If you ever wonder who you are, check your t-shirts.
A T-shirt (or tee shirt, or tee) is a style of unisex fabric shirt, named after the T shape of the body and sleeves. It is normally associated with short sleeves, a round neckline known as a crew neck, with no collar. T-shirts are generally made of a light, inexpensive fabric, and are easy to clean.
Typically made of cotton textile in a jersey knit, it has a distinctively pliable texture compared to shirts made of woven cloth. The majority of modern versions have a body made from a continuously woven tube, on a circular loom, so that the torso has no side seams. The manufacture of T-shirts has become highly automated, and may include fabric cutting by laser or water jet.
A V-neck T-shirt has a V-shaped neckline, as opposed to the round neckline of the more common crew neck shirt (also called a U-neck). V-necks were introduced so that the neckline of the shirt does not stand out when an outer shirt is worn over it, thus reducing or eliminating the visible cloth above the outer shirt of a crew neck shirt.
The T-shirt evolved from undergarments used in the 19th century and were adopted by miners and stevedores due to hot working conditions, and in the mid-20th century transitioned from undergarment to general-use casual clothing.
As slip-on garments without buttons, the earliest T-shirt dates back to sometime between the 1898 Spanish–American War and 1913, when the U.S. Navy began issuing them as undergarments. These were a crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt to be worn under a uniform. It became common for sailors and Marines in work parties, the early submarines, and tropical climates to remove their uniform jacket, wearing (and soiling) only the undershirt.
They soon became popular as a bottom layer of clothing for workers in various industries, including agriculture. The T-shirt was easily fitted, easily cleaned, and inexpensive, and for those reasons it became the shirt of choice for young boys. Boys' shirts were made in various colors and patterns.
By the Great Depression, the T-shirt was often the default garment to be worn when doing farm or ranch chores, as well as other times when modesty called for a torso covering but conditions called for lightweight fabrics. Following World War II, it became common to see veterans wearing their uniform trousers with their T-shirts as casual clothing. The shirts became even more popular in the 1950s after Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire, finally achieving status as fashionable, stand-alone, outerwear garments. Often boys wore them while doing chores and playing outside, eventually opening up the idea of wearing them as general-purpose casual clothing.
Printed T-shirts were in limited use by 1942 when an Air Corps Gunnery School T-shirt appeared on the cover of Life magazine. In the 1960s, printed T-shirts gained popularity for self-expression as well for advertisements, protests, and souvenirs.
Current versions are available in many different designs and fabrics, and styles include crew-neck and V-neck shirts.
The first time I saw tee-shirts was at the beach in the local drinking establishment where World War II veterans would sit on wooden stools in their sailor hats and white t-shirts smoking cigarettes, drinking a assortment of vile potions and showing off their fading wrinkled tattoos.
No one I knew wore t-shirts. No one wore t-shirts under their dress shirts and instead had to put on jackets to cover their sweaty armpits. A t-shirt was the sign of the lower blue-collar class, but the fad was catching on. Like pajama tops, t-shirts were becoming popular in the middle-class for the boys were ripping their oxford shirts and they were cheap and easy to clean. There were horizontal stripes but no patterns or colors.
By college the artsy types were starting to draw on t-shirts. Thought they were hard to lay flat they could be illustrated with markers while being worn, though the person wearing it usually had to wash off the tattoo that bled through the material. Kids started silk-screening messages and symbols but the paints would quickly fade after washing. Then there was tie-dye.
Putting aside the collared shirts and ties (a collar is a device of any material worn by a person around the neck to indicate their submissive or slave status) and pulling on the easy to wear and replace t-shirt became a counterculture uniform. Madison Avenue caught the trend of the Boomers and started making the t-shirt more fashionable. T-shirts showed the logo of your favorite band or rock concert or shoe as the marketing exploded until everyone was a walking billboard. Even the tank top t-shirt that give more room for the arms to breath shrunk for the muscle bound and oversized for the basketball court.
Go to any retirement village and notice what the elderly wear. It is so much trouble to put on fancy clothing so easy-to-wear is the norm. Don’t be concerned if patterns and colors don’t match, wear what is comfortable.
Maybe that is the way fashion should be?