Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the UK, it refers almost exclusively to what Americans call a dress shirt, i.e. a garment with a collar and a full vertical opening with buttons. In the US is tends to have a vaguer meaning, being applied to many types of (mainly men's) tops, leaving the word "top" generally for ladieswear.
Some common types or synonyms of shirts and tops:
- polo shirt — a v-neck shirt with a full collar; opening often closed with buttons or zipper. Short or long sleeve.
- shirt or dress shirt — a shirt with collar and full vertical opening with buttons; left and right sides of this shirt meet with the placket front.
- tank top — a sleeveless T-shirt.
- wife beater — a tank top worn as an outer layer, also called an "A-shirt" or athletic shirt
- construction shirt — essentially a sleeveless t-shirt with large armholes. Often worn by construction workers for increased movability.
- camisole — women's undershirt, sometimes worn alone (often with bra). Also referred to as a cami, shelf top or spaghetti straps.
- tunic — primitive shirt, distinguished by two-piece construction. Initially a men's garment, is normally seen in modern times being worn by women.
- blouse — ladies shirt — the term is also used for some men's military uniform shirts.
- nightshirt — often oversized, ruined or inexpensive light cloth undergarment shirt for sleeping.
- sweater, often woven of wool or cotton, typically an outer layer.
- sweatshirt — cotton or synthetic athletic shirt, with or without hood.
- rugby shirt — typically a rugged long-sleeved polo shirt, of thick cotton or wool.
- Hawaiian shirt — a colourful short-sleeve dress shirt. Actually called an Aloha shirt, but is often also called a "tropical shirt," hawaiian shirts are often not fitted and are woven from very light fabric.
- guayabera — an embroidered dress shirt with four pockets.
- golf shirt — same as polo shirt, typically embroidered with club or designer insignia; maybe be short or long-sleeved. Often worn with a sweater vest.
- halfshirt — a high-hemmed t-shirt.
- baseball shirt — usually distinguished by a three quarters sleeve, team insignia, and flat waistseam.
- fishnet shirt, transparent, initially popular fashion item of punk culture. See e.g. 
Tops which would generally not be called shirts:
- tube top or boob tube — a shoulderless, sleeveless "tube" that wraps the torso (not reaching higher than the armpits, staying in place by elasticity or by a single strap that is attached to the front of the tube. see e.g )
- halter top — a shoulderless, sleeveless, backless garment for women. It is mechanically analogous to an apron with a string around the back of the neck and across the lower back holding it in place.
- diaper shirt — a shirt for infants which includes a long tail that is wrapped between the legs and buttoned to the front of the shirt.
Many terms are used to describe and differentiate types of shirts and their construction. The smallest differences may have significance to a cultural or occupational group.
Recently, (late 20th century) it has become common to use tops to carry messages or advertising. These can be screen printed or embroidered.
- With regard to covering the shoulders and arms:
- with no covering of the shoulders or arms — a tube top (not reaching higher than the armpits, staying in place by elasticity, see e.g )
- with only bands on the shoulders
- covering the shoulders, but without sleeves
- with short sleeves
- with half-long sleeves
- with long sleeves, may further be distinguished by the cuffs :
- no buttons. See closed placket cuff .
- buttons — single or multiple. A single button or pair aligned parallel with the cuff hem is considered a button cuff . Multiple buttons aligned perpendicular to the cuff hem, or parallel to the placket constitute a barrel cuff .
- buttonholes only for use with cufflinks.
- Typically a french cuff , where the end half of the cuff is folded over the cuff itself and fastened with a cufflink. This type of cuff has four buttons and a short placket .
- More formally, a link cuff is worn. A link cuff is fastened like a french cuff , except is not folded over, but instead hemmed, at the edge of the sleeve.
- With regard to level of the lower edge:
- leaving the belly button area bare (much more common for women than for men. See halfshirt.
- until the waist
- covering the crotch
- covering part of the legs (essentially this is a dress; however, a piece of clothing is either perceived as a shirt (worn with trousers) or as a dress (in Western culture mainly worn by women)).
- and levels in between.
- With regard to opening or front:
- vertical opening on the front side, all the way down, with buttons or zipper. When fastened with buttons, this opening is often called the placket front .
- left and right front side not separable, put on over the head; with regard to upper front side opening:
- V-shaped permanent opening on the top of the front side
- no opening at the upper front side
- vertical opening on the upper front side with buttons or zipper
- With regard to the neck:
- with polo-neck
- with v-neck
- with plunging neck
- with open or tassel neck
- with collar
- windsor collar — or spread collar, a dressier collar designed with a wide distance between points (the spread) to accomodate the windsor knot tie. The standard business collar.
- tab collar — a collar with two small fabric tabs that fasten together behind a tie to maintain collar spread.
- wing collar — best suited for the bow tie, often only worn for very formal occaisions.
- straight collar — or point collar, a version of the windsor collar that is distinguished by a narrower spread to better accomodate the four-in-hand knot, pratt knot , and the half-windsor knot . A moderate dress collar.
- button-down collar — A collar with buttons that fasten the points or tips to a shirt. The most casual of collars worn with a tie.
- band collar — essentially the lower part of a normal collar, first used as the original collar to which a separate collarpiece was attached. Rarely seen in modern fashion. Also casual.
- turtle neck collar A collar that covers most of the throat.
- without collar
- With regard to pockets: how many (if any), where, and with regard to closure: not closable, just a flap, or with a button or zipper.
- With or without hood
Some combinations are not applicable, of course, e.g. a tube top cannot have a collar.
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