Definition of a Cami

This simple tank top style is a fashion essential.

Woman in a cami

A cami or camisole is a tank top or undergarment with thin shoulder straps that can sometimes be adjusted for a more precise fit. As an undergarment piece, camis work well under sheer or low-cut blouses to provide coverage. These tank tops are usually fabricated in cotton, satin, silk, spandex or nylon.

Pronunciation: cam-ee

Also Known As:  Camisole

What kinds of cami should you buy?

Depending on the type of fit or coverage you're looking for, you can find a cami to suit your needs and your body type. Stretch fabrics with a longer cut are great for layering under button-up shirts or sweaters and also for tucking into skirts and trousers. Shorter, more blouse-y camis are great to pair with jeans or tucked into a skirt for a flirty outfit in the summer.

Brands like Spanx, Yummie By Heather Thompson and Bare Necessities make cami-style tops that also serve as shapewear — which is great for creating a smooth line under blouses, sweaters and even your favorite T-shirt.

The cami or camisole tank top is so ubiquitous that you can find one in just about every size range from plus size to petite, tall and even sized for your bra size. Some have built-in shelf bras or underwire bras as well. 

The cami is a wardrobe basic every woman should own, so look for black, nude, white and other neutral colors that you can easily work into your closet and that will go well with things you already own.

How do you wear a cami?

A silk cami can also be worn on its own like a tank top. (Pair it with silky, elastic-waist pants for the pajama dressing look.) We love this look for a sexy date night outfit or worn under a blazer at the office. 

As a fashion piece, the camisole is having a revival. You can find plenty of skinny-strap tank tops in silk, velvet and even covered in sequins—that make a statement all on their own. Prints and colors run the gamut from subdued and sophisticated to whimsical and bright. Because they can be worn so many ways (try layering a T-shirt underneath for a totally 90s take), the cami really is an essential part of every woman's wardrobe now.