You will never see t-shirts the same way! ;-)
Once upon a time, there was the … T-SHIRT.
“T-shirt” definition :
The T-Shirt or Tee-Shirt gets its name from its T shape when laid flat.
The word T-Shirt enters Merriam-Webster dictionary in the 1920’s. Its definition is “underwear, usually made in cotton, without a collar and with short sleeves”.
It is very difficult to know when the first t-shirt came about as there are many stories all over the world; Every country claiming its invention!
The french version:
In France, historians consider Saint Louis’s tunic (from King Louis IX) the true t-shirt ancestor. We are talking about the 13th century! This relic is exposed in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
Would the t-shirt for men be the striped jersey’s little brother?
In 1858, the striped jersey was created for the French Navy. It is composed of 21 white stripes and 20 indigo stripes. The stripes are a way to make the sailors more visible in case they fall overboard. The striped jersey isn’t a t-shirt though but it is very similar. It is used as a uniform and is made of cotton.
The english version:
Used by the soldiers as undergarment, t-shirts are worn to prevent frictions of the uniforms onto the skin. It is during Queen Victoria reign (1837-1901) that t-shirts became the official navy uniform. It is believed that the Royal Navy wanted its marines to look presentable for the Queen’s visits, and that the americans “stole” the new t-shirt fashion from the Royal Navy during WWII!
The american version:
In America, t-shirts have been part of the wardrobe of farmers and blue collar workers since the 19th century. It was used as underwear and worn under overalls. Easy to wash (compared to a uniform), it was “adopted” by the army and especially the US NAVY in 1910. It is worn directly on the skin to absorb sweat.
But no matter which version we believe, we owe to the americans the popularity of the T-Shirt.
From underwear to “outerwear”
In the 1920-30’s, the t-shirt is very fitted with a large round collar. It is used as an underwear and wearing it in the street isn’t considered appropriate.
In July 1942, the cover of the american magazine LIFE features a soldier wearing a t-shirt with the words “Air Corps Gunnery School”. The magazine known for its photography works fully contributes to giving a new meaning to the t-shirt.
Thanks to the soldiers, the T-shirt becomes a must in the males wardrobes! It reaches Europe during WWII.
In 1948, Governor Thomas E. Dewey used t-shirts with publicity slogans to support his electoral campaign.
Hollywood popularises the t-shirt
In the 1950s, the t-shirt becomes a star thanks to american actors. Marlon Brando, James Dean and Steve McQueen give it a relaxed, seducing and rebel touch.
The cut of the t-shirt evolves too. The collar becomes less “low necked” and some makers even propose a version with a V-shaped collar.
Even though it is considered “sexy”, people continue to associate the t-shirt with the army and it has center stage on all the photos from the Korean war in the 1950s.
From white to colour
In the 1960s, the hippie movement changes the image of the military t-shirt with adding some colour to it. The tie and dye gives it the psychedelic colours!
The t-shirt then becomes a new way to express your opinions, your belonging to a community, your sense of humour…. and it remains a real support of publicity.
Fashionable, wardrobe essential, each year more than 2 billions t-shirts are sold in the world!!!
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