Pure, unadulterated testosterone exploded onto the scene in the late 70’s as a response to the dandy look of the past several decades. Hard-rockers took back the stage and put the glam rockers back in the closet. Groups like Judas Priest and the Scorpions wore bicep-framing muscle tees and never looked better.
The piece de resistance of the hard-rock lifestyle was the muscle tee, a variation of the traditional tee that featured cutoff sleeves. The muscle tee was called such because of the special way its sleeveless design exposed the wearer’s arm. No longer would musclebound men strain against the skinny tubes of sleeves. Biceps were set free, and once the fashion became popular, both the built and the brawn-deficient alike sported the muscle tee.
The exercise-wear craze of the early 80's only strengthened the muscle tee's stranglehold on fitness freaks, bringing the bare arms beyond the hard rock world and into the mainstream. The sleevelessness varied from a small circle just at the shoulder to a wide, open swath from shoulder nearly to hip, exposing lats and pecs in addition to those bulging biceps.
Whether homemade (ripping the sleeves from your own t-shirts) or the neatly-trimmed manufactured muscle tee, the look was tough. Paired with painted-on or ripped tight jeans, feathered hair, and mirrored sunglasses, you were ready to hit the street in your Camaro and cruise for chicks.