I own 26 tank tops – I just counted. They’ve commandeered two drawers in my dresser, and I suspect they’re plotting a coup to take over the socks.
Now, I believe there any many things in the world that one can never have too much of: jars of Nutella in the pantry, copies of Dorothy Parker’s poetry (always have one with you – trust me), and friends who’ll have Abba roller disco parties with you. But tank tops? You might argue that 26 is on the excessive side (and if you don’t, let’s hold your intervention first. It’s alright, I’ll wait my turn). But I have a good reason for all the tank tops: the “girls.” Tank tops are my “modesty pieces,” the articles of clothing that let me wear comfortably the v-neck and scoop-neck shirts that flatter my figure the most.* In A Return to Modesty, Wendy Shalit describes the modesty pieces of the eighteenth century:
A good example of the playfulness modesty encourages is the existence of the “modesty piece,” often worn with a tucker and covering the “pit of the bosom” in mid-eighteenth-century women’s dress. If the concern were mere prudery, then dresses of the period would have been simply high-cut. Instead, women wore gowns with a low decolletage and then inserted a modesty piece. But low decolletage and a modest piece would seem to cancel each other out – unless, perhaps, the modesty piece was removed later in the evening? The imagination is certainly compelled. Did they play games to see who could last the longest with her modesty piece in place? No, that couldn’t be. Nobody had any fun until the 1960s – or so we have been told, anyway. – Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty, pg 174
Now I don’t wear my modesty pieces as part of a game, as Shalit implies might have happened in the past – I wear them so I can function in day-to-day life without being inappropriately dressed for work, feeling that I’m compromising my own personal sense of modesty, or giving just anyone a free show. In the winter wearing tank tops works wonderfully – everything is covered and I have an extra layer of warmth. But come spring and summer? The shirts get skimpier and some sort of cleavage-barrier is a must. But the extra layers can just get too hot, and tank tops that bunch and roll can be very obvious. Have you ever tried to pull down the bottom of a tank top under a maxi dress? Getting arrested for indecent exposure for flashing your knickers sort of defeats all the effort at covering the top, doesn’t it?
Enter Second Base.
These cropped camis are marketed as being:
- Light enough for comfort, but opaque enough to cover your cleavage and your bra
- Won’t roll up
- No snaps, hooks, velcro, or tape
They come in four styles and multiple colors, and I’m intrigued. This might be just the thing for this summer…
Does anyone else have the same problem? What have you found that works? Has anyone tried Second Base?
*Has anyone else noticed the conundrum that the shirts that best cover large chests (e.g. crew necks) are the ones that look the worst on that body type? Put me in a crew neck and I look like the prow of a ship.