The history of the T-shirt
The first thing to note is that T-shirts were for men when they began their fashion journey. We can see their origins in the Middle Ages when they were cotton or linen. You would find them between the skin and the outer garments. We would not recognise these Men’s T-shirts today as they had long tails that tucked between the legs.
The T-shirts of old lost the tails and became a simpler affair. The industrial revolution saw them becoming a mass-produced item of clothing. They were made out of a range of materials from calico to wool. They were marketed as a great protection against colds. Women started using them instead of corsets.
By the end of the 19th century the Royal Navy knowing that their sailors were wearing T-shirts under their itchy wool uniforms allowed them to use the T-shirts when working on deck. The US Navy followed suit with a square necked fitted flannel shirt replaced by cotton as more comfortable to wear. T-shirts were seen as heroic and masculine due to their military connections during the world wars.
The 20th century saw companies like the P.H. Hanes Knitting Company and Fruit of the Loom marketing T-shirts successfully. Cotton T-shirts moved onto the sports fields. The T-shirt was valued for its flexibility as you can wear it under clothing or out loud and proud. T-shirts are used as fashion statements. Slogans are used to identify your character, to wave a flag about your political beliefs and to make people giggle. They are worn by Royalty, celebrities and everyday people. It looks like the Children’s, Men’s and Women’s T-shirts are here to stay!
What slogan would you love to see on a T-shirt?