The History of the T-Shirt
The origin of the t-shirt is actually credited to coal miners. During the 19th century, miners began to cut their one piece underclothes into two separate pieces. This allowed them to easily remove the top piece from beneath their shirt when they became too hot. Many of these underclothes came with buttons. Therefore, there were two t-shirt versions, one with and one without buttons.
Soon after, the United States Navy would issue the first ready made t-shirts to enlisted men. These shirts were to be worn underneath the military uniform. These were of the crew neck variety, so that they could not be visibly seen beneath the military dress shirt. The purpose of these t-shirts was quite simply to allow the solider to be able to remove their top shirt when the situation dictated, and only soil the t-shirt which was much less expensive.
Elsewhere, t-shirts were being used for the same practical reasons during the industrial revolution. They were cheap to produce, and certainly offered extra warmth to those who might otherwise have none. It would not be until the United States Army arrived in Europe that the t-shirt would truly be seen by many, and quickly rise to popularity. From there, it continued to spread throughout the world.
T-shirts continued to be used in this manner, and were also used as underclothing for workers, for quite some time. It would not be until the 1950’s when the t-shirt began to be worn for anything other than practicality. Once movie star Marlon Brando was spotted on the big screen wearing one in, “A Streetcar Named Desire” t-shirts quickly become a piece of clothing that was no longer hidden behind other shirts, and became a stand alone clothing item.
Plain T-Shirt Metamorphosis
Plain t-shirts soon were transformed. Soon a host of colors, patterns, and characters would show up on t-shirts everywhere. Disney is credited for creating some of the first character t-shirts during the 1950’s. As if t-shirts were not popular enough during the 1950’s, the 1960’s took them to an entirely new level as bands and rock stars began wearing them. A perfect example would be Grateful Dead t-shirts, which “Dead Heads” purchased huge quantities of.
T-shirts evolved even further during the 1970’s and 1980’s, as screen printing was created. This process made it quite easy to create massive amount of printed t-shirts in a very short of time. Soon there would be t-shirts that were used as advertisements, for political messages, to represent sports teams, and much more. By this time, the sky was the limit for t-shirts.
Today, we see t-shirts of all kinds. While they are still used as undergarments, they have well solidified their place in the clothing world as a must have item. From humble beginnings, the practical t-shirt has risen. We now wear t-shirts as a way to express our sense of style, as well as how comfortable they are. Though no one has officially taken count, there are likely millions of different t-shirts in the world today. Finding the ones that speak to you should be absolutely no problem.
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