The History Of The
by: Jeremy 21 Miller15
Everyone at some point in
their lives enjoys the soft comfort of a t-shirt. They come in many
shapes, colours, sizes, plain, printed, and everything in between. They
can be dressy or casual, but one thing remains the same: t-shirts are no
longer simply underwear. They are the modern day equivalent of every
fashionable style from the past.
Surprisingly enough, shirts in some form of another have been part of
human culture since the ancient Egyptians, including what we now call
t-shirts. It wasn’t used as a form of underwear until the 1900s when
being modestly clothed became the norm. No one truly knows the origin of
the t-shirt in the United States but there has been speculation that US
troops in the trenches in World War I saw European soldiers wearing them
and adopted the practice to gain some relief from their hot woollen
Even the origin of the name t-shirt is somewhat speculative. Some people
claim it was due to the shirts shape, a ‘T’ when the arms were laid out
horizontally. Others claim that it is short for ‘training shirt’, a term
once used by the army. It could have also come from the short length of
the arms, tee coming from the word ‘amputee’. No matter where the name
came from, it has stuck even with the appearance of styles like the tank
By World War II, the t-shirt had been adopted as underwear for both the
army and navy. Those servicemen made it common for everyone to wear
their t-shirts without an outer shirt. Actors like James Dean and Marlon
Brando made it cool to wear on television and by the 1950s t-shirts were
sporting logos and sayings and promoting goods.
Since arriving in the United States, t-shirts have become one of the
biggest and longest lasting clothing trends. Characters such as Davey
Crockett and Mickey Mouse began appearing on them and they soon became
one of the hottest souvenirs of theme parks, rock concerts, and beaches.
With the invention of the hot iron press, t-shirts were no longer
limited to plain embroidered logos. Iron on transfers of anything
imaginable is still popular item for t-shirts today. Other popular
trends include the oversized shirt, crop tops, and wearing a long
sleeved shirt beneath a t-shirt and layering them.
T-shirts will probably always have a place in pop culture as they have
made one of the biggest impacts in clothing. As manufacturing techniques
also improve, we are finding t-shirts that no longer have tags in the
neck, do not shrink, and are softer than ever before. They can easily be
dressed up or down, and are the common clothing item people lounge in.
Almost every household has a t-shirt in it, whether it’s your
grandfather’s undershirt or your favourite concert shirt. T-shirts will
always provide a medium for promotion and advertisement, be it political
or not, and one day we may all find ourselves able to where our t-shirts
to the office without the button-down shirt and tie that goes with it.
Jeremy Miller is author of this article on Punk Rock T-Shirts!. Find
more information about band t shirtshere.
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