Costume Design

Ode to The Feelings Tank Top

In a previous post we talked about The Action Movie Tank Top. Today we’re going to talk about its 21st century cousin, The Feelings Tank Top. You’ve got a fast-paced action movie that you need to slow down for a bit so a character can share their feelings. Enter: The Feelings Tank Top! Now they’re vulnerable and can talk about what’s bothering them. Let’s take a look at movies that have used this:

Captain America: Winter Solider

Captain Rogers, our man out of his time, finds out that his best friend he believed dead, Bucky, has been shooting up people as a notorious assassin, The Winter Solider.

With Nick Fury dead and SHIELD compromised, Cap and Black Widow retreat to Sam Wilson’s place to regroup.

Which means…

Tank tops and FEELINGS.

Yup…it’s a double tank top scene, with Natasha doing most of the FEELINGS. At the end of it, Cap’s like “Hey, at least I don’t think you’re going to kill me anymore”.

Now let’s talk about a scene that was really written for a Feelings Tank Top…

But there was no tank top…

Ben Solo/Kylo Ren–The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi, 2017

I don’t often like to back-seat costume design, but this scene is screaming for a Feelings Tank Top. Before you argue with me…yes, yes, I know this shirtless choice is pulling some narrative weight:

  1. It’s establishing that Rey can actually see Kylo Ren and that it’s not just a voice or a face she’s seeing.
  2. It creates an instant uncomfortable intimacy between the two characters. And it’s telling that he ignores her request to put something on.
  3. It makes Kylo Ren more approachable and vulnerable.

Taking all of that into account, I still side with the use of a Feelings Tank Top on this one. My issue with him being completely shirtless is that it’s jarring for the audience; it distracts from the important emotional scene going on between those two characters. I think you can accomplish all the things in the above list with a different costuming choice. If it were up to me? I might put Kylo Ren in a black version of the Luke’s Dagobah Tank Top. It would be a nice visual message to the audience to associate Kylo Ren with Luke. Let’s lean into making the audience think that Kylo Ren might turn from darkness…

The “Stretch Out With Your Feelings” Tank Top…

Now it’s time to talk about the King of the Feelings Tank Top…

Mr. Tony Stark AKA IRON MAN

Iron Man, 2008

Friendships aren’t the only thing forged in the Feelings Tank Top. Tony Stark’s black tank top is not only tied to his feelings, but his mad-scientist level creations.

Imprisoned and clad in his Feelings Tank Top, Tony Stark forges his first Iron Man suit…


And once home he decides to improve on the suit that he built while imprisoned.


Iron Man, 2008

In Iron Man 2, Tony watches a video where his father says Tony was his greatest achievement and Tony proceeds to crate a new particle that will save his life…in a tank top.


Safety glasses, yet no sleeves…

But the ultimate use of Tony Stark’s Feelings Tank Top is in Avengers: End Game. Lost in space. Slowly running out of oxygen, Tony records a farewell message…

In a Feelings Tank Top!

This scene does break the formula, in that Tony Stark does not invent his way out of this crisis. Telling, no?

That’s it for The Feelings Tank Top! Keep Calm and Tank Top On!