’d probably be killed or arrested for showing up in a tube top. So if you plan to travel abroad with your tubes, check the country culture before venturing out.

Tube tops are here to stay. And whether you’re fit or fat, tall or short, endowed or flat-chested, they’re a wonderful way to be casual, cool and fashionable all summer long, so enjoy!

NOTE: The link provided shows a little nudity. Grownups only.

If the link gets pulled by YouTube, as they no doubt will, just do a search when you are there. Mahalo!

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