History of the T-shirt

Posted by Don Manley on

T-shirts evolved from undergarments worn in the 19th century, originally one-piece underwear and later tops and bottoms often with buttons. During the latter part of the 19th century miners and dock workers adopted T-shirts to accommodate hot working environments.

According to Wikipedia more contemporary slip on T's without buttons appeared sometime between 1898 during the Spanish-American War and 1913 when the U.S Navy began issuing them as standard undergarments. They soon became popular with many laborers and young boys. By the 1920s the word T-shirt appeared in the Merriam Webster dictionary.

One of the earliest examples of print, decorated T-shirts was related to the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz". By the 1950s more companies began decorating  T's with graphics and logos. And by the 1960s the T-shirt emerged as a fashion staple for youth and rockers. The 1960s also included the emergence of tie-dyeing and screen-printing. The T became a medium for wearable art, advertising, souvenirs and protest art.

Click here to learn more on Wikipedia

Click here to learn more on todayIfoundout.com

Click here to learn more at nytimes.com

Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

An early printed T-shirt


Sailor Arnold R. Fesser in 1944 (Wikipedia)

Photo: Wikipedia


photo: Joe Shlabotnik

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  • I would have never known! What an interesting read, thanks Don!

    Georgi Coquereau on

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