Fashion,  General

The history of T-shirts

There is one item of clothing that almost everyone will have in their drawers or wardrobe. I bought two in the charity shop yesterday. This type of top can be dressed up or down. It keeps us cool in the Summer and adds a useful layer in the colder months. I am talking about the humble T-shirt. I like slogan t-shirts and you might prefer the classic white. My daughter loves lots of T-shirts in pastel shades. My son prefers vibrant colours. T-shirts are a great way to express your individuality and sense of style. I wonder how much you know about the history of the T-shirt.

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.

Mass production

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.

Military matters

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.

Modern times

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?

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: