Tube top

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A white tube top

A tube top, colloquially known in the UK as a boob tube,[1] is a shoulderless, sleeveless women's garment that wraps around the upper torso. It is generally tight over the breasts, and usually uses elastic bands at its top and bottom to prevent it from falling. The tube top's precursor was a beachwear or informal summer garment worn by young girls in the 1950s that became more widely popular in the 1970s and returned to popularity in the 1990s and 2000s.[2]

In 2012 Iranian-Israeli fashion designer Elie Tahari claimed that he helped popularize tube top after his arrival in New York in 1971.[3] The original tube tops, as spotted by Tahari in a New York factory run by Murray Kleid, were elasticated gauze tubes reportedly produced through a factory manufacturing error. Murray ran with this product for years, and eventually Tahari bought tubes from Kleid, later setting up his own factory to mass produce tube tops to meet widespread demand.[3]

Dress code controversies[edit]

A young woman in a tube top.

In the 2010s, tube tops have been banned by some schools (e.g., one New Jersey school's dress code bans tube tops as "too 'distracting' for the eighth grade boys").[4] In 2018, opponents of these types of clothing bans argued that they are a "form of [body-]shaming" on women and should not be used; in one San Francisco Bay area school district, based on advice from the National Organization for Women, tube tops (along with miniskirts and other formerly disallowed items) are being permitted again.[5] A law review article on student dress codes states that codes that disallow young women from wearing tube tops, but which would permit a young man to wear a tube top, are potentially sexist and discriminatory, since the gendered nature of the prohibition undermines the claim that the rule is designed for "preventing distraction and disruption" in class.[6] In 2015, tube tops were among the items banned at a major trade show/conference association, due to concerns that this clothing unduly sexualized the women.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Boob tube": a redesignation of a dismissive 1960s sobriquet for television, or "idiot box"; "boobs" derives from "bubbies" (The Straight Dope: "The Origin of 'Booby Trap'"); the screen was a cathode ray tube.
  2. ^ Beck, Rachel (1 June 1998). "Are you ready to slip back into a tube top this summer?". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b Kennedy, Pagan (17 August 2012). "Who Made That Tube Top?". The New York Times Magazine. p. MM19. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  4. ^ Willett, Megan (24 April 2013). "NJ Middle School Bans Strapless Dresses At Upcoming 8th Grade Dance". Business Insider. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  5. ^ McClellan, Jennifer (21 August 2018). "California school's no-shame dress code empowers students to wear what they want". USA Today. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  6. ^ Ariel G. Siner, Comment, Dressing to Impress? A Legal Examination of Dress Codes in Public Schools, 57 Santa Clara L. Rev. 259 (2017). p. 227.
  7. ^ Kerr, Dara (31 March 2015). "Scantily clad booth babes at tech trade shows get wardrobe check". CNET. Retrieved 22 April 2019. RSA Conference follows other associations in writing new dress codes for its exhibitors. And that means no more tube tops, minidresses or bodysuits for women -- or men -- staffing their booths.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Tube tops at Wikimedia Commons